Mom, Oats and ILesson update time! * This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on weaknesses- in a way*

I’m going to take today off riding because I am unbelievably sore from going nuts with the electric hedge-trimmer the other day, and Oats got worked Sun-Mon-Tues. He and I both deserve a day off!

(and my blisters, ouch, need some time to themselves)

I had my lesson with Karen yesterday, and my trainer Nicole (who is also Karen’s student) stayed to watch for a bit too. It was funny! I actually got pretty frustrated at an exercise. I felt trapped? Like, I was going to be stuck working on this exercise that we were pretty horrible at?

We worked on walking around a sharp turn to a straight diagonal line, to a halt. Walk to trot, then walk- canter.

First off, none of us were even remotely straight. So Karen set up parallel poles for us to guide us to the halt. It looked quite narrow…

Oats wiggle-waggled all over it, I started getting frustrated, until Karen gave me an ‘out’- if I felt like we were going to run out or go all over, I could halt in front of it, and then go through them. And voila! All of a sudden, we were trotting straight through, and then she said by 2 or so goes, we would be cantering through no prob. And then we were!

I was pretty surprised!

And then she started getting picky about our leads. Right turns mean you get right lead, left turn you get left lead. I was NOT sure we would get the right lead. And then we were getting them! (Not without some fussy/fighting on Oats’ part. He was not interested in bending, and wanted to do more giraffe-style head straight in the air, not bending). (She said I needed to get more proactive in my frustration, and use that energy to get him bending) SOooo…. We trotted large a few times- BIG steps- bending right, Short steps sit trot- bending right, and then go to the exercise.

And wouldn’t you know, each time improved more and more.

We can do it!!

(photo courtesy of my dad, of my mom, Oats and I)

Strengths & Weaknesses: Horse edition

Appy Show July

And this is all about weaknesses:

So, I’m including a photo here that I think neatly displays one of my major faults: Busy, erratic hands that fly up, and I yank on the inside rein.

Now, I actually like the photo (the composition is lovely! Good action shot!) But DAMN, does it ever show what is going wrong.

I have problems in the dressage ring with this behaviour- oh, he’s not turning in a circle at the canter fast enough?Yank upwards! BANG! A huge buck by Oats and off I go. SHIT!

And unfortunately I got too busy with my hands this weekend. It was a really nice weekend, hot, sunny, lazy…And I got cranky and annoyed with Oats. Unreasonably so..

I guess I was hot, cranky and not feeling it. Oats, in turn, was not HAVING it. So, we rode along for awhile getting on each other’s last nerve. Ha.

I was too busy with my hands- and remember last week I wasn’t keeping his attention with my hands? Well this time, it was too much! I can’t win!

He was fussy, spooky and being ridiculous at the end of the ring. I was being annoyed, pully and grabby.

It was definitely not a win, haha.

So, yesterday I helped out at the barn clean-up day, wore a tanktop and athletic shorts to clear blackberries (ask me again what a bright idea that was) using an electric hedge trimmer. It was actually tough work! My back hurts today!

But, after the work, we had a nice potluck and I did a bit more blackberry trimming, and then saddled up Oats and went for a fun ride in the field, wearing my shorts. It was a quick, fun, and productive ride.

Gone was the pissy-grabby-sucking back BAG of a ride we had on Sunday. We cruised in the field, he was a bit spooky, but we got some really nice forward trot/canter work done. YEAH!

Some days, I guess, you need to toss it up and tool around in the field for 20 minutes…

Lesson tonight with Karen Brain!

(Photo courtesy of the talented Anne-Marie Sorvin)

Chocolates Chocolates Chocolates!

I was wondering what I should ask my husband for my birthday, and nothing (except the obvious: spend more time with me at horse shows, a nice pair of riding gloves) was really coming to me…Except now I remember. Chocolate!

I LOVE Purdy’s chocolates. My favourites are the ginger chocolates in milk chocolate and dark, and the peanut-butter salted chocolates. Yummm!

I’m lucky we have Purdy’s locally, but when I visit my hometown in Ottawa, they’ve never heard of them. That’s about to change though- I hear a new one is opening up for the first time. Laura Secord, you have some competition.

A friend of mine loves Purdy’s too, and in particular the salted caramel chocolates. When she got very sick, right around her birthday, we visited her and our friends brought her some salted caramel chocolates. She was recovering from a pretty serious illness and had a spinal tap and a hospital stay. Those salted caramel chocolates made her day!

So, if my husband is reading this- some chocolates would be nice 🙂

July, July!

All Palaces

I’ve always felt a particular resonance to songs that had the title of ‘July’ for some reason. Maybe it’s because it is my birth month, and I love summer?

  • July, July by the Decemberists is one of my first loves
  • And of course more recently, July by Youth Lagoon
  • We can’t forget the band July Talk, and their excellent song: Guns + Ammunition

So many great bands/songs, such a good month. I hope July has been good to everyone. It’s the month of summer, for me. The days are long, they’re hot, and everything has such potential.

Even if July is sometimes disappointing (cold, rainy, I get too hungover to enjoy my own birthday..) I still love it.

And for a little Oats update: Took Wednesday off because I was tired and a bit worn-down from the weekend (yes it took me that long to really recover haha) so hopefully I was ready & fresh for my lesson with Nicole on Thurs.

Rode in the indoor because even though it was sunny…It was also blastingly windy. I couldn’t hear anything, blah.

We worked on leg yields, two-point, and then trot to canter leg-yields. It was interesting and kept me challenged. I had a hard time not jamming or pulling or getting unprepared into the leg-yield. Go figure! haha

We then worked over a small grid- x-rail to a small oxer, and then over a few small fences. They were small enough that even though I WANTED to get worked up over it…I couldn’t! haha.

I didn’t even want to stop, which is basically a first for me. I ALWAYS want to stop. I felt pretty zen, actually. That is also a first.

I’m usually the one who’s like, oh the course went fine, I don’t want to do it again & screw it up, or expose more problems! We’re good! But this time, I was like, let’s try it out. I’m feeling chill (well, chill enough for me.)

Oh, and the artist featured in today’s image is the extremely talented Robert Montgomery. You can find his works at robertmontgomery.org

Throwback Thurs: Horse pack trip in the Chilcotins

Looking at this photo, I see it is date-stamped 2006. Man, that is ages ago!

And how I could NEVER get my husband to do something like this again. Young love…Hahahha.

We signed up for a 3-day pack trip in the Chilcotin mountains of the Interior of B.C. and woah, it was an intense trip.

The drive up is insane- it’s bumpy, dirt road way up the mountains. And you’re not even close to the trailhead…We rented a cabin the first night because it takes so long to get up there, and you leave from the camp pretty early the next morning.

Next morning we saddled up with Warren, the wrangler and rode an hour up to the trail head. The cook comes with us, and so do a bunch of pack horses. Some other families (who were fairly experienced) were on the trip too.

And then the fun begins! The trail head begins with a walk across a VERY steep slide path that slides 40 ft into Gun Creek, a raging river. I was like WTF? The horses were marching sideways! They made it fine, and I later learned that horses HAVE slid into the river- packed up- and gone home! Warren the wrangler seemed surprised they would go home after that, and I was like, well they fell 40 ft into a river?!! 

Anyways, after that harrowing experience, it was on to the real fun stuff- trail exploring and even more danger! My husband saw my horse’s hoof waving off a cliff, and then regained his balance. Frrak!

We made it to the base camp, and they had a nice cook tent, and wall tents. It was very cold- for July- snow had just melted up there. Brrrr….

Food was excellent- we had snacks and sandwiches packed in our saddlebags, and dinners were steaks and chicken, and desserts. Yum! 

The next day we did a day-trip up Open Heart Mountain, so steep that on the way home, we had to get off and walk the horses! Hahah.

We saw lots of deer, and Warren had a rifle with him because grizzlies often prowled the area…At night, the horses were let loose to run up the mountain with bells and wrangled back at night.

It was a tough, exhilarating experience and one I would definitely repeat (though now I am even more of a chicken?!)

And of course, on the way back to Vancouver we didn’t make the 9pm ferry and got stuck in Tsawassen, exhausted and grouchy haha.

C’est la vie!

New Home

Here you can go to find more info on the trips they do.

A Year of Hibernation

So, another Oats update for ya?

  • Thursday- I had my riding lesson with Nicole. I saw her out in the field with her other students, and decided to pick up my big girl panties and have a lesson out there too. And I did! And immediately felt concerned…When did I get to be such a chicken? My heart was in my throat cantering up the hill in the field (Oats immediately spooked and I lost my stirrup) and cantering down the hill? Yikes!! NEver!

We did it though, and it went fine. We even trotted and then cantered over a small ditch! And then worked on a mini-course consisting of gallop up the hill, canter down, canter over the ditch, loop right, canter over a line of cavaletti, turn left, circle over the last cavaletti in the line and then halt in a straight line. It was not without challenges- I turned him too soon over the last circle cavaletti and he stopped and I almost fell off! He just didn’t see it and was like oh no thanks! I cantered -HARDER- and we figured it out by not cutting the circle off.

Fun times!

  • I rode Monday and was still kind of hungover, so it was slightly horrible. We worked pretty hard but very short, as I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. He wanted to be spooky ‘oh this is hard, what’s over there that I can act dramatically at?!’ But I nipped it in the bud by working him more and getting ‘busy’ with my hands. More on that from my lesson yesterday…

Busy with hands? Isn’t that a bad thing? Isn’t quiet like, the best?

Sort of!

Normally it is, but when the horse is like, lah-dee-dah, oh what’s that?!!!! Oh look! My attention is SO elsewhere!>!?! It’s time to GET THEIR ATTENTION ON YOU.

However possible. Busy hands, bend left, bend right, get A REACTION from what you are doing. That came as a surprise to me, because in my lesson with Karen Brain yesterday, she was like, you have to get TOUGHER about his attention span. Busier with your hands, start being more and doing more.

We worked on a really interesting exercise: lazer-like intensity for me, haha.

Walk a line, pick up canter from the walk, and halt at the end of the line. Canter STRAIGHT to the halt. No wibble-wobble, no trot steps, etc.

Mannnnnn it was hard.

We had trouble with the following: Walk- canter. Halt from canter. Halting straight?? Picking up the correct lead on the right.

Oats had some hissy fits- it was difficult- but we manned up and dealt with it. 

We then worked on a variation of this exercise from a circle, then to a halt in a straight line. Oats got RUDE. He tried dragging me out of the circle, throwing his head up at the transition to canter. Rude rude rude! 

Funny enough, I said Oats could be a bully. Karen agreed-she said it’s like in a relationship, when in the winter you go to a ’empowering’ workshop and suddenly come home with a renewed perspective- and suddenly, your partner’s subtle or not-so-subtle behaviours are BAD! They treat you poorly! And you’re like, I’m NOT taking this BS anymore, forget it.

That is like me and Oats. I’m NOT putting up with his crap. And he’s like whaa?? But the lucky thing about rude ponies that are bullies is that he is inherently lazy. So, he’ll fight for a few laps…And ultimately give up. Because he is lazy, he will quickly realize that fighting makes him work that much harder and it’s easier to do what I want.

But I still have to fight/ask for it. And not give up!

(Photo courtesy of the talented Elle)

The Good Times are Killing Me


When I last blogged, I was off to a wedding in Whistler, and then today, of course, is my birthday! Yay!

The wedding was really nice, a lot of kids were there, but no matter. It was a really cool venue- actually chilly- but super unique. Food was good, booze was flowing and we were feeling nooooo pain! Got some super cute photos with my friend the bride, and we danced, and then helped pack up. I even did some shots with the groom, I have a sneaking suspicion that caused some of my wilder behaviour (or maybe it was my total lack of control in general, not pointing fingers!!).

Well, tried to pack up. We were all feeling the effects of a fun day- booze- and started getting ridiculous…I got in a mild food fight with another friend, who was throwing chips I think. I tossed a watermelon chunk at him, missed him, and it hit the wall and slid down…A slimy trail of pink. Oops!

Husband came to my rescue and threw blueberries. Hah. My other friend came down to help pack up and saw us hooligans causing a riot! Whoops!

We cabbed home, safety first people, and hopped into our tub in the room. Yeah, the room was literally some sort of swinger’s paradise, with a huge four-person tub next to the second bed. ???? Well, we filled that sucker up with hot water and hopped in to play cards.

I had to casually go throw up first, and then hopped in. And then threw up afterwards…Yiiiiikes yeah it was going to be one of those *those* nights 😦

Passed out at around 3am and then woke up VERY gingerly at 9am or so. And proceed to throw up. Constantly. 

This was not going to be a fun car ride. I thought drinking water would help- it didn’t. Neither did coconut water (I took one sniff and puked) uh oh.

We made it to the car, and I was ok for a minute until I realized I was ‘ok’ when the car wasn’t moving…Once it started moving, I had to get husband to pull the car over so I could throw up on the side of the road. ARGHHH

I had the bright idea to take a Gravol, which seems like a good thought…Until I took it and puked immediately. Shoot!

So, that’s how the ride went…Drive for 20 minutes, pull over to throw up. Until the highway was shut down due to a major car accident. So, our ride went from driving = throwing up, to crawling/stopped on the highway= throwing up.

It was the LONGEST car ride ever. And the worst, for me, my friends and husband. I still feel sooooo sorry for those horrible retching noises.

Oh, and did I mention that we couldn’t stop on any shoulders for a lot of the traffic shutdowns, so I had to puke in tupperwares? And I emptied one of them out the window, to the HORRIFIED stares of nearby motorists, also crawling by at 5km/hr…Eeek

Things got better on the ferry, even though I had the shakes pretty bad. Poor husband had to empty my puke tupperwares at the ferry terminal.

I slowly felt ‘not worse’ (can’t even use the term better, ugh.) and we made it to the husband’s parents farm to pick up our critters, raid the garden, and drag ourselves back to the city! 

I didn’t eat a single thing yesterday, was pretty dehydrated too. This morning it felt like my taste buds died somehow, because breakfast didn’t taste like anything and I didn’t finish it. Coffee also tasted weird. Lunch was better, ate all of it.

Stomach is still kind of angry at me…

I can’t even look at photos of alcohol/wine without cringing.

That’s it, I am NOT drinking again. And it’s my birthday! boo hoo hahaha.


Words that I wield

Loving the summer sun!

Yesterday I rode Oats and was sooo not feeling it. I have a wedding coming up this weekend (a good friend is getting married in Whistler!) and it’s my birthday, and, and, and…!

But, I sucked it up and headed out. I planned to school a bit in the outdoor and then hit the fields for a bit.

And how did it go? Actually pretty nice! He was a bit of a dumbass about the far end of the outdoor (again!) and spooked, but I was like, never you mind, keep GOING!

And Oats was like oh, ok. Are you sure? A few times, arghh…And I was like, yes actually. GO!

We schooled trot circles to the right- bending (which I am convinced was NOT the correct bend, buttt….) and then canter, and some canter circles to the right and left. His pickup from walk-canter on the left was AWESOME! Only a few very minor trot steps. I am starting to feel what ‘impulsion’ and him lifting off his hind end feels like, instead of diving.

We trotted a mini skinny and then rode it to a bending line to a crossrail, and things felt really good…So I looped around and schooled a x-rail to the former ‘road closed’ fence- even though the ‘road closed’ panel was gone somewhere else. Rode in a very nice, polite five.

I was immediately tempted to ride more jumps, but left it alone. I was out riding alone, and didn’t want to push him tooooo much, given I have a riding lesson tonight and still wanted to get out in the field!

In the field, he was good!  We hoofed it up a mini-hill, and I was surprised at how much work it is to keep him cantering up. And going down hill, I felt wobbly and unbalanced. Where was that tough, tight rider from the ring? It’s weird!

We cooled out in the field nicely. A good end to the day.

At least I have nothing

Lesson again on Tuesday with Karen Brain.

Flatwork again, and this time a very heavy focus on the walk. Which…compared with our trot, and sometimes even our canter (depending on how bad the canter is) is our suckiest gait.

Short-steps in the walk is HARD man!

Oats and I were very focused, until we weren’t. He was kind of being a twit in the outdoor (OMG! spooky!) and he was pulling his attention away from me constantly and spooking at pretty much everything. I could tell it was an evasion, but I’m also not really skilled enough at this point to direct his evasions to something more productive. But, that’s where Karen steps in:

Bring his head back down, so his focus is on ‘you’ not ‘that’ out there.

Keep energy- yes even at a walk- in the short steps.

His left-bend using my left rein and right-bend using my right-rein are false. This one hurt. ARGH

Use more outside rein to get a ‘truer’ bend, instead of a fakey neck bend.

He falls out of canter? BANG get it back.

Transition back from canter to trot? Ask for the backup ‘short steps’ ASAP. Don’t let him fly around at the trot.

Also for trot-walk. Ask for the backup pace from trot to walk- don’t let him ‘fly’ or fall into it.

I felt a bit dissatisfied at the work he was giving me, but at the same time, to his credit…He is improving. There is a LOT of work going on in his minute tiny pony brain. I just want more I guess?

It’s hard to stay patient, haha. I always want more, expect more. I was also feeling very ‘present’ during the ride but I didn’t feel tense or mentally tired. So maybe that is getting easier for me too? Because I have been practicing it?

To be honest, a lot of my mental tension comes up jumping. I’m quite physically fit, but get very ‘tired’ jumping – but it’s my brain that makes me feel more tired! 

He did give me a pretty damn good spook at the canter on the right- BLAM! And I allllmost bit the dust, but luckily, I didn’t. HAH! Take that pony! 

The photo is courtesy of the talented Gabriela Danasova, of Equine Photography!