Installing the ‘go’ button NOT the ‘eject’ button??

Today’s recap is going to be about the clinics I watched with Jan Ebeling and my lesson yesterday on Oats (hence the ‘go’ button not ‘eject’ button. He gets those confused, apparently. Or maybe I do?).

Jan is funny, erudite and very nice. His clinics were forward-focused (funny it was definitely the theme of the entire weekend- how do you fix riding/horse problems? MORE LEG LEG LEG! (as per every clinician, all weekend.)

I am starting to see that a BIG problem in my riding is that Oats is not forward off my leg, and let’s face it- not at all broke to the leg very well.

Hm…definitely something I have either caused, or let happen through laziness/attrition/ not wanting to rock the boat too much.

Jan was very interesting to watch- he schooled riders to ‘push’ and then ‘let go’ when they got what they wanted from the horse. He believes strongly in warming up and transitions through the gaits- big trot, small trot, then walk, then trot. If your transitions are unschooled, your other work will suffer.

He also was a big believer in FORWARD to the downward transition, rather than letting them ‘schlump’ through it.

Check him out here

He is fair and very kind to the horse/riders combos. His big takeaway is to be flexible, and be fun about what you’re doing- it’s not ALL bad. Ha.

(He should have seen Oats yesterday!)

So that take me to Oats, naturally. He felt sucked-back and pissy on our first ride on Monday, that I sort of solved by cantering immediately over poles and working over crossrails instead of doing the usual walk-trot-canter warmups. That worked pretty well actually.

Except on Tuesday, our challenging lessons with Karen Brain, his sucked-back pissyness was definitely on display.

It was interesting (and frankly scared me and wigged me out) we are in a BIG grey area. Oats is finding other behaviours- rather than straight out bucking- to get around what I’m asking. So…instead of forward trot with bend, he’s trying to canter. Sometimes throws a buck- in all fairness, he only did that one yesterday to the left. It’s not all ‘bad’ but it’s also not all ‘good’…It’s just…there.

He’s trying these other behaviours, and Karen felt like he’s slowly getting ‘there’ but bringing up these other attempts to see what he can sort of get away with. So, I guess I can’t punish him for trying??

It was funny though and SO EXHAUSTING when I was like, forward-trot-bend and he’s like…canter-suckback- neck in air. He does this funny ‘prop’ up when he was trying to canter and it felt like when he tries to launch me, so I got kind of grabby…which is the wrong response. I had to ‘fix’ it by either circling, or letting him canter but really working the canter- left bend right bend left bend right bend. He doesn’t just get to cruise.

Over and over and over and over…

We did circles, oh, did we ever do circles. I felt dizzy!

Then our circles weren’t forward enough (jesus lady, I was getting tired at that point haha) so Oats thought a circle meant a chance to suck back again. ARGH.

My butt and leg cramped up. We were soaked in sweat. It was frustrating, I got annoyed and kind of mad, and Oats was just barely, grudgingly, giving me what I wanted. PHEWWW.

(oh and you should have seen our ‘discussion’ about picking out his hooves nicely before my ride. Apparently Oats feels like he should be allowed to snatch his hind hoofies away from me, rudely. I had another idea about that !!! Nothing pisses me off more than that. Frig!)

I am feeling sore today and think I will give him a day to think things over (and I need a break to go for a run maybe).

Horses. Why does it always feel like 1 step forward and then 3 steps back???

The Great George Morris

I know I posted some funny (and snarky) memes of George Morris last week, but let me tell you- I really enjoyed his sessions- but woooah he is a tough one.

He is also personable and has some funny stories- did you know he was the gas station attendant in the film ‘Psycho’? And he was involved in acting (after his father, the Wall Street stockbroker, called him a ”horse bum” for his equestrian career)? Well, I guess I should add that he ‘was’ involved in acting, and did perform in a few Edward Albee plays where he was onstage naked!

Psycho

Psycho

His dad asked him about that horse career, anyways…After that performance, I guess horses didn’t look so bad!

I don’t want to write and write about the clinics- I filmed a few clips, that I will share instead. I think it’s better to hear it from his voice anyways.

Check them out here

They were great, it was good to watch nice riders actually having issues with their horses- not just perfect, by-rote horses and riders. So that made it a bit more interesting, watching them overcome challenges- they all did, by the way. Riders fell off, got refusals, had bucky/hot/rearing horses and they all got over themselves and figured it out.

Good coaching!

I was lucky enough to attend a Q&A session after with George Morris and Jan Ebeling, which was funny and interesting, and gave me some hilarious insight into the life of a professional equestrian.

Oh and a quick Oats update- rode yesterday after Oats had three days off- he was a bit pissy/balky when I got on, so I immediately rode him forward and went straight into my ‘eye’ exercises (counting down to poles and then x-rails) and that woke him up. We didn’t even do any trot really…He was too pissy, so I went straight to canter, and cantered over poles. We moved back down to trot/circle/transition work once I felt like I had him more cooperative.

All in all, a fairly good ride.

Lessons learned from the Mane Event! (Part 1 of many)

So this past weekend I attended the Mane Event in Chilliwack- mostly because George Morris was going to be teaching a clinic, and you do NOT miss a George clinic if he comes to your area (or near you at all, as it were).

Was it worth it? SO much!

I’ll probably break this down over a few days, as I do have some Youtube videos I want to upload to add to my posts.

Because I don’t have them uploaded yet, I will start with the one that I didn’t video- the Trainer’s Challenge session that I watched with Brandi Lyons, the daughter of famed horseman John Lyons.

The Trainer’s Challenge gives the trainers a young, mostly unhandled and unbroke colt, and gives them three days to work their magic for the audience in 1-hour sessions each day. At the end of the three days, the judges watch their demonstration of what the colt can do, and tallies up the points awarded to them throughout the weekend to determine the winner.

This was day 2 (I didn’t watch day 1 or day 3- have to work) and I was pretty impressed. She did some basic groundwork, leading, slapping around the saddle, hopped up and worked on getting bend and response. The colt was definitely one of the fussy ‘make me’ types.

She said something that really resonated with me- shared a story she heard:

One woman who was having a baby said ”I really hope my child and I can be friends. I hope they like me when they grow up.”

The other woman said, “When my baby grows up, I hope I like THEM.”

And it’s true, so true for horses. Train the horse you want to ride, want to see, want to be around. Don’t train in hopes the horse will ‘trust’ you and ‘like’ you. If you are very clear with what you want, the horse will like AND respect you more.

Horses like boundaries. Keep a horse around that does what YOU want. Goes when you want it to. Stops when you want it to. Bends when you want it to. Is nice, friendly, doesn’t bite, doesn’t say ‘no’ to you.

After all, you’re nicer to someone that is nice to you. You’re not nicer to your husband, friend, or parent after you’ve had a fight with them, are you? Horses are like that too- you’re not nice to one that you’re fighting with.

I really liked what she was saying and as an owner of a sassy pony that definitely has a big NO button and knows how to use it, it only reminds me more that I have to work on developing him as a pony I WANT to ride, enjoy and have fun around. And that means consistent handling, fair treatment and fair expectations. He works when I say he works, he is done when I say he’s done–not when HE says he’s done.

So even from the most basic colt-handling lessons, I’m learning from them. It was a looong day but man, did it fly by!

More tomorrow! Maybe George Morris or Jan Ebeling?

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