Holiday Countdown: T-3 days (struggling!!)

Gah, my cold has definitely made it’s presence known. Work is a struggle, my cold is a struggle, I didn’t feel well enough to go to the gym today (so tired and stuffed up, and coughing up gross stuff, yes I didn’t want to be that person at the gym!!).

Me right now

Me right now

I went to this new sandwich shop ‘Meat and Bread’ for lunch and got a porchetta sandwich and Fentiman’s ‘Curious Cola’…It was good, but the porchetta was super fatty. I really dislike fatty bits of meat, so I was a bit blah on that. Sauce- salsa verde, was good. Overall…Not sure if I would go again, just because I’m a bit ‘blah’ on sandwiches.

Riding lesson last night? Oh man, I was not feeling super optimistic as I was going through the ‘blahs’ with work/cold/tired and true to my predictions…It was a challenging ride. QUITE challenging.

We were trying to get more contact at the trot, and through his right rein, he FOUGHT. He struggled! He was tired! He hopped up and down! He balked!

It was pretty tough. Not gonna lie, it was really mentally exhausting for me. I was constantly worried- is this enough? Too much? Am I headed for the big EFF YOU of an Oats mega-buck??? (seriously, that is what it felt like, oh jesus, it was difficult).

His hops up and down didn’t lead to the mega-buck though. I got clutchy and anxious, and raised my hands up when he did that…Even though his reactions didn’t go to a buck, I started reacting like he MIGHT buck. Every time!

Apparently what we are asking is tough- really hard for Oats. He was having a tough time reaching forward with his right hind, so he reacted by ‘hopping’ into the canter, and pulling his head forward, saying ‘I need more length! My neck can’t move!’ and of course the hops.

So, while it was very difficult and mentally tiring, he never got to the BIG TEMPER TANTRUM point that he has *often* done with me. True he got fussy and jumped up in the air about three times, but we more or less ‘overcame’ those and worked through it…And he didn’t get to do the BIG EXPLOSION at all!

Apparently this is a positive direction, what he is offering isn’t correct, but it’s not his nasty ‘eff you!’ either…

I do recall reaching this point earlier a few weeks ago, and then we kind of plateaued, and then he got nasty, and then he plateaued…So I don’t think this is ‘nasty’ it’s more like this is tough, tricky!

I got off, and felt fried! But, also like I still managed to accomplish something, which definitely does NOT happen every lesson. Also, I didn’t fall off so that is accomplishing something in my mind as well 🙂

Oats got a new rain sheet for his Christmas present, and also he is enjoying candy canes after each ride. No ride tonight- I’m exhausted and am going to see a movie, but we do have a lesson tomorrow.

Holiday Countdown Begins! T-4 days…

A sunny December

A sunny December

Oh man, this week cannot finish fast enough. I am developing a cold and have NOT been sleeping well, with a sore throat, swollen throat, stuffed up nose and crazy ear pressure keeping me up (and this is WITH Tylenol for night. arghhh).

Had a very busy weekend- got invited to six parties, and obviously couldn’t make it to all of them, so I went to a friend’s party, left early, and went to a work party.

Then Sunday, I rode Oats very quickly, did a quick Christmas photoshoot with husband, Oats and our dog, and then we went to my in-laws for a gift exchange (and got the most hilarious gift from my in-law ever…straight to the gift-exchange party with that one!!), a walk and a nice dinner. I was already starting to feel lousy, and was seriously dragging by the end of the night, for another sleepless night. NOooooo….

Merry Christmas from Mr. Oats!

Merry Christmas from Mr. Oats!

Oats was good to ride, my rides were short and kind of lackadaisical- I blame being very busy and getting sick. Apparently he had a very spooky ride with his hacker on Friday, where he took her for a wild ride after getting buzzed too close by a bus. I hate that he had to experience that–those roads scare the bejeezus out of me, no wonder they spooked the horse!

They were ok though, and he was fine to ride Sat/Sun. I think he quite liked a shorter ride on Sunday, hahah.

I also found out that he likes eating candy canes, but you have to crunch them up for him to eat them- otherwise he gets confused and kind of ‘mumbles’ at the whole candy cane with his mouth. What a goof!

Holiday happiness

Holiday happiness

Had a friend’s launch party for his new videogame last night, such a cool thing he was able to do- but I didn’t end up staying that long because I was feeling so lousy.

Lesson today, and definitely feeling tired, lousy and generally sub-optimal. My ear pressure is driving me nuts, still have a sore throat, blahhh.

Oh well…the countdown is ON!

Friday Flashback: Lucy

I have this done up as an oil painting too!

I have this done up as an oil painting too!

Loved this girl, wanted to dedicate some more photos to her!

Bear Hill- over the barrels

Bear Hill- over the barrels

She was such a lovely little horse, very game and very engaging. I also fell off her while riding hungover- she spooked at a pylon, and she did sometimes have a buck (but not compared with what Oats had! hah!)

Oops short spot!

Oops short spot!

Really liked her jump, and she helped take me back into riding after a few long months off for school…Well, more like maybe a year even? Now she is a riding school pony (still) with my former trainer, who has had her for years now. Man, I so wanted to buy her when I left school (she was $4,500) but I could’t afford to! Well, I’m glad she is still around and doing well as a school pony!



“Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s day-to-day living that wears you out.” Anton Chekhov

As I mentioned yesterday, we are in the middle of an on-and-off tropical storm (for Canada, we’re probably the warmest place in the whole country right now at 13-17 degrees!) so it’s definitely wet and windy.

I was kind of dreading my lesson yesterday- I wasn’t sure about Oats behaving himself in dressage, and our canter in these lessons leaves a LOT to be desired. Ie- I have no desire to get bucked off again…

Oats vs dressage

Oats vs dressage

So, I told Karen straight out that it makes me anxious, that I feel like I don’t know how to handle it (the canter, transitions, his naughtiness) when things go sideways. She listened and was like there are many different roads to Rome, per se, so we can work the issues you have at the canter at different gaits (ie- walk/trot) and set those ‘rules’ in place, so when you do canter, you’re not suddenly faced with trying to fix problems, or running into ‘scary’ situations where you’re set up to fail- get bucked off.

One such issue- him balking, getting light in front at the canter, and either launching into a buck, or swapping his leads. This is caused by him being behind my leg, bigtime. And the cure is more leg, and/or crop…Which can also equal a buck. So what to do?

Well a big clue is that he also does this at the trot. So….We worked on getting the ‘rules’ in place at the walk, then at the trot, and then increasing my ‘ask’ from the trot by 5%, and 10% more. It was tough, not gonna lie. We STILL ran into the ‘balking, pissy, wanting to get light’ issue at the trot when I asked for bend and forward. The forward got lost in his ‘balk’ and lightness in front.

But, a bonus was that he did seem quite interested in moving up to canter on his own- ie, the trot work was challenging, so cantering was starting to look like the easier option, rather than the canter BEING the hard option.


I was sweating, got a mega leg cramp (ouch!) and worked pretty darn hard at the trot, harder than I can recall in recent memory. We really put the screws to him, and challenged him at the trot, to set up a better response for when I start asking for more canter work without getting scared off or intimidated by him.

I felt a bit cranky, like why haven’t we progressed beyond this? Why do I still have this dressage-fear with him?

Funny, but I guess we ARE making progress. It’s just incremental, not linear, but it’s there.

Ah well, horses.

“Be gentle in what you do, and firm in how you do it” Buck Brannaman

So, weekend recap. I normally like doing these on Tuesday, because sometimes Mondays are just.too.damn.difficult to wrap my poor brain around, let alone blog coherently on the same day…

Friday night, I rushed after work to set up for the craft fair at my friend’s place. Made it home around 6 p.m., slapped makeup and a dress on, and we cabbed to my husband’s work Xmas party. We had a great time! Drinks, casino games for charity, food, dancing…What’s not to like! I had been feeling tired, generally put-upon and draggy but just felt totally livened up!

Fancy Christmas party!

Fancy Christmas party!

We got home around 1 a.m. and then the next morning up bright and early for the craft sale.

I was tired, no doubt. It was kind of a long day, but I sold all of my products with three exceptions: 1 lip scrub and 2 foot scrubs. Not too shabby!! I’m not sure if I will do it again, I liked making them more than selling them, to be honest.

Craft sale- bath/body

Craft sale- bath/body

No Oats riding on Saturday, as I was at the craft sale for the whole day!

Sunday I went riding and Oats was in rare form…Excited to go down to the ring, squealing a bit and kind of jumping around on the way down. Part of my brain was like hmm…Should I have been longing him before I ride, as he’s had two days off?

Anyways, he settled down fine in the ring, with only a few head-tossing moments when Donato was thundering behind us in the canter (large horses cantering with us is a FIRECRACKER moment for Oats, and he generally starts losing his shit when that happens) so I pulled him back down to trot to prevent any major bucking or leaping sprees.

He was pretty good though, otherwise. We worked on straightness at the canter on the diagonal over a pole, and then trotted a small vertical (funny, we first trotted to it and he slammed on the brakes, he -and I- had gotten distracted by someone walking past the indoor arena waving a blue jacket!) But we pulled it together, and re-approached from the right facing away from the open side of the indoor and did it twice, successfully.

He was so tired after though, I was surprised my little Oats was huffing and puffing. To think of it, I was sweaty and out of breath too! hah.

We are apparently in the middle of a tropical storm right now, so I expect tonight’s lesson might not go…smoothly…But we shall see!

Summer Heart

And another Oats update!

Oats at Foxstone

Oats at Foxstone, such a kind, soft eye

When I last blogged about Oats, I was having the WORST DAY EVER and he was being a gigantic jerk in my dressage lesson. Apparently lateral work is ‘asking too much’ of him, and then asking for the canter, in a circle, with a big thundering mare also? *brain fried*

He did try to dump me really well a few times, gahhh.

Wednesday he was ok, I didn’t really do too much.

Thursday was my jumping lesson, and he was good! I felt him trying to suck back in the corners and get ‘light’ in my contact, but I kind of just ignored it, felt ‘ok’ with the amount of trot I was getting (hint- it was a lot of trot, almost too much) and we worked over a small gymnastic and then on to coursework.

Butt shot!

Butt shot!

The coursework was interesting (as is most of my gymnastic attempts)…Straightness reared it’s ugly head, I asked him to take a long spot to a ‘slightly bigger’ jump that I was suddenly afraid of, etc etc…But it was ok, you know?

Eager Mr. Oats

Eager Mr. Oats

Sure we had the super ugly slide into the gymnastic, barely making it over (he apparently CAN make it over those jumps from a walk…) and a few head-cranked-to-the-left jumps instead of straight, ooops! I was better about the straightness last week.

My suspicious mind thinks I was feeling anxious about the ‘1 slightly bigger jump’ and it set me off my game, hence the busy cranking and flapping with my elbows.


Anxiety is a tricky thing. Anyways Oats was game and willing, a good pony! Hah.

My friend Sarah took some photos from the horse show in Nov. so all photos featured here today are courtesy of her!

Oats looks taller here

Oats looks taller here

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


n. the disappointment of being unable to fly, unable to stretch out your arms and vault into the air, having finally shrugged off the ballast of your own weight and ignited the fuel tank of unfulfilled desires you’ve been storing up since before you were born.

I’m fascinated by this site, as a way to capture the inexpressible way I often feel.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

It is amazing, the way the writer creates these words and definitions to fit things, situations and instances I often find myself.

In them, I’m reminded of a dream I had the other day- two dreams actually, but one was basically that I was being kidnapped, which I chalk up to watching too many X-files episodes on the weekend.

The other dream? Maybe it meant something. I dreamed I was jumping Oats in the indoor arena, over impossibly high fences- like huge, 5ft fences. We were approaching, and I felt nervous, but we were jumping them!

But when I looked back over my shoulder, those huge impossible fences were now somehow smaller? And they had shrunk back to the heights I’m more used to doing.

What an interesting dream. My husband thinks that in my dream, I was facing huge obstacles that blocked my path, that made me anxious. In soaring over them, I was able to overcome the obstacle. And when I looked back, the obstacles were not as big as I had originally thought they were…They were manageable.

Very intriguing.

Constructive Anger

So, my day yesterday started by slipping on a bag of dog crap that someone considerately left in the middle of the sidewalk…

and then having a run in with the van at the crosswalk that I later called about,

and then work (enough said. It was a very very frustrating day)

and then on my way home, got into an altercation with an asshole cyclist,

and then my riding lesson- my dear pony spent a lot of the lesson trying to kill me, and I actually had to get ‘hulk rage’ on his ass.

and on the way home- drove behind someone who was turning left at an advance left on Hillside, who then decided to STOP in the middle of the intersection. I honked and honked, and they waved me, and I was going to go around them…And then they decided to start going again? We almost crashed.

I went home and was like….yeah.(actually was literally ready to throw something at a window).

This is an illustrated example of my day yesterday:

I can only hope today is less than half as bad. That is the best I can hope for.

What you imagine, you create

Weekend update- rode Oats on Saturday and he was SO BLAH! UGH.

Yummy cookies!

Yummy cookies!

Just…not rude or anything scary or dangerous, just ‘blah’ and completely phoning in his ride. I was bummed, because he was literally ‘sparkling’ with energy Tues/Wed, and I felt his energy decline in my lesson on Thurs- though he was still cooperative, and then Saturday? He just felt like, ‘yeah yeah yeah whatever’ and that’s how my ride went. Fell over a few crossrails because he couldn’t be bothered to pick up his feet. Blah.

Maybe Oats does best when he gets to spend 12 hours at a horseshow on the weekend? Because it seemed to *really* liven him up for some of the week! Hm…

Thursday was a good lesson- not without it’s bobbles- me forgetting to ride to one x-rail and us kind of landing in the middle of it, me trying to push him through a short gymnastic at the canter and bailing out halfway through, him having a coughing attack in the middle of our course…But you know what, it actually rode pretty well after our ‘bobbles’ and I felt pretty fine about it.

So, after his VERY unenthusiastic ride on Saturday, I decided that I would *gasp* take him out of the arena on Sunday and attempt some weenie trail riding. I mostly hate trail riding, it scares the bejesus out of me. I have had MANY bad experiences, and the roads around the barn are so so so busy- motorcycles, buses, big trucks, tons of cars, bike races, dogs, kids, etc etc etc. NOT relaxing.

Well, the good news is that we didn’t quite make it to the road, hahah – we rode past the ‘scary barn of terror’ that Oats was petrified of (wind chimes, flag flapping and going nuts, creaking doors, farm equipment?!!!) and made it like halfway…And then he refused to go forward, and started thinking about rearing, so I made an executive decision and hopped off, led him past it- with 1 big spook! And got back on…And had to repeat the ‘get off, lead past, get back on’ procedure a few times.

We made it to the end of the road, and then Oats didn’t want to go home! He tried to charge off and take me to the road, which is NOT where I was planning. So, hopped off, led him back, hopped back on and managed to ride safely back to the arena. The girls were in the outdoor stomping on ice that had frozen in the puddles, so Oats and I joined it and stomped some ice too! Me on his back, and him enjoying himself, haha.

So, we tried. That was that!

It was still incredibly nerve-wracking. UGH.

And what else did I get up to? Some cookie making & decorating, and preparing my items for the craft sale a friend is having this weekend (at her house). Check it out! I’m looking forward to it, I have bath/body items that I like making for fun, so I figured why not see if I can sell any?

Craft sale goodies- nice enough to eat!

Craft sale goodies- nice enough to eat!