Your family loves you when you cross the finish line regardless. But they love you a little more when you win.

Saw this and kind of made me laugh- is it true? Well…Maybe in your heart of hearts, it is.

I had a weirdly challenging week. Things made me laugh and cry, on the same day. It was both not stressful and incredibly stressful (ie- job was fine, personal life wasn’t.) Not normally the way things go.

Wednesday, I chatted with one of the gym regulars, a guy I see pretty much every day at my work gym and he mentioned to his colleague that he didn’t know my name, but that he called me Super Girl in his mind, because I worked so hard at the gym, and he thought that I looked like the actress on the Global TV show ‘Supergirl’ Melissa Benoist. I was very flattered and it pretty much made my day! Wow! What an nice compliment.

On the same day (Wed) I took off riding for a doctor’s appointment that was HORRIBLE and so invasive, physically painful and emotionally extremely difficult. UGH. Even thinking about it makes me cringe and get mad.

Cue stress eating all night when I got home. Instead of a run.

So…yeah. Monday I get poisoned, Tuesday is a good day, Wednesday is both good and horrible at the same time, what was in store for my jump lesson on Thursday?

Well, again a mixed bag.

Work was fine, except I learned they were re-doing Watership Down so I of course had to revisit that and I found it super emotional? I’m not sure why, but even reading references to it (and listening to ‘Bright Eyes’) was making me tear up.

And then, the drive out to the barn was a nightmare. Traffic was backed up, I was stuck in gridlock for 50 minutes. It was insane! I got to the barn at 6:20 and my lesson was at 6:30. FML. I was so tense, anxious, angry, pissed off, edgy…It was a very bad way to start my lesson. I came in wanting a ‘win’…My miserable experience at the Dr’s was still very much in the forefront of my mind, and like, I was just feeling so edgy.

Didn’t help that I was now running very late, it was crazy windy, and I was just…aRGH. So ARGH.

Oats warmed up really nicely, no spooks at all thank god. We worked over grids (and I still kind of dislike them, I almost ate it at the last fence due to jumping ahead…you can’t take grids for granted still, dummy!!).

Our work was good, but the two-stride last week that I mostly conquered I really…didn’t this week. It was kind of a hot mess. And then it was good. And then kind of a mess again?

One note of pride: Our outside line that I kept bungling last week rode just lovely this week! So…Mild improvement on that scale?

HA.

I also felt something interesting: Oats kicking it in to a higher gear. It felt so awesome, this power that he suddenly was able to open up with. Wow, I wish I could get that feeling every time!

So, to sum up- I came in on an angry, anxious and difficult personal time this week- and managed to not completely screw up my ride, with my  mostly forgiving and saint-like pony.

 

Accidentally poisoned?!

Yeah, so that happened. On Monday, I went out to ride and when I was walking around the barn, I smelled this really bad, chemical smell. Hard to explain, but it was kind of like burning metal mixed with a meth house? I’d never smelled it before.

A few of the girls were around and I was going to ask them if they smelled it, but it kind of wafted away and I forgot…Until a TERRIBLE headache slammed me. Like, unreal bad. I thought I was going to puke. It started so suddenly in the back of my neck that I thought I had tweaked something in my neck, and then moved up through my neck to my sinuses, which were throbbing really painfully. God, it was so bad.

I didn’t connect the dots though, that bad smell= chemical poisoning.

I grabbed two Advil, and went to ride Oats. He was being super great considering I had this awful headache, and by that time my nose and eyes started gushing…I warmed him up, we hopped over the x-rails set up in the ring, and then I just jumped off. I couldn’t handle it anymore, and the awful headache wasn’t lifting.

I was kind of starting to stagger a bit and was having trouble focusing. Things were not good.

I put Oats away and made it back to my car, and then home. Once home, I went straight to bed and lay down. I told my husband that I was NOT feeling well, and took 4 more Advil for some, if any, relief. It was soooooo bizarre?! The Advil did the trick by an hour or so, and I was able to be normal again, but still…WTF?

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Why can’t we do this instead? Photo courtesy of Nicole Gibby.

The next day, I even had the remnants of a rebound headache from whatever poisoned me the day before, but thankfully it was easily remedied by like, 1 Tylenol, not 6 of them. Jesus! So, I called the barn owner and left a strange and cryptic voicemail saying there was this weird smell, that made me really sick, that I wanted her to be aware of. It was really windy that day, and what if it happened again- if a neighbour was burning something really toxic and the fumes carried?

Anyways, I went to my dressage lesson with some trepidation yesterday. Poisoning, a rebound headache, returning to the scene…What was going to happen now?

Happily- nothing!

I had a tough but reasonably responsive dressage lesson with Karen in the indoor. It was cold again and pretty windy, so I didn’t feel like riding outside. We worked on some pretty intense walk work (which Oats and I struggled with), and then walk-canter work (again that we really struggled with), and on to some pretty decent trot.

All in all, a good night. But man, what a way to start the week eh???

Don’t make me read your mind: Weekend recap!

Man, I can’t believe it’s Monday already. I am in serious need of a longer weekend. 2 days off is just not cutting it anymore…

I had a fairly nice weekend, nothing too amazing happened but I enjoyed it nonetheless (just need more of it!). Ran a brief 5k on Friday in the rain to test how my new running shoes performed on wet surfaces- verdict: still slippery. Went out for drinks with a friend, and really enjoyed my cocktails!

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Saturday I got up and went riding first thing, and then after lunch and a bit of hanging around, drove out to the Galloping Goose and ran 15k. It went okay, I felt fine during it but started to get a bit antsy near the middle-to-end. Weather was nice, better than the washing machine I ran in on Friday!

Sunday, rode again and this time, rode indoors. On Saturday, I could definitely feel that tense-anxiety thing happening in the outdoors with Oats. He was behaving fine, but I was looking  out for trouble- and that isn’t a great combo for him. I need to not have these battles again. So, for my ride on Sunday I was very well aware that this was brewing within me.

I have NO desire to bring back my anxieties of the outdoor arena, and I know a very cold, very blustery and rainy day isn’t the right time to test myself or him. Indoors it is!

And I’m glad I went indoors, he was high as a kite! We went straight into very active trotting, to a big canter, to lots of canter, to still cantering, to keeping cantering, to my legs are so tired they are going to fall off cantering! The whole ride Oats was snorty and very active. He just wanted to go-go-go-go.

I can count the number of times Oats has this much energy on one hand- like, twice a year. I was like, ahhh this would have been a great day to jump. Oh well, it was a very strenuous and sweaty ride. I was freezing after though, so chilled. Right to the bone!

I grazed Oats for a bit and then zipped off home, to have lunch and then get changed to run 5k of hills- I do a specific pattern in my neighbourhood of 4 hills, twice. By the fourth hill, I head up for the 5th time and wow…Does it ever drag!

My legs were feeling a little beat up, but not too bad considering how terrible they feel if I try to do this on a weekday, after work. 100X harder. My legs feel like stone, and I am dragging them along. It’s just too hard after a workday.

And then I bought some interesting items at Winners- peanut butter flour (Tru-nut with cocoa) and some pretty decent Turkish Delight. I LOVE the peanut butter flour. SO good.

 

At first, you go with them. Then, they go with you. Then you go together.

A lovely saying by Tom Dorrance about horse training. It’s so true, isn’t it!

So for my jump lesson, we were back in the outdoor arena- WOW it’s so early to be there, I can’t even believe it. I’m not really that prepared to ride outdoors (when not at a horse show) yet. Oats needs his front shoes, he is very ouchy on the sand in the ring, and my riding fitness and balance need a fair bit of work…Feel very different outdoors than in.

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The course- setting and design and photo courtesy of Nicole and Sarah! (the jumps were not this high when I was jumping them, except for maybe the polka-dot planks!)

We warmed up and there was an excellent course set up, courtesy of my trainer and friend who worked to design and set it. I was both excited and kind of nervous to be back outside in the big ring. Oats felt a bit stumbly, and off-balance. He was decently forward, but I could tell he was having some trouble with his feet- first time outside- and going downhill (the ring is slightly sloped), he was having more difficulty maintaining the canter/balancing. He broke several times into a big runny trot.

So, managing these issues, we warmed up over an x-rail to a small vertical. It felt weird being in the outdoor! I felt kind of off balance too! Oats was backed off during this exercise, so we worked on getting him thinking forward- understanding too that he is challenged by the new footing, etc.

We then schooled a few lines, and repeatedly bungled the one outside line that is set slightly downhill into the sun. I just felt like Oats was unsure about it…Well he surprised me by slamming on the brakes when we came to the line at first!~ I’d forgotten than he hadn’t jumped the bridge in a year and he was surprised by it too, hahah. Oh well. We schooled it a few times, and every time we got to the pink oxer, it just felt really…blahhh. He just never felt that comfortable over that line- I believe it was a footing/balance issue.

Then we moved on to an equitation course. It wasn’t set very high, but had a few challenges- like a bending line, a broken line, a two-stride and that infamous outside line that we never rode very prettily.

The course went well, great actually. I was very pleased with Oats’ go-forward attitude!

Time to put it up!

And the wheels kind of fell off here- primarily due to a steering issue with me. Oops!

After the outside line -that STILL rode very ugly- we came in to the two-stride set higher, and I was pulling to the left…Oats went in long, and we came into the middle of the second jump. I almost fell off- because he is such a trier!

That was 100% my fault- pulling, wrong distance, steering all over the place!

We pried ourselves out of the oxer, and re-approached. This time I focused very hard on the second jump, and counter-bent Oats on the approach. We flew over it! YES!

The rest of the course rode fairly well, not so much that I can even really remember it…Oh wait, yes he seemed to get disunited on both bending and broken lines, and I believe that was due to him being a bit confused about our direction and the footing. Something to fix!

For our first go-around in the outdoor jumping, I was very pleased with Oats. He is such a trier, and he was very pleasant to ride.

Hot days hacking

It’s been unusually warm here- like 20+ degrees for April! It’s crazy! While it didn’t feel too warm at the show, it has been warming up steadily this week. I rode Oats on Monday for some very light hacking- I ran hills after work before going to the barn and it was so horrible that I was just exhausted by the time I got to ride. My ride was quite lackluster, Oats was draggy and tired, I was sleepwalking practically.

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Not quite in the outdoor yet, but an example of Oats charging…

I walked him around in the outdoor- it’s not quite open yet- so he could catch the sights early. That felt like all I was capable of after our walk-trot-canter warm-up indoors.

Tuesday I typically have my dressage lesson but I do it every other week now due to finances (it’s NOT cheap to do lessons twice a week..it’s awesome but so much money). This was my week off. Which is totally fine!

I used the time to have a very tough and moderately productive dressage school. I worked on balance at the canter – Oats was hot and kind of tired, which equals CHARGE at the canter and drag me around the corners…Not what I was expecting or wanting, but hey…We can work with it.

He was literally ramping up through the long side and buffaloing me around the corners. Interesting for old Oats! We got a great forward trot and then canter, well, it was a work in progress. I ended the canter work when we got a lovely right lead transition, and I felt like I could really ‘sit’ in him and go with it.

It was SO dusty in the indoor though. I still have black stuff coming out of my nose today! YUCK. Oats was coughing and sneezing and my eyes felt so gritty. Ick. Oats was very sweaty, and a combination of sweaty+shedding= gross hairy mess of a pony.

We wrapped up with some pretty reasonable leg-yielding, which Oats fussed a little but but got over very quickly. A good, challenging workout for us.

Enjoying this beautiful weather!!

Horse show recap: Inaugural Cedar Vista hunter show!

So, the horse show season is upon us and I was kind of wondering what I was going to show in this year. In past years I have shown at the Appy shows (Vancouver Island Appaloosa Horse Club), and Westside Stables shows. There are also the higher-rated and higher-cost SSITS shows that I have NOT ventured out to yet- too much $$ and we’re not polished enough.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

All in all, I was feeling pretty blah about the show season. Like, I want to show and feel confident out there but was bored by my options: Appy or Westside. Yawn…

Enter the new show season at Cedar Vista! Close-ish, new, with great footing and some really snazzy jumps. Offering a fairly reasonable series that would be brand-new to everyone. Sign me up!

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Pats for a good boy. Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

They had jumpers on Saturday and hunters on Sunday, we opted for hunters. Loaded good old Oats up and away we went!

I entered him in the 2’3” hunters and one 2’6” class, and the division included one equitation on the flat class. We warmed up in the ring and Oats was a tad looky, but overall very well behaved. The open schooling was set low, but we marched over everything–like a pro!

Then, we waited a little bit- entries were low- until my division. We were able to warm up over the new height and then start. I was feeling a strange combination of sort of nervous, but overall quite blasé at the same time. The jump heights were fine, but I wanted to get more nervous?

Then- in we go! Our first round was great, second was fine, and my eq was kind of terrible. Chip-city. UGH. Also we botched the right lead change to one line every.single.time. Ouch…

But in good news, Oats is getting his skip changes more consistently if you don’t count that one line, and my pace was pretty good, I didn’t feel too nervous! The wheels kind of fell off in my equitation…I got too ahead of myself, and anxious. Oh well. There was always the 2’6”… More warm-ups at this height (Oats and I did a LOT of jumping at this show). He was rolling so smoothly- it felt effortless. We called it quits and got ready to go in for good this time.

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Yay! Good pony! Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

And we chipped the first jump and I was SOoooo not straight. Gulp! I could hear my trainer yelling at me to calm down and breath! Right–got it! The second was better, and then the course just flowed from there…What a great way to end my rounds! Go Oats.

It was a lovely one to finish on, and the increased heights didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was just 1 flat class left- and we have historically either done really well (top 3) or horribly (crowhopping, bucking, rude, rushing, excused) in our flat classes.

Oats managed to keep his hair on and only had one goofy moment when a horse passed us- he started shaking his head, ready to crowhop at the canter. We even had a few small ‘tests’ from the judge- drop stirrups at the trot, posting trot w/o stirrups, and then pick them up again. AND sitting trot! I know, crazy eh?

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Accepting ribbons. Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

Second for us! Woop!!

Good job Cedar Vista- friendly people, niiiice prizes, good company, great footing and fancy jumps. What more can a girl ask for?! I will be back!

Fail Friday- courtesy of my jump lesson?

Well, when I write ‘Fail’ I really mean- we did it, and it wasn’t perfect or pretty.

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I am learning how to take screenshots! Still in the indoor though. Proof that we jump oxers, haha. Yesterday was a bit higher I believe?

We were back to doing small courses, and the jumps got up to 2’6”, and the wheels kind of fell off for Oats and I. I started doing things with my hands (pulling him up over the jump, leaning, chasing, arghh) and he started doing his thing- trying to jump from a standstill- the ultimate chip.

BUT here’s where it changes- this would normally be like, IT for me. Some ugly jumps at the peak of our height, ability-wise? Noooo way. And an oxer at 2’6”? Extra nooo way. But you know what? It was ok. I kind of mentally kicked myself- this was the last course and we’d actually been doing really nicely- and on we went!

Sure the oxer rode really weird pretty much every time- a big LAUNCH courtesy of  Air Oats, but after we landed (in kind of a heap), I picked up the reins, and just kept riding. I even re-approached the oxer, mistakenly thinking I could ride it better the second time – newsflash- not really! And kept trying.

We had 1 stop- it was at a vertical and I just wasn’t organized enough to support Oats properly. My fault, and it wasn’t a nasty stop, it was just heyyyy we’re doing what now?

Sorry Oats!

We even did the double-stacked haybales again, which Oats seems to regard as a type of brush jump that he can like, skim his legs barely over??? Ha silly pony. He did the two-stride (set at 2’3” thank god) lovely every time. He is  excellent at combinations, goes on total autopilot and just motors through them. I even got a really interesting feeling of ‘kickback’ from him when he was powering through. It felt great!

The rest of the course- not so great. I keep trying though, and I know I can do it.

The difference between the past and now? I make mistakes. I’m allowed to make them. I learn from them, and I move on.