What a blast! Charlie and I went cross country schooling yesterday at Jumping Branch Farm in Aiken and let me tell you, we had fun! First and foremost, Jumping Branch is an absolutely lovely facility - beautifully maintained and lots of great schooling questions. Highly recommend it if you happen to be in the area. The show jumping looked like lots of fun as well so we'll have to go back and give that a whirl at some point.
Charlie was amazing! He was very excited to be there and was a bit strong warming up but once we started jumping, he was a total rockstar. He's very brave and about 5 strides out you can literally feel him say "I got this" and he takes you right to the fence, jumping out of stride. He does not feel like a horse that has only jumped 2 tadpole courses and 1 beginner novice course - he feels like a horse that has loads more experience. Everything was just so easy; ditches - no problem; water - sounds like fun, jumping in = even more fun; coffin - cool. He didn't bat an eyelash at anything except a stone wall and even that, when I said we're going, he went. No argument. He gives me tons of confidence which I find very ironic considering I'm supposed to be the more experienced partner. I just can't believe how much fun he is and how lucky I am to have this amazing horse.
Now to what we need to work on. I'm very tall in my upper body and I have to be very careful to stay back so Charlie can balance. He has a tendency to get on his forehand and I can significantly help him by keeping my upper body back. J was really helpful with this, reminding me to be proactive and not wait until he's already on his forehand before doing something about it. I also need to remember to ride every stride because they all count. Rhythm is my friend and I really need to work on keeping a steady rhythm to the jumps. Charlie is very rhythmic but every once in a while he gets a little too bold and it's my job to remind him to stay in the rhythm. Counting is pretty helpful so I need to keep working on that. I'm hoping to go to the Carolina Horsepark at the end of January and school there as well - hopefully, Mother Nature cooperates!
He'll get today off, sort of. I started pulling his mane the other day and need to finish that up. Poor guy looks like a rag-a-muffin between his rain rot and half pulled mane. He also got some new kicks while in Aiken - the farrier is so nice and normal! A normal farrier, crazy I know. His wife was there and she was really interesting to talk to - she gallops race horses for Darley America (that's the Arab group that has racing businesses all over the world).
I guess it's back to flat work tomorrow and a lesson with J on Tues...