Foxstone hunter show: Winter series finale recap!

This Sunday we attended the final show in the Foxstone hunter winter series. They offer three horse shows over the winter as a way to tune up a bit and get some exposure. The stable is fabulous, and the people are really friendly and fun to talk to. I highly recommend attending the series- and it doesn’t hurt that the prizes they offer are SO GOOD!

I have now attended two of their shows. Last time I went to this show, I was primarily focused on gaining back confidence. I suffer from performance anxiety, and in general, extreme tension when I’m showing and jumping. I had kind of a tough summer, (lots of falls, just silly ones but they really build up) and I wanted to go out, and just…Have fun. So, I rode in the crossrails division and was the division champion! I like to joke that I am now heading to the crossrails Olympics.

So. Serious.

So. Serious.

This show, I decided I could do the 2′ feet hunter division. And when we rode it, it really wasn’t about the jumps- it was about the canter in between the jumps! Oats was a tad ‘wired for sound’ so he kind of felt edgy, like maybe he was going to pull some SERIOUS shenanigans. That led to the first jump on-course being, well, interesting for a lack of better terms. He kind of lunged forward, like he was going to do his patented ‘leap-buck-buck’ until I go flying off!

[I’m going to add here that my husband joined me and was able to take these pics! Thanks to him 🙂 even though I like to joke that he is bad luck, because I always seem to fall off when he’s at a horse show!!]

I managed to circle him, approach the first fence, and the rest of the course rode beautifully. And then the same with the second, and third, courses. So, I was like, ARGH what is with this horse? The bucking, snorty head-tossing? And then we’re like..so ON when we get rolling?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

But, I’m proud about one thing- I did NOT let it derail me. We rode the rest of the courses (and, gulp, managed to survive the flat class) without zoning out, disassociating and falling off! AND a personal Oats victory- managed to get into the ring without him balking at the in-gate and we didn’t even have to take laps outside, he managed just fine in the little area at the in-gate.

In the past, this would have completely destroyed my entire course, and division. I didn’t let it get to that point this time. And, I love Foxstone- I won the draw for my entries for the day, so my division was free! I paid for the office fees and the stall rental but other than that, made out like a bandit. What a nice idea eh?

And to top it off, we are going to the small year-end awards dinner this Wednesday AND my friend, who shows at a much higher height than me (think a foot higher!) is also getting an award. What a nice way to cap off the winter series, don’t you think?!

Great horse show prizes!

Great horse show prizes!

YAY!

Sleeping lessons: Oats update

So, Wednesday and Thursday I rode Oats. Because we didn’t do our dressage lesson on Tuesday, I decided that Wed. would have more of a dressage focus, and we’d save the jumping for Thursday.

Blast from the past- 2011

Blast from the past- 2011

Because we did a TON of BIG STRONG canter on Tuesday, I focused on getting a bigger trot on Wednesday, with more connection, more ‘go’. We were able to ride with a friend, which was really nice- she’s lovely to ride with, super respectful of ring space and very arena-savvy. Oats was interested, but still responsive. I noticed he’s kind of clanking on his bit when I ask for more contact, so I think it might be time to get his teeth done!

Flashback to 2011

Flashback to 2011

Thursday, we did our jumping lesson. I’ve been having kind of a tough week, emotion-wise. Family problems are bubbling up, and it has been DIFFICULT. Work was also kind of insane this week, and I kind of felt like I was on the verge of a meltdown yesterday. I just felt sad, helpless, hopeless, depressed and anxious. Yeah, a perfect combination, eh?

Actually, Oats was a star for my lesson! Despite me feeling out of control emotionally and kind of a wreck the whole week, he has been solid as a rock. Good pony.

We worked over a two-stride x-rail to a small oxer, and then built it up to a small course. I only did the course once, after we schooled the two-stride a bunch of times (I was feeling overwrought but VERY pleased with his performance and decided to end it at one, before I fell apart.) The two-stride rode fairly ugly for a few times, then we took a break, and ACED it! It was sooo perfect.

We then worked over the course- the two-stride line, to a big x-rail on the diagonal, to a 5-stride line, rollback to the first jump in the line, back to the big x-rail, and then over a small oxer on the diagonal. Eight jumps total, and I was really happy with how cooperative Oats was. Go us!

It helped shake me out of my intense funk for the week, although I do have a bad habit of using riding, and running, to ‘escape’ from the overwhelming sadness I feel. If I’m busy, I don’t have to ‘feel’ quite as much.

Spring has sprung at the farm~

So, not only did I run this weekend up Island, but I had a great opportunity to stay with my in-laws, who have a lovely farm about 45 minutes up Island from us.

They have so many animals, and baby animals right now! Lambs, bunnies, chicks- love it~

Lambs!

Lambs!

So, I rode Oats on Saturday and my husband was able to get some pics and a video  (that showed Oats VERY behind my leg, arghhh) but we did get a very smooth, lovely left-lead two-point canter, and then we packed up the dog and headed to the farm!

Saturday riding

Saturday riding

(Oats then had Sunday and Monday off while I recovered from the run, and I rode him last night- cancelled my dressage lesson because I had an inkling it would be very unpleasant on my legs…Smart move, as I was still a bit sore).

And we spent a really nice time at the farm. We had lunch, hot-tubbed, cruised around checking out the lambs, and even picked Bracken fern fiddleheads to cook at dinner. Apparently they are poisonous if you don’t cook them correctly, with oxalates much like rhubarb leaves, so we had to blanch them, them steam them. They taste a lot like asparagus mixed with aniseed. Interesting, but not sure if I will seek them out again.

Bracken fern fiddleheads

Bracken fern fiddleheads

We had a really nice time, and the little lamby-kins are so cute! His parents are very generous, treating us to dinner whenever we make the trek up, and dog-sitting for us on a pretty regular basis. Gidget can be a little jerk at the farm though, barking, chasing sheep, getting dirty, and being a VERY restless sleeper (much to our chagrin the night before the run?!! arghh).

Bunnies

Bunnies

Anyways, after a busy weekend it’s good to get on track again. So, I’m riding again tonight, and then we have our jumping lesson on Thursday.

Springtime

Springtime

Race day recap: My first half-marathon with the Comox Valley RV half marathon!

Yes I was certainly leery about this one. A half-marathon? Even with the wimpy ‘half’ in front of it, it seemed quite intimidating. Because I am an excuse machine, I had a zillion excuses ready for why I shouldn’t, and only 1 reason for why I should.

Because I can.

A successful finish!

A successful finish!

Soooo we did it! Sunday my husband and I trekked all the way to Courtenay for the race. We had already paid for it by signing up for the entire race series, so we figured- why not?

I was anxious. I let the race take up a TON of mental space and energy all week. My knees and everything felt horrible last week- creaky, achy, like I was having terrible growing pains. Clearly, this was a recipe for success (or failure, I figured!).

And how did the race go? Really well! We raced to the best of our ability, and I was happy with my performance. We even had a very strong finish, which made me super happy and kind of feel like puking at the end.

I smiled a lot for the volunteers and photographers (you guys are the best, you’re so dedicated!!) and I had a lot of people to look at and the scenery was all rural farms, so that was nice. The weather, thank GOD, held out mostly right until the end when another storm front blew in, and it started raining and getting windy, pretty much our last km/km and a half.

Run run run!

Run run run! Photo courtesy of Amber Piercy

I felt for a few of the runners- I just wasn’t sure what their motivation was because this was a bit out of their range- the girl who was walk/running who could do a pretty good 10k but was clearly suffering at the halfway point, gasping so loudly during her run parts that I was worried! And then there was the girl in booty shorts, with blood on her thighs from the chafing. EEEEK! What made that seem like a good idea man? This is 21.1km…

There was music man, the guy with music blasting off his arm pretty loudly, and then there was beeping lady, who had some sort of tracker (heart monitor?) going BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP like…every second. I was glad when we passed her! How she didn’t find that annoying is beyond me…I also saw one woman pulled off to the side, furiously stabbing at her iPod being like, ‘I hate this song!’ ‘I hate this one too!’??????? Seriously? Don’t let a song derail your run. At some point, it has to be internal, all you. Pulled over to mess with your tunes is a BAD IDEA.

Oh yeah really going for it!

Oh yeah really going for it! Photo courtesy of Amber Piercy.

We even saw a girl riding a grey pony down the street, and they were both watching the runners. The pony was older, and so cute. Totally unfazed by music man and the rest of us gasping and heaving our way down the street. Haha.

I learned that I am terrible at grabbing race drinks. Terrible. I splashed pink gatorade all over my face at the first attempt and was coughing and choking, and in my next attempt- even at a walk, still managed to splash water on my face and cough! Boo me! I also learned that roads are…slanted…and if I wanted any hope of saving my knees/legs, I had to really make an effort to run in the middle or on the soft shoulder. Hard lesson to learn but it made a huge difference in my knees.

We blasted (well, it felt like it but it was probably really slow) through the 100m sprint to the finish and we WERE DONE! Woo!! We finished it up with a great chili and some awesome snacks. Yum yum. The food, volunteers and everyone were so great, and really cheerful. Thanks to those guys, we had a lovely run, good food and a fabulous atmosphere!

And my time? Spectacularly mediocre: 2:05 haha. BUT my sprint was good- 5th in my age group! Woo hoo for a strong finish.

We then went and got a beer at Gladstone, which is a pretty cool little brewery and bonus points for literally being across the street from the race. Go us!

The only thing a shark respects is a bigger shark: Thursday jump update!

Actually, my Thursday jumping was very mellow. I was wanting to kind of keep things relaxed (my legs are STILL killing me) and wanted to focus on one thing- slowing down my brain.

I have problems with getting too excited jumping, and blasting around the course, rushing, motorcycling with my body, not being straight. It’s due to anxiety, of course.

Blast from the past- Oats at our old barn.

Blast from the past- Oats at our old barn.

So, we worked over small, small fences, x-rails. I still, of course, tried to get excited and start rushing, motorcycling, etc. but in the end? I was able to slow it down and get straighter and calmer through the corners. It was good, and my legs started not cooperating by the end by sliding backwards, like they had a mind of their own…ARGH. Anyways, it was funny but I kind of missed that insane adrenaline rush that comes with *gasp* jumping fences higher than…2ft. HAHA.

Old barn with Oats.

Old barn with Oats.

It felt like, oh well, that was ok. Not, PHEW! We survived!!!!

Hm. Maybe I’m more into the buzz than I even realize?

Oh well! Good Oats, and good me, haha. And get with the program, legs. Jeesh.

One thing I’d like to pick out is when Oats and I had problems (and boy, did we have our fair share) how easy it is to pick out a ‘reason’ he is being a shit-head. And it’s normal, but I want to reiterate that sometimes it IS THE HORSE and his attitude- not the tack (valid sometimes), seasons (valid sometimes), chiro (valid sometimes) or ulcers (valid sometimes).

Yeah, check those out – but always keep in the back of your mind that it very well could be the HORSE and you have to work with that, not make excuses (like I listed above- reasons can be come excuses very easily. Trust me. I am an expert excuse machine).

I’m lucky that I have trainers that have helped me handle Oats, even when he is being a massive jerk. So much so that his status quo is ‘not jerk’ most of the time. Except maybe in flat classes at the Appy shows. Jesus, those are never going to be his forte.

But it bums me out when I see people fighting the same fights with their horses (online, in person, wherever) when it’s pretty clear they are finding reasons or making excuses, and something’s gotta give.

I’m happy with Oats most days, but he is an animal and not perfect. Hell, neither am I! So basically it works out well.

A wordless Thursday: Mr. Oats with bubbles!

I didn’t go riding yesterday (wanted to give my poor knees a fighting chance this week) so I took the night off and did my nails most spectacularly.

Curious Oats- photo courtesy of Sarah C.

Mr. Oats, as it looks like, had some fun with bubbles!

Blowing bubbles

Hilariously, my dog is terrified of bubbles, but they are no problem with Mr. Oats. He’s one cool customer. As a friend put it, it looks like Oats thinks he is camouflaged, as the bubbles  match his rain coat. Haha.

Best (dressage) canter yet for Mr. Oats!

Let’s say that I normally don’t go into my dressage lessons expecting brilliance…I go in expecting a few tantrums, some hissy-fits and then maybe cooperation. Let’s face it- I spent most of the winter complaining that we weren’t making any progress!

Go dressage Oats

Go dressage Oats

BUT

We are. Had another private lessons and begged for leniency- my knees still feel like I am close to 100 years old and man they are aching! We continued on what we worked on last week, the canter circle, keeping a strong outside contact as a sort of ‘safety blanket’ to give my hands something to do, and wouldn’t you know…It went even better this week~

Not without some damage to my legs, that were aching sooooooo much afterwards!

Oats is still ‘hopping’ or popping, threatening to canter when I am actually asking for a bigger trot, but his evasions are getting much better. I got kind of annoyed and was like, oh well you want to canter? That’s fine, we can canter. But now you have to STAY in the canter! HAHA! And you have to canter the way I want you to canter~

He was rethinking that decisions shortly, but cooperated!

And I was feeling braver about kicking him on, to go forward. We’re not quite up to using the crop to get him moving at the canter (scary!) but small steps, small steps. I was really pleased with how he was moving, good pony.

And I am taking today off, hoping to heal my legs up this week in a hurry.

Oh and one bad thing for Mr. Oats- apparently he knocked down boards in his pen that were kind of falling apart already, snuck under the fence, and went gallivanting through a neighbours backyard?!~~ BAD pony!!!!!