What makes a good man?

It felt like I hadn’t had a solid dressage lesson in forever! We had a break due to a change in my fellow rider’s schedule, so yesterday I was quite interested in getting back on the dressage train.

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Totally us right now. So, where are the next Olympics?

And you know what? It was a really good, solid and comprehensive lesson. We first worked on some modified quarter-turn on the haunches at each corner, focusing on getting the horse to move off your leg instead of ‘pulling’ around the turn. Then, we focused on getting the turn ‘all the way around’ instead of just a quarter. I had to expand my circle because Oats wanted to pivot off the hind end, instead of turning his shoulders more.

It was actually way harder than it looked or than I thought it was going to be. And we sucked at it on the left rein, yeesh. Oh well!

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Next we worked on positioning for Travers lateral work with actually some really solid progress at the walk. When we moved up to trot it was…interesting. Some things I learned and need to remind myself: Lower is always good, so allow Oats to reach/stretch his neck down when he feels resistant. If it seems awkward and too hard, break it down. Move off leg for one side. Then ask for the inside bend on the other side.

Make it really clear what you are asking: Bend. Move off leg. One at a time. THEN try combining the pieces, relaxing the pressure as you ask. Give-take, give-take.

We even got ‘some’ positioning at the trot (which was described to be as a banana shape, the horse forms a banana and you travel that way haha), which surprised me as it was kind of tricky for Oats to understand and I wasn’t expecting him to get it in the lesson. Go us!! He wanted to stretch hardcore after that and got fussy. To be expected, and actually his attitude towards the whole lesson was great- he wasn’t having any hissy fits, hopping up and down, or anything! WOW! I think that was the first time I’ve been able to ask for lateral work of such comprehensiveness without some squawking from Oats.

Go Oats go! Some really great efforts and grown up work from the pony. 🙂

VIRA Hatley Castle 8k race recap: In a slump? Beginner’s luck?

As always, thank you to the volunteers and organizers that make a fun race happen. It couldn’t go on without their work! I love the series so much. Do VIRA races, support the local race community!

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So, this was me last year. When I actually…ran well.

I’m going to preface this possibly whiny post with the fact that I still enjoy running and my training has been going awesome! I had a great long run last weekend and felt fantastic after.

So, why then does this not translate? My races have been dumpster fires, mostly.

Now, this one wasn’t bad- I enjoyed the race, my mantra/goal for the race was ‘control’ as I wanted to run very carefully and ‘in control’ throughout the whole race.No getting run off my feet, no pushing a pace I couldn’t keep, frantic breathing, gasping for breath and choking on phlegm, dead legs. No pushing my body past what it can do.

And did I do it? YES! I ran a solid race, was paced very fairly in a good pack of runners. I even ran confidently at the slower, more controlled pace. I trusted my legs, my breathing was better (not great, but better at a slower pace) and I even felt fairly relaxed during it.

The last 1km or so was still kind of horrible and I was gasping and ready to hurl, but hey…always is eh?

And how did this controlled, focused approach do me for time? Ha. a minute and a half slower than last year. Last year I ran it in 37:19, and felt rough but doable. This year I ran it in 38:44 and felt rough but doable. What gives?

Why am I backsliding so badly this year? I’m really struggling with my races, where last year I was running faster more confidently. I want that ‘old me’ back.

This race I didn’t give in to my ‘give up’ temptation, that horrible voice in my head that eggs me on to give up, drop out, just walk. I didn’t even feel that need, because I was running a race I felt comfortable doing.

So, that was a big win. But, the nagging question for me- Why so slow?

Possibly I had beginner’s luck last year, and was running pretty great times kind of on a whim. Lucky me, then. But it’s bad because I keep wanting those times, and quite frankly expecting to get them. And I’m not.

So, I am having a tough time with it, but I am still enjoying training a great deal. I still like running, and I hope I can either turn this season around, or find a better way to measure progress, as it’s just not happening the way I wanted it to.

That’s just what you are: Week update

Honestly haven’t been feeling it this week. Haven’t been feeling anything pretty much.

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Me this whole freaking week.

Work has been psychotically busy and a real pressure-cooker. It’s left me without a blogging voice, hopefully temporarily.

I have been riding and actually that’s been going fine! Had a nice lesson yesterday and felt really good, in synch and happy with dear old Oats. Funny, because I was SO grouchy yesterday before riding (thanks to work and my persistent health issues this week). Grouchy, exhausted, bone-crunching fatigue, bloating, allergies that are making it impossible to breathe at anytime, particularly at night…yeah. Perfection.

BUT riding always brings it home for me, and I LOVE it.

A fun jump lesson, and the mistakes that happened were all mine and I can own it. Mistakes happen, and I move on and don’t make them in the second half of my course. That’s fine. Oats is a good and honest pony, and any screwups were mine.

I didn’t ride on Tues- thank god my lesson was already cancelled- because of already mentioned health issues. I staggered home and was seriously worried I was going to collapse on my way. I was so tired. My limbs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds. I was dizzy and unbalanced. I was so out of it, and could barely drag my body home. My gym workout that I usually do at lunch? I spent it laying on a gym mat with my eyes closed. god.

Spent the evening sleeping on the couch. WTF? I never do that! But yeah…This was to set the tone for my miserable week of allergies-bloating-crushing fatigue-allergies-bloating-cramps-fatigue…UGH.

So yeah, not feeling anything in life right now. Still love my pony, my fraking dog that spent the night scrambling over me and licking herself loudly…maybe not her right now, ha.

Four day week? Feels more like a month.

 

Hot moment: Week update?

So this week. Yeah….

Not much riding happened- 1 ride on Tues where Oats was hot to trot, and I loved it! And then it blizzarded again on Wednesday, so I walked home and didn’t leave the house all night…

And then a jump lesson Thursday after all the snow melted and it was a slushy mess everywhere!

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So, my week and my winter…

My lesson was pretty good, some big oops moments (like, disunited canter and me turning Oats too fast and him slipping so badly I swear I thought he was going to FALL ON ME) he saved my freaking butt!).

We worked on a gymnastic- canter-in bounce to four strides, and then coming around to a single fence on the outside line, and then the gymnastic, but we then did a bending line the second time around to a small oxer. That’s where I screwed up a bunch of times, grabby hands on my left hand pulling Oats’ face around. Shit!

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Some days you ride better without hands. This remains true…

We then went from the small oxer to the angled fence, and then angled it the other way, and then to a small ‘step’ type jump, back to the oxer, and to a single fence on the diagonal.

We made some big mistakes, Oats got surprised by the angled jump and slammed on the brakes but it was like, oh hey no big deal, let’s try that one again. And he jumped it totally fine, phew!

So, even though my lessons aren’t perfect or necessarily really nice looking, I am working through some things and enjoying the process. I didn’t want Nicole to put them up though, so that’s my next goal- be ok with the course, be slower through my turns, rein in my rogue elbows & left hand, and BE BRAVER about jumps going up. The jumps themselves? Totally fine, not a problem.

So, do it, ME!

Also work has been a nightmare this week and I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping. UGHHH.

Grouchy.

Having a bad week, bad weather week (only got out to ride yesterday due to an enormous snow dump) and bad work week.

Not even much feeling like blogging!

These photos will have to suffice

Oats Pre-snow apocalypse

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Before the snow came

 

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Right now.

“Not Much Rhymes With Everything’s Awesome At All Times”

Had a jump lesson, and contrary to my title- it was HARD. It was not easy, it was a challenge and it was not pretty.

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Some days you ride better without hands.

We bungled, we stopped (so many times!) we weaved awkwardly, we ‘half jumped’ over a skinny, we stopped some more, I got left behind, I jumped ahead- pretty much every single cardinal jumping sin, we did. Repeatedly.

To be fair, the course was very tricky and quite technical. It had a ton of elements (multiple jumps on a circle. Jumping skinnies on a circle. Inside turn. Bending lines. Anndd trot fences).

These all exposed mine and Oats’ weak spots in glaring technicolour.

So we had to break down the course multiple times and work on one element, say a trot skinny, SO many times because it was just that hard for us. He stopped when I was too hard with my hands, so I had to jump one-handed a few times. He ran out of a skinny when I ‘wasnt’ sure’ about my line. He wasn’t very forgiving with me even though the jumps were TINY- all 2ft and under.

But- this allowed me to do something I almost never do. Get over it!

Bungled this? Move on. Jumps came up too fast to dwell, and they were not high or frightening to jump anyways.

Mistakes? Yes oh yes. But, good points too!

Did it make me nervous? No actually. I did get frustrated but was able to kind of laugh it off and think hard- how am I going to fix this? Not- I’m never going to fix this. I can, and I will, and I did.

I was able to problem-solve, figure shit out, and get on with my ride.

I guess it helped that the course had 21 jump efforts in it?!! And I had to keep on my toes thinking ahead at all times. I was EXHAUSTED after. Holeeeee crap. And we got tired and I bungled the last line so we had to do it again. Still kind of bungled, so AGAIN. And the third time was the charm! Rode perfectly.

I was huffing and puffing, Oats was huffing and puffing.

What a ride. From super awkward and clumsy, mistakes & stops to a near- clean round with some really good technical efforts. I guess sometimes the good lessons aren’t the ones where everything went perfectly, it’s the ones where you screwed up, the horse screwed up, and you got over yourselves and made it happen anyways.

Past me would NEVER be ok with this. Current me is.

Can’t get enough of myself

Dressage semi-private on Tuesday, and my willpower/enthusiasm was greatly waning. I had a really bad stomach ache with stabbing pains at work, and it didn’t go away all night. I just wasn’t feeling great, at all.

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Also, Oats’ friend moved away on Tuesday. I bet he misses him!

It got cold here again, after a blissful period of 9-10 degrees it plummeted back down to -1 or so. GOD.

Despite my stomach trouble, I was able to mostly ride it out. I only lurched sickeningly a few times at the canter and our ride was actually pretty good though- Oats was amenable to most of my suggestions, and we worked on transitions: walk/quick steps/trot/medium trot/canter. All while asking the horses to ‘stretch’ and reach down while still engaging their back. We did get some nice steps in the trot/quick steps, but in the canter it mostly turned into Oats flying around with his head down instead of being, well, engaged.

Oh well, at least he was trying! His attitude has been quite good about dressage so maybe we have turned a corner with less hissy-fits in our future. One can hope!

As I rode Oats 4 x days in a row, I took yesterday off and went for a jog instead. I am glad I did it, but my face was frozen after and it kiiiind of felt like a mistake, as it was BLASTING wind and absolutely freezing. My legs felt like blocks of concrete. My foot started hurting again (oh joy) and I was kind of feeling grouchy about how slowly I am running right now.

I do not have high hopes or expectations for my upcoming race- the weather is supposed to be incredibly shitty AGAIN (every race this season has had just terrible weather) freezing, raining/snowing. Lovely.

And in case you can’t remember, here is a recap of what the weather was like at each race:

  • Prairie Inn Harriers 8k: Freezing cold, with a blizzard starting once the race ended
  • MEC Rust Buster 10k: Freezing, about 0 deg the entire race.
  • Cobble Hill 10k: Cold, pouring rain the entire race.
  • Sooke 10k: My prediction? Everything at once! Freezing cold, rain mixed with snow, wind? We shall see 🙂

And to top it off, I burned my hand last night, and jacked up my wrist somehow (still not sure how?). Add that to my ever-present chronic and horrible allergies, and my bum foot, and I feel like a falling-apart robot right now! At least I am sleeping pretty well?? Love that.

Jump lesson tonight, and I hope it’s not completely freezing. Though, it will be.