Animals- they’ll be the death of me!~

So this week Mr. Oats is off due to his snotty nose and cough, until he finishes his round of antibiotics – ask me how fun it is to crush up 100 pills…

Mr. Oats as envisioned by a six-year-old.

Mr. Oats as envisioned by a six-year-old.

Last week my dwarf bunny Buster scared the life out of me by accidentally getting his teeth stuck over the top bars of his cage. JESUS! How does that even happen? Well, we have a morning routine of giving treats while I check his food and water, and he was biting at the bars of his cage- wanted treats¬†now and then bit the top bar and couldn’t get his teeth off them!

So, he was hanging from the top of his cage by his teeth! I shoved his teeth back with my thumbs until he got unhooked and fell down. He seemed relatively unhurt and was still interested in his treats, so that was ok, just scary. Until this week, when I was checking him over and he chipped one of his front teeth during that little escapade! aRGH.

Oh and let’s not forget Gidget, who has since been banished to stay in the bathroom during the day because she has since un-learned how to be toilet trained…ARGHHH again. And she looks like a wooly mammoth, since her grooming appointment last week got rescheduled (sadly, due to the owner of the salon’s death? All the groomers attended her funeral last week).

Man…I need a week off from the animal-drama!

A very sweaty Oats from a few weeks ago- working hard!

A very sweaty Oats from a few weeks ago- working hard!

Oats is under the weather

After our lesson on Thursday, I came out to ride Saturday and Oats met me with an unpleasant surprise: Snot smeared all over his nose.

Great.

And it was greeny snot too- not just white booger type things that he gets when he’s coughing from the dust or feeling sneezy. I cleaned up his face, and decided to see how he was doing from the warmup to the work. He was a bit coughy when we started working, but it didn’t last and he seemed more energetic than before (Thurs).

We worked over some teeeny xrails (like poles) so that was kind of fun and it wasn’t the hardest he had to work.

Sunday I came out and his nose was even snottier ūüė¶ uh oh…I cleaned him up, and we worked over a few jumps- his energy was still good but the coughing seemed more persistent and deeper. Shit! I called the vet, and it looks like Oats has picked up a bug of some sort- he is now sulfa pills that I have to pick up from the vet after work today (10 pills twice a day) for five days.

And no riding. OH man…That is a bummer too! Oats is taking a few days off to recover and until he is symptom-free, no riding for me. So, after the five days of pills fingers crossed he is back in pony action. And until then, it’s a few days off and some cancelled lessons for me. C’est la vie, I suppose…

Poor Oaty-pony!

Gymnastics revisited- with a twist! (hint- it’s canter!)

After Tuesday, apparently Oats wasn’t feeling well because he seemed quieter than usual and didn’t have too many poops- I was concerned, but he seemed ok but very quiet in my lesson on Thursday.

We’re back in the indoor, which is kind of Oats’ kryptonite for ‘going forward’ business…

Photo from 2012. Have we improved?

Photo from 2012. Have we improved?

He feels very slow, very quiet and kind of like yeah yeah whatever…Just not super excited to do his job, like he sometimes feels in the outdoor. Nevertheless, we warmed up over poles and then moved into our job- canter poles. I sometimes don’t like them because *gasp* they expose our canter weaknesses– him falling behind my leg, not balancing well, or me grabbing back or trying to ‘lift’ him over the poles.

Another oldie

Another oldie

The poles went well, and then they were eventually turned into x-rails- 2, with the poles inbetween the rails, so it went pole-x-rail-pole-xrail-pole. And Oats was actually pretty close to nailing the exercise, we definitely screwed up a few times but nothing that scared me or made me particularly worried.

Then, it was time to string together a small course. The canter gymnastics, to the green brush box on the diagonal, and then to the small x-rail (in a part of the arena that was soooo dark, so the x-rail was small!).

We schooled that a few times and he was quite good! He did suck back though to the green box, gave it a pretty hard look too, haha. His energy level just wasn’t as high as it is when he’s galloping forward in the outdoor, and this is something we have to adjust for, I suppose…

We then strung together the small fences and the gymnastic into a longer course- 9 fences with 1 cutaway line to see how I could influence his lead…And I did! He then flopped over the green box on the diagonal line, was getting tired and sucking back, hence the clumsy effort.

We ended on that note- it was very tempting to take a break and then keeping going, but I didn’t want to stress Oats out by pushing too much yesterday. We ended well, and I was happy with his mostly cooperative efforts. A fun exercise, and a good one for us. Not too anxiety-inducing at all, which is strange for me–usually I’m like, worried when it comes to gymnastics. I guess the heights were so low it kind of felt like eh, yeah sure…

Progress?!

Can’t get forward when I want it? Oats update~

So the other day, during my equine counseling session, I was crabbing that Oats was being ‘too quiet’ ie- not forward off my leg, snoozy, no fire!

It was true. And it was true that he was like that during my last jump lesson, which was probably why we bungled the gymnastic so many times, he just didn’t have that GO that I needed to make it through a fairly challenging exercise…

So Monday I had my session and again he was just kind of blahhhhhh…

Sunday we rode indoors, he started off balky and like, oh,¬†make me and I was like, sure I’ll make you do this, I’ll make it so you don’t even have a chance to second-guess ME! And he was fine, ok to ride, I honestly can’t even remember what we did? Canter transitions? I suppose it went fine.

Monday, rode outdoors and all the jumps pretty much are gone (wah wah)…Worked over two cross-rails focused on breathing and relaxation. It did go fairly well, his focus was off a bit and he was a little bit ‘looky’ but otherwise settled fine.

Tuesday was a bit of a different story. I would like to re-do Tuesday one of two ways:

a. Jump and gallop and have a good time or,

b. Have a serious dressage lesson.

And I ended up with c. do neither, and kind of dither around while Oats has a freakout about the¬†tractor¬†picking up pumpkins in the nearby field in the ‘spooky corner.’ ARGH.

So, yeah, not my most productive ride…We kind of just messed around, I like riding in the outdoor but I felt unfocused and unsure. I did try some dressage stuff, and he was ok about some of it but started dragging me and getting VERY rude about moving off my right leg (again!) so I had to move him to his head facing the fence to stop him from charging into the middle of the ring…

The bummer part- he was SO forward! I wanted to save that for my jump lesson on Thurs, come on Oats, work with me here!

We did a walk cooldown to the scary areas and he did have one spook, and was very eager to get the hell out of dodge, but was patient with me, and my whims…

It was very dark when we finished riding, I still had that ‘incomplete’ feeling but had to let it go. I suppose that is why I do well in lessons–I have the opportunity to feel like I’m ‘finished’ for good, instead of oh, just 1 more..thing, or 1 more lateral, or etc etc etc…

MEC Big Wild Challenge 2015- Race Review~

First up, know that this is no ordinary race. It’s not even a race at all- no timing mats! Crazy eh?

It’s more of an ‘adventure’ run through the trails of East Sooke Park, starting at Aylard Farms. I signed up primarily because I was planning on running with a friend who unfortunately was injured the week before and was unable to run, but no matter! We were going to do it anyways in her honour ūüôā

Me looking weird at the start...photo courtesy of MEC.

Me looking weird at the start…photo courtesy of MEC.

We did the 12k distance and it’s funny but I was contemplating the 21k distance (jesus, so glad I didn’t) initially and then didn’t sign up for it. THANK GOD. The 12k, for your reference, took me about 1:55:30? Yeah, so the 12k took me longer to ‘run’ than a half marathon. I know, I know!

This was because of the trail. Wild, wooly, wet and slippery. The trail is no joke. I put run in quotations because I didn’t even end up running much during the race, it was more scrambling and climbing over rocks, boulders and tree roots. Something I tend to suck spectacularly at. I slipped hard a couple times and fell about three times, one time on a bit of a cliffside and man, that freaked me out!

My arms hurt after the race, mostly because I was using them to pull myself up, or down, on the trail. Crazy eh?

I was covered in mud after, even had a pretty fancy dirt unibrow going on after much to the amusement of my friends. At the turn-around, they had these nice ‘Go’ bar samples, so I stuffed one in my pants, gulped some Gatorade, and turned around and kept hoofing it. I was sweating so much it was running into my eyes, and I think that’s where the dirt unibrow came from- me rubbing my eyes with my grubby paws.

I was afraid of hurting myself. That kept me from¬†really enjoying myself. The trail seemed like a great place to fall and hit your head, or break an ankle…

Looking relatively fresh at the finish...Photo courtesy of MEC.

Looking relatively fresh at the finish…Photo courtesy of MEC.

So it was quite a hairy experience, I’m glad I did it, but unlike my friends–I’m not sure I would do it again! I’ve now done two trail races and quite frankly I am a bit too competitive to let it go on the trail–I want to¬†race! Also I’m pretty terrible at trail running- just not agile or balanced enough I suppose and that affects my confidence.

I was so thirsty after too, which surprised me–it was not a warm day, it was chilly and drizzly but I suppose my exertion was very great.

The food after was excellent! Small wrap bites, smoked cheese, pasta salad (yum!), juice, coffee, really soft cookies, two-bite brownies, bananas. I can’t complain about the food, it was super tasty! Too bad my hands were filthy, haha.

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I had some scratches on my wrists, and legs and mud splattered all the way up my legs. It was time to go home, shower, and then zip off to catch Brave Shores at Rifflandia!

Party all the time!! Rifflandia update 2015

Writing this reminds me how tired I am. Man…it was a long and crazy weekend, guys!

Yeehaaaw

Yeehaaaw

I came in to work early on Friday so I could zip out a bit early and catch The Dears, which has been 10 + years in the making. Sad story about The Dears- I had tickets to see them one time a few years ago, and completely blanked on the day…I thought the show was on the Saturday and it was on the Friday. EFF my life!

So this year I was GOING to see them.

And I did, and they were great! I wished the set was longer…They ended with¬†Lost in the Plot¬†and it was fantastic. So good.

So, Rifflandia 2015 was off to a better start for sure. The sucky part was that Chromeo was sick and cancelled, so The Arkells had to step up to the plate. And the good news? They sure did step up! I also caught a bit of A Tribe Called Red (First Nations DJ-style) and while the music may not have been to my taste exactly, the traditional costumes and hoop-dancing sure were, very impressive!

I didn’t hit any night stages this year- I know, I know…But I am starting to learn a bit more about myself and I learned that if I want to commit to the day stage, I can’t seem to muster the energy for the night stages. Something’s gotta give, and for me, Rifflandia is a lot about the music, and not so much about the party.

Also- I had a trail race to run on Saturday AM so I had to conserve *some* of my energy haha. More on that tomorrow!

After the trail race Saturday, I was scratched up, dirty and muddy–so I drove home, hopped into the shower and then we hoofed it back to Rifflandia for the 2pm show- Brave Shores! They were SO GOOD~ A new band to watch, I suppose? They wrapped up with their fab hit-¬†Never come down and yes, it was as good as you would think! We caught snippets of Plants and Animals but honestly, their sound is a bit too much like Hey Rosetta! for my liking..

Then we chilled at Logan’s for a bit with some lunch- yes my second lunch of the day- and cheaper beers. Can you believe that beer was $7 this year and ciders were $8? What a freaking ripoff! So, we left the venue and got cheaper beer at Logan’s.

We then caught some Neon Indian, and he was a disappointment. Just…not right. Didn’t particularly enjoy him at all. The Zolas, on the other hand, were fabulous. I was feeling the vibe SO well then..yesss…Moving on to Big Data, which was pretty good. Have to say, they were funny, engaging and had a real lively sound. Most likely wouldn’t see them on their own though, just not enough¬†there for me.

Then on to Tokyo Police Club at the mainstage, which never disappoint, though their newer stuff is just…not my taste. Their old stuff remains a biiig fav.

Headliners for Saturday were Modest Mouse, and man, their lead singer has really toned it down in recent years. Music is still rockin’, but last time I saw him, 9 or so years ago, he was drunk onstage, had a bottle of Jim Beam with him, and was smoking and cursing at the audience. This year? No cursing, no smoking except for maybe an e-cig, and no booze. Guess he went straight? Well good for him, he had quite the reputation…

And they played Dramamine. YES YES YES! The only thing that would have been better was if they played¬†Sleepwalkers¬†but I can’t get too greedy.

Then Ian and I zipped off to Fifth St. to grab our Rifflandia specials- $10 margarita and wings. Worth it.

The next morning I got up fairly early and went riding- Oats was kind of like, who are you again? And then packed it in quickly to go have brunch with my friend at her place, with her friends. We all had crepes! It was lovely.

Ian and I headed home to take Gidget out and have another beer, before heading back to Rifflandia for the final day. We ended up catching some Tacocat (woman’s punk), Hollerado-¬†surprisingly¬†good, Emancipator (did not like. It would be good laying around on the grass music, but it was rainy and I was tired, needed ‘more’!), and Julian Casablanca+the Voids (so weird. angry yelly rock. he looked freaking strung out and high), and then Mother Mother!

Mother Mother was the best, hands-down. Though Hollorado was fab too- they had a hilarious story about hitching a ride with some young uni guys ”mathematicians” or somebody to Tall Tree music festival and they asked if they guys wanted a beer or something…and the kids were like, no thanks, we don’t drink…

And then like 8 hours later Hollorado sees the kids and they’re running around painted like Smurfs tripping balls…

Ha!

So, all in all, a festival worth attending year after year. If you do one festival, do Rifflandia!

Being comfortable with uncomfortable

Had a jump lesson yesterday and strangely, unlike last week, I wasn’t hyperfocused on the jumps themselves…I had some issues with my back being weird at work (still is, argh) so I guess that kind of took some of my attention away from…JUMPS!

That didn’t mitigate the level of suckitude though- oh man. Gymnastics, which up until this point this summer, I had actually been doing quite well at…Turned on me. And again reminded me about why I kind of hate gymnastics!

Jumping last year- photo courtesy of Christi.

Oh look, we can do oxers after all (from last year).

We worked over a four-jump gymnastic line of one-strides. All went well until Oats started being less generous with the last fence in the line- maybe he thought it was set a touch too far for him and decided, NOPE not gonna play that game today. And proceeded to slam on the brakes, and¬†climb over the oxer. How that is easier than say, just jumping it, is beyond me…

But yeah we did that about four times, maybe 5 if you’re being generous. ARGH.

And funny enough each time Oats decided he would crawl over the oxer, he left it standing. How???

Gah, it was miserable. Uncomfortable, awkward, you name it, I felt it. I wanted to give up so hard. Nicole set the oxer in a bit, and dropped it down to a cross-rail with the oxer rail behind it, a bit more visually appealing for Oats. He still did it. gag.

But you know what? When I said no way did I want to do it again, Nicole was like, “What’s the worst that can happen? He slams on the brakes and crawls over. You’ve already done that a bunch of times, so what?” And I was like, yeah and it was the worst!!!!

But, she had a point. So we are sucking out loud at this today. Get it done and over with. We had another crappy go-round of the gymnastic, and moved on to a short course (that went really well, hah) and then tried the gymnastic again. One more failure, but I got proactive and spanked his butt over one of the jumps- he gave me quite the kickback for that, and one more time–and the message got through. Finally, we got it. Nice, forward, no crawling.

So, it took the whole lesson- multiple failures with the gymnastic- but nowhere did I really feel panicked or worried…Just kind of annoyed. I know that not every lesson can be flawless, sometimes you have to embrace the uncomfortable, shitty ride and know that if you see it out today, maybe next time will be better (or even the end of the ride will be better). Quite similar to my dressage schooling with Oats on Sunday- it was kind of a battle, but it was a battle worth doing and winning.

I see you, gymnastics from hell, and I raise you one successful go-around!

Oh and coursework remains one of our¬†strengths….No wonder I’ve been having so many relatively flawless lessons lately, duh, no gymnastics in them! hahaha I’ve been fooling myself.

Fall is harvest season

I was grouching about fall yesterday when I showed up for my lesson and was feeling cold, the sky was blah and grey and it got dark during our lesson. Wahhh summer is ending…

Fall bounty

Fall bounty

I don’t hate all of fall though. A big part of our fall family tradition is helping harvest at the farm (read, picking¬†everything at my in-laws farm).

Over the past few weekends, we have picked:

  • plums- both Italian Prune Plums and Damson, and very few Shiro
  • grapes
  • apples
  • quince- yeah only two. Quince is a hard fruit to like…
  • pears
  • rhubarb- still!
  • blackberries
  • squash. So many squash.
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • lettuce
  • basil
  • hot peppers- that seem to be getting hotter every time we pick them, ouch.
  • onions
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
Pick everything!

Pick everything!

It’s crazy, isn’t it! I love fall harvest season. It’s a true joy to be able to pick and enjoy this much from their farm. The only thing I don’t like is the number of spiders in the trees and in the squash plants, and also I pulled down an apple and a bunch of earwigs flew out of it…onto my head. EEEEEK.

A wheelbarrow full of random squashes.

A wheelbarrow full of random squashes.

So far we have enjoyed chocolate plum cake, crumble, muffins galore, dried apple chips with cinnamon, applesauce, squash loaf with chocolate chips, rhubarb and ginger syrup, blackberry syrup and now I am contemplating making some fruit leather. Yummmy!!

So, one good use for fall- harvest ALL the things!!

Winning the battle = winning the war

So after my aforementioned war with Oats on Sunday about lateral work, and moving off my right leg with out a major hissy fit, I was …concerned about how Tuesday’s semi-private dressage lesson would go.

Good or bad?

Well, it actually went pretty well! Turns out that having ‘it out’ with Oats on Sunday and making him do his homework actually made our lesson on Tuesday much smoother. He was moving off my right leg (finally!) with minor disagreements, he was a bit locked up on the right throughout the whole ride but nothing terrible, he was just better on the left, haha.

So, we warmed up with head-to-the wall leg yields left first and then right, and then worked on some trot work with a big bend and a leg yield (we kind of sucked at this to be honest), and then canter work that loosened Oats up and let him move forward (much better at this). He was starting to get kind of balky and rude at the trot, and the looser canter sort of let him ‘let go’ of his attitude.

We ended on the left, with a squeezy trot and big deep low neck, to a canter transition, back to the squeezy trot. I was pretty impressed with his attitude towards this work, and as Karen noticed, his endurance is improving. Ie- his hissy fits and temper tantrums are more minimal, and start happening much later in the ride, rather than halfway through, which was more typical.

So, progress people! I’ll take it!

Good pony Oats.

WW III on a few things: Lateral work, allergy season

UGH.

I feel like right now I am just a big ball of suffering. I am having a lot of trouble breathing, my ears are irritated (my ears people?!) and I am coughing constantly, constant post-nasal drip, running nose and sinus headache from hell.

Sometimes, I hate you!

Sometimes, I hate you!

I’m not sure exactly why my seasonal (year-round seasonal…) allergies are going completely psycho but I am having a SUPER hard time dealing right now. Suffer suffer suffer…I take two Reactine pills and they turn me into a balloon-headed zombie, and the steroids I also take DO NOTHING. Woe is me.

I rode yesterday (hence the WW III reference) and then came home and slept for 2 hours. WTF…

Oh and the riding. Well! Saturday Oats was super good, a bit pokey but generally had his game face on. We schooled some small x-rails to show off for my coworker’s husband and kids who came to say hi to Oats. It was cute, he was well behaved and a fun pony. A good time was had by all.

Sunday…

Oats vs dressage

Oats vs dressage

I was going to gallop in the field for a bit, but the wind started getting really nuts, my allergies were starting to get out of control and I was just.not.feeling.it.

The horses were kind of dingbats anyways, so I headed to the indoor to do some homework: read, lateral work, not the fun gallop Oats would have preferred. And he warmed up nicely, canter is still kind of a lousy work in progress, trot was good and his walk-lateral work off my left leg was lovely!

The right was HORRIBLE.

A battle. Like, a real struggle. I was pretty determined to not let him bully me, or scare me off, or get me frustrated, so I kept at it. He pulled every¬†game¬†out of his nasty bag of tricks- running backwards, throwing his head up and down, gnashing at the bit, yanking the reins out of my hands, running into the wall, hopping up and down, threatening to rear…

I grimly kept. At. IT.

I was talking to him the whole time, and I called him every name in the book, but was gently, consistently, persistently keeping at it.

I did not give up. I did not get mad and let him unfocus me.

It was going to take as long as it took, and boy, it really did. I was so done, but I also realized that in this little tempest in a teapot, if I let him get away with being a shit about this, next time I’d have double the effort to being a shit.

So, he banged his head against the wall, threw his head dramatically around, ran backwards into a jump standard, and was generally committed to being a giant dickhead.

All, rather than give in to my right leg pressure.

Yes, Oats is a freaking drama queen.

The ride that could have been short ended up being VERY long indeed. I was tired, pissed off and like…Really? This again?

When he (extremely grudgingly) gave me a few NICE steps over from my right leg, I went straight and let him stretch down long and low. He immediately snatched the reins and dramatically went to stretch but I let him go.

The whole ride took soooooooooooo long, but in the end, I was the one who won that day.

I hope Oats remembers it! I have no desire to repeat that little drama-rama.

And then as I said before, hopped up on too much allergy meds (which may actually have explained why I was able to zen my way though that miserable episode) I came home and slept for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon…