Fun times at Phillips Backyard Weekender!

So, my weekend wasn’t all falling off my horse and going for grinding 15km runs…

We also went to Phillips Backyard Weekend party on Sunday – the day that had the best bands- in my opinion. And it was a blast!

We saw Built to Spill, John and Roy and Dan Mangan and the Blacksmiths.

All good, all of them.

I particularly enjoyed Built to Spill’s retro 90’s comeback style, and then John and Roy were a relaxing listen. I actually found it difficult to listen to them in a big crowd-type atmosphere, as their type of West Coast chill music seems to be best listened to around a campfire on the beach at night with good friends.

Also Dan Mangan and the Blacksmiths- classic. He still had to play ‘Robots’ of course, but cleverly intermingled Robots with another, newer piece that escapes me at the moment. They were good, though I have heard uneven reviews of his performance as of lately. There are no complaints on this end though!

The weekender is an affordable, easy to get to excursion and I highly recommend it. Sunday’s passes cost approx. $35/day and that is pretty reasonable to see the level of bands that were playing. Beers are $5 and the only quibble I have is that Merridale ciders raised their prices to $7, instead of having 1 tix price for all, so I stuck with the beers. I mean, I like ciders but for an extra $2? I’ll stick with the beer, thanks…

Check them out next year, the sound is even better and improved from the past year (some technical issues from what I heard), and we had no bad experiences at all!

Taking a breather

So, after our challenging- but then good- dressage lesson on Tuesday, I decided I didn’t want to overface myself and take Oats for round #2 battle in the outdoor and I would have a ‘fun day’ in the field with him on Wednesday.

A spunkier Oats on the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

A spunkier Oats on the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

I find myself often wanting to ride in the field- I guess because I feel freer, less constrained and less ‘trapped’ into pushing Oats for a workout in the ring? More freedom, I guess, and a lot less fighting, as it turns out! And I have to learn to re-train my temper- as my trainer said, work first on me, then on Oats, and then bring both of us to the challenging situation. Don’t jump right into the challenge, because it will kind of blow up in our faces…

So, with that knowledge, I deliberately set out for a fun ride, not a fight.

And it WAS FUN!

We rode in the smaller field that has a hill, and some cavalettis. I dragged out a cavaletti- they are light because the wood is completely dry-rotted through, but a mega pain the butt to wrangle, ha. Oats was patient here.

Put your butt into it! Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

Put your butt into it! Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

I set the cavaletti up in the middle setting, friendly and low, and we warmed up and then trotted and cantered it both directions a bunch of times. I got bored by it after awhile (things were going very smoothly!) and decided to take Oats up to do some hillwork.

Newsflash- the hillwork was so hard for Oats. He was tired! It was hard work! I noticed a real weakness in his right hind while cantering up the hill and trying to maintain the canter. He swapped a few times and broke into trot the rest.

I left the canter alone and we trotted up and walked down the steepest part of the hill, focusing mostly on getting his right hind to step up the hill. It was definitely hard but good work for the pony. You should have seen him after, in the cross-ties…He was exhausted! Poor guy.

So tired.

So tired.

Persistence

So, this comes up often in my life:

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And yesterday, Oats and I did not have a harmonious warm up to our dressage lesson. He was being an absolute dingbat in the outdoor ring, spooky, snorty, sucking back, getting light in front and stalling out and wanting to run backwards.

It pissed me off mightily and I was near tears, frustrated and angry. WHAT about this summer is making him act like an idiot? Seriously, I have not had this level of terrible rides with him in like, forever. And now he’s spooky and a twit.

Summer Oats

Summer Oats

I was also still a bit sore, though not bad, from getting dumped – yes in the outdoor- from his big ‘spin and spook’ maneuver on Saturday so I was NOT in a forgiving mood.

I gave up, huffed and fluffed and we had our dressage lesson in the indoor. He was a bit feisty in the indoor, and made me ‘work for it’ to get to the real meat of the lesson, but you know what? That connection that I seriously was missing started coming back.

I even said it felt like before, when I lose all my ‘power’ in the outdoor ring, that I don’t feel like I have any connection with him. I also know that when I am frustrated and mad at him, I do not give him a fair ride, or the benefit of the doubt. So, it’s a partners problem…

But anyways, the lesson went quite well. That doesn’t mean there weren’t bumps in the road, but you know what? We persevere, and I did get some great, honest work from Oats. I finally felt like our connection was coming back! He was over his back, listening to me and really giving to me. I like those rides, and sometimes give too much power to my shitty bad and frustrating rides. Now, to gain some perspective…

I was quite pleased with his effort and the level of work he is starting to give me. He might make a dressage pony yet!

Is it true, we only get the horse we deserve?

Baggage (the fun emotional kind…)

As I mentioned in my ‘Derailed’ post, I have a real tendency to get thrown off track easily and then have a devil of a time getting back in the groove.

So, funny enough, my primary concern for my ride on Oats Saturday was wondering how his feet were going to be, after his run-in with stones in his feet and the potential stone bruise. He does have sensitive feet, you know!

Well, I didn’t have to worry…

He was rocking it. On fire! So much so that when we were warming up, casually walking and trotting (and I NEVER let my guard down in the outdoor, NEVER), he spooked and spun so hard at the ‘spooky corner’ that I came flying off and landed on my back and bad right shoulder.

SHIT

So, my ride went from ”hmmm wonder how his feet are going to be” to BLAM on the ground.

Within five minutes of getting on. ARGH.

I was on my back, but then I was back on my feet and didn’t feel that bad…And it was only the beginning of my ride, so I hopped back on and continued. Funny enough, he wasn’t spooky really at all- it was just that one freak thing? He was full of beans though, cooler windy weather will do that, so I took advantage of his energy and worked over some small fences.

Later that day, I went for a 15km slowest, most terrible run with my husband. My god, I felt sooo slow and soooo drained, but we kept going. That maybe should be a sign for me, since during the night my back was KILLING me and I could barely get out of bed in the morning the next day. I am clearly a genius…

And because I am a genius, I still rode on Sunday too. Eek. I did mitigate my risks though- it was windy, blustery with a chance of thunderstorms so I rode indoors (and of course it was beautiful)… Wish I could say the same for my ride. I was still edgy and anxious, and pissed off at Oats. I took my pain out on him during my ride.

My back didn’t really hurt while I was riding, but boy, it sure hurt before and after! He was a fairly good pony, a bit confused about why I was riding him so edgily and angrily, but I softened, (not much though) and we worked on a pole exercise.

It was another lesson to me – one I learned when my mom fell off Oats in May in the outdoor and broke her arm- that I really, really, really shouldn’t get back on the next day to either tempt fate or challenge myself or challenge Oats. Why, why why do I do this?

Well, anyways I did it- It wasn’t good but it wasn’t terrible. It just was NOT a shining display of how I can normally ride, in a nice partnership with my horse.

I need to not get into it like this. I thought I was getting better about not picking a fight the day after when I’m feeling hurt or emotionally upset, but apparently I’m not 100% perfect about it yet either…

I just feel disappointed in my fall, a fluke accident, but it almost works to confirm my belief that YES, there IS something to be worried about riding in the outdoor, in the scary corner. After all, my mom broke her arm there a few months ago! He’s always bad and on-edge there, and this most recent accident works to concrete that fear in my mind. Shoot.

I hope I can get past that, and get back to the positive progress I was making- both with my horse, and with my mind.

Slightly derailed

HA. True!

HA. True!

After my last post ‘a good stretch’ I was rudely reminded about how being smug about your horse can immediately lead to an abrupt comeuppance!

The dude. Photo courtesy of Natasha K.

The dude. Photo courtesy of Natasha K.

Oats was good in my dressage lesson- that’s true.

But…My jump lesson yesterday had more than a few bumps in the road. In fact, I kind of got off track entirely and the wheels fell off. Bummer! This was the lesson I had planned to do a counseling session before it, so I could feel more ‘in tune’ and ready to accomplish things during my lesson. So, not so much this time. Oh, horses. They have a real way of getting you out of dreamland and abruptly on your feet, unfortunately.

Oats was great for the counselling session- he was quiet and calm and we worked on some great relaxation. I was so sleepy feeling! It was really nice.

We then tacked up, and my facilitator stayed to watch my lesson. I’m glad she did, because when the train went off the track, if I hadn’t had a ‘witness’ haha, I very well may have wanted to bail on the lesson entirely. That being said, I definitely do NOT regret staying with the lesson and sticking with it- it was just kind of a discombobulating experience.

Oats looking cute in Feb.

Oats looking cute in Feb.

We warmed up fairly well, but I kept saying that Oats felt different- a bit head-bobby. It wasn’t noticeable really when we moved forward in the trot, and nothing at the canter so we kept going. Nobody on the ground could feel it at all. BUT..

We went to trot over our warm-up x and he was immediately head bobbing, dragging his feet?! Nicole went to check his feet for rocks, and he did have a few big ones wedged in there. OUCH!!

So, rocks picked out, we kept going and Oats got really dramatic and head bobbing. We pulled up, checked for stones again and he was a-ok. So…We made the decision to push through it, and get him trotting forward on both reins, and then moving to the jump. He felt better – got past the really obvious head bobbing- but he still felt…funny to me.

We moved on to the coursework, and I had lost my groove. He was moving ok but still felt weird to me, and I was complaining that he felt strangely. Nicole and my facilitator said he looked fine, but it was just one of those things, you know?

That unsure feeling led to me basically bombing my coursework and I just felt like I wasn’t clicking at all. I know it all started when he picked up the rocks, but I couldn’t get my head back in the game. We had some SUPER awkward chips, some I pulled to, some Oats generously ‘gave’ to me…My bad habits were back in full force: Pumping my upper body to the fence, sitting too much, crop on the neck, pulling for a distance, motorcycling around corners, leaning up his neck too, arghhh…

Some were ok, but I’ve just been so spoiled lately with really nice, relatively flawless jump rounds, so this unsettled me a lot, and I felt quite out of sorts. We did the course twice, the second being better than the first, but I couldn’t let go of that nagging feeling.

Oh well! I did notice Oats holding his right front hoof up in the cross-ties and he was also shifting a lot more than he normally does. So, maybe he did get a bang on his hoof or a bruise from the rocks. He is a very sensitive-hoofed horse (god, you should see him on gravel…mincing) despite having rock-hard and very good feet. That does baffle my farrier!

A good stretch

Oats, since a few pretty bad rides a little while ago, has been on a good behaviour stretch. Our dressage is progressing with minor hissy-fits, our lateral work is improving and the improvement is actually noticeable?!

Yesterday, my birthday, we had a dressage lesson that started fairly heavy on the technical- with walk- quick trot step transitions, to some mild lateral work with haunches out and haunches in. Oats was okay for this, some minor fussing and balkiness but nothing compared to his attitude in the winter.

He did desperately want to ‘stretch’ out his head and neck though, and yanked the reins quite hard a few times! Karen says this is ok, as he is just looking to get some freedom for his head and neck and he’s actually starting to work through his back a bit more.

We then went the opposite way of the technical work and let them do big stretchy trots, allowing them to really reach down and we did this both in the canter and the trot. Overall, it felt really nice and I was quite pleased with the effort Oats was giving me.

Ended my birthday day with a nice dinner and cake prepared by my husband and a few glasses of Prosecco. Good to be alive!

30

That’s right- today is my 30th birthday~

Let the good times roll!

Let the good times roll!

I still feel like I’m 21, so it feels weird to be almost a decade older. They are right- the years do go by MUCH faster once you’re past 20 years old.

What have I learned, now that I’m 30? Some good things and some bad.

  • Hangovers are practically nuclear now. Sorry body and brain!
  • No relationship is a guarantee. Not your boyfriend, your horse, your friends or even your parents marriage.
  • Education is overrated, but still something you have to check off the box for. Do it.
  • Jobs are not a guarantee of happiness or success, and jobs are also VERY hard to get. Good ones even more so.
  • Nobody has the right to treat you poorly. Don’t stand for it, and don’t stand by for it.
  • Kindness gives back more than anything. Weirdly, the more you spend, the better off you will be for it, if it’s for the right reasons.
  • Save well. Don’t be an idiot.
  • Cars don’t last forever.
  • Travel is always worth the money. You don’t get time back, you can always make money back.
  • Always have pets. The money, sadness, heartbreak, angst and worry are worth it.

So, what am I doing now that I’m 30? Ha, nothing. Work today and my dressage lesson tonight.

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This past weekend though, I spent with some good friends camping on the beach in Port Renfrew. We had a blast, it was smoking hot, and it reminded me of all the good times I’ve had over the years with them. Made me feel a bit nostalgic, actually!

A no-pants kind of weekend

A no-pants kind of weekend

And then I rode Oats on Sunday and it was HOT HOT HOT! We rode in the indoor- and I had to chase a deer out who was cooling his heels in the hog fuel, and then cooled out outdoors to escape the choking dust. Small victory: Got Oats to go through the gate to the outdoor while I was on his back! He can be weird about gates and is quite gate-sour, so it took a bit of trying, but I held my ‘zen’ and we got through fine.

The ocean is still cold!

The ocean is still cold!

Monday I rode him out in the field (small field, not gallop field) and worked on finding my distance from a very relaxed canter/two point position. Bad habits still abound: Sitting the last stride, hinging off my knee instead of pushing my foot forward, and elbows out. Still, it was really fun and he was very cooperative!