Spring has sprung at the farm~

So, not only did I run this weekend up Island, but I had a great opportunity to stay with my in-laws, who have a lovely farm about 45 minutes up Island from us.

They have so many animals, and baby animals right now! Lambs, bunnies, chicks- love it~

Lambs!

Lambs!

So, I rode Oats on Saturday and my husband was able to get some pics and a video  (that showed Oats VERY behind my leg, arghhh) but we did get a very smooth, lovely left-lead two-point canter, and then we packed up the dog and headed to the farm!

Saturday riding

Saturday riding

(Oats then had Sunday and Monday off while I recovered from the run, and I rode him last night- cancelled my dressage lesson because I had an inkling it would be very unpleasant on my legs…Smart move, as I was still a bit sore).

And we spent a really nice time at the farm. We had lunch, hot-tubbed, cruised around checking out the lambs, and even picked Bracken fern fiddleheads to cook at dinner. Apparently they are poisonous if you don’t cook them correctly, with oxalates much like rhubarb leaves, so we had to blanch them, them steam them. They taste a lot like asparagus mixed with aniseed. Interesting, but not sure if I will seek them out again.

Bracken fern fiddleheads

Bracken fern fiddleheads

We had a really nice time, and the little lamby-kins are so cute! His parents are very generous, treating us to dinner whenever we make the trek up, and dog-sitting for us on a pretty regular basis. Gidget can be a little jerk at the farm though, barking, chasing sheep, getting dirty, and being a VERY restless sleeper (much to our chagrin the night before the run?!! arghh).

Bunnies

Bunnies

Anyways, after a busy weekend it’s good to get on track again. So, I’m riding again tonight, and then we have our jumping lesson on Thursday.

Springtime

Springtime

Race day recap: My first half-marathon with the Comox Valley RV half marathon!

Yes I was certainly leery about this one. A half-marathon? Even with the wimpy ‘half’ in front of it, it seemed quite intimidating. Because I am an excuse machine, I had a zillion excuses ready for why I shouldn’t, and only 1 reason for why I should.

Because I can.

A successful finish!

A successful finish!

Soooo we did it! Sunday my husband and I trekked all the way to Courtenay for the race. We had already paid for it by signing up for the entire race series, so we figured- why not?

I was anxious. I let the race take up a TON of mental space and energy all week. My knees and everything felt horrible last week- creaky, achy, like I was having terrible growing pains. Clearly, this was a recipe for success (or failure, I figured!).

And how did the race go? Really well! We raced to the best of our ability, and I was happy with my performance. We even had a very strong finish, which made me super happy and kind of feel like puking at the end.

I smiled a lot for the volunteers and photographers (you guys are the best, you’re so dedicated!!) and I had a lot of people to look at and the scenery was all rural farms, so that was nice. The weather, thank GOD, held out mostly right until the end when another storm front blew in, and it started raining and getting windy, pretty much our last km/km and a half.

Run run run!

Run run run! Photo courtesy of Amber Piercy

I felt for a few of the runners- I just wasn’t sure what their motivation was because this was a bit out of their range- the girl who was walk/running who could do a pretty good 10k but was clearly suffering at the halfway point, gasping so loudly during her run parts that I was worried! And then there was the girl in booty shorts, with blood on her thighs from the chafing. EEEEK! What made that seem like a good idea man? This is 21.1km…

There was music man, the guy with music blasting off his arm pretty loudly, and then there was beeping lady, who had some sort of tracker (heart monitor?) going BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP like…every second. I was glad when we passed her! How she didn’t find that annoying is beyond me…I also saw one woman pulled off to the side, furiously stabbing at her iPod being like, ‘I hate this song!’ ‘I hate this one too!’??????? Seriously? Don’t let a song derail your run. At some point, it has to be internal, all you. Pulled over to mess with your tunes is a BAD IDEA.

Oh yeah really going for it!

Oh yeah really going for it! Photo courtesy of Amber Piercy.

We even saw a girl riding a grey pony down the street, and they were both watching the runners. The pony was older, and so cute. Totally unfazed by music man and the rest of us gasping and heaving our way down the street. Haha.

I learned that I am terrible at grabbing race drinks. Terrible. I splashed pink gatorade all over my face at the first attempt and was coughing and choking, and in my next attempt- even at a walk, still managed to splash water on my face and cough! Boo me! I also learned that roads are…slanted…and if I wanted any hope of saving my knees/legs, I had to really make an effort to run in the middle or on the soft shoulder. Hard lesson to learn but it made a huge difference in my knees.

We blasted (well, it felt like it but it was probably really slow) through the 100m sprint to the finish and we WERE DONE! Woo!! We finished it up with a great chili and some awesome snacks. Yum yum. The food, volunteers and everyone were so great, and really cheerful. Thanks to those guys, we had a lovely run, good food and a fabulous atmosphere!

And my time? Spectacularly mediocre: 2:05 haha. BUT my sprint was good- 5th in my age group! Woo hoo for a strong finish.

We then went and got a beer at Gladstone, which is a pretty cool little brewery and bonus points for literally being across the street from the race. Go us!

The only thing a shark respects is a bigger shark: Thursday jump update!

Actually, my Thursday jumping was very mellow. I was wanting to kind of keep things relaxed (my legs are STILL killing me) and wanted to focus on one thing- slowing down my brain.

I have problems with getting too excited jumping, and blasting around the course, rushing, motorcycling with my body, not being straight. It’s due to anxiety, of course.

Blast from the past- Oats at our old barn.

Blast from the past- Oats at our old barn.

So, we worked over small, small fences, x-rails. I still, of course, tried to get excited and start rushing, motorcycling, etc. but in the end? I was able to slow it down and get straighter and calmer through the corners. It was good, and my legs started not cooperating by the end by sliding backwards, like they had a mind of their own…ARGH. Anyways, it was funny but I kind of missed that insane adrenaline rush that comes with *gasp* jumping fences higher than…2ft. HAHA.

Old barn with Oats.

Old barn with Oats.

It felt like, oh well, that was ok. Not, PHEW! We survived!!!!

Hm. Maybe I’m more into the buzz than I even realize?

Oh well! Good Oats, and good me, haha. And get with the program, legs. Jeesh.

One thing I’d like to pick out is when Oats and I had problems (and boy, did we have our fair share) how easy it is to pick out a ‘reason’ he is being a shit-head. And it’s normal, but I want to reiterate that sometimes it IS THE HORSE and his attitude- not the tack (valid sometimes), seasons (valid sometimes), chiro (valid sometimes) or ulcers (valid sometimes).

Yeah, check those out – but always keep in the back of your mind that it very well could be the HORSE and you have to work with that, not make excuses (like I listed above- reasons can be come excuses very easily. Trust me. I am an expert excuse machine).

I’m lucky that I have trainers that have helped me handle Oats, even when he is being a massive jerk. So much so that his status quo is ‘not jerk’ most of the time. Except maybe in flat classes at the Appy shows. Jesus, those are never going to be his forte.

But it bums me out when I see people fighting the same fights with their horses (online, in person, wherever) when it’s pretty clear they are finding reasons or making excuses, and something’s gotta give.

I’m happy with Oats most days, but he is an animal and not perfect. Hell, neither am I! So basically it works out well.

A wordless Thursday: Mr. Oats with bubbles!

I didn’t go riding yesterday (wanted to give my poor knees a fighting chance this week) so I took the night off and did my nails most spectacularly.

Curious Oats- photo courtesy of Sarah C.

Mr. Oats, as it looks like, had some fun with bubbles!

Blowing bubbles

Hilariously, my dog is terrified of bubbles, but they are no problem with Mr. Oats. He’s one cool customer. As a friend put it, it looks like Oats thinks he is camouflaged, as the bubbles  match his rain coat. Haha.

Best (dressage) canter yet for Mr. Oats!

Let’s say that I normally don’t go into my dressage lessons expecting brilliance…I go in expecting a few tantrums, some hissy-fits and then maybe cooperation. Let’s face it- I spent most of the winter complaining that we weren’t making any progress!

Go dressage Oats

Go dressage Oats

BUT

We are. Had another private lessons and begged for leniency- my knees still feel like I am close to 100 years old and man they are aching! We continued on what we worked on last week, the canter circle, keeping a strong outside contact as a sort of ‘safety blanket’ to give my hands something to do, and wouldn’t you know…It went even better this week~

Not without some damage to my legs, that were aching sooooooo much afterwards!

Oats is still ‘hopping’ or popping, threatening to canter when I am actually asking for a bigger trot, but his evasions are getting much better. I got kind of annoyed and was like, oh well you want to canter? That’s fine, we can canter. But now you have to STAY in the canter! HAHA! And you have to canter the way I want you to canter~

He was rethinking that decisions shortly, but cooperated!

And I was feeling braver about kicking him on, to go forward. We’re not quite up to using the crop to get him moving at the canter (scary!) but small steps, small steps. I was really pleased with how he was moving, good pony.

And I am taking today off, hoping to heal my legs up this week in a hurry.

Oh and one bad thing for Mr. Oats- apparently he knocked down boards in his pen that were kind of falling apart already, snuck under the fence, and went gallivanting through a neighbours backyard?!~~ BAD pony!!!!!

Weekend recap: Running my legs off~ (But Mr. Oats gets off easy)

Oats only had 1 ride this weekend, as my poor knees just couldn’t take it on Sunday. Saturday, we had a crazy windstorm, complete with rain. Oats is quite well behaved during wind, but he did have one big spook- a chair blew over and a door blew open, just as we were riding by! I couldn’t really blame the guy.

We worked on some flatwork, and then trotted through a line of poles (that definitely weren’t set for him, oops haha, but he is a little fairy pony with clever feet, so he didn’t have a problem with them!).

After lunch Saturday, my husband and I ran approximately 19km (not entirely sure how long it ended up being, because we parked further out from the 1km start and ran from there!). It kind of sucked out loud. My legs started aching immediately. You know that feeling, when you’re not ‘feeling it?’ Yeah, that.

So, I kind of spent like 19km complaining heartily that my legs hurt. I even broke it down:

  • 6km. Seriously? Only six? Whaa?
  • 7km. Maybe we should turn back here.
  • 8km. Or here. HOW did it take like 50 minutes to get here?
  • 9km. I guess we’re doing it.
  • On the way back: my right leg hurts more than my left leg. Why is that? My left knee is my bad knee?
  • Oh, there it goes. My left knee is in on the action too.
  • Everything hurts. How is the wind changing direction to blast in our face this way too?
  • My left calf is threatening to cramp up.
  • My ankle hurts now too.
  • Annnddd done!

So yeah.

We got a beer after, and it was more like a grim beer, not a ‘celebratory’ beer. 19km feels like more of a kick in the teeth than 15km, that’s for darn sure! My husband even got some real under-arm chafing going on. Yes, this is serious business guys.

So, Oats got a brief longe outdoors on Sunday while I gingerly hobbled around in the rain. He was less than impressed. ”You want me to go where? It’s raining. I’ll get wet!”

He did get some peppermints I had bought, to see if he might like them as a treat! He does, so good. Oats now has an official treat that isn’t candy canes.

And takes me to this week: My knees!!!!! Ahhhhhghhh…..I am taking it easy this week- no stairs, no elliptical, no sprint work and maybe taking Wed off from the barn too. Yeah, easy means easy (which I actually have a really hard time sticking to!!).

This time, I conquer (gymnastics, sort-of)

Yes, I feel like every week I face the same struggle – gymnastics- and how I seem to fail miserably at them. Even my coach was like, why are your single fences good and your gymnastics just not?! Yeah! Good question!

Mr. Oats is a mini-me! (Oats and Donato

Mr. Oats is a mini-me! (Oats and Donato)

I think my single fences feel smoother, like I can get in a rhythm and we’re good. Our trot-in gymnastics, not so natural. I suggested we do the gymnastics more to the middle of the lesson, and Nicole was like yeah but then you’d just want to canter in. Well, that’s true. It feels more natural to do that too!

But anyways, we started off with a very basic gymnastic- x-rail to 1-stride vertical then oxer (small, 2’3” or smaller). And we were actually better than last week, which is why I put ‘I conquer’ at least for this week, haha. What worked best was…riding through the gymnastic in the dreaded ‘Phyllis rein’ style (carriage hand) and then I proceeded to ride my course with that, as it was working pretty well actually.

I did put on a neckstrap and then proceeded not to use it! I had a feeling I’d use it and pull on it, so I left it alone and kept with the Phyllis rein.

Good: Better rides through the gymnastics, even if the usual problems reared their ugly head. Single fences rode better. Oats was pretty eager, and I managed to STAY out of his way when we got a short distance instead of throwing my upper body at him! Also I have been good about practicing my on-course visualization every morning during my walks to work.

Bad: Bombed around a few corners, oops. Still having issues with my hands floating like, inches above his neck over the gymnastic. Rode for a good long spot and then didn’t trust Oats, so I got left behind.

Work on: Taking my time on course. Slowing down for transitions instead of rushing them/Oats. Being calmer, not chasing Oats, and working on bringing my hands lower in gymnastics. Straighter over the single fences. Confidence over 2′ fences is getting much better!