Friday Fun- Halloween, and the Mane Event!

Yes that’s right- THE George Morris is going to be teaching a clinic at the Mane Event in Chilliwack this weekend, and yours truly gets to attend! (note: not ride in. I do not have the money, talent or pony appropriate to not get a serious strip torn off me by George, hah).

George Morris

George Morris

I am SO looking forward to it! The trade show, watching the clinics (Jan Ebeling is presenting as well) and meeting up with the horse girls at the barn too. Yeah!!

It is also my husband’s 30th birthday tomorrow- so happy birthday to him! hahah.

Oats was very good for my lesson yesterday and pretty good for my ride on Wednesday (though a bit spooky I don’t think he liked the hammering-down rain!).

We worked on canter poles (10ft) and then to a small course, then back to the canter poles- it was all about maintaining a rhythm and letting him ‘figure out’ what to do when things went sideways (and boy sometimes it was clumsy! And awkward!) but I’m learning to ‘sit chilly’ and let Oats figure it out. He can, he is well capable of it when I don’t get grabby and interfere. I am pleased to say our canter rhythm was very good and we met our spots nicely (except for a tricky left-turn, which is our nemesis- you can get pace OR straightness- not both!) aha. It was mentally exhausting for me though, to ‘let go’ so I wimped out a bit early –but yet having felt pretty good about how the exercise went for us.

I hope to do more work like that next week, and really build on my ‘mental toughness’ and also my ability to let go and let Oats handle more of the work, as he well capable of.

It’s hard feeling like I am ‘giving away’ control to Oats.

Mr. Oats as 'himself'

Mr. Oats as ‘himself’

I feel like sometimes I reach a stage in my riding with him that I get ‘too successful’ and then start failing immediately (usually in jumping. hmm). It’s like I’m afraid of success, and let myself fail spectacularly.

Some things to ponder!

Apple chips and other fun!

So, this is kind of an alarming day- if anyone follows the news, it’s frightening over in Ottawa, where I grew up and where my family still lives and works…

But the good news, is that they are fine and things are contained. I’m very glad.

To keep my mind off things, I thought I’d recap my lesson yesterday with Karen (good!) and also I made some tasty apple chips on the weekend with my mother in law’s dehydrator and they were great!

apple chips

apple chips

So the lesson yesterday- we worked on getting the bend and if it wasn’t working on the left, we switched gears and worked it on the right- switched to left- switched to right back and forth.

We then trotted a straight line through two cones (that got bumped and banged out of place SO MANY TIMES haha) and eventually worked up to leg-yielding left and then right, and then back to left and then back to right. We did this on both sides, and leg-yielded from both sides depending on what bend we had (inside bend- leg yield left, outside bend- leg yield right)/ It was good, we worked HARD!

We then worked on the exercise at the canter and I did feel anxious- he felt balky, felt like he wanted to do his prop-buck exercise- but we worked around it. So that was good! It just feels like when he gets tired and the right lead starts feeling like too much work, he goes WAY OVERBOARD in his reaction. Like, get off now! Instead of, this is tough! We also focused more on ‘letting him stretch’ his neck down at the canter instead of propping and getting high-headed and ready to launch- with some success.

And frankly it intimidates the heck out of me, how would you like getting bucked off?

But- we are working through it. It never escalated to that point yesterday, and Karen said we got some great leg yield work out of him, probably the best we’ve gotten yet!

So that part is indeed a work in progress. Sigh. Like all things in my life…

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?