Don’t tell me what you are going to do. Tell me what you’ve done.

In a nutshell, my blog.

There’s a reason this blog posts recaps, not ‘pre-event’ details. I don’t love sharing what I am planning to do, primarily because I haven’t done it yet and it is not a guarantee I will do it!

I find there is an inherent risk in telling everyone your plans (want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans…or something like that, given I do not believe in any gods).

That’s why my horse shows are recaps, my races are recaps and my riding lessons are details after they happen. Because, there is always the risk they won’t. And I am not the type of person who makes grand plans, tells everyone about them, and then just…doesn’t follow through. I am the person who makes those plans, doesn’t necessarily need to share them, and then follows through – and provides a recap! :)

I don’t like telling people what I am going to do. I tell them what I’ve done.

Obviously, I do plan things out (signing up for races and horse shows definitely requires advance notice with my trainer, husband, friends, etc). But, there is a difference between planning things out, and kind of staying on the down-low, and bragging. The bragging can happen after the fun event! Hahah and of course there is always bragging- I try to keep humble but hey we are only human. Usually I am no superstar at either horse shows OR running, so the bragging is limited to a ‘hey I completed this event! Yay!’.

I’m finding these days, that I’m even *gasp* looking forward to running? How odd! I feel twitchy and needy when I don’t do it. Last week, I was edgy and kind of wanting to get a longer run in (who is this person??) because it felt like ages since I had run. Ages eh?

I ran a 10k race on Mother’s Day! It hadn’t even been a week?!

Funny how that happens, eh?

No one is lost: Progress is a ever-changing target?

So I had my jumping lesson last night and I’m not going to lie. I was worried! I’ve been struggling with feelings of guilt, of fear and having this need to ‘prove something’ to myself. Newsflash: Proving something to yourself usually goes very poorly!

Yes, we even jumped this one without a second look!

Yes, we even jumped this one without a second look!

I even had the opportunity to back out…My friends were visiting from Vancouver and asked if I wanted to go out for dinner last-minute, and my trainer texted asking if this week was the week I had to take off? Argh! The struggle! I was *this close* to having a legitimate reason to wimp out…

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But I manned up, swallowed my fear and texted my friends back that I had a jumping lesson, and texted my coach that it was next week I had to take off.

There. One small step.

The next step was actually getting there, warming up on my own for 15 minutes in the outdoor full of -gulp- scary jumps and dealing with whatever happened.

And you know what? Oats was golden! He didn’t put a hoof wrong. I still felt wimpy, weak and lacking enthusiasm when Nicole came out for the lesson. I wanted to wimp out, I wanted to wallow in my feelings of inadequacy…Of fear.

But, Oats was too good to let me do that, and so was Nicole haha. We started slow- trot poles to a tiny gymnastic grid. We even had to put the last fence up to a vertical because Oats wasn’t really jumping them, he was kind of just flopping over them. That was ok.

Then, we moved on to a course and I started holding my breath…

But the jumps were small, I was actually RIDING Oats and things were just clicking nicely along! I didn’t have time to back off. My brain even kind of started drifting after the 8th fence and I kind of biffed the 9th (across the diagonal) but Oats is a forgiving pony and just kept trucking.

We did the course twice (11 jumps X 2!) 22 whole fences! And it was very good. We were not perfect, but like the scales of justice that tip one way or the other, my confidence scales are slowly tipping the other way- back to being in balance.

I have a hard time acknowledging that last week I was rocking a bigger course with the dreaded gymnastics up to 2’6” and this week am feeling faint over x-rails, but you know, who carresssss. Only me! Not Oats! Hahah. He was great, and I need more “great times” to build up my happy memory bank again.

Accidents, like what happened with my mom, deplete the happy memories in your memory bank, and confidence bank. Only good experiences (pretty much double the good to bad) can work to rebuild those banks.

Aftermath

A few days out from the accident, I’ve ridden four times. My first time, was rough and angry. The second time, I wisely pulled back and rode Oats in the indoor, to prevent any  nerves or defensive riding on my part- and it was boring! The third time was my lesson with Karen Brain, and I started off fairly determinedly ‘relaxed’ but still nervous, and the lesson was great- tough, but very thorough.

Not so relaxed

Not so relaxed

And the fourth time? A very decided mix of bad and good. Oats was a bit edgy. I let him stand and look at the ‘spooky’ areas and he didn’t relax at all like he did in the warm-up before my lesson. He just stood there, with his head on a freaking swivel, staring as hard as he could. He felt like he was ‘looking’ for a reason to spook. He never brought his head down, never even attempted to graze. Just stood stock-still with his head up high.

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Throughout the ride, he did spook- many times. Luckily, none of them were biggies, and his spooks do tend to be no big deal anyways…Plus I was riding VERY defensively. Not a good point. I’m still not super pleased with how I deal with the ‘edgier’ days.

The canter was very good, it felt like the hard work we put in the day before in my lesson paid off! I was very pleased with him. The trot work kind of sucked (see head on a swivel…).

Anyways, the canter made me feel like I wanted to take him over jumps (a bad idea, since I was 100% alone) but trot made me feel like I wanted to jump off!

So, a combination of positive and negative, bad and good.

I’m taking today off, as I think Oats needs a day off too!

You don’t love me, you love the chase

Man oh man, how do I describe my ‘relaxing’ few days off while my mom visited?

The aftermath...

The aftermath…

Well, they were NOT relaxing, at all. Jesus.

Things started off well, with a nice visit to my in-laws farm, using up some grocery gift cards and a good hike through the woods. The fun vibes continued into the next day, when my mom and I went for a run at Thetis Lake with the dog. She accompanied me to my jumping lesson and then all hell broke loose.

Up to 2'6''

Up to 2’6”

We had a great jump lesson, and I had my mom on for a pony ride to cool Oats off. She was wearing a helmet, and we were half asleep…Just chatting, having a nice time. All of a sudden, Oats spooked! And BLAM! My mom fell right off, onto her arm.

Started off well

Started off well

She started shouting that her arm was broken right away. I ran Oats up the hill as fast as I could drag him, threw him to my friend and shouted for my coach to help us. Thank god they were still around. Nicole ran down to help my mom, I drove my car around the block and into the arena through the field to pick up my mom and drive her to the hospital. Nicole helped my mom into my car, and we slowly drove to the hospital (a 2-minute drive, luckily).

In the backseat!

In the backseat!

There, she got an x-ray and I zipped home to wait for her to call. It took a few hours and she called- a broken humerus. Apparently the most painful break you can get. No joke her. She spent a long night in pain, and then we regrouped in the morning. I helped her get dressed, have a shower and we picked up her pain med prescription, and also went for lunch. When she was having a nap, I wanted to leave the house quiet- so I went to the barn, and it was kind of a bad idea.

Leaving looooooong!

Leaving looooooong!

I went in a bad mood. I felt angry, upset, betrayed. I felt guilty and mad at my horse. Mad at the world, really. I fall off Oats all the time, and nothing happens. My mom goes for a pony ride and breaks her arm? And this is the SECOND time she has broken that arm with me, visiting me in Victoria? What gives???

I was also afraid. When I rode Oats the next day, I wasn’t riding because I wanted to. I was riding because I felt like I had something to prove- to myself, to my mom. It was definitely fear-based. My ride was very aggressive, and I was acting defensively. Oats even got pissed off and threw in a baby buck at the canter, to show me he didn’t like how I was behaving (he hasn’t done that in aaaages).

It was hot, sweaty, hard. I felt rough, tired and unhappy.

I wasn’t happy with how I handled Oats then.

I hopped off, and let him graze for a bit, and then walked him back up the hill. I vowed to not let that happen again- losing my tempter, riding with fear like that.

The next day, I had a better game plan (I went riding while my mom was napping again, wanted to make sure the house was completely quiet for her). We rode in the indoor and it was quiet, calm. I had better control over my emotions and I didn’t feel afraid- but, I had scheduled a lesson for Monday, and I knew that would be a better test of how I was handling the trauma. My ride was very calm and quiet, boring even!

Monday- I had scheduled a private lesson with Karen Brain, as she couldn’t make our usual Tuesday ride. I immediately felt anxious.

But I wanted to push myself- I didn’t want to let my fear or anger rule the day. I felt nervous warming up by myself, but also like, oh you want to look at the corner? Sure, let’s stop for a bit, and look. Oats then started grazing and I was like…Hm…nope. Clearly, it wasn’t an issue for him- it was an issue for me, the ‘spooky side’.

We worked hard, and I told her what had happened. I deal with more fear in the outdoor, but I also like being in the outdoor- I have to be able to manage my fear, physically. And I am. Well, I am learning to. I still deal with fear, and I don’t like Oats lollygagging and staring outside the arena, but I am learning to deal with fear proactively.

So, we worked on lateral work and he was GREAT! And then we worked on picking up right- or -left lead canter through some cones (not quite as good) and then some seriously bone- jarring trot work (ouch ouch ouch). It really helped me work through some of my issues and allowed me to focus on the task at hand.

I needed it.

Race Recap: Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k! A big ego boost of a weekend.

Not a personal best, but a good day nonetheless!

Not a personal best, but a good day nonetheless!

Woah- let me just say that I really love smaller community-run races.

They are so much cheaper (entry fees are typically $20-25 in advance, maybe $35 day-of), the food is good – better than what we normally have at the TC10k – and the volunteers are awesome!

And at the finish, they gave you a carnation and a bottle of water! Lovely.

And at the finish, they gave you a carnation and a bottle of water! Lovely.

I had mentioned at my last race (Sooke 10k) that while I was lucky enough to finally place, I had also won a draw prize for another 10k race- the Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k. So, even though my last 10k was kind of a killer and I was swearing up and down I was going to take a break…I was now signed up for another one! Silly me.

My husband ran with me, and the course was really nice. Good variety of terrain and not too technical, we ran across a small bridge, down a hill to Rathtrevor Park, and out to the ocean, and we ran along the ocean for a bit on gravel, and then back through the park. I think this run had some of the loveliest scenery, and probably the most race-marshals marking the route haha. We really enjoyed the slight breeze off the ocean, and the hilarious stares of campers going ‘WTF’ are these people running like idiots through the campsites!!

On course in Parksville

On course in Parksville- Photo courtesy of Terry Riggs

It was cool in the trees, and overall not a warmer day, which worked to our advantage.

It would have been an excellent race to try for a personal best, but for some reason I just wasn’t 100%- I was struggling to rate my breaths, and I felt like I was gasping a lot more than I should have been. I have been trying to start out faster, and then work to try and hold my pace for longer (like 5k or so) but I started dropping faster and by 6k I was like ARGHH…I’m dying….

Way far back you can see us! Photo courtesy of Terry Riggs.

Way far back you can see us! Photo courtesy of Terry Riggs.

BUT everyone else was a bit slower- soooo I got the happy cheers of volunteers shouting to me that I was the second woman!! Yeah! That has NEVER happened to me, as I am still  fairly new at racing, having started just this year.

So, we kept pushing forward. I lagged bigtime at 6-7k, got a big ego boost from the volunteers and went through to 8- struggled up the very short hill, and then held fairly strong from 9 to the finish. No sprint at the finish, but I did feel like it was a good pace, and one we held well for the last kilometer.

We finished at 47:25, which was slower than my last 10k time (I know I can’t get PB’s every time I’m out…) but good enough to place me as the 2nd woman overall, and 1st in my age group! Yeehaw!!! I do have to note though that this race was far less competitive (a fun run) than the ones I have run overall this year- that is certainly why I placed where I did, NOT because I have somehow inexplicably become a super-runner.

Thanks, as always, to the lovely folks who take time to organize, volunteers and run in these races- I’m learning so much at each one, and enjoying the challenge.

Jump jump jump! Lesson update (now with 100% more outdoor!)

That’s right, feast your eyes…

The beautiful outdoor. Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

The beautiful outdoor. Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

We’re back in the outdoor and enjoying every moment of it! It officially opened this week for lessons and so Oats and I rode in it Wed and Thurs (lesson day). He was a bit foot-sensitive, so he is getting shoes next Thursday to help him out.

And I have to say that while I LOVE riding in the outdoor and it feels soooo nice to get out in the fresh air and out of the dusty coal-miner tin can (indoor), riding/jumping outdoors is tough! I felt tired, very tired. After jumping 1 course, I was out of breath, and felt weak. And I am no slouch in the workout dept., I  mean I am racing a 10k this weekend after all and have been racing all winter, ha.

We started off dealing with the right-bend issue at the trot, then the canter (this issue would resurface throughout the lesson, because I am apparently incapable of dealing with more than 1 thing at a time when jumping- and it very quickly becomes THE JUMP!).

Then, we worked over a small gymnastic, x-rail to 3-stride small vertical, and then added in a small bending line to a pink x-rail- then vertical because Oats found it very easy. And then we brought it all together into a mega-course [felt mega to us, because there were 10 whole jumps in it!]. We did the course twice, and I had the option of doing it a 3rd time but wimped out – was feeling tired and kind of weak- but next time..oh next time, I’ll woman up and I’l do it!!

I was quite pleased with how the course went, the jumps were small and manageable except for one oxer on the diagonal that started to eat my soul…Ha. Oh and the line that I bungled EVERY time we went over it. By the time we’d get to it, I’d be tired and start kind of….not riding…so instead of the good 6 strides, we’d chip, land in a heap, and pull out a weak 7-strides. Both times! Gah!

Sorry Oats!

I’ll figure it out next time haha. So, straightness and bend were problems…my position was pretty good, and the gymnastic and for the most part, other bending lines rode very nicely!