Monday, October 3, 2022

taking a page out of Caroline's book

I was expecting to have about six weeks between our last CT and the next show.... But some scheduling got shifted around and a new opportunity presented itself... Plus with volunteer credits it looks like I'll actually have another totally free entry to one of our favorite local venues. Who can say no to that?

kinda looks like we're making progress, but mostly bc a single exercise might turn up in multiple categories
It means, tho, that I'm grateful for having already been on this cavalletti / ground pole kick lately. Up until literally this weekend, it's been abysmally dry and hard out, and I've been reluctant to do a ton of jumping. So Margaret Rizzo McKelvy's Grid Pro Quo book is filling a pretttty important gap for us right now. 

ah yes, the circle of death 
(and yessss it rained!!!!)
Plus ya know. There's honestly something relieving about having specific things to *do* in any given ride. Sure, deciding on and setting up an exercise might seem a bit arduous, but then once you're actually in the ride, it's nice to be just kinda mindless in determining what to do when. 

ok so i didn't actually set the exercise up myself so the measurements aren't an exact match. nbd tho!
This week I was actually even luckier bc somebody else had already set up the Circle of Death, it wasn't even particularly intentional on my part. Which is probably for the best bc I honestly don't love this exercise and likely wouldn't have chosen it myself. But if it's there, we'll do it! 

for those interested, here's maybe the Version 2.0 of the same exercise -- but with the bonus of now having the longer outside lines where you can open the canter up and force the adjustability test
The hardest thing about this ride was really insisting on forward first, then attempting the exercise. One thing I'm learning with Charlie is that... Well at this point he has a pretty easy time slugging along under paced. He can successfully execute shorter distances and compressed strides not necessarily bc he's increased his engagement and collection, but bc he's just... sluggin, ya know? 

switching gears slightly to a very professional course diagram that i had the pleasure of building while volunteering at Loch Moy last week
And that's No Bueno for me bc it kinda gives me a false sense of security, but then we canter up to an actual bigger jump with no impulsion and.... yea, turns out that's not a great feeling. 

So for this ride, I insisted on establishing forward immediately, then progressively put the pieces of the circle together. 

here's a link to youtube if you wanna see the course ridden!
just fyi: the video is oriented opposite of the diagram -- the camera would have been placed basically right under the words "horse trials" in the diagram, facing the in/out gates

We started by trotting single poles during our warm up, and ditto cantering single poles. We cantered early in this ride anyway just as part of the whole "Go Forth, Son!" idea... Plus it started raining on us and I was eager to be efficient lol...

unrelated loch moy observances: anybody familiar with this brand? i'd never heard of them before impulsively placing a possibly-questionable order last week. then this week saw these bridle tags for sale at a show... maybe it's a newer company?
Once the horse felt good and snappy, tho, we worked on trotting multiple poles in a row. First 2 at a time, then using individual poles as part of a figure-8 or serpentine, then eventually getting half the circle, then the whole circle. 

more loch moy observances: is it weird that i have such serious jump number storage envy???? just look how tidy! much organized!!
From there we moved to transitions -- another feature in many of our rides lately. Trotting the whole circle, then exiting on a tangent to pick up canter around the whole ring, then picking up pieces of the circle in canter. First just one pole, then two together, then half a circle, etc etc. 

anyway. in case you were curious, here is said professional jump course designer, author of the above diagram. this is his decidedly feline reaction when i asked him to show the camera his beautiful eyes <3
We could consistently get 3 strides in canter between most of the poles, tho one segment we almost always chopped in a 4th. Idk if that was bc of imprecise steering on my part, or just bc the spacing was a little off. In any case, that 4th stride fit and I didn't let it bother me. 

It was more important that I felt Charlie really try to find each pole in canter. When the distance is awkward and he's not super engaged or impulsive, he's likelier to break to trot to make it work out. Which is fine in its own right, it's still an effective footwork solution... But it's also good for him to try to work it out within canter. 

ooooh but you can sorta see them peepers here! what a sweetie! 
It's hard for him sometimes, esp on the left lead -- I'm finding that while he's generally strong in canter on both leads, we still tend to have fewer options with the left lead, if that makes sense. But our last pass through it felt like he really really tried the whole way thru, for which he naturally earned a carrot bite, some scritches, and an end to the ride lol. Good boy, sir, let's get out of the rain now!

So. Another exercise attempted lol. Undoubtedly more to come, too. But... Hopefully the next you'll hear from us will involve actually full size jumps haha, now that we got a little rain! 


  1. "but then we canter up to an actual bigger jump with no impulsion and.... yea, turns out that's not a great feeling." I feel called out LOL

  2. I have a knock off pessoa rig made by Waldhausen that I like (although the original is better made) and I have seen a Waldhausen halter that I LOVED but can't find it for sale anywhere

    1. ooooh that's super good to know! the product i bought (details to be forthcoming when it's actually here in my hands) is definitely on the "economy" side of the price spectrum, so i'm trying to be realistic in what to expect... but one of the very few reviews i could find was basically like "i saw it in a shop and thought it was nice --- would have bought it if i needed it!" so we'll see. glad to hear that you like what you have from them!

    2. They have been around in the mid-range European tack lineup for a while. They used to distribute the nathe bits (until the manufacturer sold their molds, to HS I believe?) I think. Like a lot of the mid-range stuff, some of it is great value and some of it is meh.

    3. ok that's super reassuring too. they seem to have a pretty huge range of offerings etc, and the product i bought looks nicely designed, with a few extra details that i hadn't seen on other similar products. so we shall see what the leather is like when it arrives. i plan to basically attack it with conditioners etc the moment it comes out of the box, no matter what... but i'm still gonna be sad if it's real crap!

  3. "I'm finding that while he's generally strong in canter on both leads, we still tend to have fewer options with the left lead..."

    One of the things I'm working on with Speedy is expanding the range of options he sees in the canter and especially in the right lead canter. He will switch to left lead *almost* every time in a line of raised cavaletti, and if the spot or impulsion isn't there he will break to trot pretty quickly in both leads. It's funny, because his canter IS a strong gait and he has great footwork when jumping. But it's like the knowledge of how to do different types of footwork isn't there for him. So that's one of my big focuses this winter, getting him better with the feets!

    1. dude YES. that's basically what it boils down to. i'm glad charlie knows how to solve basically every footwork problem, and his solutions of swapping leads or breaking or whatever are just fine in competition where we basically just need to get 'er done, ya know? but in practice? i want to really build out more of our tools for strengthening him up. and doing all these different cavalletti / ground pole exercises has so far been really enlightening, while also maybe still kinda fun for the horse!

  4. I had a couple Waldhausen saddle pads a million years ago and they were really nice for the price. They lasted forever too.

    1. this is giving me serious hope that i'll be happy with the new toy when it arrives!!

  5. I might be taking a page from your book haha Being stuck in the arena during wildlife hunting season, I think ground poles might be in our future as well!

    1. ha definitely throw some down and have fun! i honestly love having even just a couple randomly placed poles set out around a ring, it's always more interesting to have something to "aim" for and keep me honest about steering and energy etc lol

  6. I love Waldhausen! It's super affordable and everything I've gotten from them is decent quality. I LOVE their blankets, but haven't had them long so can't speak to longevity just yet.


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