Taste is…a matter of taste

Another quote from Bright Lights Big City.

Started off well

Started off well

And, I’m happy to say, Oats and I are back being good together (at least for now?!!) ha. We had a jump lesson last night and while the jumps were teeny-weenie, we have fun and it felt pretty good. It was HOT for me, I felt like I was absolutely sweating buckets and gulping down water. Working in a sedentary air-conditioned office job does not prepare you well for working out in warmer weather, there’s no acclimatization period, nothing.

We worked first over a small gymnastic and Oats was in noooooo hurry…We got a lazy six in the gymnastic, which was ok I guess. At least we were consistent?

Leaving looooooong!

Leaving looooooong!

And things I need to work on: Actually getting my butt off my pony in two point in grids and on-course. Watching the video (which was great to get, thanks to a friend who stuck around to capture it!!) made that VERY clear.

Actually the ‘not sitting’ through a line or course is two-fold- helps me free up Oats’ back, AND might encourage me to use my crop behind my leg to GET HIS PONY BUTT MOVING! I see this as another fairly large issue- leg leg leg leg leg! Enough leg. More whip!

Now when I actually let go of my fear and DID crop him behind my leg, we had some super jumps! yay!!! Not that the course was like, 100% lovely- definitely not- but I’m feeling pretty positive about it.

I even volunteered to do the gymnastic line again instead of jump the course again (gymnastic lines are my nemesis…I would typically do anything to avoid them) and did it twice! We had one big spook and consequently took down 1 rail, but we regrouped and did it again and were even tight into the six…I could have tried for the 5 strides but I wasn’t feeling like it….I did feel like we can get the six no problem, so let’s stay with that for now?

So, go us! Go Oats!

“You will have to go slowly. You will have to learn everything all over again.”

Just finished Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights Big City and the headline above is the final lines in the book.

And, I really liked it! The character at first didn’t call to me at all. I didn’t have sympathy for him at all…Until I did. As he says, there is a certain shabby nobility in failing all by yourself. It was then I could identify with his character, in delayed mourning and not dealing with life, at all.

After my frustrations of recent, I was in a bad mood yesterday. I was feeling lost, adrift, feeling like I was paying through the nose to either stay where I was or even move backwards. And don’t get me wrong, it is a TON OF MONEY. Horses=$$$$$$ eating machines.

But, as I was grousing and cranking at my husband about all of it- Oats suddenly being a total dink to ride in the outdoor arena, the spooking, the running backwards, the being an asshole in my dressage lesson, all of it…He was like well, that is not a bad problem to have.??

And I was like, well, what? I HATE riding my horse right now?! We’re not even showing and I like riding him LESS. WTF?

He said good, you’re not showing. That takes the pressure off! Do what you enjoy doing, leave the bad stuff behind. Don’t deliberately engage in fights or pressure or stress. So the outdoor is causing you trouble? Don’t ride in it, ride in the field and have more fun. He didn’t say this also, but I am going to get some more gutsy, capable riders to do a few training rides on Oats, to kindly ‘remind’ him about who is the boss here too…I feel better when I have more support and help. I’m not alone in dealing with a tricky pony.

And so, I thought you’re right. I’m not showing. What’s the big deal? I can ride in the field too and have fun!

Whee!

Whee!

So, yesterday I took Oats and we cruised up and down the field. Still the right lead was not pretty, and not happening much, but that wasn’t a biggie for me anyways. We cantered long, we cantered up a hill, we trotted around, up and down the hill, and everywhere!

I was actually grinning. Yeah!

Runing wild

Run wild and having more fun

I have a jump lesson tonight, and you know what? We will just have to see.

Ego-crushing

Man, I’m really on a roll this summer eh?

Not so much.

I’m feeling fried, burned out, pissed off, frustrated, oh any other acronyms you can add to say unhappy? I’m not even really sure where this came from…My life is generally fine, no real ‘anything’ to be unhappy about.

And yet- in a cascade of doubt- lately I’m feeling piled-upon.

First of all, the horse. I had a MASSIVELY EGO CRUSHING and difficult lesson yesterday. It was HARD. Emotionally hard, unpleasant, challenging and I was almost in tears before it because of the way Oats has been acting, and I was DEFINITELY in tears at the end of it. WHy why why why why….I just felt like he’s been challenging me in subtle ways for weeks now, and it definitely came to a head yesterday. And I can’t find my way out of it again (will I?). We got through it but man, it was so hard. Every time I thought I’d ‘won’ ie- gained his acceptance of coming through the right rein, BLAM! Nope! Fighting allllll over again. And repeat. And repeat. We did get it in the end, but I was soo fried.

This, comes hot off the heels of another board raise notice.

Kind of double-whammied me into thinking why the everloving hell am I bothering? I pay the equivalent of an effing second mortgage for this stupid horse, who, I am not even showing this year and DEFINITELY not enjoying riding at this point?

So what is the point?

Board, lessons twice a week, anxiety counseling once a week, grain, shoes ($$$!), extra training lessons for Oats with my friend, all add up to….?? THIS? I haven’t had a fun or good ride since my last jumping lesson. WTF?

Yeah, so…

Work is like a grist mill and I feel like sometimes I’m in danger of falling in and getting ground up! I like what I do, but I’m feeling burned out.

My family (parental units) and a never-ending source of stress and I avoid them because I’m worried about how sad they will make me.

So…I’m tired. Of everything. Of everyone.

Being ok with riding ok?

So, not a ton to report on the riding front. As I mentioned my jump lesson on Thursday was more of a ‘deal with the weird issue that is cropping up’ and that was dealt with…

Saturday he was ok, not great, just ok. My rides have certainly been feeling ‘blah’ lately so I rode, and we worked through some stuff and it was fine but I never really got that ‘ YES ‘ feeling that I am looking for. We also worked on some therapy- anxiety training after my ride, with Oats wearing a bareback pad and me getting led around on him, working on my breathing. It was good, and he was very cooperative. Bit by bit, I suppose.

I do still wonder if I am making progress with my anxiety? But it just isn’t something you can really ‘measure’ you know…

Sunday was a quickie ride, as we had a full day planned that consisted of floating at Thetis Lake (yeah summer is HERE!) and then going downtown for ‘Car-Free Day’ which was a blast! Oats was good, again not ‘great’ or anything to write home about. We worked on lumpy bumpy transitions, some awkward, some ok, nothing wonderful.

UGH though on our way back up to the barn, a pony was snoozing in the field (Elmo), and I laughed and was like oh cute Elmo, he look dead! Well, apparently Oats thought so too, and when Elmo got up, Oats LOST HIS SHIT I guess assuming Elmo had since risen from the dead…I was on a runaway who was losing his mind, and couldn’t decide if he should bolt up the hill, run sideways and jump over the fence, or c. what he actually did, which was run backwards into the blackberry bushes, snorting and freaking out. I leapt off, my water bottle went flying, and I managed to grab the reins back.

Jesus.

He was still snorting and freaking out, and we walked calmly back up to the barn.

Horses….

I do have a lesson tonight, dressage, so we SHALL SEE!

Consider my gut busted: Guest post and race review and recap of the Gut Buster Mt. Tzouhalem!

Thanks to my husband for generously sharing his race experience with me! Here is his guest post- I did NOT do the Gut Buster, hills are not my friend! Without further ado…

Consider my gut busted.

A different type of race

A different type of race

This year saw an explosion of running for Sarah and I. While we have long been into casual running of medium distance, maybe once a week, and an annual crack at an organized race, in 2015 things got serious. The winter was all about road racing all over the island. And although I wouldn’t say we dominated the winner’s podium, we made some very favourable personal progress in being awesome.

So with new found momentum in running races I sought to find new avenues to flaunt my skills. Enter the Gutbuster Series. The first was scheduled for last month, but I had a last minute conflict that kept me away. So last Saturday I turned up at an idyllic orchard at the base of a mountain totally unsure of the intensity level I should expect. As it turned out, intensity was at a new level.

Off we go

Off we go

This should maybe not have come as a surprise. I was to run up a mountain after all. And my familiarity with the climb, pulled from childhood memories growing up just around the corner, should also have caused me some concern. In another year I may have been more wary, but fresh off my second half marathon, a mad dash up the side of a very steep mountain seemed positively reasonable.

Spectating is hard work too!

Spectating is hard work too!

About 2 kilometres in, my perception changed. Then on the left the “short track” peeled off and I cursed aloud the vanity that caused me to sign up for the 13km loop. It costs $5 more! What possessed me to dole out more for this torture?

Not long after that everyone was walking. I was close to using my hands like claws to pull myself up. Instead I was bent double, with both hands on my knees, pushing down to give support to each step. I’m not sure that it helped, but it was enough to keep going. I don’t have the actual numbers, but a quick review of a map shows that we climbed almost 500 meters in maybe 3 kilometers. When we got to the top there was an amazing view of the Cowichan Valley. I caught a glimpse of it as I gasped and whimpered and stuttered forward along a crazy ridge that while no longer vertical, had enough climbing that I was very slow to recover.

No climbs for this dog

No climbs for this dog

Around 6 kilometers (and I’m guessing here) I heard shouting up ahead. It was a volunteer who had biked up – and she was shouting encouragement. “This is the highest point!” she called, “Whoop whoop!” I cheered back, or tried to but my mouth was dry and my lungs were empty.

After that the entire race changed. I went from racing down a logging road to racing along a narrow deer trail amongst waist high salal, no room for passing. This was where my skill in trail running took over. And when I say skill, I kind of mean recklessness with a dash of local experience. It was fun and my lungs and legs began to work properly once more. I was surprised nonetheless on the terrain the trail plunged through. Without flags to mark the way, we would have been lost as it wound through every type of trail, nevermind the fallen logs, wash out, boulders, scree or holes.

The decent was a different kind of madness. It rattled my gut. Just as steep as the way up, I didn’t do my knees any favours. Yet I made up time and knew the end was near. After a final (and exasperating) steep segment right near the end, I was back at the orchard and done.

Strong finish

Strong finish

My legs hurt for a couple days after, and I was a long way from placing with the top finishers, but it was a great run. After running flat roads, straight and to the point, mixing it up by hauling ass up a mountain and through the woods was actually just what my running needed. Now I know what to expect next year.

Quiet Nights- A better ride & perspective

So- Jurassic World was fun! Not as good or as ground-breaking as the original, but hey, these days what is? I quite enjoyed it. Pizza, a beer and a movie- what’s not to like? I just wish I could have my pizza and beer with my movie, but that is a rant for another day, ha.

I had my jump lesson last night and it turned out to not be about jumping! I told Nicole about my frustrations with Oats- how we have been struggling with him being weird and spooky in the outdoor, and how I felt like I didn’t know how to RIDE anymore. How it was escalating, and I needed someone to run me through a ride there to just ‘deal with it’ and not let things get out of hand.

Because if there’s anything I know how to do, is escalate with Oats…UGH!

So, we promptly left the indoor and headed outdoors- it was drizzly but hey we’re not gonna melt. We dealt with the weird behaviours (I think what was rattling me so much was that this was SO unlike Oats?! It felt like someone replaced my normally unflappable pony with another, more terrible one?) And I did NOT like that feeling!

And we manged just fine. In fact, that issue very quickly turned into a non issue and then we were on to another issue (yes me trying to get Oats into a canter using only my hands…which is EXACTLY what I was dealing with in my dressage lesson on Tuesday..eeek!) We were also dealing with him breaking down to trot the long side on the right rein and this is chiefly due to him being unbalanced and wanting to break. Greeeat…

But, at least it felt nice to know I DO know to ride, I WAS riding, and these things pop up.

Phew! It felt like an alien had taken over my pony’s brain?!!

Leave no bridge unburned? Sometimes, I hate my pony.

So, back to dressage with Karen last night. Good and bad.

Summer Oats

Summer Oats

Bad: Oats is still being a weird asshole about everything in the outdoor. Balky, stopping suddenly and running backwards, when I counterbent, he just slammed on the brakes and refused to move, frightened, spooky, edgy, strange and not cooperative.

Good: Luckily, during our actual dressage lesson he toned down his crazy idiot behaviour and was great!

To be decided: What in HELL is making him act like this?

He is very relaxed, almost comatose, when we were cruising in the middle of the ring and then like when I try to push him to the outside of the arena he just gets super crazy, and tries to either scoot/spook or just slams on the brakes and starts running backwards. WTF??????

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Our dressage lesson was great though. So, we are in the middle of a change in our relationship that for the life of me, i CANNOT FIGURE OUT and I HATE OATS when he is acting like a moron. Seriously, I was so pissed off and frustrated before our lesson started I was almost in tears. TEARS! Stupid horse.

Anyways, I’m getting sucked into his drama and I really really hate it, and can’t seem to extricate myself reasonably.

The lesson itself was quite good- his lateral work continues to improve, he did stall out a bit but got out of it with minor shenanigans, we worked on walk-canter on very tight circles with minor success (it was actually hilarious) but also minor hissy-fits, so that was great too…And we did some work without stirrups (ouch my aching seat bonesssss) and Oats was very understanding about my bouncing and didn’t threaten to ditch me, he just went slower hahah. So, it’s weird- he was a total jerkface about going around in the ring, but in our focused and intense dressage lesson (mostly at a circle at the top of the arena) he was golden. Not perfect, but not an idiot- just trying, good and honestly trying.

I can appreciate that. What I can’t appreciate is the other side of him that wants to spook, bolt, slam on the brakes and then leave the scene. Even typing about it makes me MAD!

Sigh…Horses.

…to be continued, I suppose. I am taking tonight off – to watch Jurassic Park! And then jump lesson tomorrow. I can only imagine what that is going to be like?  He has been so good, and then SO BAD, and then good?