Mahalo!

Sooo the countdown is on- T-minus one day until I fly to Hawaii tomorrow!!! I CAN’T WAIT!

Kauai

Kauai

I will be putting this blog on another week’s hiatus, Oats gets a week of holidays to himself and so do I. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so glad we booked this. Yes, the Canadian dollar is sinking faster than the Titanic, but you know what? Life is too short, and I would rather have time than money right now anyways. Time to enjoy myself, have some adventures, try awesome island fruit, drink pineapple wine (maybe) and rum!

Not only am I flying to Hawaii for a holiday, but the day I fly back on a red-eye, I hop on the bus to audit the William Fox- Pitt clinic. Can you believe it? I’m the luckiest girl around these days (now if all my work stuff would suddenly all clear up, then I could relax a little more..). I spend the weekend I get back auditing the clinic with friends, how fun!?!

And now for a little Oats recap- I rode him Wednesday as a short hack, and it was better than last week’s hack (well, because my foot cooperated and didn’t hideously cramp up) and we cruised over a few small x-rails and verticals. I was struggling a bit with my eye being pretty off, and funny enough Oats is really going for those ‘out of stride’ distances, where I am used to the ‘hold hold hold ok GO!’ method he normally goes for, so you guessed it…Got left behind a bunch!

And that theme sort of continued on Thursday’s lesson, but we got a MUCH better ‘showjump’ canter and I rode his out of stride jumps smoothly (for the most part, though I still actually got left behind two or three times??).

We even did this crazy jump-a skinny- on an angle!  I was like WTF is this? It is something eventers do I gather, because I sure have never jumped anything like it. Surprisingly it rode really well every time we approached it.

The best jump on course I believe! Funny last week I was saying it had been a long time since we’d done a skinny- and we did one- and then this week, it’s not only a skinny but we jump it on an angle? I was SO sure we were going to crash into the standards, or I’d take one out with my foot! Oats was so honest about it, and was like ‘jump on an angle? Sure, whatever’ and that’s why I love that little bratty pony so much!

So, all in all good and we’re definitely learning a lot. Love riding, and I am DEFINITELY looking forward to my holiday in a tropical climate.

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As Alix Spiegel puts it on Invisibilia, “If you have a lot of fear, fewer bad things are likely to happen, but it’s very probable that your life is more painful to you. So is it better to be fearful or fearless? Which side of the continuum do you choose?”

Funny enough, this article on women’s safety (at night, on the streets, walking alone) also kind of echoes how I feel riding- sometimes, with a lot of fear.

I picture bad things happening, have a lot of anxiety during my ride, and sometimes let it rule what I do with my horse. I also let it manage me physically- like I don’t trust Oats to do the right thing, and I end up doing the WRONG thing because of that lack of trust and existing history/fear.

An example of this from my lesson last night- dressage is historically a tough subject for us. For Oats, it’s like doing math- hated, hard, challenging- both physically and emotionally! For me, it’s difficult because of how he has reacted in the past (poorly). So what do I fall back on when I feel fearful, anxious, worried? I let him fall in off the track when we canter, putting him at a big disadvantage. I raise my hands too high, bringing his head up and bringing up his ‘hoppy’ canter that always feels like a precursor to a buck, even if it’s not right now!

In short- I set us both up for failure because I can’t *quite* let go.

When I forced myself to stay ‘with’ him, brought my hands down lower and kept him on the track, our canter went soooooo much nicer. Of course it also fell apart quickly, but hey, that’s what learning is for, right?

I’m learning that my fear shouldn’t always dictate what I do, but overcoming it can be very, very difficult because it is not just a physical response but an emotional one.

Also- our trot work is DEFINITELY improving. YEAH! And our lateral work- while not amazing this week, is coming along much better and I can still sense that Oats is trying to accomplish it, rather than just being rude or a jerk about it. I can get behind that progress, for sure. For a few months, I felt like I was constantly behind, like making no progress and nothing good was coming out of anything!

Now- I have a bit of a better perspective. It’s a continuum…

Race goal of a sub-50 minute 10k- achieved!!

finally did it!! Ran my first 10k race under 50 minutes, which has been my goal time for a few years now. I normally only race one race a year- the Times Colonist 10k, but this year decided to sign up for a race series to better measure my progress running (incremental and slowww) and I was getting a bit burned out by the insane hustle-and-bustle of the TC 10k, which has thousands of runners.

Cobble Hill 10k

Cobble Hill 10k

The atmosphere is usually a big plus for me but after I got stuck at the starting gates with the walkers, for half an hour waiting to cross the start line…Yeah no thanks!!

So this race, the Cobble Hill 10k, was over a fairly fast track through the woods, gentle rolling hills and a somewhat foot-punishing gravel road for about 2km.

I was worried about my knee- one of the reasons (excuses) I have for not getting to my goal sooner was my wonky knee that could either cooperate or completely blow out and I couldn’t walk anymore (want to know how a 10k feels when you’re limping? I know! It’s LONG!).

So yeah, I was very keen to get a good time this go-around, and the crowds were far more manageable. I was running with my husband and my friend, and husband took off quickly so it was just friend and I, to pace each other.

First four-five kms felt a bit slow, I do find it tough to get in the rhythm without forgetting myself and accidentally damaging my knee. I didn’t quite have that *free* feeling that I had when I ran the 8k race.

We picked it up early, a bit too early actually. Between 6–7 we pushed the rate, and then I held it through 7km. At eight, I thought I should take it down a bit as I noticed I was gasping  loudly for breath instead of breathing like a normal person, and kind of felt like I was going to have a heart attack…So I tried to take it down to something reasonable to get my breathing going well again.

For 9, I held back a bit longer than I should have. I was a bit suspicious about ‘where’ exactly the finish line was and have been burned unpleasantly before when I started my sprint and realized I wasn’t anywhere close to it, and was flaming my lungs out! So, I held out on the sprint until it was pretty much too late, haha. Ohh well!

I made it anyways! Goal time of under 50 minute 10k was achieved, with a pretty respectable 49:29, not too shabby for me. The best part was the awesome food served at the finish. Chili, soup, snacks, anything you wanted, they had! YEAH!

I was extra-careful for the rest of the day to work to heal my legs up, and I’m actually not feeling too bad today. Phew!

Keeping in a comfort zone?

As I wrapped up my jumping lesson with Oats yesterday, I remarked about how much more relaxed I was feeling about jumping. I still get nervous and anticipatory, but it’s a lot more fun for me now, I can focus without feeling extremely fearful, and I’m able to get more done- ie. Oats straighter to the jump, better simple lead changes, bending (still kind of working on this one..).

Firefighters working on the blaze at the Equitable Life Insurance Building in below-freezing weather, January 9, 1912.

Firefighters working on the blaze at the Equitable Life Insurance Building in below-freezing weather, January 9, 1912. Loved this pic.

I think it’s because, funny enough, I’ve been staying very firmly at a height, jump-wise, that is laughably small. Yeah, like I am still the x-rail queen. But you know what? That heart-pounding, gasping and freezing and ‘out of body’ feeling is slowly going away. I feel more confident, my distances are ALL working out, and I feel like every Thursday, I AM doing a jump lesson, instead of wanting to wimp out instead.

It’s a good feeling. It does make me feel strange that even after all this time, I am jumping Oats over fences small enough to walk over, but you know what? Once I took the pressure of forcing myself to jump higher off, I enjoyed myself WAY MORE.

Jumping, any height, is still challenging. But it’s a challenge that I am happy to do, not one that makes me sweaty with fear.

My next goal is to do a spring show at two feet and not lose my mind completely. I think I can do it!

Oh and if I’m saying jumping is all rainbows and butterflies, I still hate doing gymnastics. UGH hate them. So, we are running through a gymnastic line in every lesson. *love it*….ha.

AND I have been revisiting my mental imagery while I walk to work. I have had all really solid, good jumping lessons this winter season. I want to continue this positive flow, and if I can really focus on it while I let my mind otherwise wander, it’s a good thing!

Mr. Oats – Lateral superstar?

I was NOT having a good day yesterday. Picture all the grumpy cat meme’s you can think of, add them together and you get me.

Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat

Bad day at work, I had a dream that my dad contacted us again and was happy, until I realized it was a dream…And not happening…

So yeah, bad mood, bad day, bad everything.

I was grouchy and annoyed, didn’t want to go to my dressage lesson, didn’t want to work hard, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t.

But, I got home, put my breeches on, took the dog out, grouched at my husband, and left, sulkily, for the barn. And you know what? Every time I don’t want to do anything (which let’s face it, right now seems to happen a lot), getting up and MAKING MYSELF do it makes alllllll the difference.

I got Oaty-pony and we warmed up for our lesson. Once we warmed up, Karen had us work on some ‘graduated’ lateral movements, like learning the Travers starting from our head facing the wall and moving his butt off the track.

Dressage days

Dressage days

The clouds opened up, the sun shone, rainbows appeared, and we had our BEST lateral work to date! I was so pleased with little Oaty. Usually our lateral attempts are accompanied by hissy fits, rudeness, ‘I don’t wannas’, etc.

Of course, when we tried to duplicate this at the trot, things pretty much fell apart, but hey…Even his attitude was much improved. He did his awkward ‘bump up’ balky moves, but I’m learning that they aren’t the mega-launches that I keep expecting. He is trying and I love it!

Of course our work throughout the whole lesson wasn’t amazing, but I can feel that he is genuinely giving me a solid attempt, he is trusting me and I am learning to trust him. He’s trying his best, whereas before he was kind of trying, finding it hard, and shutting down. Karen says this is the breakthrough she was saying was coming ages ago- even though I didn’t quite believe her then haha.

So, my annoying and grouchy day ended with some really positive work from Oats. Go good pony!

Surf sisters!

This weekend we went surfing in Tofino (yes in January, ha) on kind of a whim.

Surf sisters!

Surf sisters!

I’d been looking to kind of ‘escape’ from the hassle of everyday life, and what better escape than surfing? It’s literally the activity that makes you focus SO HARD on what you’re doing- so you can’t think/obsess about anything else.

I had a great time, my friends is very good at surfing so she gives me pointers when we go. I asked for a beginner-friendly soft-top this time, because last time I kept falling over the front of the nose of my board! I figured I could get up better if I had the bigger board, and I was right!

Boards up

I achieved my goal of standing up, and even rode it through a few times- very briefly- before either falling or stepping off. Success!

I think they keys to that success were waiting more- instead of jumping up right away, I felt like I could ‘sit chilly’ and then get up without flinging myself up and falling over the front of the board. Also, the bigger board was helpful too.

We had a barbecue on the beach, and then I started getting cold so I took off my wetsuit a bit earlier and changed into sweatpants so I could do a bit more beach exploring. The peeling off of the wetsuit was like a 30-minute ordeal…Jesus.

I was sweating and swearing and fighting trying to pull the damn thing off! haha.

I had a great weekend, and a super busy one. It felt really good to ‘leave my life’ for a little while and get out of my normal zone. I think it’s important you make time for that in the winter, because it’s just too easy to get ‘stuck’ bored and depressed.

I did even ride Oats on Sunday when I got back (he was good and cute to see again!) and I even went on a quick run with my husband, and we went to see Interstellar at the IMAX theatre. Very neat. Still confused…

I guess that’s why I have a super fun filled winter season ahead of me- the run series, a vacation in Hawaii, auditing a clinic with Jim Wofford, Olympic eventing coach/rider, and other fun things coming up. Winter has never been busier and more fun!

I also think it’s important that I do these things to kind of distract myself from the real-life drama right now. Otherwise, it’s very easy to get dragged down and sad all the time.

Here’s to going and DOING IT!!

People who run are running from something

Sometimes.

Oaty pony

This week has been challenging, but in a different way. Last week felt like full-on emotional crisis mode, with a lot of downs and sadness. I felt more like myself when I was doing things ‘for me’ like my riding lessons, hanging out with Oats, my husband (even though I got mad at him for no real reason sometimes) and running.

This week, my riding has been pretty good (not amazing, but when is life always amazing?) My lessons have been tough but fair, I am learning and dealing. My new boots are killing my feet, so I am taking those to cobbler today to make them less hellish to deal with.

Now I wish I could take my life to a cobbler, patch up the hole that I feel right now. It’s not the urgent-sadness of last week, it’s more of a resigned tear in myself, one that family usually fills when you’re not really thinking of them. It’s an absence?

But, I’m keeping on, and trying not to let it get to me. It’s weird- should I feel more sad? More mopey? Or better at just going ahead and living? I feel better when I do things for me, and get annoyed when it feels like people are just going on and on, ‘rehashing’ problems. Newsflash- while extremely tempting, reviewing the same problem doesn’t help you.

Anyways, Oats was good for my jump lesson yesterday, and I felt fairly relaxed. Something about keeping jumps low and non-confrontational is really doing wonders for my confidence! He was a bit slow and balky though, and that made my straightness really suffer. Wonder of wonders, when he was forward and better off my leg, we nailed every distance to every fence. HA!

So this weekend, I am running away a bit from my life, and going surfing in Tofino. A bit of a girls’ surf trip weekend, again.

I’m quite looking forward to it, even as a bit of an escape from reality. Work has been extra tough this week too, with two events next week back-to-back. Can’t I catch a bit of a break sometimes? Oh well!

Tofino and back again

Tofino and back again