Heartstruck: Riding/jump updates!

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My Halloween wreath went up. I love it!!

This week hasn’t been overly busy with rides, on Monday I had an equine counselling session, in which we recapped life events (great!!) and worked a bit on my increasingly iffy two-point. Why the windmill leg? Tipping forward? And why does it get highlighted so much in the indoor? All good questions…So I lengthened my stirrups 1 hole (gasp!) and am going to proceed with that for awhile.

Tuesday I just hacked Oats around, playing with counter-canter positioning. Bad- me leaning forward to get it. Good- him actually trying!

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Poor Gidget waiting wistfully for us to get back to the car at the barn.

Thursday was our jump lesson and man, I miss jumping in the outdoor! Oats was a bit balky/stuck behind my leg, so I had a few ‘reminders’ via my crop behind my leg. I found that when he sucks back around the corners- and there are a lot of them in the indoor- I want to tip forward, sending my leg swinging back. Interesting. This was also highlighted in the video my trainer took last week too.

So, all good things to work on. We focused primarily on small jumps, with related distances (forward -3 or quieter 4, I obviously went for the 4 each time, b/c Oats was Not. Having. It. for forward yesterday). I was actually pretty happy, even though we definitely biffed a few lines/jumps. Ha.

We did have to go re-do a line b/c he should have been picking up the right lead (he was doing it correctly ALL lesson, he never ever used to voluntarily pick up the right lead, even if we were circling a jump on the right. Yeah!! And so when we re-did the bending line, I focused harder on trying to land right (didn’t happen) but he did try to get a flying lead in 3 strides (didn’t- was disunited) but we landed and he DID pick up the right lead. Progress!

So, not better than ever but butter than we used to be. And that is ok! The weather has been fabulous, and I am feeling better this week for sure. 🙂

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A Deeper Understanding: Thanksgiving!

I feel like a broken record when I say this, but wow my weekends are busy! Riding lesson on Friday night (and after feeling like total crap last week, I had to shoe-horn myself into my breeches and go anyways. Thank you buttons for your structural integrity!). I still felt pretty miserable…

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But the lesson went well! We worked on introducing Oats to counter-canter signals, which was difficult but he was really trying, like a good boy. 🙂 Saturday more riding (we were in the field goofing off, it was soooo nice out) and then off to Victoria Beer Week’s Fresh to Death beer fest for the afternoon. It was great, and the weather was fantastic.

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Fresh to Death- see our friend the Skeleton! 

After the beer, we zipped off to The Flying Pig for some happy hour food (and I dropped my wallet on the floor and lost it there…) before heading home for quick R&R before going out to my friend’s birthday party. We were downtown at her party and didn’t get home until 1am! I was wiped! But it was an awesome day/night.

Sunday we got up and I tore the house apart trying to find my freaking wallet…Luckily the fine folks at The Flying Pig had found it, and messaged me on Facebook to tell me they had it! YESS!! We picked it up, went to the stables where I rode Oaty, and then we were off to the farm for Thanksgiving #1. Though it was pretty miserable weather, we had a super nice time with great food!

Home in the late evening, and I was up early-ish for an equine counselling session on Oats at the barn. It went well too, and then home again for lunch and preparing for Thanksgiving #2, at my parents. That went fine too, though felt quite long. The food was excellent!

And now, I am back at work. Can I get a weekend from my weekends?!!

The Dream is Over

Of jumping lessons in the outdoors at night for me, sadly. We attempted to finish up my last lesson in the outdoor last night, and it got too dark, plus the footing was quite deep and Oats was struggling a bit in it. He had his shoes removed, and his trot was good but his canter felt ‘mushy’ like I just didn’t have enough horse there for jumping.

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Back to blurry screengrabs instead of nice crisp shots. Ah well…Video thanks to Nicole.

Compared with our fab jump lesson last night, it was…disappointing. But, jumping can’t be fantastic every time, can it? And we still had a good focused warm-up, and went straight into a fairly decent course outdoors, where I was quite pleased with Oats’ effort. Jumps stayed small.

It got dark, and we zipped into the indoor to wrap up our jumps. We worked over a few small jumps, and then over a course. I even demanded Nicole raise the jumps! (ok, demanded is a strong word. I suggested it! Go me!). And it was…very sloppy. Ha. Yikes my eq was definitely sucking. My leg (right leg) was a windshield wiper. My upper body? Throw at the horse! Eeeghhh.

In my defense, I have been feeling like crap over past few weeks (on and off since last week). I felt terrible yesterday, grinding fatigue, out of breath, sore throat, and my stomach was killing me with zero appetite. I literally had this feeling like if I stopped moving I would probably collapse and not be able to get back up again. So I kept running, moving, doing chores, getting dressed, going to riding and anytime I stopped moving, I was literally wavering on my feet. Lovely. Anyways, it sucked.

Add on to that my crushing insomnia and you have a recipe for a fabulous week…

But I rallied for my jump lesson! I had this sense that Oats was feeling similarly to me, ha. He was asleep on his feet in his shelter when I came to get him to tack up. Anyways, I am really hoping for some sleep tonight, and Oats is also getting the night off in preparation for my next dressage lesson on Friday. Fingers crossed we are all feeling better by then!!

So far no sore throat today, but stomach ache remains and my eyes are so watery from fatigue it looks like I have been crying. Ahhh.

How did I get through the day? Weekend recap!

Wow, things were busy this weekend, and yet it felt like a pretty quiet weekend because we didn’t have any races, or horse shows, or concerts or music festivals! What we did have was…

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I was moving jumps around on Saturday and Oats had to help inspect.

Dressage lesson on Friday night: Very nice lesson, quite positive and we worked over walk and trot poles, focusing on the transition canter- trot through the poles, to keep the horses from dragging us downward in the transition. I quite enjoyed that and felt like it kept Oats focused too.

Saturday: Ian had a climbing competition, so I rode in the morning, went for a run in the afternoon and we went together to watch the pros compete in the Highball bouldering competition. It was very impressive! They also had $2 beer/cider, which I appreciated very much 😉

Sunday: Had the best of intentions to get up and run before my Sea Cider outing and that…Didn’t happen. I was dragging ass all week and generally feeling run down, so I slept in and when I woke up I thought it was about 8 a.m.- NOPE! It was 9:50 a.m.! Yikes and I was meeting the girls at the barn for Sea Cider at 11 a.m. Time to hustle!

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Gidget came to work today after my dentist appointment. She’s the boss!

We had a lovely time at Sea Cider- great food, awesome company and some delicious cider samples. What’s not to like?!

Afterwards I decided that even though I was stuffed full of good food and cider, I would not let it take over my whole Sunday. Oats and I went for a ride indoors and worked on some canter- leg yields, with moderate success. I decided to also try moving from leg yield to shoulder-fore in case he wanted to get ‘clever’ and start anticipating the movements…Good ride!

Home time and a run later, gagg was feeling full!

Monday: Chiropractic appointment after work and a ride on ol’ Oaty.

This time I wanted to ride outside but it was just too wet and sloppy. Sighhh, back to the indoors. We worked on the canter transitions- big canter- little canter- in the style that our new dressage trainer showed us (by using trot transitions to train the horse to anticipate a ‘lessening’ in the canter rather than you having to make the transition happen, you let them ‘learn it’ instead. It works by cantering, 1 step trot, back to canter, 1 step trot, back to canter…And then canter, think about trot, your body makes some of the same motions, but you don’t go to trot. Just… a smaller canter, and then back to bigger canter. Thinking TROT but not cuing for it really helps!

It was great but man Oats was steaming after! Clip time already? It has been very warm this fall.

Know Better Learn Faster: Jump Lesson!

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All my swag from the past weekend! 

I was both looking forward to and feeling anxious about my jump lesson on Thursday. I was really happy with how the horse show went, (coachless! but with some hand-holding) and wondering how I could keep the good vibes rolling!

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Remember this from a few weeks ago? Make it almost completely dark out..and then do it. Coop set in the middle of the arena, rail at same height!

Sometimes this means I shut down, because I would rather not mess up a good thing than try and have it kind of blow up in my face. Not a good impulse and not one I am proud of. (see- why I can never play darts again…).

BUT I am learning – year by year- that I can try, and fail, and still have a lot of fun and learn tons. It’s not a one-and-done thing! I can keep going! 🙂 We were back in the outdoor to grasp the last bit of remaining daylight, and it was the last semi-private I will have (gonna miss those!).

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Oxer on diagonal, so festive! (Photo by Nicole).

We worked over a small x-rail, and then the x-rail to a small vertical both working off the diagonal. Oats was…unenthusiastic. I felt like the jumps needed to be higher to get his focus!!  Mine too maybe? He blahhhhed over the jumps. I was kind of annoyed, but like, with some fire in my belly.

Let’s DO THIS

Coursetime: Not complicated, but would require me to sit up (after a stop going into the one outside line, hahahah I decided I would jump first and Oats was like yeah, no.). And key? LEG LEG LEG even on the slow fade 3-strides to the jump. Not just sitting there like a stuffed dummy.

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This ‘Halloween’ line ended up being an oxer set further back. So fun! (Photo by Nicole).

And how did the course ride? Pretty well! The bending line gave me some trouble both times, but overall quite nicely. I got some good distances, not too much ‘stop and crawl’ over the fences, remembered to use my legs in the last 3 strides even! There were a lot of oxers, traditionally something that wigs me out, but I felt pretty good last night.

Course was: vertical on diagonal, oxer on diagonal, ride the outside line in 7, back to the first vertical on the diagonal bending line to 1st fence in outside line, oxer on second outside line to oxer on diagonal (rode well!), ride along and then turn right across the arena to jump the coop, turn left and ride the outside line of 2X oxers (7 the first time, 6 the second. Oats was on FIRE!).

We had 1 more stop the second time we rode the course, honestly it felt like Oats didn’t see the second rail set up in the oxer until the last minute- we bumped the fences up 1 hole and added an oxer. It was really dark out by this point. Re-approached and he was a-ok. In fact, the was golden.

What a great, kickass ride!

 

Cowichan District Riding Club: Jumper day!

Saturday was jumper day (my classes were all Match the Clock) and boy did we have to get up early! The show started at 8:30 a.m. with cross poles, and I was registered for the 2′ division (wanted to have a warm up) and the 2’3” division, two classes each for a total of four. I figured that was plenty for us, and as it turns out I was right–likely maybe even a bit too much for Oats!

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We got up at around 5:40 a.m. to get to the barn and…Drama. Donato caught his eyelid on something, and injured it. It was purple and swollen and just..NO. Crumbs! We have had some bad luck with this horse show in the fall- last year Oats almost died and I had to cancel our attendance the week before. 😦

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But this year was OUR year, I am proud to say! So we brought Donato with us, even with his bad eyelid, to see if he would improve and my friend hacked him quietly around the warm-up ring. He was a good boy. I was riding in the show solo, as my trainer teaches lessons on Saturdays and couldn’t leave the lessons to come and coach us. No biggie, as the heights are well within my comfort zone and I can’t even remember the last time I rode with a trainer for a dressage show?!

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This jump always rode well, even if I rode it on an angle every time.

We warmed up for the 2′ and Oats was pretty good, a little sluggy but my spurs helped him in the right direction. We went into the 2′ and had some very sloppy jumps where I hesitated and should have made a better decisions over the small jumps, but overall it was fine. Then they announced the ribbons and I was 6th? WTF? Ok, we were going too fast?!! Wha? Since when is Oats too fast? The horse that won trotted the entire course. Wth?

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Anyways, I was pretty flabbergasted by that, ha. My next round at 2′ I vowed to make better decisions and go slower. Kind of 50% of that actually happened, hahaha. My ride was better but again, too fast. ???? 6th for us.

Ok now I was on fire! I was going to fix that time thing, this time for good in the 2’3”. We went in, and were a tad quick but overall a really super round. Again a bit quick, but sooooo close. We had nice big loopy turns, a quiet round. I watched a few others go and they had some troubles- rails (they came down SO EASILY) and some refusals.

We were in 1st! Yeah!!! Lindsay said she knew it was going to happen, haha.

And then for our last round, we BLEW the first jump. Like, Oats stopped, and crawled slowly over it. Just not awake! Ha. It was a very sloppy round and I was tired, he was tired and we should have gone over a few more warm up jumps to wake up before the round. I fully own that, haha. But anyways, our time was much slower and we still placed 2nd?! YAH!

A great day, with my buddies and husband helping me out. Oats was such a good pony!

 

Time to come home: Crazy horse show weekend! Dressage day.

This past weekend Oats and I participated in the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper and dressage days (Sat jumpers, Sun dressage). Wow, I am tired! And I bet Oats is too, ha.

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I really like doing these shows because they are very reasonable, cost-wise and the people running them  (all volunteers) are lovely people and offer a very relaxed atmosphere. That being said, I was a bit anxious for dressage day as I was trying my hand at a level above where I normally show (Level 1 test 3, as opposed to just trying Level 1 test 1). Actually I am pretty new to Level 1 in general! Not an expert here!

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We warmed up and Oats was okay…Kind of dragging me around a bit, and getting strong and kind of downhill. My hauler and friend was really helpful in getting me to find a way to fix it, instead of just getting annoyed, haha.

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We went in for Test 1 and it went okay but it was a little rougher, above the bit than I would have liked. Our first lengthen was pretty weak too. Oh well!

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Then it was time for Test 3 and before it, when we were hanging out in the warm up ring, I watched a horse literally rear its rider off. Scared the daylights out of me! I find that kind of behaviour really triggering, and rattles me to see it. The rider was fine, but landed pretty darn hard. It was very frightening, but they rode a nice test regardless.

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Anndd overbent…

Test 3 I felt physically ‘rode’ better than Test 1, but it did not score as well, the judge was definitely tougher and expecting more from us (which we kind of didn’t have at this point, but hey it was a fun experience!).  The canter loops went went well until Oats kind of had a minor hissy fit about it and broke the second loop. Shit!

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Our geometry was off, but that’s a work in progress too, and the judge was very kind and commented that if we fix that, our scores will be MUCH higher. There is hope for us after all! 🙂

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Leg yield- a bit resistant. 

So this is how we scored (and I am happy with it, I know we have lots to work on), but I feel grateful to have this experience with Oats.

First Level test 1: 65% for first place

First Level Test 3: 63% for third place.

None too shabby!

Thanks again to my dear husband for braving an entire weekend of horse showing, my hauler and friend, and my other friend who’s horse had to cancel because he hurt his eye. Shoot! Bad luck.