Wednesday, August 23, 2017

need a giggle? have some fails.

Busy days with limited horsing and even less media had me feeling like I didn't have much to share.

But lo! It dawned on me that as we approach the one year mark with Charlie, it might be fun to look back on some of our more.... uh.... special moments together. 

That's right, y'all. I'm talking bloopers. Funny moments of FAIL. Because damn, we've got a lot. Like, uh, who remembers this glorious first photo ever of me trotting on Charlie???

The horse is nothing short of a character, after all. And I figure, we spend so much time gushing about what a good boy he is that it's only fair to point out that he's kinda a goof too. Like here, where he just.can't.even with the flies.

Or, uh, that time I stuffed him on my old Calico trailer. Homebody did not fit and was not impressed.

And who can forget our first glorious attempts at ground poles? Much grace. Very elegance.

Of course all along I've been somewhat delusional about the future - like when I photoshopped Charlie's face into one of Allison's fox hunting pics with Dino lol. #notcreepyatall

Really tho, we all know the truth: Charlie's been a refined and sophisticated dressage horse since the beginning - including stunning the judge while winning his first show.

Of course, we can't blame the horse for all our fails. Sometimes (let's be real, most of the time), it's me. Like when I got the horse all tangled up trying to unload him from the trailer. He tried to stop - tried to tell me something was wrong. But noooo, I just couldn't listen. Le sigh, his sheet paid the ultimate price.

It's cool tho. Together, we're clearly an unstoppable force in the dressage world, experts of the upper level "imminent death by face planting" movements - a testament to our superior balance. 

Ha, and for further proof of our prowess, let's not forget that time we went to a fancy pants dressage clinic and basically had to be trotted around in hand by the clinician. Womp. 

Poor Charlie. Sometimes he can barely tolerate being seen with me. 

Sometimes, tho. Just sometimes.... The fails come straight from the horse's mouth. Or, uh, in this case, from Charlie's patented 'dinosaur stuck in tar pit' routine.

Pleasant, no?

Gosh, this really was a golden age for us in our partnership. Sometimes I almost miss it!

Definitely do not miss that whole "trying to teach Charlie to actually care even a little bit about where his feet are" thing tho.

All that hard work paid off tho. Suddenly Charlie became REALLY excited about having feet. And putting them EVERYWHERE! Like the above, when we pretended to drop into Head of the Lake over a tiny oxer. 

Which was naturally just practice for the real thing haha. #basicallyrolex

Ok so actually I have so many shots of us leaping hilariously over tiny fences while I desperately try to cling to his back. It's almost embarrassing lol. Almost.

But we're clearly beyond feeling any shame at this point haha.

These days we're more about world domination, one cross country course at a time. Never mind that the power steering barely works well enough to navigate a tiny 18" box from 5 strides out haha.

But what we lack in steering, Charlie clearly makes up with style. Tail style. 

And more exquisite form in leaping at dem fences!

Uh, most of the time haha. Can't fault the clever boy for checking all possible emergency exits every now and then tho!

Ugh but blast it, there's that stuck dinosaur again. When will this thing go extinct already??? Can we just pretend this is like, a pirouette canter or something??? 

Certainly it's better than whatever this graceful dressage brontosaurus is up to haha. 

Oh Charlie. Can we at least get points for creative expression?

Like that time he offered his own interpretive dance at the water - in a new move called "eliminated on refusals" lol.

He's certainly got a unique style!

And obvi much grace. We are, after all, nothing if not graceful.

And so the cycle continues. Forever and ever, amen. Here's for another year full of fantastically fail-ful moments with the big guy lol!

Oh horses. They're humbling sometimes for sure! Anyone else care to share some favorite moments of fail?

Monday, August 21, 2017

the jolly green giant goes xc schooling!

You all might live to regret the day you told me you were cool with all these intensely photo-spammy posts haha. Because I'm a dyed in the wool media junkie, and have absolute mountains from this weekend's lesson.

clever pone is best pone <3
I've been itching to go xc schooling for.... well, a couple months now. Various plans have been abandoned for various reasons (mostly weather related) and it was starting to feel a little dire, what with our entries already sent in for September's events.

but first we trot
We got yet another torrential downpour this past Friday night too, which threatened to upend our plans yet again (the farm typically prefers no schooling 24 hours after heavy rain) but somehow the rain was so intense that it all flash-flooded away without soaking into the ground too deeply. Bizarre but I'll take it!

i kinda love charlie's skeptical expression here
We started in the arena tho anyway for what would prove to be a bit of a marathon lesson, essentially two back to back lessons. I honestly probably could have lived without the arena jumping part tho.

wheeeeeeee and we jomp now!
Charlie and I were a bit out of sync. Maybe both a bit rusty considering all our mutual time off lately. As I already wrote, Charlie's a good boy and doesn't really regress in the truest sense of the word with time off.

enthusiasm, we gots it
also note: charlie's alushield-covered chest. he apparently got mauled by grass sharks, poor baby
But his training as yet is still very rough around the edges. He lacks refinement. Which... well, naturally - he's only had amateur me doing all of his training lol.

a little more united out of the one stride
It means tho that we can get a little coarse without consistent schooling. That he can be a little slower to react to aids, and I end up resorting to just plain pulling instead of using my full body and core strength to influence Charlie's balance and speed.

looking downright pleasant
So the jumping was honestly a little rough, with Charlie feeling very long and flat instead of up in front of my leg and into the bridle. This presents in constantly getting distances that just aren't quite right - a little long (or uh, very long) here, a little tight there.

yup, that'll do
But it's cool tho. The jumps stayed mostly small and Charlie still felt mostly game. So we kinda just warmed up over a few random singles, a one stride grid, and a bending line, then put a course together.

Nothing really ground breaking there. It wasn't our best jumping but I'm also kinda cool with that being the representation of what a "bad day" looks like for us right now. It could always be worse!

lots of pictures of pets today
After that, the whole group moved out to the cross country fields to start warming up over some logs. If you recall, Charlie's only really had two formal cross country lessons. We've gone out with friends before but not really jumped anything. And we got out at the end of a lesson a month or two ago and just jumped a couple things.

camera light settings went rogue. i kinda dig it tho!
Mostly tho, Charlie's gotten the lion's share of his experience via actual competitions. Specifically six horse trials, each with 10-15 jumps in the xc phase ranging from 18" to BN height.

wheeeee go tail power!
This has worked out reasonably well even if it's not ideal. Charlie's got a pretty clear sense of what this cross country thing is all about. He's seen a wide variety of fence styles across different types of terrain. And he has yet to see something that bugs him out!

trit trot, jiggity jog!
But the downside to only getting experience through competitions vs schooling is that we haven't really had a lot of time to work out any kinks. Everything has been very much about "getting it done" instead of.... ya know. Training and practicing.

technically a novice fence bc of the watery ground line. charlie calls a log a log tho
So this ride was great bc we got to get started right away on BN stuff, which Charlie seemed to appreciate and enjoy. And then also right away get to work on the holy trinity of cross country: ditches, banks and water.

what level do we event? genius level. obvi. 
Every time I hack Charlie out across these fields (or any xc field), I've made it a point to go up or down any tiny baby banks. Or go over the faux ditch (the most open ditch Charlie had previously seen was still this very inviting baby version at Tranquility). And obvi mosey through the water (usually going for a trot and canter through too, just because).

remember back when charlie had a meltdown about dropping into water? me neither ;)
But we logged some very important "firsts" this weekend:

1) Charlie trotted down a bank for the first time, and into water to boot. Good boy! That's not on the video but a couple variations of him walking down the bank are included and he looks pretty freakin cool about it all.

it's the house we painted!
2) We tackled some combinations and I did not pull the horse down into a nothing canter and add a zillion strides. Ahem. In fact, we were usually a little too gung ho, often leaving strides out. Ah well, game horse is game!

we match the jomps haha
3) Charlie met his first true open ditch!!! Actually, ditches!! And made exactly zero fuss about them. He actually overtook the horse who was supposed to be giving him a lead to the first ditch lol. We did the BN and N ditches, neither of which are particularly intense or terrifying or whatever. But both are quite legitimate questions and Charlie had the answer.

was supposed to be a four lol
4) We even did some N stuff!! Not much at all, and what we did do was either only N bc of the technicality or location of the terrain (see: that tiny log out of water) or was legit N sized but not maxed out and with a quite inviting profile (see: the roll top below).

we've previously jumped the N version of this fence. charlie says it's too sma
But all in all, it was a very good day for knocking some dust off and puffing up our combined confidence again. I gotta be totally honest: the first time I took Charlie xc schooling for real, I had to chug a couple adult beverages before hand and was very very very nervous.

there we go, that's more charlie sized!
But after our jam packed spring season competing? I have a TON of confidence in this horse on cross country now. Charlie is a good boy. He feels safe, reliable, and honest. Green, sure, but.... somehow also kinda a packer.

"i'm flying jack!"
I still have some work to do, however, as evidenced by my very defensive position. Just as with our stadium course, our canter wasn't always quite right and we got long to many of the fences. And I just simply can't bring myself to lean at the fences when that happens.

open N ditch? ain't no thang
Maybe bc Charlie has a history of tripping up front? Or being a little careless? Or because I fell off approximately 8 thousand horses last summer? Who knows. At least I'm figuring out how to slip my reins more and more even when I stay in the back seat.

this also was supposed to be a four. whoops!
But also like, lol, Charlie does not appear to be in the least bit slowed down by my position haha. What a star <3

So ya know. As always there's more work to do. Forever and ever. And I'm very hopeful that we'll get another opportunity (or two) to school before Fair Hill in early September. In fact, my friends and I might be planning something very fun, and very colorful lol.

gosh i <3 him
But for now I'm really pretty satisfied with the big horse. He's going well. He's become fairly reliable and predictable. Seems to understand and enjoy the game. And is happy to carry me forward to the fences.

I've had a lot of fun on Fair Hill's BN course in the past (fun fact: it was my first time there that finally convinced me to buy a helmet camera) and I think it'll be a really great challenge for Charlie at this point in his training. We'll see, there's still some time left!

Is anyone else starting to get excited about the fall season? Gearing up and preparing for fun stuff to come?