May all your war stories be old stories

I was saying last night that whenever people ask me these days how Oats is, I don’t really have anything to say! He’s…fine? Good? Good ol’ Oats?

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This was three years ago! I miss summer- even if I was wearing a sweater during July…

It was kind of a funny lament, because really, he’s been so good, drama-free for ages now. I’m happy with how our jumping is coming along, our two horse shows in the fall went fine, and so?

So, I have to share my old war stories instead! I say well, this pony you see me riding with no reins? WELL he used to….hahah.¬†And my trainer and friend laughed, and said be glad your war stories are OLD war stories and still not happening! It’s true! ūüôā

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Another blast from the past.

We had a good lesson last night, and it was a very interesting exercise. Two diagonal lines, an x-rail then 3 strides to a small vertical. Then on the other diagonal, a bounce to three strides to a bounce.

The trick was getting Oats FORWARD during the first 3-stride line, and then maintaining that through the corner to the first bounce, and then GO! to the second bounce. I was kind of concerned how it was going to go- was I going to eat it through the bounce? Wibble-wobble through the first line?

It sure wasn’t perfect, and wow I lost my reins more than once through the two bounces set three strides apart, but Oats was golden!! He started getting more engaged through the exercise, and was powering himself through the bounce line really nicely. He just took care of me through it, I didn’t even have to steer, or really have reins at all.

Good pony!

It was quite a tiring exercise for me, but I was quite proud of how Oats was handling it. He was eating up those strides (for him this will always be a challenge).

The jumps were teeny-tiny but it’s more how the exercise really made us focus on a few things- forward, not pulling to a spot, no chipping in, straightness, going through a corner straight/forward. Yes!

Oats is Oats

After all that running, I bet you think my poor pony is being neglected!

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

Well, not so!

I rode him Saturday, and while I was determined to try some ‘collection’ work, I was equally determined to NOT drill the pony into the ground. And how did that pan out? Well, not so much on the collection, but he did get very sweaty and it was a fairly physical ride, but overall I was pretty ok about it.

We didn’t really get any collection, but I did figure some stuff out. Something I figured out too late- to really ask for that type of work, I have to start my warm- up very differently, ie- my hacking for a jump school warm up does NOT work if I am going to be asking for more ‘dressage’ type work later.

I needed to do more sitting trot, smaller circles, lateral work, transitions.

Hm. Ok.

So, yeah that was that. It wasn’t Oats’ fault- it was mine, on a expectations vs. reality type gig.

Anyways, I also rode after my race on Sunday to kind of ‘trick’ my legs into cooperating. I tried to ride last Monday after racing and wow, did it feel horrible. Burning legs, jello-o, wobbly…Not good. So, Sunday it is!

Our ride was very short as I also realized I was totally exhausted after the race, but I think Oats likes it when I’m like that…He’s very cooperative and fairly gentle with me. Puts up with me anyways! We did a light school, hopped over two small fences (left long to one, and short to the other. sighhh!) and did some brief transitions- walk/trot/collected/tiny trot/canter/walk…And that was it!

He was great, and I sure didn’t want to ride any more than that to be honest.

Riding on Tuesday¬†and I’m SO glad I took Monday off this time. My legs were throbbing alll day yesterday, wow it was so painful.

Oats was good on Tuesday- the old problem of ‘no contact in trot= dolpin leaping’ reared it’s ugly head but I worked through it, in a way I am feeling more comfortable. Oats got SO sweaty though! Poor guy, it was running in rivulets down his face! I did try breaking in some new boots (Treadstone Tuscanys) on Tuesday and it made me feel like I didn’t know how to ride…Haha. On the bright side, they seemed to be MUCH easier to break in than my previous boots.

Riding tonight, and jump lesson on Thursday.

World’s Okayest Runner: VIRA Cobble Hill 10k race recap!

Yes, three races in three weeks! My legs are feeling TRASHED today, ha, and I had a coughing attack walking to work. Such is the price to pay for glory??

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Me- on any given race day.

So, last week was the MEC 10k, and the weather was god-awful. This weekend was much sunnier, and it was the VIRA Cobble Hill 10k. This is a race I vaguely recalled running last year, where I set my first 10k-related goal (the vaunted, hard-to-achieve time of 49:29 as Facebook reminded me today!). Wow, how things have changed eh?

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Photo courtesy of the Ceevacs run club.

This time, my time goal for the 10k is sub- 45:00, which I know is going to be¬†extremely challenging to get. And that wasn’t necessarily my goal for Cobble Hill–I kind of wanted to see what I was capable of, coming off a 10k last week? Sound reasonable?

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My new fav run photo- courtesy of my husband!

I mean, if i¬†got sub-45, I was going to be very happy, but I also realized that realistically in running, ‘wishing and hoping’ isn’t very well going to make it happen!

Newsflash: I didn’t get sub-45. But I got a time I was very good with!

The race itself felt like a slice of special Hell. I set a very good pace at the first km (4:19?!) and the immediately realized I could NOT sustain it, as I set it running down a slight incline…Whoops. My allergies were going insane and I could hear my breathing through my EARS every BREATH was like this¬†weird¬†echo of a loud person breathing in my ears. It was making me feel really crazy.

I started gaining time…from that fast pace to 4:29, 4:37,4:39, and then it got really ugly and I was gasping and starting to feel sorry for myself…4:44! I had thoughts like: I see Ian and his dad, I wonder if I could just pull out now, and end this?? Would anyone notice? How does it feel to quit mid-race? How did this feel easier last week?

Let’s just say 4km and I are not friends.

The race was also super super busy. It was packed! I wasn’t passing anybody. They were all passing me haha. I went around the turnaround and started mentally slapping myself. Only 5k left! Sharpen up! Focus! Pick yourself up! No feeling sorry for yourself!

The mental slapping must have worked, because I started to regain more control of my breathing (it still sucked, but sucked a bit less), and worked my pace down to 4:26. I then flip-flopped between 4:26-4:3-? until the last KM, and I ran my 9th km at 4:23, which I was VERY pleased with.

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Photo courtesy of Ceevacs. I swear, I thought I was sprinting…

I was not so pleased with how terrible I felt during, and after, the race. Jesus.

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Award ceremony! Photo courtesy of Ceevacs.

I staggered through the finish and sat down on the crumbling steps of the school. I couldn’t catch my breath well enough, and I felt dizzy. I walked back to the school/staging area with some nice runners and my calf seized up–I was dehydrated.

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Kind of Halloweeny eh? I actually tied for 8th, but ended up in 9th for some reason? (milli-seconds??).

So, I was very happy with my time (a not-shabby 45:23) I was not super glad about how it actually ran- it was¬†ugly, it felt horrible, and man, it was just…extremely rough.

But as always, there is another race, another day, and my effort was good. Thanks to the Ceevacs running club, the volunteers, race director, photographers, course marshals, food staff (!!yummy chili!) and photographers (my husband included) for making the day a real one to remember. ūüôā

Me, a non-genius

Did a jump exercise last night that involved VERY tiny jumps but extremely challenging patterns. And wow….I was just…out to lunch on it! Luckily it also made me laugh a lot, but yeeesh, I was so clueless!

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It was a bunch of jumps in a diagonal pattern, with idea that you’d jump one, immediately turn in a tiny, 10-metre circle right, to head to the next one, immediately turn in a 10-metre circle left for the next one, and so on.

The reality? HA. A hot mess!

We trotted and Oats stopped, and¬†walked over the fence. So, it’s going to be this way, will it?

He lack of enthusiasm for small x-rail trot fences was palpable. Oh boy, this was going to be exciting!

Our ’10-metre circles’ were….Not so much. Once we actually started cantering, and Oats starting getting more into the game, we flew by the circle…My fault! I got caught up in ‘jumping the jump’ and forgot to a. look where I was going, and b. actually turn my horse…

GAK. I was just in a super goofy mood I guess?

We re-did it, and I managed to trot the next fence from the circle. Good some progress. We moved up and worked it into a small course, where I immediately flew past the second jump again (seriously, where is my mind??). Had to go back and re-do it, and it was pretty good. And then I immediately flew past the third fence (seriously?? I was directionally challenged last night for some reason!?), and had to re-do it, for the fourth fence.  HAHA.

By the fourth fence, I went a little bit rogue and just started jumping jumps.

I was laughing the whole time! Sometimes, you’re really serious, and sometimes, just a total non-genius airhead the whole time. I don’t know what was going on, but mannn it was funny last night! Glad my trainer was only mildly exasperated with me (particularly when I went rogue and kind of started jumping not-straight…ooops! I was laughing too much to focus).

Things that I want to focus on- collecting the canter via technique of spiralling in and out at the canter. I think I will try this on Saturday, though Nicole did caution me about ‘overdoing it’ on my own, as I am wont to do…(it’s true, I don’t know when to stop the drilling sometimes!).

Things to practice though! It was a very hilarious lesson. Mannnnn…

 

Mr. Oats, a non-genius

Had my dressage lesson last night and it definitely came with some frustrations.

Item 1: Oats, not wanting contact at the trot, hops into canter. Repeatedly.

Item 2: This makes our exercise, going over trot poles, hazardous and irritating.

Item 3: I was tired!! It was a very physical lesson. They always seem to be right now.

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he was not this sweaty, but close!

So…We attempted the exercise- a good, bouncy trot over poles in a circle. Many times. To the left, he was actually getting it and I had some connection through my right/outside rein. To the right? Trot-CANTER-trot-CANTER-trot-CANTER

We bumbled up/over/through/crashing/rolling/jumping over the poles.

GAK.

We’d go large, attempt to establish some sort of semblance of connection and even then, it just wasn’t happening. It was still trot-HOP-trot-HOP.

So, the next time he went to canter w/o me asking, I hauled his pony butt into a¬†very firm hand gallop of a canter. VERY firm. A ‘no joking, no hanging out, no easy-going lope’ canter. A hell of a canter. And I had to repeat this little message more than once. It was tough! I wanted to trot! I wanted to take a break!

We went back to the poles, and wonder of wonders, after oh, the third time of really spanking him into a correct canter, he ‘gasp’ trotted~nicely too! I was too slow to let him stretch, which Karen reminded me was important. So, I tried to be quicker about rewarding his efforts in the trot, which were very nice when he did give them to me.

This work- particularly on the right rein- exposes a lot of my and Oats’ weaknesses. It’s pretty ugly sometimes and I was complaining about the hop-canter ‘phase’ we seem to be in, and Karen was saying well, it’s part of the process and it will take you as long as it takes you to get over it, eh?

Also- he is getting much better about a nice forward canter when I am in the canter, something that we really struggled to achieve last year.

Progress?

And the non-genius part- I was grabbing my water bottle and drinking from it, when Oats gave a very vigorous shake…Shaking half my water bottle all over the both of us and almost dislodging ME! ARGH.

That pony!

Sea Cider Wassail!

This Sunday, my friend and I decided to do something different- check out the local Wassail celebration at the local cidery, Sea Cider.

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All photos courtesy of Sarah C.

I’ve been there once before, about 4 years ago I think? So it was long overdue for a visit. And it was lovely! Cider samples and food samples were $2/per, and we bought a whole bunch and tried everything. We also went on a brief cider tour, where the owners described the apples and the process for making cider.

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She even got a nice one of me!

The weather held out, and we had a really nice time. And then I went home and had a nap, haha.

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I liked this one. Actually, I liked all of them!

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A sing-along. Did you know the ‘Feast of Stephen’ is Boxing Day?

Highly recommend if you’re looking to spend a lazy Sunday trying some tasty new food and their newest ciders as well.

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Fermentation tanks.

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We both got the mussels. Spicy and splashy but GOOD!

Race success! MEC Race #1- The Rust Buster 10k recap

I know, racing again so soon? Am I crazy? But hear me out- there’s a method to my madness. I had/have a very aggressive time goal (45 minutes) for my 10k, so I have to work hard to get there. Racing is hard. Racing is also more fun than just training, sooooo I sign up for races as ‘training’ to help me get there!

With me so far?

This was a new race to me- I had never heard of MEC races before last spring. But this year I signed up for alllll the MEC races. They’re cheap, easy to sign up for, and no-frills. Perfect. They are also normally very low-key, but apparently didn’t get the memo this year as they had over 500 runners?! WHA?

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More gaping mouth photos, but hey at least I’m running! Photo courtesy of Ian.

My legs didn’t feel amazing last week. I have a very hard time not using them (sounds funny I know), and before I knew it, I’d find myself on the stair stepper, or on the leg machine, legs aching, looking around being like WTF am I¬†doing? So, a bit tired, not as good at recovery as I thought I would be.

So, for this 10k I had humbler goals- try for under 5:00 minute kms. Maybe 4:45?

We got to the staging area and it was a freaking¬†zoo! The wind was bananas, it was raining, there were tons and tons of people waiting in the bib pickup line, I had to go to the bathroom (more lineups) and I was not sure if I’d get my bib in time! Ian had even dropped me off to park the car to give me more time, that I spent…stuck in the bib pickup line. GAH!!!

So, I was feeling a bit frantic and worried. I shouldn’t have worried though–it worked out fine. He came back, I waited in the bathroom line, came back and he was still in line, and I got my bib. Highlight of the day: running into my colleague who was running the 5k- and her time was no slouch either! Yay!! We were even able to shout to each other on course! ūüôā

We started and the first loop was very blahhh. I didn’t love it. It was a bit hilly, the weather kind of sucked, and I wasn’t in the groove. We looped around back to the school and began our very lengthy out-and-back. I started getting into it more and looking at my watch- I was on target for a reasonable 4:34 or so? Wow!

I bargained with myself- “Ok you can check your watch at every KM but not before. It is tempting, but wait for the KM beep!” I sort of kept my promise to myself. I was holding strong, even though at 4km I kind of wanted to fade…But I remembered I’m better at the 5+ km’s than the first 5kms. So I hauled on!

We hit the bridge and things got¬†ugly. It was surreal, the wind was so strong and we were getting blasted sideways, with rain. I saw the 5km runners and they looked absolutely miserable. I could only think, that’s me next then! And it was….rough. This was my slowest km by 15 seconds, no surprise there.

A teenager wearing a tanktop and I played leapfrog the whole time. It was interesting to be challenged like that. I didn’t really pass many people, and at that point they weren’t passing me- except for the teen. She ended up smoking me in the last few 100m, and beating me by like 10 secs…Ha, shoot!

Ian was able to take a pic of me, ¬†yes!! And then it was all over! And I had met my so-far goal of 45:XX…with my best time so far of 45:35 (gun) and 45:30 (net). YESS!!!! And best of all, I actually felt like a competent runner–not dying/gasping/choking. Sweet!

Snacks after and my stomach was killing me! But my day wasn’t over yet…Stay tuned for more excitement tomorrow, as I wrapped up my race day with a visit with a friend to Sea Cider’s Wassail event!

 

Such great heights

Jump lesson success! You know how I was moaning about how boring I was finding flatwork yesterday? Well, I can tell you what the solution is: A good, solid jump lesson. It was not perfect- trust me my rides pretty much never are- but it felt so GOOD.

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We first worked on a funny exercise, and I was kind of surprised at how hard I found it. My trainer had me knot the reins and lay them on Oats’ neck, and then, without using my reins or anything, I had to put my arms out to the side and work on folding and releasing- as if I was going over a jump. We trotted large around the arena on the track with no reins while I was working on this exercise.

It was tough! I felt like when I was releasing, I was going to eat mane. Land face-first on Oats’ neck haha. We then switched it to slightly easier- still no reins, but hands forward instead of to the side, as if I was giving an automatic release. And then finally the easiest–with reins, hands supported slightly on neck, giving an automatic release.

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Oats was as good as gold! He was very content to just keep tooling around, happy as a clam.

Nicole said it was like Oats was one of those automatic ponies you put a quarter in. They keep going until the quarter runs out! hahaha. I said it was true–and the fact that Oats is so calm, steady¬†and easy-going makes me very complacent… (this is not a good thing).

We then moved on to jumping, the small gymnastic exercise of last week: cross-rail to an oxer, and then on to a small course. With a twist- height instead of low-wide oxers!? We finished the gymnastic with the oxer at 2’6”- probably the highest oxer I have done for a little while, and a big X-rail, and the hay bales jump got to about 2’5” I think? And then the other jump was around 2’3” wtih a stretched- out groundrail to encourage Oats to take off a bit further–mimic the feeling of an oxer, without the angst of oxers, haha.

Some of it wasn’t pretty- a wicked right drift caught us out pretty much EVERY time on the haybales? I couldn’t figure out why we never got that one right on the first try. It was very subtle and kept catching me by surprise…But, when we looped back to it after the smaller 2’3” jump, Oats jumped it perfectly. So, there’s that.

But, overall I was very pleased with his jumping efforts, even though I accidentally spurred him pretty hard when we were getting started and boy, he wasn’t pleased with me, haha. Whoops, sorry OAty! He got his favourite treats – herbits- and they make his breath smell soooo good, like spearmint afterwards. A cutie!

Would you rather look fast, or run fast?

After seeing my photos of the race the other weekend, I was like eeeughhh. I do NOT look good- I look like I am barely moving (even though I felt like I was flying like the wind!), gasping for breath, chubby legs, potential unibrow, and just…ugh.

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Dirt unibrow.

I look like a slow person. I always do?

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Hat unibrow?

Made me feel just a touch jealous of those folks who look like gazelles, instead of the living dead like I do. What’s their secret? How do they look so graceful, athletic? I always look like I am in pain, or just trudging. Jeeze.

ANYWAYS, despite that, I know I would rather run fast, than look fast. Bonus would be to have both, but hey, I’m not being greedy.

And that’s enough about running. I have been riding this week- rode Sunday (flatwork), Tuesday (more flatwork) and Wednesday (jump an x-rail, and flatwork). Sensing a theme here? Ha, flatwork is¬†booooring. Occasionally it thrills me, and scares me.

I am looking forward to jumping, even it if does make me nervous sometimes. I just need someone to shake it up for me! I didn’t do my dressage lesson- back to every other week to save some $$$- and instead focused on Oats and my transition work. It was fairly good.

However…I am noticing that I get very tense and more worked up doing flat and dressage exercises than I ever do jumping now? And Oats gets more tense too? Uh oh. I’m not exactly pleased with that transition, but I guess this is a part of the learning process too? My anxiety from jumping is now translated or shifted to dressage? Lateral work? WTF is going on.

Oats was good last night, I was feeling very tired and unmotivated so he sure didn’t have a lot to work with, hahaha. Poor pony! I am still checking out places to bring him, so he gets a little bit more excitement out of his winter. He needs some stimulation too!

Saturday Jump lesson: Recap!

I had changed my jump lesson from Thursday night to Saturday for my trainer’s birthday (worth it!! so fun) and we rescheduled for 2 p.m. I had kind of an irritable morning–it started off well with Gidget at the park, showing off her new playground climbing skills, and then I felt restless, agitated and anxious….I just can’t do the ‘sitting around’ thing.

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Our internet bombed out, again, so we were just bumming around until I had to get ready to go. I dropped my husband off and there was a massive clusterfuck of traffic…All of this contributed to me feeling even more off that day! ARGH. I got to the barn, and my allergies hit into overdrive–I could manage them, but I had a feeling that my anxious/gaspy, struggling to catch my breath would affect me later- still blew it off, but would later regret it…

During my jump lesson Oats felt pretty ‘meh’ even though he had two whole days off. Lazy pony! We worked on a really fun exercise- x-rail to low-wide oxer gymnastic again, to a small course of 9 fences. I was struggling to catch my breath–and it felt like my heart was racing. What on earth was going on??

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then jumped…Awkardly.

We caught a right drift that Oats was sneakily putting in, and after correcting that, I was quite pleased with his efforts. Nothing fantabulous, but just some good, solid work. I was still struggling a lot with catching my breath, and it felt like with the excitement of jumping, it was triggering an asthmatic response in my breathing. Greeaaat…

It took me much longer to catch my breath after jumping, which sucked and made me feel a bit worried. The good news? It wasn’t the jumps that were worrying me! Oats was a cool pony and he was so honest and good…Nice guy!

I was very pleased with him, and with me in the end for coolly riding out the small gymnastic and courses with minimal nerves. I think there’s really something in it, jumping smaller fences. They just ‘flow’ for me, and even when I boff them up, it’s no biggie!

(It’s never ‘perfect’ though- it’s good sometimes, bad others, and ok all the rest. And I am enjoying the process like never before!). Go Oats go!