Tempest

I rode on Wednesday in the field, because I felt Oats deserved a chill-out ride after our rather intense lesson on Tuesday.

He was good, we had a very brief ‘battle of wills’ when he wanted to turn left and I wanted to go straight and had to turn him right. Yes, funny how that battle seems to surface and all he wants to do is go LEFT and I want to go RIGHT! He threatened a bit, but I stayed ‘chilly’ and just kept asking, quietly, calmly, asking.

He gave up pretty quick and we went down the field. Trotted, cantered, hopped over the cavalettis- singly at a trot, then trot into the line and canter out, then trot one and skip the other- just to mix it up a bit.

The weirdest part was my incredible anxiety.

Oats was being fine- I had no real probs, he was happy to keep going along, and my heart was in my throat, weirdly. I was so anxious, when I jumped him over the little cavalettis acid practically splashed up my throat- like heartburn!?

(Ok so maybe that part was eating too many sriracha-flavoured chips before heading out to the barn)

But still, what the heck? Am I in a slump? All I can see in my mind is an accident- screwing up, bad things happening, a black cloud hanging over my head all day.

I didn’t have my lesson last night- the indoor is being resurfaced and it got too dark to jump outside- so I didn’t go riding. I rescheduled for Saturday, and I will probably head out for a hack tonight.

But I just keep feeling jealous of the teens/kids at the barn who are seemingly effortless at jumping bigger jumps than me (I want that! For me!) and having great success at shows that I have pretty much made a career out of falling off at. WTF?

So, I am jealous. And anxious. And this is not a good combination. Are we capable of more? Am I holding myself back? (short answer: yes I am).

But how do I move past this? I love jumping and I want to do more, go higher, etc. But the other lizard-part of my brain tightens up even THINKING about it.

How do I move from thinking….to doing? And I have literally been struggling with this for yeaars. YEARS! Some days and some lessons, and some shows, are better. I have been in a slump for awhile though.

And here is a song that wraps up what I am feeling: Tempest by Lucius.

Drive well, sleep carefully: Oats updates

So this weekend wasn’t a lot of Oats-riding, as you may have guessed. I had a good jumping lesson on Thursday, and then took Fri-Sat off and rode on Sunday.

fancy dressage Oats

fancy dressage Oats

Sunday Oats was good, we rode in the outdoor, but I wasn’t. I was having trouble breathing, and it felt like my whole chest was constricted. I was gasping and having the hardest time catching my breath, it felt like a mild case of ‘getting the wind knocked out of you’ but it was like, the whole ride? Scary! My hands were shaking and I just kept trying to breathe.

So, despite his rider having an apparent asthma attack, Oats behaved himself and we trotted a few fences, and cantered and then I had to stop and slide off, because I was fairly sure I was going to faint and fall off.

Indian Summer

Indian Summer

Monday, I went to ride and poor Oats’ eyes were swollen shut. The return of the flyborne eye-infection! ARGH. I cleaned the goop out of his eyes, put polysporin eye cream in them, and put his fly mask back on. No riding for me on Monday.

Tuesday we had our lesson with Karen Brain and Robin. And it was intense. Not physically challenging, as sometimes they are, but just…Jesus. Oats was NOT HAVING IT. He was upset, pissy, rude, bucking, stalling out, humping his back up…All in the name of progress, ha.

What was it that had him so flustered? Well, surprisingly it was mostly walk-trot work, we barely even cantered! We worked on holding a bend, and asking for the horse to go with just a ‘tap tap’ from the whip. No pump, no legs, nothing else. Body relaxed, a sack of potatoes  but they had to GO and they had to BEND. This was mindblowing for Oats.

He would go, and his head would fly up! He would resist! He wanted to go faster! He didn’t want to bend anymore! Buck! Backwards! Stall out! Pull!

We fought for awhile, but at the end of the lesson (after a lot of hissy-fits) he was licking, chewing, shaking his head, and blowing and snorting. It was obvious that he was holding a TON of mental tension during the exercise, and was letting it go after.

He was really sweaty after too, and I wasn’t. More proof that the tension he was holding made him work harder. Karen cautioned us that this kind of work was very hard for a pony like Oats (who is used to doing his own thing) and to not practice it without supervision.

No worries there- yikes, it was so challenging that I would not want to do it on my own anyways. The risk of screwing up is too high for us, on this kind of work.

Summer of Sarah: Rifflandia 2014

It’s come and gone! Rifflandia 2014 was a success!

Mimosas to kick off Rifflandia 2014

Mimosas to kick off Rifflandia 2014

I was lucky enough to be able to get a full pass and we enjoyed lots of music, from the night stages (Market Square on Thursday night) to the park pass Fri-Sun. It was exhausting, but good. I mean, it only comes 1X a year so why not?

My friend came from Vancouver to the Saturday park show and I was so glad. She loves good music, as do I, so it’s always great to have her stay with us.

Standouts include Death Cab for Cutie. I can’t get enough of them live, ever. They are my favourite band, hands down. And, I learned recently that Chris Walla would be leaving DCFC, leaving a significant gap to be filled. So, we watched his last performance with the band, a bittersweet but solid closing.

My fav band

My fav band

And you can check that out here

The others?

  • Many to name: New Pornographers- ok but wanted more of their old stuff, and they played ALL their new stuff. Sigh!
  • Dragonette- ok, a bit poppy for my liking.
  • Airborne Toxic Event- GOOD. This is a solid band. Getting better all the time.
  • Girl Talk- ok, not reaally my type of music but fun and upbeat. Can’t beat the spectacle of glitter/confetti/water guns/floating Earth ball/confetti balloons.
  • Funk Hunters- good, but again not my type of music. Seems like there was a ton of electronic/dj/funk/dance/house this year and I’m not a fan.
  • Serena Ryder- Excellent! Not loving her stuff on the radio, listen to her live. She belts it out!
  • Zed’s Dead- ok, electronic dance-mix stuff. I don’t mind listening to some of it.
  • Half Moon Run- you know, I thought I would like them more? I just…didn’t. I found their music really lacked a big ‘hook’ for me…It was kind of boring.

This year was a marked departure from last year’s Rifflandia, that featured a lot of big-name artists (Courtney Love, Wintersleep, Sloan, Death From Above 1979, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Stars, Mounties) to name a few…And I have to say I didn’t like it was much.

I will definitely go next year but maybe not the full pass.

Throwback Thursday: Marking progress (even if it is tiny!)

I don’t have a ton of Oats jumping photos, but the ones I had before I cringed looking at them. Mainly because I jumped ahead, bigtime. Every photo. Every jump. EUGH!

Jumping ahead: Exhibit A

Jumping ahead: Exhibit A. Photo from last year, courtesy of Jodie.

Horse shows were the worst! I always wanted to see pics but goddamn, if it wasn’t hard to see my position faults at their finest. Oats was always pretty game, but the jumping ahead bit was a really hard flaw to fix.

And we have been fixing it- it literally took years! But, I am happy to say, this year’s and last winter’s photos (the few there are) look quite different. I have mostly conquered this beast!

Not jumping ahead: Exhibit B. Photo courtesy of Christi.

Not jumping ahead: Exhibit B. Photo courtesy of Christi.

And now we just have to focus on getting a better canter, and me not falling off jumping, and we are golden. I rode Oats last night in the field, because it was a lovely evening. He was good!

Oh and I would like to be braver about jumping higher, too. Too much to ask? Why do you say that? I rode Oats last night in the field, because it was a lovely evening. He was good! We trotted up and down the hill, cantered up the hill, cantered in the field, jumped the little line of cavalettis twice, and trotted over the ditch once. A nice and fun ride, for the bratty pony who was very unenthused about being ridden- he actually didn’t want to open his mouth for the bit- hasn’t pulled that move for awhile, jerk!

Down a well of intensity

Well, not literally down a well, though my husband was a month or so ago!

In a well

In a well

I had a lesson with Karen and Oats yesterday, and MANNNN he was pissy! Fired up! Cranked! Kicking out! Ready to go! (not quite but as much as Oats gets).

I was like…WTF? Pissy, kicking out, etc etc etc. I guess the fall season really agrees with him, hahahahahah. That was the most forward he has been in months. Months!

So, we worked with what we had. Lots of gallops in the indoor, bringing him back, extreme bend, and when he wouldn’t bend, lots of circles to get the bend. Ideally, we wouldn’t ‘take him back’ too much and stifle his newfound energy because for Oats, being fired up is a good thing. So, we circled. Lots of circles.

And we tested his obedience to the bend/aids by getting the bend and his head down, and putting more leg on or a swift tap tap with the crop. Head flies up? NOT obedient to the bend! Get back to it.

Soooo it was a long and busy lesson with Oats charging full speed ahead, which is quite unusual for him. Twice I thought he bucked again but in reality one of those was a very good walk-canter transition, and another was a flying lead change left-right that felt very much like a buck.

The good? Karen doesn’t let me buy into his drama when I’m like ”Oh noooo he’s bucking again!!” she’s like, well that one was a kick out, not a buck, or that was just a good bum-first transition, not a buck…AKA nothing to see here, move along!

He was testing me bigtime with the kick-outs though. He pulled that move last week in my jumping lesson too. She said that is normal, he is trying to see what he can get away with before he gives up and goes ‘okay mom, we’ll do what you want.”

So, I just have to keep at it, and the fun part? The more forward he goes, the less chance he has to really rev up into a big buck. Mostly forward? Can kick out to express himself. VERY forward? No room at all for a buck or a kick out. It’s all in the gallop! Though I was still wimping out a bit when she got me to get after him. In the back of my mind was he’s going to buck you off!! So I wasn’t as strong as I could have been.

So, we worked on maintaining/keeping/controlling his expressive energy into circles instead of stifling him. He hates being stifled and for a slow pony, we have to be very careful we don’t get into that loop.

Very interesting ride. I was pondering it for hours after we finished. Oats was so tired, his lower lip was hanging down. He looked like an old man horse, hahah.

Personally, I’ve been feeling kind of angsty. I know last week I said I needed a ‘win’ and I’m still feeling like this. Usually that feeling goes away after a week, but right now…September just feels like one big long losing streak. Not ‘technically’ but emotionally.

Sigh. I am still in a well of intensity.

Beerfest and other sports

Hah, this summer has been so busy. Along with a few horsey activities, we’ve been doing a TON of other stuff, including surfing, camping, NYC, wedding, tons of music festivals and more…Yes I’m spoiled!

Fun times at Beerfest

Fun times at Beerfest

So, this past weekend was Beerfest here. I’ve never gone, as the price to get in ($40) kind of scared me off, because that’s all you get- entry into Beerfest for the tix price. No comp drink tickets, nothing. Yeah, kind of a rip-off in my mind, but I figured just this once…I’ll go.

And was it worth it? Well, yes and no. I had a great time, but I probably wouldn’t go again. I tried TONS of great beer, and it was a ton of fun to hang out- so warm, sunny, hot. The weather was fabulous, we cruised from booth to booth trying different beers.

The standouts?

Fuggles and Warlock Craftworks ‘Strawberry Wit’ beer. The lineup was long when we got there! It was sooo delicious. Yummm.

I also really enjoyed Moon over Water’s Berry Harvest beer, and Whistler Brewing Company’s Mint Mojito beer. Stronger than they look!

I didn’t like though, going home and falling asleep on the couch at 5pm. It kind of eats your whole day, walking around drinking beer! OH well there are worse things to have happen, haha.

I rode Oats on Friday and Sunday, knowing I’d be out of action on Saturday pretty much. We had a fun ride on Friday in the field, and a lazy kind of annoying day on Sunday in the indoor. He was hot, and sluggish. Soooo sleepy. Basically ka-blammed an entire jump to the ground, and smashed my water bottle in the process. BOO! That makes water bottle #4 to bite the dust (broken while jumping, apparently that is how I break most of them!).

Oh well!

Heart: Oaty Pony

I’m back to appreciating my little bratty pony, Oaty Pony. I was feeling kind of bummed out yesterday and a little wrung out (I am feeling some guilt over my grandfather’s passing, I guess) and I was tempted to cancel my lesson.

Judge Melanie Houston

Random pics of Oats doing dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

I didn’t though. I had to last week, to drop off my Saanich Fair entries, and you know what? I need lessons. They keep me accountable, nicer to Oats and less likely to pick fights and get too intense with him. I had kind of an iffy weekend of riding with him because I didn’t have as many lessons. ARGH. Also, I think I was under some personal stress, and that allowed some of my more unpleasant behaviours to surface (getting too intense about exercises with Oats, not being as nice or as forgiving a rider as I should be, picking fights I know I won’t win…).

Sooke Saddle Club show: photo courtesy of Eila

Sooke Saddle Club show: photo courtesy of Eila

So we worked on a fairly easy exercise- a few single small fences, and some circle jumps- and I learned a new way of ‘energizing’ Oats via the Dr. Andrew Maclean technique of tap-tap-tapping the crop against Oats’s side but very close to my boot instead of one big THWACK! Which we as equestrians are more used to as ‘motivating’ techniques. And boy it worked! Oats even threw a crow-hop buck haha. Well better than his big-time bronco bucks he used to pull!

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

I’m glad. Glad that we’re on the same page right now.