Wild One

The weather this weekend was…wooly. Luckily it was so lovely on Saturday, just in time for our…18k run! We’re beginning/trying to make up some longer runs to prepare for our 4th half marathon (yikes!) that is coming up sooner than I would like. It’s tougher to schedule these runs in than you’d think…

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And something that surprised me. I was in a bad mood last week, just rotten, no-good, very-bad, miserable and grouchy. For pretty much the whole week. When Friday rolled around, I wasn’t even really looking forward to the weekend. Sure I like running, and I was glad I had rescheduled my jumping lesson for Saturday, but a few things were making me feel quite edgy.

I am NOT GOOD at sitting around on weekend mornings (save sleeping in a bit- love that). It makes me incredibly anxious for some reason and just ruins the day for me. My lesson was at 3:15 and I wanted to fit in an 18km run. Whaa?? What to do, what to do.

We were planning on running late, but my husband, who knows me better than I know myself sometimes, suggested that instead of fussing and fidgeting all morning (it was going to be too much for my poor brain to handle), we do our long run first thing. That way I could get something super productive out of the way, and then have lunch, chill, and go to my lesson.

At first I wasn’t sure, because I was thinking my legs/body would be too tired for my jump lesson. And then I was like, hell yes let’s do it! And we did!!!

And you know what? It worked out perfectly.

The run went really well, it took forever (1:44:??) but the weather was faaabulous, the sun was shining and all was right with the world. We finished and I had lunch and lay around on the couch before my lesson started. I zipped off to the barn for my ride, and wouldn’t you know it, Oats and I were BACK ON OUR GAME! YES!!!

You know how on Thursday I was saying I just love jumping for the heck of it? I think that really helped me get back in the groove for my lesson. Because my body was tired, I wasn’t an anxious and I seemed to feel a lot more like ‘me’ again. Back in action and down to businesses. It wasn’t even perfect!

We totally flubbed our way through the course the 1st time and knocked down a jump, etc. It was pretty ugly and blah, and I was like you know what? We’re doing that again, and I am getting ON  Oats about forward. No more of this wishy washy BS.

My coach looked surprised and was like, well if you feel up to it! (I did tell her I had run 18km in case I was riding stupidly, haha). I DID feel up to it!

So we went straight ahead and rocked it, and took a break, and rocked it again. It sure wasn’t perfect- had a few ugly jumps- but I felt good about my riding and my efforts, and about Oats too.

So, even though I was in a bad mood all week and crabby as all hell, the weekend really redeemed itself for me. YES! Also kudos to my husband for recognizing what I really needed to do before my ride, to make my weekend work out smoother.

Jump around

Went for a ride last night and the weather has turned around- it was warm, lovely, not windy and not rainy. I’ll take it!

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The arena had an interesting set-up of two big x-rails, and one skinny set directly on the centreline.

I was intrigued…Clearly the rider who set it up had been working on straightness via the big x-rails, and by having a skinny set on the centreline- slicing the skinny? As we had a very thorough and challenging (but good honest work) dressage lesson the day before, I was planning on a more casual ride last night.

So, the jumps were calling my name…All I wanted to do was jump! Haha.

I kind of thought the big x-rails were a bit big to warm up with (hello I can be a wimp!) but was also feeling too lazy to get back off and re-set. What to do what to do…

Just jump them! And we did! And man, while I was working on straightness, I definitely came into the skinny sooooo crooked. So crooked that I had to go back around and re-do it. And I was NOT slicing the skinny- I just cut in off the centreline and jumped it straight, and of course Oats landed left, he always lands left, and we’d head back to it again.

I had visions of me running straight into the standards if I attempted to slice it. My jump game is not always strong haha. It was so fun though.

It’s interesting- jumping (well, jumping high), wigs me out and gives me the willies…BUT I also love jumping and quite frankly, that is all I want to do most days. Weird?

I don’t understand it myself, but it is so fun! Worked a bit on two-point with no stirrups, two-point with stirrups but one arm out, and Oats had one minor freakout moment when something rustled in the bushes…Woah he was worried, haha.

All good though, and a fun ride…I just love jumping jumps.

Just until forever

So as I mentioned yesterday, I was curious to see how my dressage lesson would go on Tuesday. How would Oats be feeling? He seemed to be working out of any strangeness on Sunday, but last week was too weird for words…

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Keep this lovely feeling going!

I’m pleased to say he was fabulous! His trot was lovely, he wasn’t angry or ouchy with tightening the girth, and his canter was fairly nice. I told my trainer what was going on last week and she agreed that it is not like him to act this way, and it was likely due to one of two things: illness like the flu, or soreness- getting cast in his shelter, or standing for too long in one place. She also suggested that due to his age (14 now!!), we start looking at getting his hocks possibly x-rayed to see if he has any arthritic changes.

I totally agree with this course of action–I hated to feel Oats going the way he was last week. I wanted my bouncy, funny pony back!

I am checking with the barn manager to see when the vet is out for spring shots, and I will have him do a lameness flexion on Oats to see about his hocks, if he finds anything, then it is x-ray time. I will also be carefully monitoring how he moves/is feeling in the next couple weeks.

In our lesson, as I mentioned, Oats warmed up lovely and was back to his old self. We worked on a fairly challenging (mentally) exercise: shoulder-in at walk, and then transition to trot, and hold it at the trot, and then move to haunches-out with his head to the wall, changing bend.

Oats did find this challenging, but I’m pleased to say that his hissy-fits of ‘I can’t do it!’ and ‘I don’t wanna!’ are mostly over. He played well with me, and was mostly cooperative and working to his full strength. We worked these exercises well until the end, when Oats got tired and was like, ok – ENOUGH! And the we trotted freely, bending in the corners, and mannnnn his trot was soooooo good.

He snorted and snorted and snorted while we trotted! Somebody was thinking very hard in that lesson, good boy. I was very pleased with his efforts yesterday.

VIRA Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

Yes I can’t believe we are already on race #4 of the VIRA series…time is flying by! I did not have high expectations for myself for this race, as last year it really took a lot out of me and I found it quite …rough.

See pic below from last year:

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Last year it sucked!

This year, I was prepared though! I had done a lot more hill running, so I had a better idea of what to prepare for, and I’d already done it once before. Still, I didn’t really have a time goal other than ‘better than last year’. I was running alone, as my husband and friend weren’t running this year with me, but luckily my husband was there to take some photos- yesss!

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This year: still a struggle

At the start, I was kind of mentally kicking myself- I was absolutely frozen, I also seem to have some recurring stomach unpleasantness that I’m sure is related to the anxiety of racing as it seems to crop up often when I have a race, and I was just feeling…blah. I also think the beers the night before may not have been the best idea, but I guess you learn that the hard way.

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I like this shot b/c it looks like I am actually running.

The start was quite jammed, and I didn’t get up as close as I should have. We flew past the start (it is a downhill start) and I was immediately stuck behind slower runners, almost clipping their heels, yikes! I did a lot of dodging and weaving for the first km and had to rush to make it up. I was slower than I wanted to get to the first hill, having placed myself incorrectly at the start (again!).

Once having broken out of the pack, I played a bit of leapfrog with a younger racer who I recognized from my MEC 10k race earlier this year (she beat me, and she beat me in this race too. arghhh) and an older gentleman who I passed and stayed past!

The hills didn’t feel tooooo bad, but what I seriously lacked was a good recovery past the hill push. I just didn’t have that ‘oomph’ past the hills…It’s like I got to the hills and was like, phew that’s over! Oh, wait…

There’s the whole rest of the race! Surprisingly the portion in the woods was nice- springy, I was getting good foot feedback from the soft ground. It was still uphill but not terrible. It was very dark though, almost hard to see. There was a coach lurking in the woods cheering us on- yay for this dude! It was awesome.

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Dying at the finish part 1

The long downhills were soooo welcomed! I even managed to run them without too much fear–I guess doing those crazy GutBuster runs and MEC runs have made me much braver. I was getting tired though, and once the downhills ended and the flats began, I was so done.

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Photo by Brian Domney and a great shot of me getting blasted past at the finish..haha.

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Dying at the finish part 2

I kind of struggled to the finish, looking like I was going to puke. Lovely. I got beat by a 12-year old I think? Kid had a crazy rally to the finish, better than mine that’s for darn sure!

The spread at the end of the day was SO good! Hotdogs, an apple fritter, and all the candies you could hopefully want! Yogurts too! Yum!!

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Photo by Brian Domney: Where I am literally a head shorter than the others. Looks pretty funny!

And how did I do? Well I sure can’t complain- a good for me 37:13 (net) and 37:19 (gun). YES! This was surprisingly well enough to net me 5th place in my AG. That is the best I have ever gotten, and I was shocked. Lucky me eh? Compare that with my first attempt last year at 39:00 and I am a happy camper.

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Ribbons!

Mr. Oats has an angry day

Oats was just…bizarre last week. I haven’t ridden yet this week (took Monday off because I was in a terrible mood and tired, felt I really shouldn’t bring that negative energy to the barn) so we shall see for my lesson today..

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Pretty much how Oats feels about life.

But yes, for Saturday, he was just…awful. Thursday he was cranky and grouchy, tired and phoning it in. Saturday he was SO ANGRY. Fine in the cross-ties, and then a nippy dragon in the ring! I went to tighten his girth and he tried to bite me, repeatedly. He swished his tail in the angriest horse way. He refused to let me get on. He wouldn’t walk forward, and when I asked, kicked out>??

Yeah, your guess is as good as mine? He wouldn’t trot, only hop angrily and pissily.

I gave up on the trot, and we went for a good, very forward, sitting & working canter. He was lovely during it! And then our trot work was pretty nice after too? So wtf Oats? Why the attitude? He dropped it once we had our good canter warmup but wow, he came out ready for a fight. This is definitely unlike him, easy-going Oats.

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Oats harasses his buddy Jim.

He is very perplexing this month. Last week was kind of an ugly week. Is he just feeling stiff, or is it something else, since he seems to work out of it ok?

Sunday, I decided to warm him up a bit before I got on by walking/trotting, turning circles, stopping and backing up in-hand, just to sort of see how he was feeling. I then tightened the girth very carefully, respectful of his feelings, haha. And he didn’t show any of the crazy snarkiness and anger of Saturday. So far so good.

I hopped on and he was a bit slow in the walk, but listened well enough to my leg with not so much tail swishing and I’m pleased to report- NO angry kicking out. He trotted nicely straight off the bat, no real hopping…And when he went to hop, it wasn’t as dramatic and pissy as before. Hm..

We cruised over a few x-rails, but mostly focused on the one thing I am struggling with: Straightness over the diagonal. His canter was fine, I actually didn’t do any ‘dressage’ canter with him (the super forward upright sitting canter) because he didn’t seem to need it like he did the other day.

It was a good and calm ride. Now, where is this horse all last week? I could use him back!

Mr. Oats phones it in

So as I mentioned this week, mixed results…For the week.

And that trend kind of continued in my lesson last night. I had some high hopes after my very exciting ride on Wedneday (so much energy!!!) that sadly fell…flat.

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So tired.

Oats was so blaahhhhhhh in my lesson, and kind of angry and pissy at me for using leg. His popping up and head-tossing came back into play, so we moved up to canter and warmed up over a small x-rail, to brighten his interest.

While he did play nice with me, there was a distinct lack of sparkle in his eyes, and he was performing very perfunctorily…He was phoning it in. This, by the way, did my leg no favours at the canter…it was swinging, kicking, oh man. This day, was NOT a day to do gridwork, haha.

A few things I can chalk near-comatose Oats up to: Our very exciting ride the day before, and him not getting his dinner (?!!!) until like 5 minutes before I came out–so I took him away from his hay, and he was kind of pissy and tired.

So, we managed with what we had on the day. It’s only fair to the horse, and I don’t want to push him when clearly, he is not having a great day. Honestly? I can tell the difference…So I know I’m not unecessarily ‘babying’ him, I’m trying to manage my expectations for the lesson, given the horse I have on the day.

We worked over small (2 ft) courses, and my ugly problem of NOT BEING STRAIGHT was kind of a big issue. I can’t seem to like, committ to fixing that problem?! Well, now I know what I am going to practice this weekend, that’s for darn sure. Oats cooperated, but *just* enough to get the job done. Fair enough, hahah. As soon as we finished one course, he would grind to a ‘barely trudging’ walk…

Our walk back up the hill was like the slowest crawl and when I went to turn off the lights for the alleyway, Oats like, stood stock-still not moving. Just…standing like a zombie. I had to physically pull him back to the barn. HA, poor baby.

In the cross-ties, he was falling asleep. Hm…Just not his day. That’s ok, last week was not my shining moment either. I guess both of us are entitled to having those.

 

Orchestra for the Moon

Taken from a Jenn Grant album title, (saw her on Tuesday), to provide a recap for this week: mixed results.

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Oh man do I want it to be summer!

Monday I had organized an equine counselling session, as I realized I was in need of a tune-up after my bad/good lesson on Thursday. For some reason, because I was feeling a lot of stress that week, I started making a lot of very negative value statements about my riding, my lesson, and everything– after what was, to be honest, not a terrible lesson. So what gives?

Turns out that I was likely trying to make that lesson resolve what I was feeling emotionally/ physically, and that just…didn’t happen. I was trying for redemption via my horse and jumping, and you know what? A big nope on that.

And it left me feeling discouraged, useless and like, unfulfilled. A good comparison would be my car: it was also breaking down last week and when it stalls or breaks down, I don’t immediately think I am a bad driver! I just think, well, time to get the car fixed. So jumping to the judgements after my ride because I am in a bad headspace and looking for my lesson to ‘cure’ it isn’t reasonable or good.

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My future!

Good to know! So, how to solve this? Answers to handling and managing my feelings are to make sure I feel grounded, get myself in a better headspace. If I know I am not, then to acknowledge it, and make do. Realize that I might not hang the moon on the first try, but that I am going to work it, and see how things go. Be honest with myself about how I am feeling, and be honest with my horse.

I went to ride Oats after my session on Monday and woooow…he felt terrible! So stiff, wouldn’t bend, head-flipping, coughing, didn’t want to canter, didn’t want to hold the canter…WTF? I tried to loosen him up in the trot with minor success and then got off. Can’t deal, that’s ok. It was also monsoon raining the entire day and I now think he literally spent the whole day standing in his shelter= not good for the horse.

Tuesday Oats had the day off, and Ian and I went to see Jenn Grant. She was lovely! She played Dreamer, which I liked off the Heartland intro immediately. A lot of her other songs were really cool, chill and she has a great voice. There’s something really heartfelt about her singing, and she seemed like a very funny and interesting person. My feet were killing me after though, I’m not used to standing around at bar shows hahah.

Wednesday I went to the barn with some trepidation. How was Oats going to be? I longed him briefly before my ride and he hates the sand ring, so he kind of refused to do anything but jog around. Hmm…I didn’t think it was going to go well.

Actually he surprised me! He was moving so nicely. But then…dun dun dunnn…The hopping and head-flipping came back at the trot.So WTF is this then? I puzzled over it for a bit and then realized…Oats is feeling cooped up, caged up. He wants (asking as politely as he can), to GO!!

So, I got up in two-point, and we cantered. And cantered. And cantered. And it was sooooo nice. He felt flowing, free, just really good. He clearly needed to get this out of his system! Then we could go back to the trot, and I popped him over a few x-rails, at the trot, and then we worked in between trot and canter. Just some flowing figures, big loopy circles, and he felt great.

Interesting…