Thursday, July 26, 2012

The rest of the story

So I have to back up about a week.  A week ago yesterday, I had a lesson with Carolyn at a new location in town (this farm is actually super close but Carolyn doesn't go there on a regular basis).  My ride time was at noon which meant it was pretty gross out but Charlie handled it like a champ.  I got there a bit early because I wanted to give Charlie some time to look around and relax.  Good move on my part.  He came off the trailer and was very excited to be in a new place.  After about 10 min, he settled right down and we tacked up.

I probably sound like a broken record but we worked again on contact and getting him to accept the outside rein.  We're getting so much better!  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  He was pretty up and when he's like that, Carolyn has me trot right off the bat so Charlie can burn off some energy.  Once he settled, the goal was to get him to stretch his neck into a soft hand.  I struggle most with just maintaining a soft feel of his mouth and letting my hand just follow.  I want to pull back to create the contact (still working on this) which causes him to fuss because he's not ready for that kind of contact.  Once he was walking forward into the contact, we added some flexion to soften his jaw.  As his jaw softens, it's my job to take up the slack created with my outside rein.  As he softens in his jaw, I up the pressure by asking him to come rounder.  We spent most of the lesson on this concept.  If Charlie comes above the bit or loses the flexion, my job is to flex him and use my inside leg to remind him to stay soft and in a true bend.  Carolyn told me its my job to let him know when he's doing something I don't like and his reward is me staying quiet with my body.  It's so crazy how well this stuff works!  My mind is still blown over how much progress we've made or should I say how much progress I've made.  Charlie is truly a rockstar - if I ask correctly, he does exactly what he's supposed to do.  I've never had a horse this easy.  Lucky, lucky me!

So as I mentioned, we went to a new farm for the Carolyn lesson.  Well, said farm is owned by a local event trainer and she is getting ready to test for her ICP level 2 certification and needed guinea pig riders to teach.  She asked if I would be willing to come for a lesson on Saturday and I figured why not?  Poor Charlie hasn't jumped since our show in early June but I signed us up for a jumping lesson.  He was a rockstar!  The lesson was a bit awkward because she was teaching according to the ICP format which I wasn't a huge fan of but whatever.  She had me work on getting Charlie truly in front of my leg and maintaining an uphill balance.  I felt like a bit of a wild indian but mom said it looked fine (super mom came out to watch).  I'm contemplating going back for another lesson to see what she's like when she isn't trying to hit "x" number of points (she has to touch on certain things - kinda like a pony club lesson).  I really like Janna but it would be super convenient to only have a 20 min trailer ride for lessons vs an hour.  I'm going to talk with Janna and see what we come up with as I'd still like to ride with her but it's tough to get up there sometimes and I think I need to be on a more consistent schedule.

I was really proud of Charlie -  a month + off from jumping and he didn't bat an eyelash at anything.  He's so good.  He definitely has his quirks - not tying to the trailer gets annoying as does the pawing in the trailer or the not loading but as totally makes up for it with his willingness to go to work when it matters.

Which brings us to yesterday - in this lesson, Carolyn was really happy with our progress and we worked a little bit on the contact issue but spent the majority of the lesson on pressuring him when he dumps the contact.  We also worked on transitions a bit and that's my homework for next time.  In order to have a really good transition, Charlie needs to understand that sitting simply means sitting trot b because right now, he thinks it means transition where he dumps the contact and falls into the new gait. This means a lot of work for me because physically, I'm just not strong enough to sit the trot right now. Charlie's pretty bouncy so it makes sitting even tougher but I think once we're both strong enough, he's going to have an amazing trot.  I guess that's the incentive...  Carolyn said we look really good and have made tons of progress in the last month.  She's seriously a miracle worker.  I'm super excited for this fall - I'm starting to plan a tentative schedule for us.  Fingers are crossed!

So I've done some shopping and one purchase I've been really happy with are these which I got from SmartPak (because that's where I get everything for Charlie!):


I got them on sale for $16.95/pair and I love them!  They wash great and provide the perfect amount of protection.  I have a similar pair from Dover which I think are too thick.  Not to mention I got them in Feb and they are already starting to fall apart.  Grrrrr... :(

Still on the hunt for shipping boots - I've tried Kensington and Pessoa both were no good.  I have to go to Marietta (just outside of Atlanta) which is one town over from Alpharetta where a Dover store is located at the end of August so I might make a trip over there to take a peak at their shipping boots.  I refuse to pay Dover shipping costs, just won't do it.  Any other suggestions are welcome.  Pretty sure he needs a warmblood size since he's so stinking tall and with almost all of his height being in his leg.  It's so funny - everybody thinks he's bigger than 17.1 because his legs are so long.  But he's a gentle giant.  

Going to try and ride in the morning but the heat has been out of control especially when paired with the humidity.  It's a little demotivating when it's 76 degrees with 85%+ humidity at 0630...


  1. Question on the boots you got from smartpak- are yours smart pak brand or intec? I ordered a pair and mine aren't matching so I am curious if others have had that issue?

    Glad Charlie was such a champ! :)

    1. The boots I posted about are smartpak brand - I got front and hind because they were out of black and I'm too much of a fashion snob to sport white in front and black behind. I ordered a black hind pair last year and they were intec. I thought I was going to get intec because that's what came last time but I like the smartpak brand way more. The intec were okay but I feel like the smartpak brand is a bit tougher. I'd call smartpak and see if you can't exchange the intec pair for a smartpak pair. Can't beat $16.95!

    2. True to smartpak style they are going to send me a pair of smartpak front boots for the boy. And they are potentially going to have me donate the other pair. Go smartpak! and I know they are definitely a great deal. I have been showing my boots to anyone that will listen! Ha. I think I have sold 3-4 pairs already!

    3. That's so awesome! I love smartpak!