Monday, June 20, 2022

it's thornridge ct time again!

In some ways we got off to a slow start this year, but finally things are getting into a groove. Which for us means getting back to all of our favorite horsey events --- like the Combined Test series at Thornridge Manor! 

i don't care if you get tired of this, bc i *never* will
They are doing a shorter series this year, which means we won't quite be hitting that monthly cadence you might remember from last year. Which, in my book is kinda a bummer, but oh well. 

oh my goodness our newest barn rat asked to come watch the show and charlie is obsessed with her
Maybe from your perspective it's a bit of a relief, since perhaps it can feel repetitive to read recaps from the same exact type of event over and over again.... But... Eh. Idk. It doesn't feel repetitive. Bc this, for me, is the stuff. This is IT. 

just trottin around on my 6-ish horse, doin 6-ish things.
Like... I'm not getting selected for any teams. We aren't building a record. The horse is not and won't be for sale, nor am I establishing a name as a professional. It's just me and the horse that I love, going out and doing the things that are enjoyable and fulfilling.

he's still enjoying going sans-spurs
I've written before (almost exactly 5 years ago) about "the journey" -- and how that can be a very changeable thing over time. For instance, at the time I wrote that post, Charlie was brand new and basically unknown, but for all the world seemed to have the makings for what I believed in my heart I wanted to do.

absolutely begging to itch his face. no sir, not yet!
It's interesting, tho. I wrote then that how I felt in that moment could be different in 5 or 10 years.... And here we are, 5 years later, and I DO have different feelings about what I want to be doing with horses. Like... My interest in pure eventing has been waning, tho I continue to love each phase individually.  

looookie we canter the other way too!
And so we adapt and evolve, right? Last year, my #1 sole focus was to just... start having fun again. Not get so stressed and bent out of shape at shows. Not be so worried or hard on myself. I just wanted to keep getting out there, doing the things we know how to do, and either enjoy them --- OR, decide that maybe those aren't the things we want to do anymore. 

dotting our i's, crossing our t's, gettin it done
And guys, it's so exciting! Last year's plan WORKED! My stress levels are so far down, and so are Charlie's. Being in a somewhat regular lesson program again helps too -- it's nice to know that we've got a coach in our corner, even when we still go to shows like this solo.

On one hand it would be nice if all that improved mental state resulted in meaningfully different results... But.... Ya know, actually. The results kinda just are what they are gonna be. 

Could Charlie and I do better in the dressage? Yes. But... At a cost. In my experience, with my skillset and knowledge of myself and my horse, the cost of going from an average score of 6.5 at schooling shows to an average score of 6.75 is.... not worth it. 

So we are still just dinking around. And probably will continue to just dink around lol. Of particular note in this test -- This is the first time riding the 2022 N-A test where Charlie *didn't* melt down for the second serpentine when he expected to canter. Methinks ditching the spurs continues to be a good choice for the horse where he is right now. 

time for fun with shadowy pixely screenshots!
So dressage was straight forward, non eventful, obedient and steady and --- the best part --- over. Onto the show jumping!! 

gosh tho, not gonna lie, i really can make an ok pic when i hold mane LOL
I've already written a bit about Charlie being slightly bitchy and bronto-y in our lessons so far this year... So we've made a couple changes. Namely, ditching the spurs, and experimenting with a hackamore (all leather straps, no chain). 

d'aww he wore his happy ears!
Of course, the other key bit comes down to me as a rider. Dinking in dressage is one thing, dinking to a nothing spot at a jump is just not healthy lol. It's my job to guide Charlie into a jumpable canter, and it's Charlie's job to .... ya know, jump lol. And I admit to being quite black and white about his responsibility there in recent lessons. 

the course was basically a giant figure-8
For this show, tho... Idk. I just knew he'd be where I wanted him to be. Charlie knows the gist. He knows the warm up and the show ring and everything. I also think he's just generally more on his game when jumping on grass too. Like, it requires him to pay more attention and be more careful, plus he gets his beloved studs. 

wheeeee running home is our favorite!!
For my purposes, I made it my business to hold mane the whole way around. Bc let's be real. At a certain point I just need to admit that my equitation and bad hands ain't gonna fix themselves. Meanwhile, it's like everything just turns out better when I hold mane and kick on. Funny how that works LOL....

Naturally we still had two down (jump 1 and jump 2 lol) bc that's just sorta how we do -- recall the jumps are lightweight PVC. I don't even care, tho. The jumps we knocked were otherwise quite pleasant efforts that were just a touch on the long/flat side of things.

happy ponies back at the tailgate
And ya know, that was it -- we were done!! Finished the day with a 3rd place (of 4) dressage score, a 4th place ribbon after 2 down, and a happy horse and rider. I'll take it! 

random shot of barn mgr mikey bossing me around about how to unpack the trailer back home again
This show jumping round definitely felt a LOT better than our rounds at Tranquillity a couple weeks ago so that gives me hope that we're on the right path with my current style of riding and Charlie's current tack situation. Tho, of course, all are subject to change at any time lol.

all in a day's work!
So we'll keep carrying on. We are so friggin lucky to live in an area rife with all these fun local low key, low cost schooling show opportunities. And I'm so grateful to finally be really enjoying it again, even tho we objectively are still completely mediocre LOL. So. It's my absolute intention to keep making the rounds haha.


  1. Yay!! Lovely to see a happy Charlie, seems like he's hitting his groove again! I am very curious about playing in a hackamore since Ben is so funny with his mouth/tongue.

    1. Charlie is so funny… he’s always been generally a tricky horse to train with, bc he basically knows what he’s doing, knows the difference between a show and a lesson, and doesn’t really want to be drilled or so the same things over and over again. He wants to just go to the show, warm up over like 4 jumps, do his round(s) like a professional, and be done. Which like. Cool, bro. Sounds good! Except that doesn’t work super well if we can’t show often enough to not be kinda rusty, or if I personally feel like *I* need more practice lol… so it’s just like this constant balancing act of figuring out how to stay sharp without pissing him off…. Which I guess is truly not at all the worst problem in the world?

  2. I am so jealous of your one-day outing opportunities. Now that I'm embarking on my own showing journey and it's four or five days off every other week at the moment.... that is tiring.

    Super glad to hear your current changes with Charles are paying off and working out!

    1. Yea I honestly don’t know at all what my horsey life would look like if we lived literally anywhere else. Maryland is just like, horsey paradise as far as I can tell! Tho. The flip side to that coin is that this particular series is operated by one privately owned farm and like 6 dedicated people. The bought the jumps, advertise well, offer an attractive year end awards system, hire nice local judges, and run the series exactly as they want to - up to and including making it super inviting to local lesson programs (like, coaching is allowed, you can ride the same test multiple times, etc etc etc). There is no reason any other private farm with a ring and or a flattish grass field couldn’t offer the same type of event — just takes the time and dedication (and warm bodies) to make it happen!

  3. The soft canter over the fences though..... That was nice to watch. I am so happy that you are having fun and enjoying doing the 'thing'. :)

    1. Thanks! He really was perfect for the jumping rounds! I can (and will) obviously nitpick myself to death … but then again if there weren’t things we wanted to improve, what would be the point anyway??

  4. You know, it's really refreshing to read your updates where you are just out there doing the thing and having fun and appreciating your horse and your local opportunities fully. It's how we all should be.

    1. It’s def how it should be, but it’s not at all what the competitive horse sport culture promotes. It’s so easy to feel like we should always be moving up or working toward some sort of goal or be like, on some predetermined “path.” Except in my experience that makes it really easy for me to sorta slip into this mindset where I’m trying to be the thing I think I’m *supposed* to be, regardless of how I actually feel about it. Like, “wanting to want” a thing, vs actually finding it fulfilling, if that makes sense.

    2. Totally makes sense, and accurately reflects my feelings about it too. There is so much highly promotional or curated content and media out there telling us what we should want or be, and I don't think it actually reflects the average rider or their goals well at all.

  5. It looks like y'all are both having a fun time and hey, that's how it should be. Good on you for doing all the things!

  6. I won't ever get bored of you recapping the same venue because every show is so different. That's the thing about horses right? Even if every variable is the same, the horse won't be... or we won't be as riders. It's always exciting and different. Sounds like a really fun day!

  7. I really enjoyed reading your post and can relate to many of the comments. It is refreshing to see someone enjoy their horse just for the sake of spending time together and doing something fun. We don't need a blue ribbon every time (or ever) to justify our desire to keep riding. Looks like you had a blast.

  8. Hey I basically go to the same shows over and over! Glad you had a good outing!


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