Show your PRIDE!

Phew, after a suuuper long day at the horse show on Sunday, I got home around 6-ish and we immediately zipped out to catch the last of Pride.

The Pride parade and festival happens every year, and ends up at the park near our house, we can just walk over! It was also extremely HOT out so I was kind of glad it was a bit shadier. Lol and of course, it’s 16 degrees and chilly/grey out today. Man, this weather!

Cowichan District Riding Club All-Pony Show!

Wow so we had a busy weekend and the horse show was a blast!!!

I loved watching all the adorable Welsh ponies, shetlands, minis, Fjords, New Forest Ponies and it was just so cool to be there. It was also an extremely HOT day, so we had to be very careful with the heat and the sun and old Oaty, who can tolerate things well but he is an animal and you have to respect their needs.

Spoiler: Winners!!

So, we parked it in the shade for a lot of the day, as it was a loooooooooong day, lol.

We got there early for the Sport Pony halter class, where Oats behaved himself fairly nicely, only getting a little irritated at the end of the class. He placed fourth in that one, and then it was time to tack up for our first u/saddle classes. We had a LONG wait, due to a class conflict. So, it started about an hour later than we thought…and I was getting hot hot hot! I hopped off and parked Oats in the shade.

A very restrained Oats in the halter class.

Then it was our turn! We did the adult hunt seat equitation, where we rode well and the judge was very complimentary (the very kind Peter Holmes) but I got dinged hard for carrying an incorrect whip, whoops! And I am kicking myself, because I KNEW better lol. Doh!

And we won this sweet plaque, redeeming ourselves in hunter hack. Isn’t it awesome?

Oh well, Oats was behaving himself perfectly πŸ™‚

Next class: Hunter under saddle, and Oats was so good at it, and we placed first!

Oats says: No frame, just freeeee

Next up was the hunter hack, and we had to jump two little fences. Video below: and of course, Oats was a star. We had a chance to warm up over it once, and it was set a little higher, maybe 18”? They knocked a rail off for the class itself, to Oats’ disappointment. Hah.

He was first that time too! Then our ‘suitable to be a dressage horse’ class, and we were second in it. Oats was getting hot and I was getting tired too. A long lunch break, and then we zipped over to ride the trail/agility class- and I messed it up, but it was fun! πŸ™‚

I don’t know if I’ve ever smiled this much in the show ring! πŸ™‚

Then our final classes of the day: Barrel racing and pole bending! I scratched the keyhole race, as I noticed Oats was getting too tired by the end of barrel racing, poor guy lol. We placed first in the pole bending!! Third in barrel race. πŸ™‚

Alll the prizes!! It was incredible!

It was a super long day but the volunteers, competitors and sponsors were absolutely fantastic. Big kudos to everyone that kept the show running safely, well and happy!! We loved it!

A rust-buster show with CDRC

A few weeks ago we finally went to a show, in a month where despite my best efforts, EVERYTHING got cancelled on me. 😦

Best buds!

Games day with the horses? Cancelled, not enough entries.

Bachelorette party? Cancelled, bride got COVID.

Movie I wanted to go see? Left the theatres.

And so on…ARGH.

But this is the one thing that actually happened this month. And it went very well, both horses Donato and Oats were superstars and didn’t put a hoof wrong. My scores are not competitive anymore, and I am not entirely sure what to chalk that up to?

  • Performance anxiety?
  • Not able to replicate the homework we do at home in the ring?
  • Oats aging?
  • Me losing focus?

Whatever it is, it’s going on at every show we go to. SIGH. He is very well behaved but we just don’t have magic anymore. Regardless, it was a very nice day and super fun to get out there with our buds. We missed them so much over the years of injury + COVID that despite our lacklustre scoring, it’s just nice to be out, doing the things we love to do, you know?

Mr. Oats is immortalized

In a painting! I commissioned a painting of him earlier this year, and was able to pick it up two weeks ago, when I was grabbing my race bib for the Oak Bay half actually.

Stunning! Artist is Linda Stagg

I love it so much!! The artist is a colleague of mine and incredibly talented πŸ™‚

And this is the photo inspiration! Isn’t it amazing what she did?

And how is the old boy? Oh being a terror, like usual πŸ˜‰ On Saturday I rode, and then let him have turnout while I cleaned his disgusting horse blankets, and then went to bring him in- he can’t be on grass for too long right now, it’s too rich and he is a Cushings pony so too much grass is a big no-no…And I watched as he freaking BLEW past me, and galloped into the farm yard. He went from paddock to paddock, fighting and instigating chaos with each horse. Every time I went to get him, he basically charged past me or AT me. Asshole.

He then went back into his own paddock? Weird.

Guess he’s a time-limited terror?

From the scene of the crime…He looks so innocent but he definitely is NOT

He’s been super fun in my dressage lessons, mixing in a little test-practice, with some little fences, all kinds of little things to do and all fun! I haven’t had a Working Equitation lesson in awhile, due to being away in Port Townsend, the race, and then this weekend I didn’t have my car (because I was supposed to be in a bachelorette party, which got cancelled)…So I am hoping we can revisit WE practice this weekend.

He does really enjoy it, and I’m hoping there is a WE show in Aug. so we can strut our stuff! (but NO BANKS PLEASE jesus).

First time: Running the Oak Bay Half Marathon

Now, this is a combo of typical ‘big race’ and ‘community race’ I think. I’m not generally a fan of big races, it seems like more of an opportunity to spend more, and get wayyy less. This race is no exception, but it is very well organized, with a whole army of excellent volunteers, so I am very thankful for them and the organization! It is a very nice, leafy course and one of the most scenic ones in Victoria I think.

And then in two minutes I wanted my sweater back…

BUT…

It is a fairly large race, there are no race awards for age-groups, and it is more ‘everybody gets a medal’ day ie- you get a race medal for completion. I am not a fan of participation medals, basically at all, unless you’re at marathon distance. (Ok I know there is some innate snobbery here, but I just don’t need medals myself unless I won them, is my thinking. Not meaning to rob someone of their joy here.).

So, last weekend’s race was much more lucrative for me, hahah. Oh and also that the run scene here is EXTREMELY competitive. Like…Olympian-fast. So you can take the overall placings out of your dreams, hahah because it ain’t gonna happen. That is the only reason I am able to place in races elsewhere, basically!

Also I had to get up early for this one, which is a hard sell for me, argh. 8am just isn’t…friendly to me and it was absolutely freezing that early in the morning. Lucky for me Ian joined me so he could park the car and take a video πŸ™‚

Whee!

We started off and it’s a mass start- 10k and half marathon all together, with relay participants. It’s a bit of organized chaos, as we run with the 10k’ers until they turn around. Now, I do think I owe my last half marathon personal best to having some unofficial pacers to follow until they dropped my ass at like 8k, so I was feeling a bit lost and apprehensive about being with 10k’ers. Like…who do I follow?
Well, it was fine. Maybe I came out a bit quick, but you run for so long you give that up pretty damn fast, haha. We were with the 10k’ers until just past 6km, and they turned around, and we kept climbing.

No lie, this was much hillier than I expected. I guess I thought Oak Bay was kind of flat? Also the wind was pretty nuts, gusting up to 60k/hr and we did so many twists and turns…straight into the headwind every time. It was never really at our backs, at all. My hat kept blowing off my head, so I took it off and held it. Boo!

I was apprehensive for up until oh, 11km and then I high-fived a spectator, felt good and kept GOING!

The only thing I was really struggling with was getting a solid, pounding rhythm …could get it great on the flats, and then we’d hit another hill and I’d lose my awesome pace. Then get it…and immediately hit another hill.

My legs felt awesome though, no troubles at all there. So good in fact I just wanted some flat sections to really test how fast I could go this late in the game! But the last 5km was just hills and a wicked headwind 😦

Wrapped up by charging past some of the walkers finishing the early start, not super inspiring because you’re alone out there again, racing past walkers. Finished with a not too shabby 1:31:39. Slower than my last one, but truly it’s a different race, so I am pleased with consistency. That was enough to net me 5th overall and 2nd AG (but no AG awards, sigh) and that’s it!

So would I do it again? No I don’t think I will. It is nice and scenic, when the weather cooperates it’s a fun race but I just am not that into more ‘fun runs’ really. I would recommend it for people looking for something new and interesting, but challenging. Don’t expect a personal best here.

Farewell Port Townsend

And what did we do on our last day, other than me joining the race? Well, we did a lot of hoofing around, ahha trying to get to a brewery (The Pourhouse). We finally made it AND they took a few bucks off my drink when I showed them my race bib – I had brought it just in case πŸ˜‰ and it finally worked!

SO good

I enjoyed a sour, and then a truly incredible salted watermelon-apricot sour and wowza it was so tasty, I couldn’t believe it!

We cruised around, ate ice cream, drank beer, enjoyed the sunshine again and then ate dinner at the local greasy fish’n’ chips joint, Sea Jay’s and headed out to see the drive-in movie. That’s right, they have one of the last drive-ins in Washington State! OMG it starts so LATE though, wow. We got there after 8pm, and watched Sonic the Hedgehog #2 at like… 9:30am to 11:30am. Got back to the hotel after midnight. Phew, I was exhausted haa and my legs were starting to bug me, aching a lot I guess due to sitting too much!

Luckily we didn’t have to get up too early in the morning and it’s a quick and easy sail back home.

I would definitely revisit Port Townsend! I do recommend it πŸ™‚

Port Townsend #3: Rhody Run 10k

That’s right, what kind of moron goes on holidays and signs up for a race, last-minute?

Yeah, haha. This moron!

It was very much on a whim. I saw that they had a race as part of their annual rhododendron festival called ‘Rhody Run’ and was like yep that’s it. I’m signing up! And sooo I did, haha. I couldn’t sign up only due to entries being maxed out, but they were allowing the day-before registration so we spent the day out at Fort Worden and then swung by the Fairgrounds around 3pm to sign up, and it was effortless, took 10 mins. Then the race was the next morning!

Ian got to dig through shirts to find one I wanted to wear, and off we went!

Of course we’d walked over 10k that day alone, and basically spend the rest of the afternoon drinking beer, but heyyyy…why not do a race? I slept HORRIBLY the entire weekend, which was the only downer part of the time but oh well.

Sunday dawned bright and early and we were back at the Fairgrounds (ok like a 7 minute drive hahahah) and I had my bib on ready to race!

Pre-race

The race had so many participants, they said it was a record sell-out. They had 10k and then 5k starting immediately afterwards. We got in line and were off!

Not gonna lie, I was hot already. I was very unused to the sun (hello, it hasn’t been sunny and warm for ONE day here in Victoria..not one day) and I was wearing long sleeves, gloves, long pants to run in every single day and freezing. So I ended up wearing my sleeping shorts for the race, hahah since I had only packed long pants/spandex tights due to it being so miserably cold the entire ‘spring’.

It was a challenging course, a few rolling hills and then QUITE the hill at oh… KM 5-6 I think? I can’t remember exactly other than cursing myself for signing up hahaha. Also someone was playing Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire soundtrack at like KM 3 and it made me feel really good, like Rocky!!

There was one screaming downhill at like KM 7 I think, and wow it was nuttssss…I was pretty sure I was going to fall hahah.

I was running alone a lot, there was one guy ahead of me who stopped to walk at like KM 8? The top woman was unreachable to me, but I held 2nd place the entire way which felt really nice πŸ™‚

Zipped to the finish, and immediately took off my shirt, I was so hot. Also forgot that I’d packed my worst, saggiest sports bra b/c I really didn’t think we’d be running that much. Hah, whoops! Then the marine fog rolled in and I felt cold again.

We enjoyed some post-race snacks and Ian snapped some pics for me, and I was the happy recipient of a medal for first in my AG and a $200 gift card to Amazon for being second female. YEAH!!! Thanks Port Townsend, you rock!!

Next up: Fourth and final farewell to Port Townsend

A long weekend in Port Townsend!

Wow been awhile. As I left, I had just started my new position (same job) and things got very busy for awhile, but it is a change for the better.

In the meantime, I am still counting down the days until my sabbatical, and we also enjoyed a long weekend in Washington in Port Townsend!

We stayed at the Palace Hotel in Pt. Townsend and had a loft bedroom with a kitchen!

It was a super awesome weekend. NOT cheap by any stretch of the imagination ($$$$$$$$$ for ferry, eating out, hotels, activities, booze, etc) but well worth it, given we haven’t really travelled much in oh, two years? THANKS pandemic…So, we were overdue I think.

It was pretty neat and very old-timey

Also we’ve had endless crap weather. Like, heat on in May kind of crap weather. And no signs of it improving either, so we’re feeling really stir-crazy with every single day being windy/freezing/raining/grey…No respite in sight. HOW?

Ok ran about the weather over.

First up in Port Townsend wasn’t even Port Townsend- it was in Sequim, about 20 mins away from Port Angeles at the Olympic Game Farm. We went there on a whim, when I saw an ad for it on the Coho haha. And it was a freaking blast! We bought bread (1 loaf) there and you pay $17/pp and drive-through a little animal safari. The critters were all over us hahaha. I did have a moderate buffalo freakout when one stuck his head in the car and basically mauled me with his giant 1ft long tongue-eeeek!!!

Ian got drooled all over by an elk. HAHA. It was so fun, Gidget didn’t know what to think, it was hilarious!

I highly recommend. And next up…Port Townsend marine science centre.

Big changes

I’m moving on from my workplace of 11 years and while this is a change I really wanted to make, I also feel very strange about it now?!

Going to miss these crazy kooks!

I started here when I had just turned 25, and now I am turning 37. Where did the time go? I’ve really valued the friendships I’ve made here and my colleagues are great people, but I came to the realization that with just under 6 months left before my sabbatical, it was time to make a more permanent change and leave my current office.

I’m staying in the same position but handling some different aspects, something I haven’t done in oh, about 7 years?? But the change is necessary and important for both my mental health and personal growth. I need to take more proactive steps towards a future that I can believe in.

So here goes nothing…and a fresh start on Monday!

My reviews: Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Mac and Cheese

You eat with your eyes, so maybe wear sunglasses..

Buckle up people!

Ah yes, the finest cuisine

They say you eat with your eyes, and if that’s the case, my eyes wanted sunglasses when I was staring down a bowl of this atomic-red monstrosity. Sidenote: We always associated atomic with the colour green? Why not this fiery inferno of red? The colour is so weirdly off putting that when you eat it, your brain and mouth don’t want to work together and kept insisting that this must have tomato in it? (It doesn’t, this is 100% chemically-created with not a hint of any sort of real food). BUT that being said, even if it is eye-blistering, it’s also very tasty! The texture is straight up cooked pasta, a fusilli shape to simulate Chester the Cheetah’s tail, apparently. That is a bit of a reach, personally. It’s fusilli, people. The taste is straight up spicy heat, kind of like eating a softer Takis Fuego, the kind that makes your face and eyeballs sweat when you’re eating it.

Yum??

The portion sizes, like all mac and cheese dinners, is miniscule. Too much maybe for 1 person but too little for 2 unless you are both children in trenchcoat instead of an adult.

Also lacking: Cheese. For mac and cheese, it’s all bite and no smooth cheesy taste. So think it really wins on the heat level – impressive- but it does lack on the backup cheese taste. In that way, it is not like Cheetos at all, but luckily for them I have a solution- mix in a box of regular Kraft mac and cheese! Win-win!

So, please do that and let me know if it’s a winner because in my mind, it really will be. Cheetos mac and cheese is available in other flavours so maybe I will have to try those, see if they can balance the heat + cheese flavour a little better? Otherwise, this was available at Save On Foods for a ridiculously marked up price because of the novelty of it. Go ahead and try it, remix it πŸ˜‰

Bazan Bay and series finale with the Vancouver Island Race Series

Last weekend we had the final race of the series, the 5k and the series wrap up! πŸ™‚

Heading back. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I was kind of dreading the 5k- I just find it so tough, and I feel like I am pretty weak at getting any top end speed but I figured I could probably hang well enough for a sub- 20:00 with the fitness I have right now.

And it was FREEZING out. We have had a really miserable spring- super cold, wind storms every other day, it was a blizzard last Monday?! The race morning it was 0 deg, and by the time we were racing, I think it crawled up to a measly 4 deg? Anyways I was frozen, wearing gloves for the last race of the season and cursing our luck. I guess we should have considered ourselves lucky that it wasn’t snowing (it was on the Malahat and up Island all day…) and the brave runners who traveled here definitely had to contend with a really tough go to get to the race.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

Weather gripes aside, the race itself was fine. I did get annoyed when I saw some older, non-elite runners head to the start. Guys, that’s a good way to get really hurt. Of course, when we started everyone blew past them and they got elbowed a lot. That’s life when you try to hang w/the pros… Do better!

I was hung up in a few packs throughout the race but nothing too tight, which was nice. I forgot my watch so didn’t have that pressure πŸ˜‰ at least!

At the start. My lungs didn’t love the extra-cold weather. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

It was tough, Ian blew past me like I was standing still which is always irritating! Lol! Wish I had speed if I didn’t train- how??? That will always confound me. My breathing was fairly labored and I did feel like I was at my max for speed. We hit the turnaround and zoomed back. As always, the finish loomed just out of reach for muuuchhh longer than I ever want…

About 1.5 kms to the finish, a guy was telling us we’re getting under 20:00 and I was like yes my dude, I know that, but I’m not gearing JUST for under, you know? I was running hard!

Second place in the series! Photo courtesy of Joseph ‘Crazy Legs’ Camillieri.

And luckily I did get under 20:00 by a fair margin- gun time was 19:22, chip..can’t remember haha. Good enough! I got 5th in my AG, and then we had the series awards. It was confusing at first because none of the 5k times were loaded so nobody knew what they had placed in, and the placings did have an effect on the series end awards. I was in 3rd place, until they called out the placings and I – in a big upset lol- moved to 2nd?!

Yeah!!

$50 gift card to Frontrunners was all mine, baby!! πŸ™‚

And the race results never did get loaded, so a few days later we saw them. Ha, my AG was quite competiive this year, phewww!

Grateful to have a good racing season, nice weather until the last race (how??) and lovely to see my run community buddies and enjoy some excellent post-race snacks. Until next time, racing!!! πŸ™‚

Overwhelm

It’s been…a lot lately. The return to the workplace is making me realize a whole bunch of truths, namely that I need a big change and my sabbatical won’t be coming soon enough.

Just want nice sunny weather again- is that too much to ask?

Things only change if you change them.

Also, I hate working in the workplace and I find it very distracting. And the time? Oh lord. My time management has gone to hell and back, namely I spend all of it sitting at work and then rushing around at home trying to get all of my life stuff done, like my animals, showering, preparing lunches, etc. Fun times.

Oats had a difficult week last week- he was spooky as hell, seeing things in every single corner of the arena, slamming on the brakes, half rearing, etc. I know him well enough now that this behaviour is seasonal (unfortunately or fortunately…) and it too will pass, but damn, I just wanted a fun pony to ride? Likely there is a big tie-in to his disease and the medication, as this only became a bigger issue the past two years he was diagnosed. 😦 blows either way.

And then he was foot-perfect at my Thursday lesson! Such a lovely little dude, we jumped cross rails one-handed and had the funnest time, which was great b/c mentally I was NOT in a good place (thanks, work). And then I free longed him on Friday and he came up lame. GREEATTT

But no swelling, heat, etc so I chalked it up to stiffness, and his leasor longed him on Sunday and he looked fine. I rode him last night, and while he was still stiff and moving quite ‘flat’ going to the right, he did improve and worked out of it, leading me to believe that it is indeed stiffness?

His leasor is going to ride tonight.

I don’t think the weather has been helping though- it’s been miserable. Freezing cold, unseasonably cold, raining, snowing, wind at 100km/hr almost every day? WTF? Just such a shit spring. No day is a respite. Our allergies also went completely bananas, and poor Gidget had the worst weekend with her ‘reverse sneezing’- honking and gasping allllllll day and the nasal spray we use didn’t work 😦 WTF life. Thanks guys…

Just the usual spring- I hate everything- blahs…

VIRA Sook River 10k: Unfinished business?

Ah, our first 10k of the season. I wished I had run a 10k or something a bit longer before the half marathon to be better prepared but I had to wait my turn until this past weekend πŸ˜‰

Photo by Joe Crazy Legs.

The course is a bit more challenging than the other 10k that is on the VIRA race roster (Cobble Hill, we missed that one) so the times do tend to be a bit softer in general. That being said, I have run this one well and very poorly in the past. I was a bit concerned about the hills- not big ones, but lots of rolling terrain and I am finding hills to be an absolute killer recently, guess they’re my weak points!

The weather was SO nice, oh man it was gorgeous. I wasn’t expecting nice- it’s been really crummy, cold, wet, rainy, windy and so blah lately. I went back to wearing gloves and vests I was so cold last week! Hence, I definitely was a touch overdressed for this race.

Running with a pack: Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell

We got there in good time, had a bit of a snafu with the race bibs running out of safety pins haha but I had extra from home so I was golden. We warmed up, and joined the start. It was a fairly non-eventful start except for one very fast runner who got tripped up and fell pretty hard. She was bleeding from quite a few scrapes! She rallied really well though. I saw another runner at the start wearing a regular bra (??) loose hair and generally didn’t look like she should have been at the start, more to the back. I was right about that…She walked about 2k. I saw her on the turnaround, well behind the packs.

Despite those, I had a good start and not much weaving.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

My first few KMs were quick, relatively fast paced but I did have some trouble focusing. All I could think about was the turnaround, and how many hills we were going to face on the way back…Yikes.

We headed up to the turnaround and I held the pace ok, but it was definitely really wearing on me. The hills on the way home were rough, not gonna lie. My pace dropped off and I started getting passed, a lot. I ran in a pack pretty steadily the entire way until I got passed around KM 7-9. Ian even passed me! How dare he?! (I think the real mystery is how he can run such a solid race with NO training. Man, I can’t even!!? I’m jealous).

My breathing was a bit ragged and I was sweating heavily, but happy to see the finish.

Finally the finish, wish my eyes were open! Photo courtesy of Joe Crazy Legs

I definitely didn’t rally as well as I could have (or should have??) but I know hills are my weak spot right now so fair enough Sooke, you win. I am happy with my time though! I am clinging desperately to the mirage that is under- 41:00, hahah. My chip time was 40:58, and my gun time was 41:01. Not too shabby for a girl who couldn’t break 43:XX to save her life a few years ago eh?

And that was good for 2nd in my AG and 8th woman overall. A fairly competitive field I think this year.

Best of all? CINNAMON BUNS as a post-race snack AND pizza. What a great day!!! πŸ™‚ Lovely race, good folks, fun to catch up with everyone at the end and enjoy my (second) cinnamon bun even if I did drop it in my car and Gidget ate the rest of it hahah.

Working Equitation clinic with Darcy Henckel

This past weekend for a change in gears- we took part in a 2 day clinic with Darcy Henckel!

I think Oats liked her too!

She was very friendly, agreeable and horsemanship-focused, something Oats and I really appreciated. It was a very focused weekend that reviewed how we approach each obstacle, and obstacle work in general, through a relaxed, calm and horse-forward approach.

Bridge was no problem for all the horses! Photos courtesy of Stella French.

Oats was a gem but I WAS prepared lol. I rode the absolute snot out of him on Friday, after not really wanting to ride on Friday (freaking tired man) but I knew I kind of had to, to prepare him to behave for the weekend. He was pretty lazy on Friday, so I was going to call it a day, until I lost his shit spooking and spinning violently at a pony that he sees every single day, soooooo I figured he had a LOT more to give. And boy, did he! We hand galloped for 35 minutes, and he STILL had energy to do another huge spook after that. Face palm.

I swear I was trying to smile, ha.

I called it after his second spook and we cooled him out outdoors. He was so sweaty he was lathered white with sweat. Gee, thanks Oats… I gave him a calming paste the night before, and then Saturday came to the barn to longe the sillies out of him before our session in the AM. Meant a very early morning for me, but you know what? 100% worth it. He was very well behaved for both days, and I was NOT taking any chances of him being nuts or too silly.

Ok now I am trying to smile better πŸ™‚ Through the figure-eight with is more like double-D’s!

He was calm, quiet and cantered nicely in a group. He approached the obstacles with focus and attentiveness, only really losing it at the gate on the second day when he spotted some horses unloading near the entrance of the arena and wanting to look at them instead. Can’t blame him for that!

I really liked how calm, quiet and attentive the trainer was. We weren’t pushed, nobody was, for anything that was too much. A good focused day was had by all πŸ™‚ And I learned more about the obstacles- so many things to recall, ha. A lot of pitfalls you can fall into.

When the dentist isn’t so bad

Because you have this little cuddlebug on your lap the whole time! Her name is Rizzo and she is a rescue dog from Mexico. She is only 1 year old, but she’s incredibly well behaved and the loveliest little pup. She stayed with me during my appointment and snoozed on my lap (well, lap and chest lol) and made the whole experience so much better. (well, that and the fact that my teeth looked pretty good!).

Rizzo, your friendly dog companion at the dentist!

She is in ‘good etiquette’ classes right now and her owner is looking to have her assessed by St. John’s Ambulance to be a support animal. I think she’s the right dog for the job!

Some really fun rides

Had a great lesson last night, where we worked on an exercise that was deceptively simple but also tricky: Jump a small 2ft jump on the long side, then canter leg yields weaving through jump standards! We remixed it a few times to change direction, trot the jump, canter the jump, back to trot, and worked on straightness via leg yielding to the fence.

Small fences, like this from the summer

We had a really nice time! It was a reminder to focus on straightness as well, as that was definitely something we struggled with generally when we jumped. Also I haven’t really jump-jumped in awhile so that was nice too πŸ™‚

Ah miss summer…

We had a really fun ride and the ponies were game to try anything! Though they really herp-derped the warm up fence a few good times too hahah. Silly guys!

VIRA Comox Valley Half Marathon: Race redemption?

We had our first half marathon in over two years on Sunday and WOW I was ready to go!! It was up island, so quite a few hours drive away for us, but luckily our in-laws moved to that region so we could go up Saturday and stay overnight. That was particularly nice due to the time change (spring forward…) and I still feel tired and am not sleeping. Love that…

And they’re off! Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But yes, the race. I like saying I have unfinished business with the half marathon. With any distance right now actually, as I enjoy a burst of newfound speed. (Seriously, who am I????). I was a touch apprehensive going into the race as I did feel a bit undertrained, two 8ks aren’t really cutting it and I wasn’t able to get up to the distance/mileage I might have wanted but hey, them’s the breaks eh?

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

I was a bit worried that it would be pissing down rain on race day but we got lucky- just gray skies! Yay!

It was chilly but not freezing, ideal weather some would say for a race. I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt, and felt warm enough to unzip it about halfway through. We warmed up fine, and I ended up chatting with a run guy I know, who also does race announcing- it was nice to see him again πŸ™‚

Off we went, and they actually had pace ‘groups’ for 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00 so you could align yourself with your ‘corral’ and I lined up with 1:30 feeling VERY ambitious. We started and I ran with the 1:30 group- kind of unofficially- for as long as I could hang. Turns out I could hang for about 8-9km and then not at all, lol.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

I felt quite comfortable but was very aware that I hadn’t had much time on my feet lately and not raced this far and at 10-11km, it SHOWED. Woof. I immediately felt worse and while I wasn’t struggling, it wasn’t as smooth and easy feeling as up to 9km had been. Goodbye, pace group!

I ran alone for awhile, which was ok. Did some creative math that always equaled out to me finishing a shorter distance instead of the full one, that was boiling my brains a bit. I didn’t even get water? I just felt like if I did, I’d never be able to regroup my legs. My left hip felt pretty miserable, I guess from the road cambering. I felt like I handled the hills ok for my level of conditioning but I never really got better at pacing through them.

Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But I was trucking along. The only real killer time was the loooong 2km stretch before the final turn to the last 1.5 kms. All a big lineup of trucks, diesel exhaust and just so blah. An uninspiring finale on what is a very picturesque course.

Yes!!! Under 1:30 πŸ™‚ Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

And then it was the finish! And I was running alone, just like Rocky hahah. I felt quite triumphant and not even like puking or anything?! Yes!!! My time was 1:29:23, good for 7th woman overall and 3rd in my age group. It is a small but fairly competitive field. Ian did amazingly as well- right behind me at 1:32:51. With no training?! HOW?? I just know I personally would just die instead, ha.

Enjoying a post-race beer at Gladstone Brewery.

The volunteers were excellent, and did a great job wrangling all of the recalcitrant runners. We had some chili after that was great, and I picked up my award. After, we had a beer outdoors at Gladstone Brewery. I was pooped!! It was chilly out but a pretty decent day all around.

No training at a 1:32. How?!!

Taking it easy: Horse edition!

And how is old Oats? He’s doing great! We haven’t had many WE lessons- due to my race schedule and a few other scheduling conflicts, but we have been enjoying our dressage/multitasking lessons on Thursdays very much πŸ™‚

Out for a walk in the sunshine

And on Sunday I was sooooo tired from having friends over that I couldn’t stomach the idea of rigorous ride so we cruised around the block and then I met some friends for lunch (for me that means a gigantic milkshake from Politanos!) 100% a great idea. Get yourself over to Politanos and you will not regret it!!

This is the Cookie Monster. It was good!

Prairie Inn Harriers 8K race recap!

Whew, meant to update this last week, when I actually ran this race, but you know…Life and such. I will admit that I wasn’t overly excited for it- I kind of wished it was the Cobble Hill 10k, which we missed due to Mexico (wah wah such a hardship eh? haha) but this one will do I guess!

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

Selfishly I also wanted a 10k to better prepare for the half this weekend, which I do not feel overly prepared for but anyways…

The race!

It’s at a very friendly 11:30am, the sun was shining until it wasn’t, and it was very balmy out. I love that. I was wearing shorts, in Feb. Whee! There were issues getting into the school- that also involved alarms going off- so we elected to jog to the start about 1km away and use the porta-potties there. Good call I think, because we then had just enough time to jog a bit, warm up, and then get into the start line!

This is a very popular race because it’s the flattest 8k in town and also gives out prize money, so it attracts an extremely fast and professional field- there was an Olympian in this one who won! I seeded myself in an ok spot, better than Hatley, and while there was some jockeying and jostling, not so much as Hatley. I did waste time doing juuust that, but also kind of ran my first few Km’s too fast. That currently scares me off, so I now have an ‘ignorance is bliss’ policy and do not check my watch. It did feel fast, and challenging.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri

I hung on to that pace for a bit, saw it dip by feel around the small hill at the turnaround, and then cranked it up (?) around km’s 6-7. I got passed a lot here, hahah. Oops! Oh well, I was still trying really hard. I really didn’t have much get-up-and-go to the finish, but I was generally pleased with my effort on the whole.

Ian finished mere seconds behind me, with little to no training, which is a feat in itself!!

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri. I couldn’t help but find this person who beat me’s gait very interesting. What is happening here?

We had pizza at the end, and I was able to pick up my Hatley Castle medal so that was awesome. No medals for me this time around, but I am happy with my race: 32:10 for a two minute PR in the 8k and good for 4th in my AG. A good race, good weather and some fun company and great snacks. What more could a girl ask for?! πŸ™‚

Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there πŸ™‚ and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! πŸ™‚ Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! πŸ™‚

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt πŸ™‚ how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

Gidget goes for a kayak ride!

The weather was SO NICE this weekend- just phenomenal. Very warm for February (which isn’t unheard of here, but last year was really nasty) I loved it! We went for a long walk after Oats’ farrier appointment/our riding on Saturday, and then on Sunday we had the trifecta: Our first VIRA race of the season (the first race was cancelled due to snow/ice, the second one we were in Mexico for, so voila!) and then I went riding while Ian went to buy life jackets with Gidget, and then we got the inflatable kayak Ian got for Christmas and went for a paddle after the barn!

What a great day!

The kayak requires a few kinks to be work out: Seats, leaking, etc. But we are going to figure it out and enjoy ourselves πŸ™‚

Gidget seemed to be having an ok time too!

Christmas part 2: Royston Xmas

I forgot to write about this AT Christmas, and I finally have a moment to do so. Over the holidays I took a big chunk of time off (had to for work basically) and at that time, I desperately needed it. Things got reeeallly rough in my horse life, personal life, and work life. It was very challenging.

I then headed off to Kelowna for a good old fashioned family Christmas, which went better than I could have hoped for! When I flew home, I had 1 night at home and then we were driving off for another family Christmas- at Royston, for the first time! Ian’s folks moved just before the pandemic hit and therefore we couldn’t spend any time at their place over the holidays the past two years. This year though, no prob!

It went really well, the weather was insane though. UGH. It had snowed a bit before we got there and it was very rainy and slushy, but on Xmas eve? Blizzard with no power!! We spent about 4 hours shovelling, woof. That I do NOT MISS about living in the North, ha.

We also had a chance to visit with my friend and her mom who moved up right near Ian’s parents too, so that was really nice, and Ian surprised me with a lovely Xmas gift- visit to the Hydropath! It was sooo nice. On Christmas Day I booked x-c skiing for a half day for me and Ian, and it was just lovely. It was cold, there was a ton of fresh snow, the skiis were way better than when I went with my mom, and we had a great time!

The only thing that really sucked was driving home. It was an absolute, hair-raising nightmare on the roads and I now have more grey hairs because of it. Jesus, I never want to drive in a black-ice, blowing snow blizzard ever again. Yikes.

Go south

After a kind of challenging Dec and a January that wasn’t improving….We took a trip to Mexico! Specifically Huatulaco. I had been there before, but not for a few years and after two years of going nowhere and doing nothing…I was beyond fed up, stressed out and unhappy and I WAS GOING DAMMIT.

The weather was beautiful EVERY DAY.

It was an extremely stressful lead up. In the days that preceded our trip, we had:

  • A tsunami warning
  • Crazy fog taking over everything and not lifting
  • Omicron variant taking over everything and overwhelming the health system, flights, work-staffing, ferries, buses, etc
  • One of my colleagues went missing and he is still missing three weeks later
  • No third booster shots (I just got mine this week!)

No joke. I was SO TENSE and freaked out going into the holiday. I had no idea what to expect, and how our testing worked to get home, what if we had tested positive and had to quarantine, what to do with the animals and Oats, etc etc etc.

And you know what? It went perfectly fine. Were there glitches, like not having a paper copy of our COVID neg test results and the airport demanding them, when we only had QR codes/apps? Yep! Was there uncertainty? Yep. Was it worth it? OMG YES 100%. For your mental health, go. Just go. Life is too short and too horrible most of the time. Do something nice for yourself, for once.

We swam, kayaked, went stand-up paddleboarding, went into town, snorkeled, went fishing, I did aqua fit and we drank a million crazy cocktails and generally just had an awesome time.

I needed it desperately and I firmly believe so does everyone else.

Don’t shy away: Dressage lesson!

Man, I haven’t had a good dressage lesson in…2 months? Soo many things came up, unfortunately.

Nov we had extreme flooding, so had to wait for the roads/arena to dry up, and there was a gasoline shortage too. Fun!

So naturally I had to get video. Still wish I’d gotten it from the right, it was a touch nicer.

Dec we had abscesses for weeks (not so fun), snowstorms, holidays. Boy that really adds up! We also had extreme cold- a week and a half of -9 so people had frozen pipes, frozen/black ice on roads and a ton of snow. Needless to say, not a productive month.

Jan my trainer got COVID so we had to wait until she was feeling better, and now she is! Yay!

And I was thrilled with how lovely Oats was feeling. Man this guy- 20 years old and he blows me away with how lovely and accepting he was in my lesson. We worked on a little pole circuit, and to the right he was foot-perfect. To the left, we started off really well but managed to kind of blow it to the pink poles. SIGH. Something to work on, as I know going left causes my body to twist in ways I don’t really want, lol. Oh well, guess it can’t be totally perfect, can it?? It was close!

Good boy Oaty, I love you!

Being active over the holidays!

I traveled a fair bit over the Christmas holidays (narrowly avoiding what turned out to be an absolute disaster of travel later, as many airlines cancelled due to their staff getting Omicron… ) and it went well!

Outdoor skating! I was so bad at it

I wasn’t in a great headspace due to the issues mentioned earlier (colleague dying, being way understaffed at work, Oats lame with what turned out to be a months-long abscess journey- thankfully that was it though?!!) but I figured it’s better to be away from all of that nightmarish mess, isn’t it?

Actually yes!

I visited my family in Kelowna and it went completely fine. We had lots of activities and I enjoyed being in a winter wonderland for Christmas, we we don’t normally get snow here (and as I write, we have had the WORST weather in all the years I have lived here sooooo yeah we have a lot of snow here this winter?!).

Very Christmassy

We enjoyed skating outdoors in a beautiful little outdoor rink in downtown Kelowna, we went to Mission Hill winery for a truly fantastic little private tasting event, we went to see House of Gucci, we decorated gingerbread houses, I took my mom cross-country skiing to a hill near their place, and we went to a lovely and extremely pricey dinner at the Eldorado Hotel.

Mission Hill

It was a very nice experience and something I didn’t know I needed- to get away from my own life.

Next up- actual Christmas in Courtenay at my in-laws house. And they had a ton more snow? Why/how is this winter weather chasing me?!

My reviews: Something weird for a weird year

And I am definitely remiss in my reviews but I have a good excuse- the lead up to the holidays/end of the year ended in a tragic and sad series of events and I didn’t feel it was appropriate to have something fun or bright to post about.

Tasty eh?

That being said, I also know that we need something interesting and exciting to look forward to, soooo here we go: I ate the tinned daggertooth eel!! As per the recommended display, I ate it with a fork. So daring! To be honest, it felt a bit anticlimactic. Kind of a mirror to the end of a holiday season, is it not?

Yummm

All the hype, bling and excitement and then poof! It’s over, and you’re left sitting on your sagging couch watching the ceiling stains from a slow leak in your roof grow larger, wondering what happened to all of the chocolate you got from Christmas. I listened to a podcast over the holidays (Dateline’s Too Fat to Kill) and I couldn’t help but feel like I identified in some way with it.

Also a curious title- was the person too fat to physically kill? Or too fat to muster the energy to kill someone? As it turns out, it was the latter, but hey, makes you think, right?

Anyways, the Christmas chocolate is gone because I ate a lot of it and also because Ian treaded into extremely dangerous territory by forgetting to buy me my half-pound Reese’s. HOW? A travesty!

To make up for it, he went and bought me more (non half pound but still ok Reeses) from Boxing Day sales and I already ate some. So, a partial redemption maybe but if I were Ian, I’d sleep with one eye open… So the daggertooth, looks slimy and unappetizing, also weirdly red?

But I’m here to tell you to be brave. The red is from a slightly sweet sauce, think that red sauce that you have on fried chicken balls from your best Western-Chinese takeout or buffet and the eels are slightly crunchy but stiffer than their similarly crunchy cousin- the sardine. I think the crunch comes from the spines?

I pulled out a spine or two for Gidget, but she has yet to crawl out of bed to try it… So they actually aren’t bad, and certainly don’t taste very adventurous. You know what is adventurous? Eating chapulines. Man, their little crickety legs got stuck in between my teeth every single damn time so I don’t eat them anymore, but you get it.I would compare daggertooth eel to a sort of crunchier, sweeter sardine. Not a tinned-fish favourite, but honestly not that bad!

I do prefer canned octopus, smoked oysters and mussels. YUM. Basically any fish out of a can is great, oh and don’t get me started on canned vegetables like mini corns, or mushrooms. YUMMM… I love the mushrooms, little button ones in a can. Amazing as a snack, and as a bonus, the eating experience takes me weirdly down memory lane to my grade 8 classmate, Constance Kaminiski, who told us her father died in a mushroom factory accident. We, as grade-eight prime assholes, thought it was the funniest thing. As an adult, I can fully recognize how terrible we were to poor Connie.

Maybe I enjoy mushrooms in particular in homage to her, in retrospect? Food as an experience links us to our past, and our future. Try going to Fairway and dig up a can of something strange yourself, really get out there. You only live once!

And the hours tick down!

That’s right, on my last day before holidayyyyys…!

And some bummer news, I no longer have a jump trainer 😦 I knew this day was coming, and fair enough: She now has to travel a great distance due to owning a farm up island. I was kind of surprised she lasted this long~ but with the increasingly bad weather making travel on the Malahat a dangerous proposition, combined with a lot of her students either not riding due to lame horses or varying schedules…I totally get it.

Just a bummer, overall but a very fair reason.

Here’s to the many years we shared- it was great! πŸ™‚

And a video from our last real jump lesson- it was very fun. As I step Oats down from most of our competition jump lessons, it’s nice to look back at the great things we’ve done. I love our partnership and how it has grown and progressed over the years, much like my relationship with my now-former jump trainer.

A little bit of Christmas spirit?

It’s not a secret that I find the holiday season very difficult and I am usually in the WORST mood before Xmas. Ugh, I just find it very depressing, phoney and fake and this is partly due to work usually blowing up in my face right before Xmas, and my family being a collection of nutbars…

r/a:t5_scdhm - Dashing through the NO!

But I take steps to combat this!

Chiefly by making things I like to do a priority and giving back to my friends, who have had hard years themselves. I also make sure to take time OFF at Xmas, so I don’t poison everyone around me with my horrible mood, lol. (Plus it’s just easier on my mental health if I am not slowly being ground down by work at the same time, so a win-win).

This year we have already been to one Xmas party and we had a BLAST!! Omg it was so fun- at my husband’s work. We made ornaments, enjoyed amazing food (an entire seacuterie!!) and danced and sang karaoke πŸ™‚

And then last weekend we made and decorated cookies as gifts for my friends and trainers πŸ™‚

So who’s been naughty or nice??

This weekend we got a tree! We also watched the Jon and Roy Christmas revue and it was really good, wow it was LONG lol we didn’t get home until after 11pm on Friday!

I also invited a friend/former colleague out to see Oats and have a pony ride and she came on Saturday and they were so good together, makes my heart proud to see people enjoying my pony too!

A nice day!

Soooo bad mood at Xmas or not, I am trying to make the best of things and I am on the home stretch- 2 DAAAYSSS!!! Let’s do it!

Wow, absolute chaos

So I haven’t been writing here because things got crazy busy again at work, but also just totally insane here?

We had really heavy rains this weekend Sun- Mon, and it caused extreme devastation throughout the province. We didn’t get affected much (localized flooding near the stables, Saanich, Langford and shut down and destroyed parts of the Malahat) but other areas got absolutely slammed and are still trying to work their way out. It’s terrible.

The indoor naturally got flooded as well, but not as bad as it could have been, really.

So I couldn’t ride on Monday, but I went to graze and groom Oats, give him his meds. We cancelled our lesson, not really realizing how bad things were going to get?! Like, there’s no way our trainer could even get OVER the Malahat that day anyways?! Yikes.

Tuesday we attended a networking lecture at UVic and it was great! It was part of the alumni association’s events and we love supporting them- they are a steal of a deal and really engaging and interesting, plus getting parking, a drink, snacks and dessert PLUS a book about the talk is a win-win!!! Can you believe it?

Wed I was in a terrible mood, with a weird ear infection that’s starting to drive me insane. Still not great today and itchyyy.

Which brings us to today and I am hoping that I can maybe get gas? The lineups are totally crazy, with 100’s of cars lining up as people lose their goddamned minds about the impacts of the supply chain due to the flooding and COVID…fun times…it’s incredibly stressful and I do not like living in this time, at all. It’s like, what NEXT? Chriiiiiiiiist.

Otherwise, we had a really fun working equitation lesson on Sunday and that was like, before things absolute blew up in the province, ha.

Here we go! Lesson/video courtesy of Shelly.

I guess it’s like Jumanji here…Stay tuned for the next disaster??????

Trying to save small animals

And failing miserably every time! WHyyyy?? I just want them to live 😦

Poor little buddy

In the spring I picked up a dead (I thought) baby barn swallow and it MOVED so I got gloves, and moved it to a nest…Where it later died. ARGH.

Last week I found a dead mouse in a bucket of mine in my locker, so I dumped it out onto the muck pile and again…it MOVED. ARGH.

So I dithered greatly about it and ended up putting it in a small tissue box with some rags. It still wasn’t really moving, so I rode and then put Oats away and checked on it. Still not moving. I microwaved the rags and put it back with the warm rags and that seemed to really perk it up!

I caught a little video of my little mousie friend, but sadly the next day it had died. It climbed out of the tissue box when I left and fell off the bench and died 😦

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/ZB4kMzvAy28

Why do I try? Because somebody has to, even though they never make it…

Halloween fun part 2!

Barn party time! And I had already forewarned one of the organizers that 10 a.m. was likely too early for me to show up lol as I was going to be at a party and PROBABLY hungover. Wow, how right was I? Too right, unfortunately 😦

Aren’t they adorable? Hairy Potter πŸ˜‰

We got home from the party around 2 a.m., YIKES. So..yeah the morning wasn’t really working for me. To add to the fun I was caught in a nasty cough- puke cycle thanks to my terrible cough from the race the day earlier…Fun times. So I got up around 9 a.m.-ish and spent a few hours puking before my kind husband bought into my madness and determination and agreed to drive me to the barn to participate.

Duff man was good at bobbing for apples!

I made it to the barn without puking so I figured I was getting closer to getting better! But tacking up was …a challenge. Every time I bent down I felt like I was going to puke again, so Ian had to help out and pick out hooves, etc. But hey were there and trying to make it! Sheesh.

I mounted (and everyone was glad to see me make it, ha) and wobbled around nauseously for a bit, thank god Oats is basically a saint pony because I was NOT riding, more like just existing at that point. Bit by bit I felt better slowly, not good enough to eat but ok to try and drink, because I was dying of thirst.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/oKeLYceOXyM

The barn organizers kindly waited for me for the trail class and we got to do that first! πŸ™‚

And then it was games time- we started with egg and spoon and it was HARD hahahah and I think it was a tie or something. Next was musical stalls and we lost lol, and then pole bending and Oats and I beat our lesson mates πŸ˜‰ and finally it was time for ride-a-buck, where we dithered if we were going to do it full bareback and guess what? We all DID?!

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/SlGkHWo0nVM

Now that was the last thing I’d figure I’d be doing, hungover as hell, but hell we did it! Oats was a total star and we only won because my lesson partner had to forfeit- she couldn’t get her very recalcitrant pony to canter. Oats and I were doing lap after lap with me clinging on, feeling like mayyyyyyybe it’s time to gently slide off and die.

Ian got the prize money ($30?) for being a good sport for the day!

And then it was time for clean up and a bonfire with weenies. I couldn’t eat any but Ian got one, and I got a mini cupcake that I ate much later, lol.

A fun time was had by all!

Happy Halloween!

So in typical me fashion, I very much overscheduled Ian and I for the Halloween weekend, it was nuts! Great, but nuttsss!

Shorts were a bad choice…

On Saturday we were doing a 5k fun run in a town nearby, as a fundraiser for the food bank. I signed us up on a whim, and when we got there I didn’t realize …it was FREEZING out. Like, 3-4 deg freezing. Wow, what a shock! So we weren’t really prepared to be that cold and we had to do a lot of waiting around at the start as it was a very small scale fun run. My muscles tightened up so much that when we started, my arms physically hurt from being so cold. I kept my toque on even?! I felt like I wasn’t wearing anything on my bottom half because my legs were so cold I couldn’t feel my shorts.

My sweet prize!

So we ran, and it was pretty brutal, ha. My lungs were DYING. It wasn’t very flat, I will say that lol and the turnaround had a lot of confusion there (ah, fun runs) but we made it to…4k and finished? So I guess we paid very little $$ and we get a 4k not five hahah. That’s more than fine with me, I was pretty much dying!!

On Friday we carved our pumpkins and of course, Tucker had to try mine…

When we finished (Ian was ahead of me, but there weren’t any other women near me) I was drooling incessantly and felt like my lungs were going to burst out of my chest- they hurt so much, wowza. That set us up for a nice strong emphysema coughing fit for the next two days, ickkk just what you want in a pandemic amirite?

I picked up my prize (which was really nice!) for being the first woman finisher πŸ™‚ and we were off to task #2- ride Oats! I had a pretty ok ride, he was a touch resistant about doing shoulder-fore and I couldn’t quite capture the magic of our lesson, but that’s always the case, isn’t it??

Then we were home again for our next event: Beer tasting/tour with Hoyne Brewery, hosted by UVIC alumni society. It was a blast! I learned so much and Sean was the best storyteller ever. Plus the beer was good too, yessss!

Really nice to listen to!

And then it was time to get our costumes on and take the bus to our friend’s place- they bought a historical mansion and had the most AMAZING Halloween party at it. It was phenomenal!!!!!! Creepy coloured lights, pumpkins, snacks, candies, a great treasure hunt (one of the clues had an infrared camera?!!) that basically stymied us for the whole night, lol, and get this: Dry ice cocktails?!!! OMG. I was in heaven!

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/xr9cJNTy2WAhttps://www.youtube.com/shorts/xr9cJNTy2WA

A dry ice cocktail with champagne and absinthe!

We had such a nice time I didn’t want the night to end 😦

Until the next morning, when I was in hell….And had to get up for the barn’s Halloween fun show, that I promised I was going to do…Good lord why do I do this to myself?

to be continued…

Working Equitation horse show Day 2: Ease of Handling/Speed Round

That’s right, Sunday Sunday Sunday was the most exciting day! And true to form, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Monsoon raining, a ‘weather bomb’ event was descending on us at the same time…How would Oats fare?

Pretty well actually!

Mr. Oats in the speed round!

I went straight to longe him, and I was a bit concerned- he hadn’t really eaten much of his hay (because it was the wrong hay, I am an idiot) and was fussy about his breakfast (it had his pills in it, which he hates..) so I had to hand feed him his grain as a ‘treat’…And he wasn’t drinking so he ran to the nearest huge puddle (there were TONS) and had a 5 minute drink from it.

All those issues aside, he was lazy. I had to chase him around with the longe whip in the pouring rain in the swimming-pool outdoor and he wasn’t very jazzed about it, ha. Poor Oats! So we didn’t need much prep time at all, which was good because unlike the day before, we rode first thing! Course walk was at 8:30am, and I got up at 6ish to be ready to feed Oats, longe/warmup and then course walk and then immediately ride. Busy!

The course was fairly straightforward due to us being constrained in a small indoor, rather than the huge outdoor that we were really hoping for (thanks, weather…) but it had some neat lines and good flow. The only super awkward turn was the single slalom turn to the gate (obstacle #6) but we made it work, but you had to be extra careful about getting disqualified from crossing your lines on that approach.

I wished we had a bridge though! I like those. But we gotta work with what we got!

I was up first too, so I didn’t have a chance to watch, eeeek. But it went well! We majorly flubbed the back-up and knocked down the corridor 😦 which is super irritating because I swear to god, I have BEEN PRACTICING on that?! Also I missed the ring AGAIN on the garrocha line…Again I just don’t seem to have the grip/wrist strength to really accomplish that. Well, things to keep hammering home I guess?!!! ARGH.

But again, the course still flowed pretty nicely and I took a long approach to get to obstacle #1 because I didn’t feel like I had enough ‘flow’ so it was a bit circuitous, but overall an ok course.

Next up was the course walk for Speed Round (my personal fav!!), with a slightly shortened course by 1 fence, and we started and ended with the jump (also my fav obstacle, haha. Oats is good at it!) and the start was quite a tight little turn from the jump to the figure-eight barrels. We ALMOST ran straight into the barrels but I sat up and we roughly kind of steered around it. Heck, speed is about speed and that’s it- so who cares how nice it looks?

Winners!

Oats was a bit slow off the leg for some of them, but turned nicely and was very accommodating for the whole round. What a little pleaser, my Oats πŸ™‚ We had a lot of fun with this round for sure! I was smiling and smiling after.

I wanted to do it over and over again, so much fun! And best of all my father-in-law and husband came to watch the speed round too. Yay πŸ™‚ My WE trainer also did well, though I know she struggled a bit with the jump intro and end- a bit nervous but her horse is a good girl.

It was very nice to have all the volunteers and everyone helping out- we had a lovely weekend despite the challenging and terrible weather events!

And Oats had a clean sweep of all of the classes- a first for dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed Round- can you believe it?!!! I can’t! We packed up and cleaned our stalls and headed out…Straight into a hurricane. ARGH again. It was rough travelling home and I know my trainer handled the trailer very carefully with our precious cargo on board.

A tiring but good weekend!

Working Equitation Schooling Show at Wildwood Stables!

Wow now where to begin- we took the horses (mine, and my WE coach Shelly’s mare Heidi) up island this weekend to compete in a schooling show for Working Equitation, which was also a fundraiser for the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society πŸ™‚ And it was a pretty intense weekend for 1 major reason- RAIN. Holy god, it was basically a monsoon for two days.

Oats was definitely a trooper and managed better about the rain than I thought, but me? Yeeesh, it was pretty rough haha. A good experience all around though, so I won’t discount that! I took Friday off and we loaded up the horses at 1pm, and headed up Island. It was so balmy out that we were wearing t-shirts, which was the last nice day we had, hah. We took the horses to the hosting stables, Wildwood out in Courtenay. It’s a great place with a coverall indoor and a really big outdoor. Too bad the outdoor was basically a swimming pool all weekend!

The horses settled in nicely and I had made 1 major mistake- I grabbed the wrong hay by accident and Oats HATES the barn hay. He gets really nice mega $$$$$$ hay and I …mixed it up and brought the wrong stuff. Shoot. He then kind of had me freak out this weekend wondering why he wasn’t eating much of the hay (ok he got hungry and had to eat) but not much and then was fussy about his grain (because I had his pills in it…) and I was worried! Plus I think he wasn’t drinking water- it is well water and he can be weird about drinking, because I saw him drink heavily from one of the huge puddles?! And he drank from it all day?! Sheesh, horses…Giving me heart attacks…

Anyways, drama aside, I also had bought Good as Gold calming paste, as he’s been a bit of a nut at shows lately. Getting it into his mouth turned into a big humongous fuss where he broke a crosstie off the wall and ran backwards into another horse. I finally wrestled him into his stall and managed to sort of finagle it into the corner of his mouth, but I think you can guess that this weekend I wasn’t Oats’ favourite person…

And in the morning (Saturday) I got out there super early to feed and wrestle with him/pick out his stall, and then I immediately went back to my in-laws because it was pitch black out and HAMMERING rain, allllll day lol. I cooled my heels for a bit enjoying the warmth of indoors and then went back to the show to warm Oats up. Newsflash: It didn’t stop raining, ugh.

He was hot to trot in the outdoor, pretty amped and was trotting around with his head on a swivel, charging around. I decided not to risk an explosion by cantering him like that, so I borrowed a longe line (I have one, but why do I never think to bring it?!!) from the barn owner and longed him first. He had zero explosions, just a few head tosses and then settled nicely. Phew, good to go!

I hopped on and he was ok, but tight throughout at the trot. His canter was better but yeah, he felt a bit stiff and resistant.

Finally our dressage test, it felt like forever to get there! I was completely soaked, hahah. Wet tack, gloves, helmet, boots, horse, argh. I wasn’t super thrilled with the test, he was still tight through his back and not coming through nicely. It’s a bummer, because we have SUCH NICE dressage lessons and they do not translate to horse shows, at all. Well, he did have a year off, so it’s a process to come back I guess??

Anyways, moderate griping aside, he was very compliant and well-behaved. He did have a look at the judge’s stand, but held it together nicely and gave me an honest, if not thrilling, ride. The judge (who I know pretty well) agreed and I got hammered hard on the scores, but with the understanding that she knew we could accomplish a nicer ride. I totally get that, and I think it was fair- we just need to get to a place where we see the work translate better at shows! πŸ™‚

And stay tuned, Sunday was the exciting stuff- Ease of Handling, and Speed Round. My faves!!! Ok, speed round is my absolute fave πŸ˜‰

Jump lesson last Monday

And things have been a total zoo, so yep updates now!

We rescheduled our jump lesson to Mondays (thank GOD) because Saturdays are just too busy, and truly the trainer needs a break on Saturdays too. So Monday is just better for everyone πŸ™‚ We started last week and worked over a very simple exercise of four jumps, two in a line and the other two on the diagonal as bending lines.

The video is quite pixilated, hoping to use my camera next time.

Simple? Yes! Easy? Ha not really. I felt very rusty? And Oats did NOT respect the poles, so he ka-blanged them and sent them flying through the simple line until we set them up as real jumps, ha. He is kind of annoying in that aspect, just doesn’t get excited…

But I wore my spurs, and he perked up- a lot. It helped that we now have a lesson partner so he and his partner horse are definitely more engaged and interested.

I was still feeling kind of rusty, but we did better and better turns (still hard to wrap my brain around those) and the jumps went up and I said it was ok!! Even though I felt anxious, ha. Been awhile since we jumped anything of substance, really.

So the jumps went up and we flubbed it HARD three times in a row, and then finally made it ok into the line. And you know what? It sucked, but it didn’t suck the joy out of the exercise for me- sure, we were failing, but we could still figure out and do it ok. And we did! So, I am still learning this lesson: Progress isn’t perfection, at all. Sure we flopped, but we picked ourselves up and finished and it went nicely.

Go team!!! No jump lesson tonight, we were away all weekend at a multi-day horse show and I am tired, and Oats is too! Phew!

Life is too short: Horses go to the beach day!

We’re reclaiming our terrible year(s) and doing everything we can, right now! Life is so fleeting, so tenuous, so delicate and so fragile so why not do everything you can, all at once?

That is literally my life’s motto, so my friends and I who have all endured some truly sucky times these past few years decided to take our horses to the beach!

And boy, it was exciting! πŸ˜‰ We went late because we were anticipated to have an absolutely miserable day (atomspheric river??) with pelting rain but we lucked out and it didn’t even rain on us! Grey but not that cold. How amazing is that!

Some photos…Enjoy! We did end up getting caught by the tides and one of our member’s horses was kind of having a freak out about having to go in the crashing waves to get back to the horse trailer, so we had to backtrack and then kind of dramatically crash over some rocks to jump to the main pathway, safe from the waves. All good though.

Oats with big bro Donato!
The gang πŸ™‚

Racing again?? Cowichan Autumn Classic ‘combo’ race recap

Things are still not great with poor bunny Tucker. I just don’t know what the right choice to do is.

But otherwise, I had a really fun/awesome weekend!

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

AND I raced again, for the first time in two years, I can’t believe it πŸ™‚ I have had a really challenging return to running after my second stress fracture episode of Feb. I wasn’t healing, from something that seemed so minor, really wasn’t. It seriously cramped my style, brought me down. I signed up for this race and was doubting if it was the right choice up until I hit the start gates, I’m not kidding.

Dying at the finish- photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

I signed up for the ‘Combo’ race where you run the 5k and 10k and get two finishers medals (argh I do not need these, anyone want some medals??) but I figured it’s unique, new to me and why not? I also know myself and figured if I could take the pressure off one race then I could enjoy myself for two! πŸ™‚

But yeah I aggravated my injuries last week and was DREADING the race. Like, I couldn’t run last week, wtf was I thinking??

Well, anyways the die has been cast haha.

We were forecasted for absolutely heinous weather and gotta say, SO GLAD they were wrong for once. It wasn’t terrible and rainy, it was pretty nice out and not too cold!! The setting was lovely for a fall race, so scenic, well organized and picturesque. I lined up for the start of the 5k right up in front, as I figured such a small race will have a lot of walkers/etc. Turns out my instincts were 100% correct: I went to the front, and stayed in the front. I felt funny, like I was having an out of body experience and boy this 5k was tough- some rolling hills, and you ran through trails?! For a 5k? hahh so that sucked the speed right out of me lol. I got beat by the 1st place woman and it was no contest, ha. I couldn’t catch her at all.

Running so fast you can’t catch me, camera! Photo by Ian.

But I was hanging on to my 2nd place, kind of by my fingernails even! It was hard, I was horking and gasping and just ..ick. Felt like I was going to puke going through the finish lines, but the ending was great, basically a screaming downhill for the finish. LOVE that.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

And after staggering around for awhile, I grabbed some water and felt my legs tighten up in a way that I haven’t felt in 2 years. Then it was go time for the 10k! My lungs were in pretty bad shape- I have asthma that causes me to cough like I have emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia all at once. It’s awful. That’s why I have a few inhalers, it’s so painful.

Taking it easy in the 10k!

But not time to linger, it’s 10k time! This one I was going to take it easy and jog it out. I started mid-back pack and started so casually that I forgot to take off my mask, haha. I cruised off and enjoyed myself until I got boxed in by slower runners after about 1km, so I had to actually ‘run’ sigh…And then I was running alone on and off for awhile. The trails were beautiful, big puddles but flat, and we ran up to the Holt Creek Trestle (but not onto it) and then back to the road and I passed one more runner on my way to the finish.

Lovely scenery that day.

Good thing too, because I didn’t know they judged the combo race as a separate race! My take it easy pace kind of killed it for me hahaha, oops! It was also a lucky thing I ended up passing that one runner, because she came in 4th and I was 3rd. Maybe I should have tried during it? Ahahah I am also glad that I didn’t know- it was more fun that way.

Much deserved wine sample.

We finished, and I felt good and happy. I then got my wine sample (think I should have gotten two, or maybe a full glass for winning a medal??) and we waited around for the awards. I was certain I got something- and I was right! But yeah, third place woman for the combo, and I was kind of like ahh…that second place for the 5k would have been sweet, but hey, who cares eh?

And a full beer for me thanks to Ian. A good day!

A lovely day, fun people and some excitement in our lives. What more can a girl ask for??

Teetering on a precipice

Things were going fine, until they suddenly weren’t. Tucker stopped eating for two weeks, his longest stint yet. My stress fractures got aggravated and I was limping again. 8 months of progress/trying to heal = over. And I have a race this weekend?! Yay. 😦 Eff my life.

My feet also have the return of chronic arch pain, so love that too. GOD damn this fall has been tricky.

At least we have some fun things to do, like going to a beer fest this past weekend (it was great!) and planning lots of fun horsey events with buddies.

Lessons have been going very well, had a nice jump lesson on Saturday where I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, ha and a WE lesson on Sunday where we upped the technical requests of Oats and it went fairly well! Tough tough, damn those L-shaped poles backing through…It’s our toughest. Plus I couldn’t pry my fingers off the garrocha pole to be able to grip the ring. At all. Like…If I tried I would drop the pole. I suspect it’s because I have incredibly tiny hands?!!

Something to work on!

No more riding in the fields I suspect- the rainy season is definitely upon us. Tucker did eat his rabbit food last night- I watched him! First time in weeks!!! It’s small progress, but progress nonetheless.

We are also made to go back to work full time, so no more WFH allowed. SIGH. Why can’t we be trusted? Oh that’s right, because they hold all employees with a degree of suspicion and mistrust. It’s been making me reconsider who I work for these days, to be honest. I would like to be treated with respect and value, and I do not feel that way. I have been very clear about this with others, so I guess we’ll see what happens next.

Last Thursday’s dressage lesson was alll lateral work and it was pretty tough, but the good thing is that it doesn’t get Oats too sweaty, which is great because he is ALL FUR and sweating his butt off! Poor Oaty! He gets clipped (with dorm, for safety) this weekend. Thank god, because it takes forever to cool/dry him out at night these days.

A busy fall

After what feels like a year, going on two, of absolutely nothing now we have lots!!

Last weekend was so great, I got to do everything: Ride in a jump lesson in the field (Oats slammed on the brakes at the final fence, haaaa. Teach me to jump ahead when I see a distance, apparently!!) and the weather was GORGEOUS.

Soon we won’t have this, but I will enjoy it as much as I can now!!

I had Friday off (mental health day) and spent it doing everything I wanted to do: Go for a run (too full, urp bad idea after stuffing myself with pancakes), went for lunch with friends, went to the barn and walked Oats around in the field…. It was lovely and the weather was phenomenal.

Flying Oats!

Saturday I had the aforementioned jump lesson- great! And then I hoofed it home to get ready for The Bay Centre’s clothing swap!!! You had to sign up, bring 10-15 items and then you got a time slot to come and pick through everything. I had a blast! I would definitely go again and I picked up some great pieces.

Then it was straight off to a friend’s house party because….they moved into a MANSION?!!!

It was incredible. Huuuge historic house, 7 fireplaces, 8 bedrooms, two suites, an elevator? (that we crammed like 6 of us in a rode up….probably a bad idea), and it is just amazing. We had such a fun time!!! And then Sunday it was up to get ready for the arena raking pizza party- I worked hard, got a big ass blister on my thumb 😦 but the pizza and companionship was great πŸ™‚

I rode Oats after that, and on Monday and then I was freaking tired. We worked on some flatwork, transitions and a teeny bit of renvers at the walk (still suck at it…lateral work turns my brain into spaghetti…) and on Monday I dragged out the ‘reverse in an L shape’ exercise and we were ok but not great at it. It requires a lot of practice!

And now it is raining and the season has really turned, but I can relish in the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of last weekend. That’s a win, right?

Sooke Saddle Club Fun Show: Mr. Oats amps it up

So we had the fun show this weekend and we were going to do it allll: Hack classes in the AM, and games in the PM!

You would never guess how much of a crazy asshole he can be looking at this pic!

Ok in theory…

What actually happened was the hack classes- and we did showmanship first! We got third in it! Whee πŸ™‚ I had no real idea of what it was going to be like but I knew we had to trot in-hand, so I made sure Oats was trotting with me and it went nicely.

We then tacked up and warmed up in the postage-stamp-sized area, and it was ok. I figured he’ll have some ‘go’ but he’s getting worked a lot, so no problems right?

WRONG!

Oats chose this opportunity to become a raging, fire-breathing dragon/psychopath. He was SO out of control, wowza. He bucked, twirled, spun, spooked, launched and generally went completely psychotic.

I finally have video proof- thanks to Katie!!

Funnnnnnnnnn….

He would trot fine, a little nuts and tense and then just GO FOR IT in the canter and generally try his hardest to get me off and scare everyone in the audience. I had airtime. It was pretty terrible, particularly since the other riders were trying their best to stay the hell away from our absolute shitshow and every time we cantered he’s lost his goddamned mind.

I managed to stay on literally by the skin of my teeth. He repeated that little fun maneuver EVERY. SINGLE.TIME. in the show ring. We did, however, place very nicely when he wasn’t being an absolute nutcase!

So I’d go back, and run him w/o stopping in the teeny tiny warmup in between every class. And he cantered, cantered, cantered, cantered, cantered fine in the warm-up, and then BLEW UP in the show arena. I was exhausted. My arms hurt the next day.

Proof he can canter nicely, but even then I had to keep pulling his head up so he didn’t dump me πŸ˜‰

Good christ, this horse needs turnout something awful. He’s never been such a shithead as he has this year- don’t get me wrong, I am looooving our field jump lessons, the energy and presence, but GOD DAMN every show/event I have been to, he’s losing his mind and broncing with me. I have to ride him down for hours at a show- hours! He’s 20!

He did trot very nicely, was miserable to canter.

I want my hack/dressage and jump pony back, not just at home but like, for all times! sigh…

He was well mannered over the crosspoles in the hunter hack class, and threw a HUGE buck in the top right corner in the flat portion before it… Thanks dude…

Anyways after lunch he was tired, ha thank god. We did the trail class and it took an absolute eternity- 2++ hours?! So many entrants! I was very pleased with Oats during it. His big flubs were his miserable backing (but we all know that is his weak spot) around the barrels in a ‘figure eight’ where he just backed into one and knocked it flat, haha.

And we made a basket!! whoop!! Trail Class 1

Otherwise he rocked trail and came third! Out of maybe 30 riders??

Trail class 2

And then it was 4pm! The show was supposed to end at 3pm! Eeek..

We were pretty tired but wanted to do 1 games (we were supposed to do like 4 games classes but I scratched to go home b/c it was taking too long, horse is tired, I’m tired, my hauler has to go).

We did pole-bending and it was a blast!! Oats is too slow to win, but he had fun anyways. Go Oats go!

Ok this was just straight up fun!!! πŸ™‚ Thanks to Lindsay for videoing.

Many thanks to the volunteers who did a marathon day out there- wowza. You guys are the real VIPS here!

Tell me that you want me forever

Wow, so many things and so burned out. Where to begin??

Work continues to be a byzantine nightmare that I can’t escape from, like being stuck in a Escher painting or something.

Ah, my little psychopath cleans up so nicely

My own fitness- terrible. Potential leg re-injury after 8 months from my initial stress fractures. Not sure if I am going to come back from these anymore, given how frequently they reoccur and then STAY injured. Don’t you just hate your own body sometimes?

My potential hernia- Have an ultrasound next week and I kind of both hope it isn’t a hernia and hope it is. SchrΓΆdinger’s injury??

Riding- great! That is primarily what is going right. We had some awesome lessons last week, hmm let me think. For dressage we worked on NO STIRRUPS! That’s right, I did a whole lesson without them. Crazy eh?!! It went really well though! Oats was so good and calm, and we worked on canter-trot transitions w/o stirrups on a circle. Apparently no stirrups are my superpower πŸ˜‰

Jump lesson was good but we had to ride in the indoor due to the rain (blahhhhhhhh) and it is not nearly as thrilling as riding in the field, boo!!!

And then we had a saddle fitting that lasted for 2 hours and was quite comprehensive. I was glad of it, but also a tad skeptical as I have had two saddle fitters work on the saddle over the past year, with a check/re-check every year and how did it get so bad with them on it??? Riddle me this?!

And then I zipped off to watch Ian finish the Finlayson 50k!! I am always so drawn in by these events and I get SO jealous. I wish I could run again 😦 I miss it, and I am so envious of people that get to push themselves w/o breaking. When will it be my turn??

Winner winner! He did great!

But that was fine, because the next day was the Sooke Saddle Club fun show and BOY that was more excitement for me that I would prefer (in like, a year hahah good GOD). I have grey hairs now due to that show.

And Oats was nice to ride this week too, Monday was a bareback hack in the field at the walk, cruising and eating. Tuesday we worked on something tricky that we flubbed at the horse show- backing around two barrels in a figure-eight. It is HARD! We did a good warm up, canter, trot, and then focused on the barrels- he was better but still very much non-thrilled about the barrel exercise. Something good to work on then!

And as for the Fun Show? Well, stay tuned tomorrow! It is a doozy!

Some really lovely counter-canter

After a lot of strenuous trying, haha. Dressage lesson last night, and in the theme of our dressage lessons- I get SO much out of them! I feel like while I am spending a lot of $$$$$$$ on lessons, they have really strengthened my relationship with Oats. This can only be a good thing, right? πŸ˜‰

No dressage media so from an older horse show- we were probably schooling First here?

Last week we worked on me at the canter, not twisting. This week my lesson partner and I first tackled the infamous 3-loop serpentine from the First Level Tests. No joke, this serpentine was the BANE of my existence when I was showing in First Level (now haven’t shown dressage in like 2 years, thanks COVID and injury) soooo I wasn’t super thrilled to start off the bat with that challenging exercise.

BUT, ye of little faith it went super well!

We first schooled the exercise in the trot, because you can really work the angles here if you do it right. You don’t need to make it super round, you can sort of ‘straighten’ and then leg-yield casually back to the wall. When you get good, THEN you can make it round. But it can be tricky to hold that lead!

And you know what? Oats nailed it!! Right off the bat?! I was stunned. Then I was like, ok fine, that was his good lead (right), it’ll be worse on his left. But then he did it so perfectly to the left that we repeated the exercise twice and called it good. Who is this horse?!! I love it!

So then we upped the ante: Real counter-canter work. And this, friends was NOT easy for me- my brain felt like a tangle of spaghetti, it was confuzzling haha. But we persevered, worked through some things in a nice and challenging, but doable way, and we got it! We got it on the right, and then went back to the left, which was the harder lead to hold counter-canter in.

Go Oats!! Really loving our rides. πŸ™‚

The further adventures of Mr. Oats

Not only did we have a blazing jump lesson this past weekend, but we also had an adventure! This summer is all about fun and trying new things for old Oaty and me. I had a long and arduous summer/fall/winter/spring with Oats and his injuries that honestly, really burned me out of life. I didn’t feel eager to do anything anymore, ya know?

Photos purchased by Allusion Equine Photography and I think she did a really nice job!

And what is the antidote to existential ennui, with horses? Why, anything new!

So that’s why this summer so far I have gone trail riding, take Oats and friends to an obstacle course workshop, done working equitation (lessons and the horse show!) and this past weekend, we went into a trail class!

It was very casual, a fundraiser for a new riding ring at the Beaver/Elk Lake Equestrian Society, and we were like the first people there at 8:30am, hahah. The volunteers were great though and got us rolling very quickly, not a lot of waiting around. Just how I like it!! No warm up arena available, so it was going in cold! Not our forte, as it turns out, ugh. The course was flowing quite nicely, nothing too challenging or spooky and not difficult to remember BUT we just didn’t have it together early enough on-course.

We bumped the gate and almost knocked it down, haha. Whoops! And that was our first obstacle! And then he was great over the bridge and to the mailbox and then the dreaded L-shape backup…Was a total mess. We clobbered the poles, Oats put up a big fuss about backing up and instead put his head straight in the air and went sideways… gah!

Moving on, he was excellent for the pole bending at the trot, picked up an ok canter, and then proceeded to completely blow the next back-up request. Face=palm. This is stuff WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON and this just..eh. Sucked.

Go Oats over the poles. I love how focused his little ears are here πŸ™‚

He was then very good going over the uneven poles (though by Braille…He clonked every.single.pole.) and was nice over the tarp. Good Oats! We then picked up an ok left canter and halted fine, and then forgot what to do for a 360-degree turn on the forehand right, and then turn on the haunches left. My fault, whoops! He was great for it.

So, I knew what we had to practice the next day in my home arena: Backing up nicely through L poles. Also maybe I should refresh my memory of how to do a turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches NOT against a wall…My crutch as I learned.

But after our trail class we had a surprise: A trail ride! My friend who boards her horse near the venue/park rode him over and we rode back to her barn, where our other friend picked us up. Oats was THRILLED to be with his ‘big brother’ again πŸ™‚ so cute. He screamed the whole way back to our barn for Donato…Poor Oats!

It was a very successful day, and I did even go and practice the ‘L’ shape on Monday’s ride. Gotta get that turn in sooner, which is my biggest fault in this obstacle.

But I also have to say that I am really enjoying these no-pressure fun adventure outings. Horses are so fragile, life is so fleeting…Let’s do it all, guys!

Going for it!!!

Another busy weekend for old Oaty and I! We started off strong with a jump lesson in the field (my fav- I bust my butt each summer hauling jumps out there so I can enjoy them and lol- it is ALWAYS me doing it. I was going to have help this summer but circumstances prevailed and I had to drag Ian out to help me!) πŸ˜‰

All small jumps, but he’s totally going for it!

I even dragged another jump out there so we could have more options- they are scanty because it’s just me and those standards are HEAVY to drag all the way out there, so I am a bit limited.

But, it’s always fun and this past weekend Oats really agreed with me hahaha. He started off a bit sluggy, and I was a bit anxious because we had one jump on a ‘hill’ of sorts (tiny) but next to the owner’s house, where he finds it spooky. So, double whammy for me- hill? Spooks?

Wheeee!!

We worked up to it slowly and carefully, and he was really good about it. A touch looky but not bad.

We then started cruising over the other jumps and I was a bit all over the place at first. We took a break and worked over our first course and WOW Oats came ALIVE. He was amped!! We cantered the fences, and then he got lazy and dropped a hind hoof over the small xrail on the hill and stung himself a bit and BOLTED?! Haaaa. I know right, Oats? Fast? Nooooo way. This is the slowest pony on the planet.

So we got him back, and on to the next fence! He was feeling it. Ha.

yeah!!

And then on to course #2, and woooow, I haven’t had this much horse to ride in like, ever??? He was charging around, going for it, I was just along for the ride! Go Oats go!!! He is in the best shape of his life, according to him?! Hahahha. Nice to see him with so much forward energy, even if it did really surprise both me and my trainer lol.

Which was good, because I wanted him to burn off some energy- we had a trail class event to go to on Sunday! Stay tuned…

Some really nice rides

Had a dressage lesson last night and it was just so good! Not perfect but man, I feel like Oats and I are really reaching a deeper understanding via how I am twisting my body?! So the problem is ME! hahah.

Who can resist this handsome fellow?

We worked over trot poles, looping around them and then cantering them and trotting juuuust at the last second- which, whoops, Oats jumped over the row of poles one time when I didn’t transition in time, hahah. Good boy πŸ˜‰

We worked on leg yielding into the poles which was cool and then we took away all the poles but one, and then worked on cantering up to them STRAIGHT and managing the turns without my body twisting in the air. It was much harder to do than I realized?!

Just loving our rides! (from a jump lesson a few months ago, no recent clips from last week sadly)

Oats was very steady and very focused on this exercise. His canter felt really awesome! While we were certainly not perfect, it felt like a very thorough and excellent learning exercise. Now to actually do this when we ARE jumping….Is the real challenge!

And last week we had a really cool ‘zen’ lesson as I call it, where my lesson partner and I were pretzeled into many different shapes, hands off the reins, legs off the saddles, in an effort to find our real centre and straightness- and wow, the horses LOVED this. They were so relaxed, and we focused on deep ‘square’ or diaphragm breathing. I could even see Oat’s ears relax when I was going into the canter transition. He got a bit tense, I sat straight (which still feels like scissoring, ha) and breatheeeed…And he relaxed immediately and we got the nicest left lead canter we’ve gotten in forever!

And I think this intensive bodywork is paying off- he felt fantastic last night, and we had a really fun jump lesson the previous Saturday as well. Just loving all of these lessons, it costs mega $$$$$$ but wow I am getting so much horse and so much physically out of them πŸ™‚ it is awesome! Plus, I want to do ALLLL the things this year. I know how fleeting horses are, and how fragile the situation can be. I just want to do this forever!!!

Working Equitation: Day 2

Ah, the most exciting day! I was very anxious. Oats had been pretty amped the day before (hence the need for two rides, ha) but I was most worried about the two natural obstacles in the course: water, and a bank.

And I was right to be worried 😦

We went in for our first round and I immediately got DQ’d, lol. I ‘crossed my line’ on my way to start through the gates, whoops! But it went ok for the first obstacle (barrels) and then we went straight over to the bank for obstacle 2 and the wheels came off Oats’ brain. He was TERRIFIED of the bank. Would NOT go near it, at all. Well-meaning folks were like, well if you tried walking up to it slowly? Hahahahhah yeah, if he would stop rearing and running backwards, maybe I could…But I couldn’t get near it. Not one iota.

Speed round, video courtesy of Shelly Donaldson!

He was stressed and amped as hell, and we got permission to move on, having been disqualified already. He felt very tense and rigid, and was thinking about bucking me off. We went over to the garoccha line and he was good until we went to the bull for the rings and he spooked at the bull and I dropped the ring, and almost my pole! Hahaha.

The rest of the course was edgy and very tense but manageable. He didn’t really want to go through the water but then he did! I was surprised he did, when the bank was such a major issue?! I then messed up the entry to the double slalom (missed going through the cones the correct way) and got confused, ha. DQ number 3 or 4??

And then we hopped over the jump, got the jug, and cantered through the finish lines, where Oats started building up a head of steam and tried to buck me off going through the finish gates!! I had to pull him up, roughly, and then salute to the judge. They were laughing! hahaha.

Then for the Speed Round, same course (ARGHHHH) but no jug, only single slalom and one way through the cattle pen. Still the bank 😦 So I knew we’d get DQ’d and I was thinking about scratching, to be honest.

But, we took a break (Oats was SO THIRSTY allll weekend, poor dude), untacked and then chilled out. It was quite hot out too.

Afternoon, we tacked back up for Speed Round. I was kind of dreading it, but also thought who cares? This is all for schooling. And boy, was it! We went in for our round, and I took special care to NOT cross my lines hahah. We started well again, the barrels and then had a different idea for the bank- a trainer there suggested we go up above it, and then down to it. Did it work? A resounding NOPE! He danced, ran, spun, reared and generally freaked out.

So……DQ again.

And we skipped it, and he only had one ‘gonna buck you off!’ moment immediately afterward heading to the Garrocha line (where he was good but I missed the loop, shit!). Otherwise he was even a real trooper about going into the water, slightly hesitant but good! πŸ™‚

We did get permission to school the bank after the competitors were done. I had someone come with me (my trainer who is helping me practice the obstacles at home) and I led him up to it in-hand. He snorted bigtime, but then happily followed me up the bank. And then down and then back up. I hopped back on, and we walked up to it and over on a loose rein. Easy-peasy! πŸ™‚ How I WISH we had been able to do that in the competition…It would have saved him and me a lot of tension and angst eh?? Five minutes of introducing it to him and done! Good Oats.

It was a challenging weekend but did help me get out of my own head for a bit.

Port Townsend Part #2

Our first full day in Port Townsend, we decided to hang around town and visit the farmers market and Aldridge’s (very fancy, very $$$ specialty store) until the marine science centre opened at noon. We did miss the Rhododendron Festival Parade down main street, but there wasn’t enough time to get everything in I guess!

touch pools at the marine science centre

The farmer’s market was very well appointed and we ended up buying some salad greens to go with the truly ridiculous seafood I bought at the grocery store the day previous, and we stopped off at Aldridge’s to buy some very $$ garlic vinaigrette that I didn’t like *too oily, not at all vinegary enough!

Then it was time to head to the marine science centre plus museum, and also to visit the venerable grounds of Fort Worden.

So cool!

I loved the science centre, and a highlight was the octopus ‘Sylvia’ who was zooming around his aquarium tank. I have never seen such an active octopod! Go Sylvia!

Prickly urchins in the touch pool

Then we checked out the small marine science museum, and walked to the Fort Worden lighthouse, a few clicks away, but it was a nice day and finally warm and sunny, so we figured why not walk it out?

Then we went back to the car and drove closer to the parade grounds of Fort Worden, and parked to walk the trails to the artillery batteries, of which there are many. I do not like them, I think that they are dank, creepy and disturbing. Ian loved them. I just wanted to sit in the sun and snooze, hahaha.

It was a lovely day of being outside, in the sunshine. We haven’t strung together two nice days at all since, or before, so I think we were truly fortunate that one weekend.

And for dinner, we made shrimps and fish salad, and enjoyed a few bottles of beer out on the beach. Did I mention that the beaches were basically across the street from main street/the hotel? It was SO nice.

Next up: We take part in a historical Rhody Festival event: Rhody run 10k!