Octopus stew and other handicrafts

Well not technically octopus stew- we braised it in wine, and then grilled it and then served it over salad. Delicious! Very beefy texture.

Octopus stew?

Octopus stew?

We made this awhile ago and I never had the chance to showcase it, haha.

Also sparked my mind because we were very handmade this weekend, making an apple crumble and apple chips in the dehydrator. Yum! Love them!

And how did other things go? Oats was good, got a big clip (hahaha) and so did Gidget. Haircuts for all! So no ride for Oats Saturday, because he had to stay dry and clean for the clip and tranq.

Sleepy clipped Oats

Sleepy clipped Oats- photo courtesy of Nicole

He rode really nicely on Sunday, I schooled a few small fences outdoors and was quite pleased with his ride. Kept it short because I was so happy!

Gidget also gets a haircut

Gidget also gets a haircut

I went on a ok run on Saturday and a better run on Sunday- after getting my knee checked out by professionals on Friday, I feel like I have a better idea how to manage my knee pain- starting with a better running brace to hold my kneecap in place. Getting that tomorrow, yes! And I am also getting my knee x-rayed- hope to get that done next week.

All in all, a more productive, less stressful and happier weekend.

Hold me, Kiss me, Thrill me, Miss me, Tell me

Reading a very interesting sort of ‘noir’ mystery about a shady businessman who goes missing, and his lover who ends up dead (that’s where the title is from).

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman is a good read, more of a thorough investigation into family dynamics than a hard-boiled mystery but nonetheless quite intriguing.

The story starts with a lovely epigraph from the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the

world, which I find myself constantly walking

around in the daytime, and falling in at night

And how are things in general? Well, I was riding a high from Tuesday, and on Wednesday I had scheduled my friend to ride Oats, do a bit of a schooling ride, and see how he went for her. A younger rider was considering half-leasing Oats, and I wanted to make sure he was on his best behaviour, so she didn’t get scared or anything if he was a brat.

He went wonderfully! I was very pleased with his behaviour. He was a good boy, and boy it looked nice to see someone riding him well (turns out we’re not exactly the best judges of our own riding, apparently!) so it was a real treat to see him go nicely with another rider, who was well capable of getting the kind of work I ‘feel’ I am getting out of him.

The younger rider hopped on and was fine as well- she didn’t get enough ‘motor’ out of him, which was fine and generally tends to happen with less experienced riders, or riders who just aren’t used to newer horses who need one foot on the gas pedal! haha

Overall I was quite anxious about how he would behave, and he made me feel proud of him. Phew!

Anxiety

Anxiety or me all the time

Life and other stories

So, where was I? Oh yes, that lingering feeling of disillusionment with Oats, my life, my work, everything.

It all kind of came to a head this weekend (a long weekend, Thanksgiving of all things!) I wanted desperately to enjoy it- the kind of desperation that means you’re going to get screwed in the end…)

I wasn’t feeling well on Friday, so came home after work and crawled into bed for a few hours. Went out for some drinks with a buddy which was really nice, a high point of my weekend, and I also made some great salad rolls.

Saturday I rode Oats and he was really good actually. Can’t say a bad word about him right now- not yet anyways!

Sunday didn’t ride- went to the in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. Had a nice time, but was feeling kind of eaten-up by my husband’s business venture that was slowly sliding downhill…and picking up the pace as it went down. Blah.

And then I got a call from a lady I ride with, saying that Oats had rudely knocked her down when she went to get him from the field. ARGH!~ I was very upset to hear this. She was fine, nothing big there, but JEESH. When it is enough?>!!!!

I felt really down, really upset. Like….I was hoping for a nice relaxing weekend, and mine is filled with business-drama, Oats drama, and nothing fun. (except I did see two movies-Gone Girl and We Are What We Are- both excellent, recommend highly).

Went out Monday with some steely resolve to sort his shit out. He was fine, again. I didn’t even have a chance to get after him, or ‘fix’ anything. Ah…so, that was good. But the real test would be my lesson with Karen on Tuesday…

Tuesday: Work was a nightmare, this strange, lingering tired draggy sick feeling is sticking around bigtime. Nevertheless, I persevere! Rode Oats in our lesson and MANNN WE WERE ROCKING IT.

Felt a bit like cheating, as we didn’t canter right rein- but we got probably the NICEST work we’ve ever had on the canter, to the left. Nicest. Hands-down.

He was good, so good. And we worked HARD. He was coated in sweat, my legs were all trembly, but it felt really righteous, thorough even.

So- is there a rainbow on the other side here? Or more grey clouds? Not sure, but I’m actually pretty impressed with how mature Oats’ work has been getting. Hm…

Oktoberfest!

Last weekend, as part of a surprise for my husband’s birthday, I bought tickets to a local Oktoberfest¬†event- Stein and Dine. Tickets were not super pricey ($46/each) and with each ticket, you got two drink tickets and two food tickets.

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

And was it worth it? Definitely!

Food options were limited but good- you had a choice from pig knuckles on spatzle for two tickets, or bratwurst on saukraut with a pickle for one ticket. You could also have a quarter roast chicken on boiled cabbage for one ticket, or schnitzel with egg and capers on a sandwich for one ticket (ew).

Snack options were good too- big pretzel with mustard, fried pork rinds and a dessert- apple cobbler but we didn’t end up getting it.

We stuck with the roast chicken, bratwurst and big pretzel.

They played accordion music, and had a traditional dance-that looked like ‘slap-dancing’ according to my husband haha.

Also there was a good cover band, so that was pretty fun!

Beer options were good, so were cider. My one complaint was that Sea Cider’s seasonal offering went toooooo fast! Boo!

And we got a nice little beer stein to take home too. A fun night all around! Check it out next year- good bang for your buck, and a really enjoyable night.

How you grow up

So *takes a deep breath* I did it- rode in my lesson yesterday with Karen (as I mentioned in my previous post, I was soooo undecided about it).

Success?

Success?

Even right up until when she came to the arena, I was like no, I’m not riding. Yes I am riding. No, I’m not. Yes. No. Yes.??

I kind of felt like tearing up when I went through how I was feeling with her, but funny enough she said hey let’s go ahead with business as usual, and act like he’s going to be perfect. If he isn’t, we will deal with that when it happens.

Dressage days

Dressage days

So….I just didn’t have a lot of time to get angsty and dramatic. I had to stay focused, on the game, and couldn’t let my mind wander.

We worked, and when I said he felt like he was getting rude or pissy with me, we worked constructively through it. Very positive, and very thorough.

I learned some really good tools to help me cope with his behaviour, like working on right-bend from the left side, using the wall to help me if I felt unsafe or concerned, and getting after him in a tighter circle if I felt like he was going to try to toss me off (it never got to the bucking point but I did use the circle once or twice when I felt uneasy).

In short? My heart was in my freaking throat!!! But I was committed to work through it, and determined to see this through. Every time he ‘threatened’ or tried to intimidate me, I wanted to FREEZE and grab.

The tools I am learning are helping me move beyond the ‘frozen’ fetal position, and get more proactive in managing how I am riding Oats.

And it is tough! Particularly when my first instinct is to grab upwards and ‘save myself’ when he bucks, instead of being able to ‘feel out’ when and if a buck or pissy behaviour is going to happen and proactively deal with it, before it escalates into a buck.

We even cantered, though I said NO WAY at first! Right lead 3-4 strides, left some good circles, though I was grabby and nervous at first.

It was a good, extremely productive lesson. Oats was coated in sweat (needs clipping SO HARD right now) and I was sooo sweaty too. It was not a pretty ride, but it was one that we honestly needed to get us over this dangerous plateau we are on.

So, while I am not exactly over the moon happy, and frankly still worried about what the hell I’m doing with him most days- I’m also committed to at least trying what I am learning with him.

And I asked how long it would take to get us through this rough spot and Karen said it can take months- 3 months or 6 months or whatever. WTF? I was like, nooooooo I’m doomed to be a walk-trot rider forever!!! (dramatically).

Hah, well she said it is like training a child- lots of reminders, pushing boundaries, etc. You can’t just do it for a week or 1 lesson and be done, blah.

I just can’t help but feel like I get/got frustrated because my version of progress right now feels like a freaking circle, nevermind a linear line or squiggle line. What gives?

What we know now

So, I took a step back this weekend and just sort of mucked around on Oats, didn’t canter and didn’t push for the canter- obviously, because I’m a big chicken who is afraid of getting smashed into the ground when I ride alone…

And I wanted to kind of see how his chiropractic appointment played out- not gonna lie, I was pinning some of my hopes that this was what was causing his absolute shit-ass behaviour.

So the appointment was today, I gave him yesterday off (I don’t normally ride Mondays, he and I both need time off) and what was the verdict?

Not really sore anywhere and nothing extensive to work on.

WTF?

So….

His absolute, shitty, horrible nasty behaviour is…Not pain related? Or at least, not his back?

What gives? Ugh. Now this leads me to think of 1 thing- this is definitely attitude related and now I have to, *shudder* work through it? UGHHHHH. NOO.

Seriously, I am ready to kill him.

Or at least, subject him to a serious ass-kicking, Karen Brain style. That’s right, I wrote my lesson friend and said I was cancelling my lesson this Tuesday because I wasn’t sure how things were going to go with Oats and chiro, and I didn’t want to push him too hard if it was pain-related (I’m not a terrible person, you know!!). But now, this changes¬†everything. EFF THIS.

I pay WAY TOO MUCH to deal with getting my chain yanked around by a bratty, rodeo punk.

So, I’m going to suit up, and just see what she recommends given I have done at least some of my due diligence. I’m just having flashbacks of last weeks’ lesson, and how it ended in my crying my freaking eyes out and feeling miserable…Well, I just hope that I can keep a positive mindset and work through this issue.

So I figure I will bring him down, and bring a longe line too. Just in case.

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH this is NOT better though.

What could have been?

Scorched earth policy

Scorched earth policy: Art by the famous Robert Montgomery

As I indicated yesterday, Oats and I are at a crossroads. I want to make sure he is a happy, willing partner who likes being with me, and respects me.

So, that leaves me with a puzzle. How much of his behaviour is Oats’ attitude (and boy, he has TONS of ‘tude), and is there anything else underlying that I should be aware of?

What changed?

I literally see two paths before us right now:

1. Push through it with more work- groundwork and others. Get my ballsy friend on him to sort out some of the under saddle stuff.

2. Don’t do anything under saddle and let him take a bit of a break for awhile, until he gets his chiropractic visit. Re-asses, but with time off- a few weeks off from lessons and serious under saddle stuff?

I am leaning a bit more towards course of action #2 at the moment.

We literally NEVER take time off. I am not good at downtime, unfortunately. Does that mean my horse has to never get downtime either? It just scares me, this long stretch of …what?? No goals? Progress? Etc? To be completely fair, I am bad about this with myself. I have a nagging knee problem that got really bad last year when I was running 10k regularly. It was extremely painful, and I ended up not being able to run that distance anymore- physically at all.

I did everything- went to a physio, ran shorter distances as recommended by them, bought a knee brace, ran shorter trail runs, did more stair runs, broke up my runs, stopped running 10ks (except when I did run them, oops!).

Everything except…Take a break and stop running.

And what happened? Over a year later, my knee is still messed up and I can’t seem to really stop running, but the knee thing is still stopping me from really ‘enjoying’ my run and I can’t do 10ks unless I commit to limping at least half of it. I am getting a referral to a sports medicine doctor in a few weeks so that is that I hope!

BUT

As a life lesson, I don’t want my relationship with Oats to become a nagging knee injury, limping along a year later. I want to enjoy being with him, riding him, without worrying and with more trust. And I just feel super bummed about it too, because things were going WELL with him. I feel like I’ve been riding him more consistently and more thoroughly than ever??

I ran this conundrum by a not really horsey coworker and they thought that step #2 was a wiser course of action. I find that interesting, and they are really just coming to the scenario not really knowing me or Oats, but knowing that animals can be tricky sometimes, and we really just want what’s right for them.

Hmmm….Waiting to hear back from Oats’ chiro!