Monday, September 19, 2022

year of the dragon (slayer) -- CT edition

Charlie and I haven't ridden at any of our home events since, ahem, our mortifying spectacle of 2020. You know the one. 

The events are always desperate for volunteers anyway, so I've just focused on making myself useful rather than risk reliving any of those bad memories, ya know? 

just me and my favorite bronto -- out doin the thing we enjoy
Except. Eh, by the time this year ends, I'll have logged somewhere around 100 volunteer hours -- just counting recognized events (vs schooling stuff, which I also do). Wayyy more time than has gone to my own personal competition schedule this year.

And maybe after making it around Plantation's show jumping a few weeks back -- after years of angst about that venue -- something important shifted inside of me. And almost out of the blue, two weeks ago, I impulsively decided that, YES, I will ride in our home starter trial! 

quite literally my local neighborhood church sign as i drove home from the show. feels fitting, not gonna lie. 
Obvi not the full three phase horse trial, tho. Let's not go crazy, guys, lololol.... No no, just the Novice CT. Idk what it is about CTs, but I like them. And ya know, I like Novice too. So, let's do the things we like doing, yes? Yes. 

ok guys, an attempt at quarter marks was made lol
And, not to make a long story too too long.... It was good! We had fun! I was definitely nervous going into it.... But.... Like, normal nervous. Not awake at night fretting. Not a tense nightmare on show day. And not like... crippled by the task that lay ahead of us. 

Just normal butterflies that didn't at all interfere with any of the steps along the way to getting shit done. Yessss. If there is one big win from the year 2022, it will be that we're finally starting to feel just a little bit more resilient again. Finally

not like you could see them thru fuzzy screen shots anyway LOL -- but hey-o, lookin at me doin the things i said i'd do -- cantering around before entering at A!
So. Details? As you all might recall, Charlie and I rode in a fun little fix-a-test clinic a week and a half ago when we seemingly randomly chose Novice Test B for our victim.

charlie was a seriously good boy too <3
As I alluded to then, the choice was driven by this new event on our calendar. So it was the perfect prep to really learn the test, and get a good and solid scolding reminding me to please ride more forward. 

trying to channel our feedback from the fix-a-test
And I can't exactly brag on what was not a particularly competitive dressage score, except lol you know me -- I'm totally gonna brag. My horse was SO GOOD! Any of you longtime readers will see what I mean if you watch the video. Charlie worked it, and really really tried. 

d'aww look who's sorta going kinda uphill-ish!!
I made it my business to do a little counter canter in warm up, and then canter again right before entering the ring, and feel like it really helped him bring all his quarters together. It also just felt like.... He knew. Knew I needed it, or something. Whatever. He was so good. 

sadly a little bit of an itch-apocalypse at the end wrecked a couple scores.... curious if any of y'all would have ridden out the itchy nose differently?  
Canter still needs more work -- particularly the transitions into canter (down transitions are actually nice enough I don't plan on fucking with them). And this judge did actually want me to be a little more accurate with hitting the letters. 

Tho if any of you saw Peter Gray's recent EN podcast where he dissected a Michi Jung dressage test, you'll recall hearing him say "sure sure deep corners are great, but not if they interrupt your flow!" Which.... yep. Sure, this judge dinged me in the comments for geometry... but still scored us a 7.0. Good 'nuff for now! 

Only sad part was at the end of the test. Obvi I ride Charlie bitless the vast majority of the time. But on this day, the poor pony suffered through a normal bridle AND A FLASH STRAP OMG THE HORROR. And he is so spoiled omg, watch him repeatedly stamp his foot at me when he wanted to rub his nose.... Sigh. The judge called it "some fussiness today" but WE know the truth lol. 

True story tho, I'm legit curious -- those last four scores got a little dinged from Charlie's urge to itch (6.5, 6.0, 6.0, 6.5 respectively). In a similar boat would you have just sacrificed one movement to let him stop and itch, then proceed? Idk what that would do to a score, or whether we could make up the difference in later moves... But I'm curious! Let me know what you think! 

anyway -- onto the jomping part!! and yes, i am hopeful there will be pro pics later <3
Anyway. Let's move this marathon post onto the FUN part!! Jompies yay! 

I really don't know what to say about jumping this horse. He is so good to me. So kind, so capable. And, let's be real, after 4 years at this height.... He basically knows what he's about out there. 

jump 1: straight outta the pan and into the fire!
I have a couple jobs as a rider, sure. But.... At this point with Charlie, my job is actually back in the barn. Keeping him sound. Keeping his joints lubricated, his toes trimmed, his muscles loose. Ooooooh, and giving this big bad boy the grip he craves. 

not gonna lie, i hated this jump -- an oxer going downhill lol
If there was one big win from the weekend -- it was in the studding department. Now I've studded Charlie for about 4 years at this point, bc he likes it and I like it when he likes it. On this day, tho, I tried a newer-to-us set of grass studs behind. 

They are slimmer and pointier (and thus more able to pierce the hard ground) --- but also a bit "taller" if you will. That last dimension is kinda what has made me hesitate from using them much... But after this ride I'm 100% converted. 

obvi it doesn't matter when you're on the best horse in the world tho <3
Starting as early as warm up, which is on very uneven and occasionally off-camber ground, Charlie was.... well... grounded. And I don't mean "earthbound" either. 

It was like he knew *exactly* where each hoof was, particularly his hind feet. And could reach up underneath himself and propel forward -- especially on turns and slopes. Like he had every confidence in the world that his hooves were gonna stick where he placed them. 

squint a little and you can sorrrrta see the quarter marks lol, and also me being a good dog by holding my neck strap -- until death (or very long spots) do we part!
I jumped more warm up fences than I usually do... But mostly bc I was trying to actually like... Idk, do my job? Find an issue, fix an issue -- rather than just survive warm up then hope for the best, ya know? 

Charlie was obvi aces, tho. The "issues" we had were basically all at the rider level, and all at the "forward" end of the spectrum vs "weak underpowered" end. BUT -- importantly -- not in the chaotic out-of-control way of that 2020 ride. 

ok so we did end up getting a little wild toward the end
Which brings us to the other big win::: The hackamore will continue to be our go-to for the foreseeable future -- noting that it's all leather at this point, including curb strap. 

The amount of "whoa!" power this thing gives is incredible -- esp when you consider how easily Charlie can push right into and through it when he needs to. It's strong enough without being overpowering or backing him off. 

finished strong tho!! and definitely loving this hackamore for us 
And sure, we still jump the left of every fence (LOL) but I don't see that as a hackamore-related steering issue. In fact, the horse steers quite well -- and even better when I can be bothered to like... Idk, ride lol. 

So. Anyway. If you want details on the course itself.... Eh, watch the video. It's 2min lol. We I had a couple rails -- including the vertical out of the 2-stride, something that's common enough for us to merit future attention. And we got a little wild and wooly at one point... but kept it together. 

All in all, another one of our patented "doesn't really pop on paper, but was actually a damn good day" type shows. I'll take it, haha. 

Also. For interested parties. Gold's priced at roughly $1.55K per ounce. With 16 ounces per pound, and considering Charlie is worth his literal fucking weight in it... Anybody wanting to acquire this beastie from me best be prepared with about $34.7M, kthxbai. 


  1. Yay!! Congrats on overcoming the demons of the last show to go out and have fun!!!

    1. dude i was SO relieved to just be able to actually enjoy it haha, crazy what anxiety can do to us... .

  2. Yay! Sounds like great fun all around! I'm glad you're feeling ready (you clearly ARE ready) to get out do more things again! Good boy, Charlie! Great job, Emma!

    1. doing the things is our favorite haha -- typically we're getting out and goin places 1-3x monthly, tho last month was obvi a wash after charlie tangled with that fence... something about doing the things at home tho can somehow be a *liiiittle* more challenging, go figure!

  3. That is definitely a big deal to have a successful do-over. Happy for you and Charlie! I can see why you feel so proud of him.

  4. That sounds like such a fun day, so happy you had success on home turf!

    1. so fun!! and such a relief to not be psychos at home LOL.... it's so funny what sets these horses off!

  5. In answer to your question I would never allow my horse to stop and itch. I'd rather get dinged on a couple scores and teach him he simply cannot stop than let him think for one second that a stop and itch is acceptable... Kind of like those horses that are allowed to stop and poop. Once they learn that they never seem to unlearn it!

    1. yea that does seem to be a common training approach... tho tbh i'm not really a hard-liner or absolutist about anything in horse training, except going forward off the leg. as long as the horse moves forward off my leg (which he did do in this test even with the itchies), we can compromise on just about anything else. so... yea i let him rub his face under saddle lol (and have def scratched up a few bridles that way....) so that ship has kinda already sailed.

      maybe i should just lube up the flash strap (LOL) or something next time so he doesn't get itchy in the first place??

  6. YES! Conquer those demons! So proud of you two! You both look great out there. It's almost annoying how doing all that homework actually pays off on game day... Lol!

    1. LOL isn't it crazy what practice will do??? for real tho, i love it when things feel reliable, consistent, predictable, etc.... and it turns out there's really only one way to get that feeling!

  7. I totally get the worry and demon slaying. Good for you. As for the nose itching, I would have pushed through it too. I wouldn't want to let Carmen think she can stop and itch - that would be the path to madness. ;)

    1. lolz charlie is just so friggin spoiled (plus just generally a very VERY itchy horse, apparently...). i tend to think that if i had stopped in any of the movements for him to itch, we'd have probably gotten a 4. meanwhile, it's not really guaranteed that any of those last four scores would have been much better without the fussiness.... maybe like +0.5 per score? so.... idk. it's probably a difference of about +/- 1pt, aka 0.56%.... which would probably matter more in the grand scheme of things if i didn't reliably go bowling in stadium LOL....

      anyway, if you're curious, the idea first struck me bc a friend once had a fly plague her mare thru multiple moments of a dressage test, after which the judge suggested next time she just stop and smoosh the fly, then proceed. but maybe judges see flies differently than a horse enabled to stop and itch? idk


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