Tuesday, July 11, 2017

settling into the work

Despite what it might seem like, Charlie has actually been keeping busy lately - beyond just hack rides and massages and generally living in the land of luxury.

pictured: fly mask-less horse bc he ended up figuring out how to ditch that Roma mask too. so..... i guess the horse has made his preference clear. no masks for you!
He's actually been working pretty well too - surprising me with a lovely ride in his plain old snaffle the Friday before our regularly scheduled jump lesson. Like, he officially knows how to take a contact now. Can't hold it, often goes too deep, and is only actually shifting more weight to his hind quarters in the briefest of moments. BUT. It's happening. Excitement, y'all.

"WAT R DAT" - charlie, probably
We ended up moving our Saturday jump lesson up to the early morning time tho to accommodate my evening polo plans. This worked out well tho bc damn we're back in another heat wave after just a brief intermission. Sigh.

"are they horses? they be little tho!"
It was also Brita's first ride back with us since going on vacation, meaning video too!! Yay!! Unfortunately tho, some time in the last two weeks, trainer P had a very unfortunate accident that's landed her in crutches for the foreseeable future. Gah, I know all too well how terrible that is for a horse person!

pictured: cutest freakin shetland. she basically rules the roost at OF
So all of these factors combined to make it a very simple lesson. Trainer P did way more work with the jumps than I would have expected or asked for (and without a jump crew too! she's tough!), but it still meant very simple fences with no real adjusting the heights.

call me biased but i'm seeing glimmers of a very nice shape in how charlie is carrying himself to jump
This was fine by me tho - I never mind a lesson where the focus is just keeping it easy and simple and looking for correct execution.

poor trainer P tho... crutches are the worst :(
Charlie gave me a reasonable enough feel during our warm up but not quite as good as the evening before. We've got a ways to go before we're consistent, I think.

charlie actually had quite a few nice moments after he woke up!
Then for the jumping he actually started out pretty quiet! Like, really nicely quiet! I had this nice little loop in my reins and just kinda sat along for the ride as he cantered on along to all his fences. Tho after a few warm up fences, we kinda exposed the major flaw to this approach.

i could have lived without the moments while he was apparently still snoozin tho... 
Charlie cantered right on up to the above vertical easy as could be. Got to a quite nice distance, then ... just..... kinda .... I'm honestly not even sure. Hurled himself over it, but simultaneously without bothering to activate the landing gear? I don't even know what it was, other than lazy and borderline indolent lol.

charlie what even are you doin buddy??
Trainer P told me to give him a kick on landing (after we pulled ourselves back together again lol) for being so sloppy, but we still kinda ate it to our next fence anyway. Whoops!

there we go, that's a little better! 
It took me a minute to realize that for as nice as it was to not be getting dragged along by a speeding train to all the jumps, the opposite feeling of having nothing in the bridle wasn't really correct either.

before i realized he was behind my leg, i was just enjoying how 'soft' he was to the bridle - note the looped curb rein
That actually I needed to purposefully close my leg to push Charlie up and forward - but also close my hand and take more of a contact for him to go into at the same time. Or, ya know, in other words, getting the horse back up in front of my leg haha.

but.... as dan would say, don't confuse 'softness' with 'effectiveness.' big guy needed to be pushed up into that contact, not just have it looped at him
This was actually a very cool feeling for me too. Mostly bc one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make with Charlie has been calibrating my 'forward' leg aids. Often times when I want to move him up to something, I ask with WAY too much, and we blast off into orbit.

and once i remember that lesson, all was well again in the world
But on this day, especially since he wanted to be a little behind the leg, I got to really play around with how much I needed to bring him back forward again. He's really learning guys - it's a cool feeling.

And actually the brakes felt more reliable in this ride too. We got a little close a couple times, but he was able to 'whoa' in approach and compress enough to fit in mostly even strides (compared to our chip city Fair Hill stadium course lol).


Nothing revolutionary other than more evidence of Charlie slowly but surely figuring stuff out. And maybe looking like a pretty easy jumping horse in the process (check out that sweet lead change in the video too - that's basically almost fully reliable now!).

pets for a good pony after finishing up
It was funny tho bc I asked P what size the jumps were - expecting them to be about 2'3. She said that one or two of them were actually 2'6 tho. Which like.... Made me realize that she had gone to somewhat extreme lengths to fool me my last lesson before Tranquility haha.

Remember when I was all like, "we jumped our first full BN sized course. Precisely measured to be sure!" But then I walked the stadium course at Tranquility while it was set to N and realized it looked about the same height that Charlie had jumped in the lesson?

Yeeeeeaaa...... about that. Apparently that lesson would have been Charlie's first full course at 2'9, not 2'7. Trainer P just.... ya know.... told me differently. And pulled out the measuring stick for all the fences just to be that much more convincing. Tricksy tricksy!!

and puppies too!
Makes me feel pretty good about where we are tho! Charlie hadn't cared at all about the new height, but was obviously quite unimpressed with the smaller jumps in this week's lesson.

I don't really have any urgent need to rush with the horse, or hurry up and get anywhere in particular... but I've been musing about sticking more firmly to BN height for our next events. And I think we're there, for all intents and purposes. Still lots to clean up, but that's all ahead of us!

We had originally planned to 'solidify' our BN status in a jumping clinic with Jimmy Wofford tomorrow, but that unfortunately was cancelled due to low entries (wah). So instead I'm taking Charlie somewhere else. To a different trainer who has never seen him before - but who knows me. Much excitement about this, it's been a long time coming. Let's just hope it isn't so freaking hot that we don't die in the process. Wish us luck!

And out of curiosity - for those of you out there who jump, what do you look for in your horse to determine whether he's fully ready to move up yet? Or whether she's "confirmed" at a new level? Do you have any particular indicators you look for, or is it more of a general feeling or impression?

33 comments:

  1. IT sounds like a very good lesson working on the refining of things.

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  2. woohoo running out the door to the airport soon but had to have my Fraidy fix :) sounds like Charlie is figuring it out (even with the bobbles) and ha on your trainer for tricking you. Also ouch crutches. That sucks. Hope she heals quickly!!

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    1. Yea I'm pretty bummed for my trainer. She will get better but it might not be super fast. Bleh.

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  3. Oh Charlie....you have too many legs to know what to do with.

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    1. lol i keep trying to tell him that it's only 4 legs.... but nope, apparently still far too many for the big guy!

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  4. Dude the balance in his canter is just dreamy these days! And I like to be comfortable schooling a bit bigger than I'm showing at whatever level we're at in stadium, like no anxiety I know the horse is gonna do the thing no problemo. For XC, I need to know I can confidently and competently jump every element I'm going to see on course at competition height. My 'must school higher' rule is more lax there, because brain problems. If I waited to be schooling Novice before moving back up to BN I would never, ever do it!

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    1. i <3 his canter! and definitely agreed on wanting to be fairly confident that we've got the skills to accomplish the course ahead of us! i'm also another one who's lax about the rule of always schooling a level higher. mostly bc i think most rules in horses are kinda gray and hazy anyway lol, but it's a good guideline!

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  5. Bummer about the clinic! I get that the big names like Jimmy are otherwise engaged on weekends, but it's tough for us average people to do things on weekdays.

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    1. ugh right???? so frustrating that all this fun stuff is on week days. they organizers were like "we'll move your entry to the next date" but.... i won't be on vacation then, lady! c'mon now!

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  6. I don't get the mid week clinic nonsense. hope your lesson goes well!

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    1. yea the mid week thing bugs me lol. and thanks, think cool breezy thoughts for me!

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  7. In order to move up I need to think the horse is physically ready for the work, general lessons have been positive (note I didn't say perfect) and that if we do get into a situation I have the tools to get the horse up and over and around.

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    1. i like that perspective a lot. it's not about perfection most of the time, so much as it's about being prepared to work through problems if/when they arise.

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  8. He looks so great in the video! Height is definitely no big thang for C-man. Sucks to hear the clinic was cancelled, I was looking forward to living vicariously through you.

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    1. ugh yea i was bummed about the cancellation too but c'est la vie! hopefully we'll have other fun stuff to write about eventually ;)

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  9. Refinement work can be so boring, but so rewarding :)

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    1. see that's maybe where we're different - there's nothing at all boring to me about this stuff!

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  10. I guess when you're 9 feet tall, 2'6" is a speed bump. I have no eye right now, having not jumped in... two? three? years. I was convinced a jump was 2'6" last week and it was 2'. I guess the plus side is when she told me that, I was like, oh, well that's embarrassing now I HAVE to jump it.

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    1. oooooh yay for taking a jump lesson tho!!! and yea my eye totally disappeared over the last year - i have exactly zero idea what size anything is. esp when i first started jumping charlie, 2' looked HUGE (do you remember when i made my trainer take a picture of us with the measuring stick next to our first 2' fence??? LOL). it's all relevant tho and luckily our eyes adjust more quickly than we think!

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  11. Oh, huge bummer about the clinic :( But Charlie is looking so good! You both are looking awesome!

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  12. Aww Chuckles. He looks wonderful! So much fatter now, too.
    I move up when the current level feels really easy and we're effectively schooling the next level at home. It depends where I want the horse to end up, though. Sale ponies can move up to Novice (First) when they're scoring in the low to mid 60s in Prelim (Training); that's solid and they're probably never going to do anything harder than Novice in the pony rider world. But my own young dressage ponehs aim for high 60s to low 70s before we move up from Prelim to Novice because that horse is aiming for Medium (Fourth) or higher.

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    1. yea i think that's an important perspective too: that the criteria for moving up is very dependent on the goals for that horse or rider. if part of the goal is establishing a record for sale, for instance, or if it's just about having fun and doing cool things, the criteria will be different.

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  13. Emma. Charlie looks really amazing. I absolutely see those flickers of awesome future with a lot more frequency in your photos lately. SO exciting!

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    1. thanks! i'm super excited about it too - he's having these moments where he just feels GREAT! accepting more weight onto his hind end, being soft but *in* the bridle... still no real half halt yet tho but some of that is a *me* problem too, but it's happening!

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  14. First of all, I LOVE Charlie's "high blow" while he goes around... I love horses that do that, it makes keeping a rhythm so much easier:) You guys are such a lovely team! Also, for what it's worth Jimmy teaches a clinic near us once a month for $100 (it's a word of mouth thing), I can send you the dates since you're not on FB. He alternates xc and sj (it's super nice place with great footing and fun jumps).

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    1. omg i love the blowing too haha - he takes his job so seriously!!! and thanks for offering that info. honestly i chose this clinic bc it was something fun to do with brita during my week off work, rather than specifically seeking out wofford. my own priorities tend to lie more in nailing down times to ride with all my current regular trainers (some of whom i don't see nearly often enough) but i'm sure there will be some time in the future where a clinic might align well with our schedule!

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  15. He's doing so awesome!! You guys are going to go far... at what rate of speed, I have no idea how to tell, but definitely far! Seems your trainer thinks your rate could go faster! ;)

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    1. ha yea trainer P definitely thinks we could step things up a little for charlie. we took his introduction to jumping soooooo slowly tho, very carefully, very step-by-step. so now it feels like he's got a really solid foundation. like he's already experienced almost every mistake in the book, and learned a little bit better how to work it out for himself. he seems to understand the game and actually seems to prefer the bigger jumps. all in time tho!

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  16. Do I count as someone who jumps these days? ;)

    Trainer P, what a sneaky, sneaky! And Charlie just leaping over like NBD. <3

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  17. His canter is looking great. I never really move up so I have no idea when. I'd probably need a couch to trick me into it. Do you have the same fox saddle pad as me? I can't tell from the pics, but it looks similar. It's such a cute pad.

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  18. LOL Wake up Charlie. He's so cute over those jumps and looks like he's really getting it now. Bravo you two

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