Lollygagging

Had my dressage semi-private last night and it was HARD. The hardest part? Turning!

no-more

Feeling sorry.

I know, weird eh? Stopping at jumps, can’t turn properly…Bring on the training wheels, Oats and I are apparently regressing to kindergarten.

We warmed up well, though I could feel his tension/anxiety in the ring looking for things to spook at and be distracted by. We then moved to leg-yield all the way around the ring with walk/trot transitions up and down and up and down…It was challenging. Oats thought he could blow through my aids, and when that didn’t work, bluff me by moving his neck in but not his haunches. He was also staring around the ring like his eyes were on stalks, argh.

I am on to you, rotten pony!

I love you this much!

Sometimes, I hate you!

He had a few ‘I don’t wanna!’ moments, throwing his head around, swinging his butt in, hopping, kicking out angrily when I was like, no actually, you ARE doing this and you WILL do what I say. We worked through it, and I was fairly pleased with the end results (not perfect but still not terrible). Until…

We went to turn left and he blew through my turn-signal and dragged me through the turn. Oh no he didn’t!

That ended the more formal part of our dressage education. What followed was just freaking strength and making a decision, on my part- this was hard. My trainer Karen yelled at us to turn left! HARD! Then GO and release! Then turn again! And turn right, and go!

Oats – and I- were getting an education in turning. He has to turn (move front feet) when I say so, and I have to pick a direction and stick with it. No wishy washing, no lollygagging, no shitty little attitude trot from him. Nothing. Drag me through the long side? Sudden HARD LEFT.

Be spooky about the right corner? HARD RIGHT.

Literally all we did was turn- and go- and release- and hard turn- and go- and release.

I was dizzy!

I lost my balance a few times even!

Trainer says he was having trouble connecting his front half with his body and his hind part. So, he’s like oh sure turn my neck and swing butt out…Middle section???!!? = profit?!

It does feel strange to ride, that’s for sure. But by the end, I was freaking exhausted and he was trotting and turning nicely.

It felt very strange to have an lesson where I literally spun in turns, and trotted out so fast I got left behind. It improved, for sure, but woah. My riding definitely feels like it is in the training wheels stage right now.

We learn nothing.

Got this book back from my in-laws and it made me laugh. Oh Tim Kreider, you are the best!

So do we learn?

Hard to say. I emailed my equine wellness counselor in a big hissy fit last week. Coming off a really bad 7 days, a record-breaking bout of falling off, and another trainwreck of a jump lesson, I was spiraling and it was BAD BAD BAD.

13226762_10208885045470649_4316197456341437498_n

Oats and his new obsession- Corona.

I took some time off from riding Oats (rode Fri and he was good! We worked on some dressage stuff, it was a very intense and thorough ride, but I felt like we got a lot of really solid work done), Sat-Sun I went  camping and Oats went on a trail ride with my friends without me, haha.

Monday I arranged the session. I was building already when we met, in a big huff, upset and convinced I was flying backwards with Oats. I could barely describe the problem without tears. It was rough.

13239030_10208885046470674_236348789362145825_n

Best buddies.

She laughed and assured me that this is a stage, and like any stage, coming to me at a point in time when I can handle it. I just need to work through it. I described my bad jumping efforts and she said a year ago, Oats made all the decisions. Now, you’re making a lot more of the decisions- you no longer have to convince him. Except, when you make the decisions for him, you can’t abandon him when you are unsure. It’s like jumping out of the car on the highway, and you leave the car suddenly driving itself.

Interesting!

So, there is still a fear/panic element when I approach a jump and I feel ‘blank’ about where the takeoff is. I’m like, what do I do? My legs come off, my mind ‘goes somewhere’ and boom! Oats slams on the brakes.

He needs me to ‘be there’ the whole way, not just when I’m 100% confident about the takeoff spot.

You get this through focus, and let me tell you: that laser-like intensity is EXHAUSTING. We worked on free-longing Oats in the round pen, getting him to come in and go out just through my watching/observing and directing him with my body language and look. It worked, too! Oats responded really nicely.

This lack of focus and ‘me leaving my body’ was a big issue last year. I stopped showing because of it–I couldn’t make myself go in the ring without disassociating. So, obviously this is not a new issue for me, but it’s one that I can come back to and begin to manage appropriately.

So we worked on the round pen to build my focus  (mine more so than Oats’) and then worked on an emotional freedom technique that made me laugh out loud. It works apparently, so I will start doing it once a day this week.

I then rode Oats outdoors and he was freaking out about the back corner (we have a bad history there, and it got cleaned up so GASP it looked different~) but you know what? It’s fine, we can manage. And we did. I eventually got him going around, and then we cantered over poles and then I got brave and jumped a jump! Whoop! He was great, super forward and interested the whole ride- a little spooky/jittery, but very forward.

So, yeah. Ups and downs. I am trying to keep calm and progress.

 

A mountain with no ending: My first track race!

So, this weekend wasn’t all gloom and doom- despite what my previous blog post was griping about. My running was actually really neat! This year, adding to the theme of ‘getting outside my comfort zone’ I decided to be brave and sign up for a local amateur-friendly track series. This race ended up being on Saturday, the same day as my horrible horse show. Bad timing or what?

12036484_10100551851019156_592828648175285700_n

My version of hauling ass at the track.

I did it anyways!

This is the track series: The Christie-Phoenix Victoria Run Series– super bare-bones, but really well run!  I was very intimidated when I got to the track–all these people looked super intense, elite athletes, and there’s me…the running schlub.

I bought the series run package- a steal of a deal at $65 for the season. That gets me three track events, and some local x-c running too. That meant that at the track, I can sign up for any or all of the track races. Saturday offered three distances: 1,500m, 800m, and 3,000m. I hemmed and hawed about trying the distances and decided on entering two: 1,500m and 3,000m.

13238942_10100551851094006_2112960275136437558_n

The 3,000m.

If there are enough elite athletes, they offer two or more heats per event. That meant the 3,000m and 800m races had two heats- actually the 800m had three! (Not that I was running in it). This is primarily due to safety on the track. I overheard the race officials talking about it and they said something about 14 racers being ok but not more than that.

My 1,500m race had 1 elite racer and the rest of us amateurs- about 14 runners total. I was sooooo nervous…there was a start gun and everything!! I lined up far away from the other runners, and I think there was even a false start when the gun went off (it was fine though). I was running soooo fast, my arms felt numb! I was blasting away and man it was tough!~

Turns out my ‘fastest km ever’ is not really that fast, but wow it was hard for me. I ran it at 3:48/km. Running 1,500m means going around the track 4 times. Running 3,000m means going around the track EIGHT times. That is a lot of time around the track!

I even got second female in my 1,500m race–whoop!!!! (there were not a lot of women racing in ‘amateur slow people’ category, trust me on this.) Still, I was very excited and proud. I’m doing it- running on a track! I was soooo out of breath too, holy shit, it is HARD on your lungs. I immediately wanted to quit, but Ian suggested I take a break and catch my breath, and then think about keeping going in the 3,000m.

13221484_10100551851074046_3281761942879372677_n

Two second places!

And I’m glad I did–because it went really well too! I was able to ‘settle’ much faster, and get comfortable for my eight laps around the track. They ring a bell when you are on your last lap and it is a very inspiring sound.:) I even got second in my 3,000m race too! What a way to end a seriously disappointing horse show day, by getting some redemption in a race.

Track racing is wildly out of my comfort zone but you know what? I went out and gave it my all–and I’m glad I did! Well run, inspiring to watch the elites (they are stunning!), and just plain ballsy to run on a track.

I give up

“It’s no use to go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

So yeah, another whiny post in a long stream of whiny posts. I am losing the plot, horse-wise, and I can’t seem to get it back.

I fell off 3 times in 7 days. The horse show was a disaster, Oats warmed up really nicely, and then immediately wouldn’t play in the ring. He was distracted and stopped repeatedly, and I fell into an oxer- making that my third fall.

13179014_1300781003284576_582948502654733175_n

A bad jumper show.

I had a lesson last night that had many opportunities for me to fall off – with Oats ungenerously slamming on the brakes repeatedly- about five times. I didn’t fall though, so I can consider that a success?

Now, my horse is a stopper. Lovely.

I’m bummed, frustrated, mad at myself and at Oats, and hurt. I don’t trust him to jump now, and I don’t trust myself.

How did this backslide happen so suddenly??? How do I get ‘me’ and Oats back?

I honestly felt like crying after my lesson. I just can’t seem to get a break. I haven’t really felt like blogging, mostly because I’m so unhappy with how things are right now. How hard do I have to work at this? I’m not jumping high, the jumps I’ve been falling off at are the lowest ones I’ve been jumping recently. So WTF?

I’m just so confused and upset.

My show schedule as of now is kaput. I don’t feel like even trying right now.

And the hits keep coming?

Aka I fell off in my jumping lesson AGAIN. Hilariously, it was at the easiest fence on course…One that I was rocking last week at a higher height even?

10417727_10152529094198256_7188532709644705981_n

Jumping two years ago- photo courtesy of Christi.Funny I thought this was really high back then.

So, the good news is that my jumping ahead and falling off isn’t fence-dependent at all, or  dependent on going up or down the hill either.

The bad news is…Why does it keep happening? I felt overconfident, turned for the jump, thought I saw my distance and…WENT FOR IT! Without the horse, basically. I used to have a terrible jump-ahead habit that I thought I’d cured. Turns out, I haven’t.

11221557_10100385322184276_3306709414554841588_o

More good news- my mindset seems ok with this failure. It’s ok to fail, it was even kind of funny last night because I didn’t re-injure my shoulder, I just sort of rolled off Oats and onto the ground, taking the jump down with me. Oats stepped politely over it. I got back on, and I didn’t even have a BIG adrenaline rush like last time. I just felt like, whaa?? And that was silly! I was even kind of laughing?

So, yeah got back on and rode it just fine. And then we did the entire course again- I will admit to a few mild butterflies, but it was fine. We were just rockin’ the gymnastic this week too, something that gave me a hard time last week (hint: this week we got to canter in to them, and that was sooooo much better!!).

So why the falls? I don’t even feel particularly insecure!

Oats was jumping fine last night, he gave some boxes a hard look but went over them anyways, the outside line that kind of gives me trouble rode fine- if a bit crooked…as per ususal- our two-stride line that I fell off at last week first rode in 3 (eek) but then rode in two with some big clucking from Nicole. She checked the line after and saw it was set a tad long for Oats, so that may have been it. And yeah, we were rocking and rolling through the gymnastic, even with some big blue barrels set under it to give the horses something interesting to look at!

And then yeah, the easiest single fence on course and I blew it. HA?!

Oh well, this is another valley in the learning process I suppose. One day I’ll get it.

In control or being controlled?

Had my dressage lesson last night (shoulder was still kind of bugging me) and also I did a session with my equine counselor on Monday. A double-whammy, of sorts?

13124535_10100548057147106_5386281078478805108_n

My life right now.

It was a good time to top-load my learning. After a disappointing weekend, I needed to take stock of what was happening to me. I did this in two ways- processing it with my equine counselor on Monday, and then physically riding it out in my dressage lesson on Tuesday (working on balance).

13139207_10100548057062276_263530313361766037_n

Wish I was on the beach today!

Monday- We discussed my fall, how it happened, how I can regain my sense of ‘self’ when I am riding, to bring me down when things get really ‘up’ and ‘high’. She brought up an interesting question- was I really ‘in control’ and calm when I jumped up and got back on and rode Oats through the course, even though I was hurt? Or was I forcing myself to do it?

It’s hard to say. I am going to say I was present and there, but it still freaked me the hell out. I just knew that I HAD to get back on, and go do it! I’ve done those jumps a million times before, so I knew what I had to do. I was still frazzled though, and that led to another stop.

In the past, that would have 100% led to me stopping entirely and giving up. Like, I can’t even fathom dealing with this even a few months ago. No WAY would I have gotten back on, not asked to have the jumps lowered (this went through my mind in a flash, but I left it alone and just jumped it).

So, is that also progress?

Maybe?!

This led to my work on Tuesday with my dressage trainer, Karen Brain. She asked how my weekend went, and I said it was bad. I came off from jumping ahead at a jump and hurt myself. She asked how I fell off, and what did I think caused my jumping ahead?

Well, I said in the outdoor I feel like my balance isn’t great going downhill, that I tend to hunch/curl in a fetal position even though I know it doesn’t help. Oats jumps flatter, I overcompensate, and bang- not successful jumps. How do I fix my insecurity and confidence riding downhill?

Well, we do it through a LOT of very uncomfortable, gross, bouncy and jarring transitions. Up and down. Up and down. Walk- trot. Trot-canter. Canter-walk. Down the hill we go! And wow they kind of felt…AWFUL! But did they work? Yes ma’am.

We worked through the transitions rapid-speed, and by maintaining a leg-yield feel through the whole ring. Yes that’s right- Oats had to be polite or else! Leg-yield city! (well it was modified). I rode them through in ‘the backseat’ position and tried hard to not get jarred out of position or pulled through the transitions. It was a lot harder and uglier than I expected, and this is probably the ‘training’ that I really needed to do, but didn’t want to do because of how nasty it feels!

 

Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k: Race Recap!

Now this is a hard one to recap. To sum up: It sucked. It sucked out loud!

Last year running the course.

I did feel ready for this race too. My training has been pretty good, I’ve been enjoying my training- short runs, long runs, hill runs. My last race in Sooke was decent on what was considered a fairly challenging course, even after I drank and went partying the night before, showed up late to the race and had 5 minutes to pin my bib on and sprint to the start, and having to pee the entire race…

So the stars were aligned, relatively speaking, for a great race this weekend. I was rested, except for my shoulder and back killing me from when I crashed through the jump on Saturday. And then I completely BOMB this race. What the eff?

Last year I was unfairly rewarded with a first and a 2nd overall with a pretty mediocre time. This year, my time was better and I didn’t podium! Ah, Karma…

It was very windy, with a wind warning in our town. We started, and my first KM was ludicrously fast- 4:11/km. Very unsustainable for me. I slowed it down, and when I do this I usually take it to 4:22 or so…Imagine my horror when I felt like I’d taken it down to that, and checked my watch and it was at like 4:38/km WTF? How did I slow down that much? I still felt like I was running my lungs out???

It was surreal. The harder time I was having to run, the worse my times were getting. I was literally dragging myself along, and my legs felt like lead. Lifting them seemed like a huge struggle.

I watched my times bounce around each km between 4:34-5:00km/hr. Yes that’s right, FIVE. WTF? I think I maybe went that slow running up a hill at Sooke but that was after a good pace of 4:14-4:30 the whole race. What was GOING ON?! I wanted to give up so hard.

I was gasping for breath, and my times sank lower and lower. I struggled over the gravel section in a very picturesque section of the race. I wanted to enjoy it more, get that ‘flow’ feeling I love so much when I get in the groove racing, but it NEVER came to me. Not one. Every kilometer felt like a major struggle to breathe, make my legs go.

I was feeling exhausted, beat up, burned out, sore shoulder, out of breath, and breathing so hard my lungs and throat burned. I was working way too hard for so little.

It was a very discouraging race. I got passed by everyone, and only managed to pass 1 runner on my way to the finish. I finished with a decently strong time of 46:34 (for this course, not for me), but I wasn’t happy with the way the race ran. I failed, it hurt, I just never had that good, ‘pure’ race moment I run to find. I can blame a few factors: terrible allergies that my prescription meds stacked with over the counter antihistamines can’t even begin to touch, a very strong headwind, some mild injuries from the fall the day before.

The good news? My pre-race stomach issues were pretty much NOT a problem this time and I was able to eat breakfast (yesss!!) AND even enjoy the super generous spread at the finish!! Here’s to that keeping going in the future, whoop! I normally struggle with eating on race days, both in the morning and after the race.

Thanks again to the volunteers who put on a very safe and fun race, who were very encouraging and hosted a super awesome spread of snacks after. The best one yet! And I liked the ice cream at the end too.:) Yeah!

Oh and last year? I would have loved this time. So funny, how perspective changes everything eh.