Flasback Friday: Burnaby edition!

Time for some flashbacks! Enjoy these blasts from the past, from my time at Burnaby Horsemen’s Association.

Ardie 'The old man'

Ardie ‘The old man’

I know I usually do these on Thursdays, but I did get a bit distracted writing about my husband so today will have to do!

Ardie 'Last Round'

Ardie ‘Last Round’

I know I’ve mentioned before that I rode for awhile in Burnaby- Burnaby Lake to be specific. They run the Burnaby Horsemen’s Association out of the park, and it’s a fantastic place. Close to the city, reasonably well-run, nice people (I stayed the heck out of any drama) and good horses. A small riding program is run there by through a small satellite program from another stable.

Before I leased Ardie...Mickey

Before I leased Ardie…Mickey

There is a BIG indoor arena (the only downside is that you can’t keep jumps up in it, so lots of putting up/taking down) and two riding rings and trails. We rode a ton outdoors, even in the winter wet sloppy weather because it was pretty decent! We even did some night trails, which were pretty cool. I saw an owl one time, near the swampy area by the small bridge.

Riding Mickey in the winter

Riding Mickey in the winter

They even hosted some horse shows! I rode in one- the ‘spring fling’ and took both Ardie and Starr. They were super cheap and super fun. I think I did like 10 classes total, I was totally exhausted by the end of the day, haha but did win a hack high point for that!

I really enjoyed my time riding at Burnaby, and wouldn’t hesitate to ride there again if I ended up back on the mainland (NOT planning to, by any stretch~).

Pony jumpers with Starr

Pony jumpers with Starr- I think we even placed in this class??

It was a far sight better than the first lease situation I ended up in, during my stay in Vancouver. A kind of pathetic Standardbred mare (she was nice, but clueless…Her owner, well-meaning but afraid of the horse and kind of ditzy) at a stable pretty far out that other horse owners dubbed ‘Creepy Hollow’ hahah…Concrete flooring for the indoor arena, so it wasn’t the best situation and I got really tired of the kind of clueless horse, even more clueless owner, and showing up to ride only to see someone’s kid riding the horse that *I* had paid to lease? Yeah, NO. Oh and no real photos of that one either, haha.

Ardie at the show

Ardie at the show

I dropped that lease like a hot potato, after I think 2 months.

And promptly moved on to better at Burnaby! At first I leased that cute pinto, Mickey- but his owner moved him, so I moved on to Ardie pretty quickly, I think within a month?

Whee! Pony jumpers with Starr

Whee! Pony jumpers with Starr

Best husband ever?

I know that he gets mentioned on here now and again, but that I have definitely mentioned that my husband is decidedly NOT horsey. He will get on Oats (under extreme duress by me!) once or twice a year.

So.excited....

So.excited….

He goes with me to horse shows when I’m showing alone, for support, photos, video, emotional support, company…Someone to hang onto Oats and to see when Oats has run out of water and is banging his water bucket around “aka” help I’m thirsty! Can’t you see this?!!

But he’s just not horsey, and doesn’t always ‘get’ my extreme drive, passion, all-consuming lifestyle.

And that’s fine (for the most part!!) Except when I’m running late at the barn because my ride went longer, or I forgot what time it was and got chatting with a barn-mate, or…Yeah you can see where this is going- I’m late from the barn all the time! It’s like a time warp.

Definitely trying on his nerves, haha. So I do try to compromise (poorly) and get home earlier if I can, take Wednesdays off if we have something planned, like a show or a concert, I also take Mondays and Fridays off.

But would I change him for someone else? NO way! He tries, and I try.

And here is a great example of his support- I mentioned I was going to do something with my horse show ribbons that are rapidly multiplying in the house, and found three empty frames. My idea was to attach a backing to the frames and pin ribbons to the backing (using foam-core or something).

While I was away at a horse show, he did one of them for me as a surprise!

Check it out!!

Ribbon-worthy

Ribbon-worthy

Danger

Saw the scariest thing last night- it was accidental, as many horse-related incidents are, but my GOD it was incredibly dangerous and SO frightening.

I normally lesson on Tuesdays with another adult rider, we take a semi-private dressage lesson together with Karen Brain. Since I hurt my shoulder at the show (and it was feeling much better, but didn’t want to push it) I came and told my riding partner I wouldn’t be in the lesson, to please tell Karen that I was coming to hack today only.

So, I came down a bit later, and a lesson had just finished up. The adult rider was in the ring with Karen, and Nicole, our other trainer, and another student rider with her leased horse ‘Tim’.

I was at the gate of the indoor when I saw the student longing Tim, and watched for a moment- and then he went PSYCHO! Bucking, galloping, kicking out as high as the 6-ft jump standards?! I have NEVER seen him act like that and I was shocked!

The student lost her grip on the longe line and Tim bolted around the arena, that had the poor adult rider on her horse, Nicole, and Karen in it! It was sooooo scary! He was bucking, kicking out, going at top-speed. I was sure he was going to run into something and break his neck or crash into the poor adult rider.

I also thanked my LUCKY STARS that I had paused outside the arena for a moment. Good lord, I’m not even sure why I did but my intuition was bang-on right there. We were safe.

Tim galloped around like a dangerous lunatic for awhile, finally coming to a frantic stop near the adult rider and her horse, who also thank god, took all of this in stride and behaved perfectly.

Nicole caught Tim, and then the student leasor brought him up to the outdoor longe ring to get the ‘sillies’ out, and he was much calmer, from what she told me. We were both stunned. Just STUNNED by this nutso behaviour. SO dangerous, and scary as hell!

I got on Oats once Tim left the ring and I was freaked out. Nervous and anxious.

Oats was a total gem, willing, quite forward (for him, in the indoor at night= snooze-fest) and nice to ride. I kept it VERY short and just hacked him lightly, as my shoulder still felt a bit sore. Also, frig I was shaken. So shaken.

That was one of the scariest moments I have witnessed lately in horses.

The general consensus was that Tim was excited by the new horse in the barn, ‘Java’ and he basically just lost his mind at her, as she was there for his first-time freakout. ???? Oh and apparently the first time he lost it, he kicked out and got his leasor- the student- on the forearm. I’m going to check and see how her arm is feeling today…

Yikes.

“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”

And here is a big horse show report for you:

Foxstone Stables (with Oats photobomb)

Foxstone Stables (with Oats photobombing)

Winner!

Winner!

I went to a horse show this weekend (Cowichan Winter series at the amazing Foxstone Stables) and entered a division MUCH lower than I usually show at.

Yes, think cross rail olympics here.

Why the big drop down? Well, a lot of reasons. Oats’ behaviour, my jumping fears, my extreme performance anxiety, my ‘normal’ jumping anxiety, you name it, I have it.

(Fears, that is. Not a plethora of skills.)

So, I swallowed my ‘sort-of’ pride and entered the low division. And the funny thing- I STILL had a ton of anxiety the night before the show- was awake all night tossing and turning, feeling worried, the rain was absolutely hammering down all night, we had to get up super early, what if, etc etc. I was kind of a wreck.

It was pouring rain when we packed up the car, drove to the barn and loaded up the horses. Just POURING! I was sooooooo ready to cancel. Wanted to badly.

But, I was already there, and loading Oats on the trailer. I guess it was happening!

I felt kind of distracted on the drive up (it’s a good hour or so away from our barn) and when we got to the stables, still felt worried.

But we warmed up, had a nice interaction with the show office staff (who were WELL aware of Oats, and his little ‘reputation’ eek) and the rain stopped. A good omen! During our warmup outdoors, of which were were absolutely spoiled by the lovely outdoor ring with two banks to play with, Oats felt very forward. This is new to me, and he is so rarely this eager.

Gorgeous outdoor

Gorgeous outdoor

I was a bit intimidated, to be honest! I never feel him go like that! But, he was eager and game, and it made our warm-up pretty smooth- and he kept that ‘forward’ pace well into the ring, for our brief ring warm-up.

Two banks to play on in the outdoor!

Two banks to play on in the outdoor!

Then, the rounds started. I still felt SO nervous, but it was nice to not have to worry about the jumps- they were there, but it wasn’t so desperate- like my past rounds have been. They just ‘happened’ you know? I made all the usual mistakes but it was alllllllright.

Oats does not like to stand still, so in between the rounds, we walked up and down, all over the grounds. He loved that, he was very relaxed and cruised around looking interested.

'We are the champions...'

‘We are the champions…’

Then, for the flat class, I was feeling like maybe doing a flat class was a mistake….He was a bit too eager, and kind of felt like he was running down the other riders. And canter in a group? Oats’ biggest nemesis.

Luckily- since this was a low-level division- they let us canter once at a time! Lucky me! So we did it, and my transitions, and actual riding in the canter was spectacularly shitty- but hey, we stuck it out and DID NOT get excused! Or bucked off!

Success!!!

And when the ribbons were announced, Oats and I were champion! YES!  You know, I just needed some sort of ‘win’…Some sort of ego boost that could prop up my failing courage. And this show was just it. Thankful I was able to attend!

We won (and this is big folks, I never win anything!!)

  • A champion ribbon
  • First place
  • Two second places
  • Third (in the flat)
  • An engraved stirrup cup!
  • $20 gift certificate to Victoria Saddlery
  • Candy canes!
  • A lovely scrapbooking card making set

***************************************************

And we waited around ALL day due to hauling up with a friend, who was showing her hot TB in the hunters (for the first time!) – it sucked for her, because she was there at the asscrack of before-dawn, and it sucked for me and Oats, because we left in the dark, and got home in the dark!!! HAHAH.

They did fabulously actually- I was very impressed at how well Willie calmed down in the indoor arena and did his job. They placed well too- 2nd, 3rd, 4th and I think another 2nd? Very close to reserve champion for their 2’9” division.

Nice work!!

******************

But because Oats is still Oats, he still managed to kind of piss me off- I went to put him in the stall my friend and I shared, he tried to RUN out and smushed me against the stall wall- crunching my bad left shoulder AGAIN. That’s the third time this year I’ve injured my bum left shoulder- one time lifting jumps, one time lifting a TV, and now, horse-related. OUCHHHHHHHH.

AH, well…That’s life I guess!

Tips for visualization: Equestrian style

Now, I’m not the strongest believer in this, but it’s been hammered over and over again in my head that positive visualization is a GOOD THING TO DO.

Summer Oats

Summer Oats

Yeah yeah yeah I get it…So why does it feel so uncomfortable and awkward?

Why do I never think about doing it until someone reminds me?

I think it’s hard to do and awkward feeling because it feels forced, like you’re being asked to ‘imagine’ something without any boundaries of ‘what’ to imagine, or ‘where’ to imagine? We as adults, do not have that skill as easily as children anymore.

But, it is something I need to practice- like my knee exercises, which also feel kind of gross and uncomfortable, but something I do NEED to do.

So, where to begin? I felt like was bad at visualizing because I felt adrift…Like, what? How? If you let your mind go free, it usually starts thinking of all the BAD things that can happen- particularly riding. Falls, chips, long-spots, refusals, run-outs, ugly ugly ugly.

So, I thought long and hard about my recent jumping lessons (which obviously, since I’m going to the crossrail olympics, are excellent…)

Winter Oats (a few years back)

Winter Oats (a few years back)

And voila! The hard part of visualizing positively started getting easier.

Here are my tips:

1. Make time. I make a point of visualizing while I am walking to work, takes me about 3-5 minutes during my 20 minute walk. My mind can ‘go blank’ for a bit during this.

2. Pick your most recent lesson and ‘see’ the course or gymnastic you were riding. See it in your mind, and go over it as if you are picking up the trot, transitioning (cleanly) to canter, and the heading to the first jump. ‘Ride’ each fence in your lesson in that course in your mind. ‘3, 2, 1, jump’ all the way to the final closing circle. You only need to do the 1 course per visualization session, because it’s kind of tiring for your mind.

3. Try to ride this course – from your most recent lesson- until your next lesson. Then you can ‘ride’ that course in your mind until the next lesson, and so on. I also try to think things like sitting up, elbows in, shoulders open while I ‘ride’ these in my mind.

4. Being repetitive really helps. By going over and over in my ‘minds-eye’ my most recent lesson, I can ‘see’ distances in my mind easier, and I have less ‘crash and burn’ visualization moments. It’s funny, but I actually found it quite difficult to even see my distances in my mind. When I thought about them I always got them wrong.

5. I even sort of make the motions of canter, jump, release while I’m walking and thinking. For me, it’s easier to be in motion while I’m thinking about the ride/visualizing, as it makes it a bit more active for me and feels more real and less forced/awkward.

Not that I’m an expert- I’ve only really started being more focused about making the effort for positive visualization when I realized I had a lot of ‘blank mind’ time while I was walking to work, so I might as well try to focus my ‘minds-eye’ a bit harder for a least 5 minutes of that walk!

And my jumping lesson (x-rails, yess) last night went very smoothly. So…It’s easy to get really discouraged and forget about visualization when you have a lousy lesson, or can’t stop running a loop of disasters in your mind, but ride those lesson that WORK in your mind, over and over.

Get fresh material without stressing your brain- use your lessons! They’re easy to think about (I think obsessively about them, so might as well use them as material for visualizing).

Throwback Thursday, Ontario edition: C’est la Vie

Growing up, I never owned my own pony or horse, but I was lucky enough to lease quite a few and experience a ton of different horses.

I rode at so many stables, now in so many provinces and cities, it’s almost hard to remember them all now!

Started at a now-defunct stable- can’t for the life of me remember what it was called now, but I rode a tiny pony called ‘Pags’ and my sister rode a little white pony called ‘Spirit’.

We liked that barn, but moved on to another- Greenbelt, which wasn’t the greatest. From Greenbelt, we moved to the Nepean National Equestrian Park, and spent quite a few years there. I learned so much from them, and only moved on when I wanted to horse show- something they didn’t do there, despite having fantastic grounds that they rented out to large horse show managers.

I then moved on to Wynbrook, which was a decent experience and a very high-quality program, but a bit too heavy on the $$$ side for our liking. During the move around from these stables, I leased horses on and off for years at smaller private barns.

When we moved on from Wynbrook, we leased a lovely black Appendix mare named ‘Hope’ and her show name was C’est la Vie. She was such a darling, we rode together in a show and did super well there. Great jumper, very forgiving. I only remember her stopping at fences when they got to around 2’9 or 3′.

Hope showing at  Huntleigh

Hope showing at Huntleigh

She passed away from colic about 7 years ago, maybe more. She had bouts of it on and off over the years, and was sensitive.

Miss that girl, she was lovely!

Hope’s owner also owned an adorable small pony named ‘Bubblegum’ at one point, so my sister and I both rode Bubbles too! We normally rode her bareback- and sometimes w/o a bridle either, eek- because there was only the 1 saddle to fit Hope. We made do, and she was SO FUN to ride/jump bareback.

Bubblegum in the Ottawa Valley

Bubblegum in the Ottawa Valley- I wasn’t kidding about the bareback/bridle-less

Loved mucking around, nothing in particular to train for haha and we still managed to do really well. Funny that the more training I do, the more struggles I seem to have. How does that happen??

A ‘hare-y’ tale

Love this story- about a man and his Irish hare. A hare is not like a rabbit!

Lovely and heartfelt, thanks to my sister for sharing it with me:

A hare about the house, by Cecil S. Webb

Adorable!

Here is my rabbit a few years ago, exploring in the snow in Whitehorse, YT.

Buster exploring in the snow

Buster exploring in the snow

I have long had an affinity for rabbits…Grew up with a pretty wild dwarf rabbit named Nitchka, who had a guinea pig friend named Earl. They were pretty hilarious those two!

Buster digs deep

Buster digs deep

We had several other rabbits, but none lived as long as Nitchka, who was 10 years old when we put him to sleep- as he was declining rapidly, and blind.

Coming up for air

Coming up for air

Now I have a surly little dwarf named Buster Bunny, who is not a very friendly rabbit and kind of a jerk to strangers and my husband- but he likes me, and will eat Goldfish crackers out of my hand when I’m holding him!

He likes to hop around the house, he sometimes gets chased around by Gidget, our little dog, but he likes to sniff Gidget and will sometimes see if she wants to play too! We do have to watch them closely, as Buster is older than Gidget and gets tired easily. He needs his downtime more than she does.

Buster is like my hare about the house, though he would chew the house to splinters if he was allowed to live free-range in it!