Riding with feel

Had a lesson last night, and because I am leaving very shortly on a big trip, I kept it quiet and low-key, ie- no jumping, just flatwork. Which, to be honest, can always use more work, ha.

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Ian with a strange tree in our neighbourhood.

Oats was really good, and it was a chill lesson where we worked more on riding with ‘feel’ and I found myself very able to be ‘focused on the feel’ rather than trying to force it or move on to the next best thing. One issue I have with anxiety and horseback riding is always looking for the next moment, movement, jump, turn, etc. Never on what is happening ‘now’. And you can imagine how this makes my body contort around corners, turns, etc., because I am not present in the moment.

So, this lesson was very nice because it was not an exhilarating thrill-ride of adrenaline, which for me jumping usually is. I was much more present and ‘feeling’ my way through the ride. No drama and I couldn’t even quantify it as ‘good or bad’ it was just a better way to be present through my body and my horse.

Unfortunately I tweaked something in my leg/hamstring yesterday running and so that was bugging me greatly. SIGH. I am on a hair-trigger for injuries right now and this is NOT helping. And the weather just sucks right now too- rainy, cold, windy. Rinse, repeat.

Love spring? Haaa. C’mon warm weather, I am coming for you soon!

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I Hate Canada Geese!

They shit over everything, are just so gross and loud and annoying, AND they are a real safety at the risk. They have been out of control at the stables recently and it’s getting frightening. Last night they were crash landing on the roof, scrabbling wildly on the roof, taking off, crash landing again, and then walking up and down the roof to launch off the front of the arena. This of course was scaring the shit out of the horses in the arena, who thought they were under attack!

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Oats would prefer ‘Pony Parking Only’ but Dressage Queen is ok too!

Not Oats of course, but he is basically a saint. And also there is a limit to how perfect he will be while horses are losing their minds while 30lb birds are crash landing on a tin roof, over and over and over again. It was nerve-shattering for ME!

I knew I couldn’t be the best, most focused rider during these circumstances. I tried a few transitions (meh) and some lateral work, which was ‘ok’ but I just couldn’t be the rider who could ignore how LOUD and distracting something crashing above my head constantly was. Just absolutely destroyed my focus. ARGH.

I did appreciate how great Oats was about it all, though. Man, he is a saint.

I also have a really hard time with loud noises. I can’t handle them- they scare me and I find myself constantly on edge. So yeah, this wasn’t really idea then either…Oh well.

We did have quite a few fun rides this weekend, and on Monday we worked on some x-rails at the trot and it went quite nicely, no big ‘launches’ or anything. Foot-perfect for those even though he literally face-planted over a pole that day. Hah!

The countdown is ON for my trip though, and no Canada Goose is going to ruin that for me!

Final race of the 2018 VIRA Season- Bazan Bay’s 5k Recap!

It feels weird to write this, because earlier this past week I was like oh man, I am soooooo over racing! But then when I was at the race, I was thinking, boo…I want to race every weekend! Mixed emotions much?

I am having the race season of my LIFE! Each race, I am meeting the challenge and overcoming it. It feels incredible, to be completely honest. Wow. How lucky am I, that my body is responding to the increased demands in such an awesome way?

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Series award, Frontrunners gift cert & bronze in my AG. What a weekend!

All that to say- my goal for the 5k was to get under 21 minutes. It felt like a stiff goal to me, as my weakest distance is the 5k for sure, and really any shorter distances. I just don’t have the power.

So I mentally wrote off this race as a ‘for fun’ race and a way to cap off the season of good racing. I was even asking Ian AT the race what my splits should be if I wanted to get under 21, and he said around 4:10/km. Yeesh, that seemed way too fast for me. So yeah I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. My eye is on a bigger prize.

At the start, it was quite warm! I was wearing shorts and a long-sleeved Lululemon run shirt and kind of wishing I was wearing a t-shirt. Crazy eh? We were packed in close and the start was hairy- I watched someone almost smoke a small child that was up too close. Yikes!

We bustled and battled it out for 200 metres or so, and then things smoothed out. I felt like I was running pretty hard in that awkward ‘legs haven’t caught up to my lungs’ way. My first KM was about 3:56 or so? Phew, so I have some room.

We kept running and I had my eye on a few runners who I typically race with, as they have similar pacing and strengths to me. Next KM- 4:07. Ok, that I can work with, but I’d have to really watch to make sure it didn’t creep up….

KM 3- this is when I started catching runners. Not gonna lie, it felt AWESOME. Usually KM 3 is when the wheels fall off, but I just felt stronger. I ran this one at 3:50 I think? Between 3-4, I started really breathing hard, Jesus when was it going to be over? I started staring at my GPS watch, ha. A girl I caught up with-and-passed was gasping and breathing really horribly. It made me feel a bit concerned. Her coach or parent was on the sidelines telling her she had to ‘ make a decision…’

I ran a bit faster to put her behind me- it was very distracting.

And I could see the finish line- almost there! I was running as hard as I could, even though I did get caught up by a few runners who had a better sprint that I did. I could see the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes- 19-something?? Wha?

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Photo courtesy of VIRA. Third place age-grouper.

I ran down the clock and staggered around trying not to puke. Long time racer Gary Duncan saw my finish and came over to give me a hug and congratulate me. I had just raced under 20 minutes! 

Whoa! My chip time just squeaked under 20, at 19:58 and my official gun time was 20:04. I couldn’t believe it! That amazingly was good for 3rd in my age group. We also had the year-end series awards and I got FIRST in my age group! That came with $100 to Frontrunners! 🙂

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Series-end awards. Breeches are probably the least flattering pants around…Photo courtesy of VIRA.

Ian placed really high in his age-group too- 4th! Not too shabby! He is much faster than I 😉

Thanks again to VIRA for a fantastic race season. I’m floating on air, ending on a very high note. YES!

A really good lesson

Had my weekly jump lesson last night, after a looong day at a workshop (which I enjoyed but wow, it was like getting information through a firehose. Too much!). I was looking forward to a good ride, fingers crossed.

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It was. You know? Just really good. Oats was still sticky through the transitions, so we spent quality time schooling those before moving on to the jumps. And the jumps, I requested we keep them small so I could focus on the technical aspects of the course, and it rode pretty well!

The course: Tricky! Two ‘slice’ jumps to a bending line on both ends, a small gymnastic two-stride x-rail to oxer, and then rode it back the other way oxer jump-in two strides to the x-rail. Exciting!

And I was very pleased with how it rode. If Oats got sticky, I schooled the transition right then and there, and then proceeded to the jump/course. Get it done right.

There were quite a few jumps on course, 13 efforts total. And we were schooling so well that I immediately wanted to go jump it again! And we did! Though with that, I am starting to realize my fitness is starting to outpace Oats’…He was huffing and puffing and I was feeling totally fine. Hm.

I did notice that last weekend as well, when my Karen Brain lesson usually leaves me huffing and puffing and sweaty, I felt totally fine. This is a good thing, let me tell you!  It means my fitness has improved at a rate that I can actually start to feel. And it makes me feel like a confident and strong rider. Yes!

 

My review: Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl and bonus an opinion!

Thank you to my colleague for the tasty treat. I very carefully practiced willpower when you gave it to me last week, and that lasted until I got home with it unopened, and then I immediately dove into it and ate a few spoonfuls while proclaiming that it ‘needed something’ like pretzels or whatever to add to the flavour.

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And just like that, the top half of the jar was gone. Ian said it was surprising I was saying it needed something while also shoveling it into my mouth via large spoon. At the time the only option I had cracker-wise was Ryvita and just…no.

Anyways, I did end up spreading it on a toaster waffle and while it is pretty good solo, it was GREAT with the waffle. The stripes of cookie butter blend well with cocoa, adding a bit of textural interest and granularity. I am someone who likes crunchy peanut butter so your mileage may vary on that account. One quibble-the cocoa stripes tend to dominate and take over the spread. It becomes more of a ‘cocoa with cookie butter’ spread rather than the other way around. So die-hard cookie butter lovers (there could be some, I don’t judge as a peanut butter fiend personally) may not love this as much as I do.

So yeah a week in there is like half a jar left, yikes. I have added it to homemade waffles as well (and marshmallows, crackers, etc) and it is a true delight! At the risk of sounding like a monster, I have also *gasp* added peanut butter to the cookie butter for waffles. I know eh, where does it end???

Also here is my opinion: The Reese’s Eggs are not as good as the flat Reese’s Eggs. Do they find this as confusing as I do?

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The best! 

 

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Merely ‘good’

Happy Easter~

Ah what an awesome long weekend. I started it by having a great jump lesson on Thursday- Oats was slow and sticky, but we worked through it and ended up having a very successful ride!

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Friday we went and I did a super looong run around Elk/Beaver Lake. Hours! Certainly taught me the importance of fueling appropriately yikes. A good day though all around.

Saturday I got up early-ish for a dressage lesson with Oats with my normal jump trainer. It was very interesting and showed to us a few holes in Oats’ education, namely encountering some resistance through transitions. Hm….

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And then we were up Island and off to the farm! We had a HUGE great turkey dinner at the farm, and enjoyed some games, hot-tubbing and hiking.

Sunday we were back home and I had another dressage lesson, this time with my regular dressage trainer. More insight- Oats moves crooked at the canter, and it’s because, gasp, I am HELPING HIM be crooked. Wha? It was a strangely difficult ride!

Monday I was back at the barn! Did a fairly casual ride on Oats because as it turns out, I was tired, haha. My allergies have been out.of.control these days and man, they are sooo horrible. I came home after some unsuccessful swimsuit shopping (styles are SO UGLY right now. No WAY am I wearing a high-waisted granny panty swimsuit) and made myself some sangria and sat on the deck to enjoy some sunshine.

With me was Gidget and Tucker, who do not get along. At all. HA.

A great long weekend and much-needed.

100 of anything

Monday I had an equine counseling session, in which we reviewed my dressage tests to discuss how they went, and things to improve on (more emotionally than physically). There were lots of points to get better on, but what Vicki said was the biggest win for me was when I felt Oats getting tense in the ring in the canter – historically our biggest challenge- I ‘let go’ of his face and gave more with my hands, so he didn’t get bottled up and angry. It led to a really good feeling and a strong test.

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Throwback Thursday to…Sunday! Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

Even in the warm-up, I ‘gave’ more when I felt him wanting to get bottled up and start swapping his leads (he does this at horse shows, not so much at home). And guess what, when I ‘gave’ he didn’t want to swap anymore! A metaphor for life perhaps? By letting go you get more back, rather than grabbing and trying to control the horse (life). Interesting!

On to what I had to practice though- transitions. So many transitions. Our weakest points are too abrupt and head too high/loss of contact.

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Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

So how to fix? UGH, by doing a lot of transitions, of course. My favourite. (not).

On Tuesday I came out ready for action. I was going to do 100 transitions, and I found that this would take most of my ride actually. Up, down, big trot, little trot. Halt-trot, halt-walk. Walk- canter, big canter, little canter (this never actually happened, as our more focused canter work needed to not be during a shitshow lesson that was happening at the same time…).

It was tough! I was sweating, Oats was working hard.

It was a good effort though and a really interesting way to structure the work I found. Rather than riding around aimlessly, we had a purpose. Something I do struggle with, particularly when I am working around other riders in a small indoor during their lessons, when I am trying to stay out of their way and they are all over the place!

Go Oats Go!