Happy Valentine’s Day weekend

A very laid-back weekend, which was fine by me but a bit tame, nonetheless…

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Each Valentine’s Day, I like to curate vintage cards. This year is a hotdog theme.

Saturday I shared the arena with a lesson, and Oats was very cute. He was breaking into trot from the canter (argh!) but I kind of blame my inconsistent riding for that. We cruised over an x-rail the lesson was working over and he was lovely over it…Though his penchant for taking flyers definitely came back with it, he just can’t take them seriously!

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Went for a run (wanted to do a long run but it was pouring rain, gaag) just over 9.7km after riding and yeah, it was…special. So special.

We wrapped up the day by preparing dinner for my friend who experienced a horrible tradgedy, and brought it to her house. It felt nice to do a good deed, and she’s going through a really, really difficult time right now, so I hope when she is able, we can spend some time together.

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Sunday (Valentine’s day!), headed off to the barn again and did a fairly tough dressage school with Oats. He got very sweaty! He was somewhat compliant, though I think he kept looking at the very inviting little mini jumps set up and thinking…why aren’t we just doing those instead??

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Finished the day by running some hills, feeling like I was going to puke the whole time. ARGH! Remind me to never eat that much rice noodle stirfry with chilis and then run…Too much. Way too much. God..my stomach was messed up the whole night from that barf-inducing experience.

We wrapped up V-day by getting two lobsters and a sack of clams, and a bottle of Prosecco. My husband even surprised me with a box of ginger chocolate Purdy’s to finish it off! Yum!

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Now boarding the struggle bus

Jump lesson last night and woooow…I was just NOT clicking with Oats. I have no idea why (hmm, maybe the death of my friend’s dad, my car being an idiot and having to pay a repair bill this week, oh and feeling overwhelmed at work?), yeah I have no clue!

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So easy and yet so hard??? Why??

So anyways, we set up a small gymnastic and I absolutely flailed my way through it. Smashed my face on Oats’ neck when he went to canter it, as I awkwardly fell back, and then forward, and then BANG! Face meets neck. Ouch!!!!!

Well, I don’t know how to to ride today, was my immediate thought.

It got ok, and then worse, and then…well I don’t know.

We worked through the gymnastic w/o reins, because clearly I had relinquished my rights to riding normally with my idiotic display…Oats was also in fine form, wiggling, wobbling, taking off ridiculously early, heading for a chip, he even spooked?!! This is a pony who didn’t even blink an eye when geese were like, getting killed on the roof?!!

We had one really nice go-round, took a break to talk about cheerful things like death, and then I proceeded to go blow up another round. Greeeatttt….

Fumbled and tripped our way through the grid. Lovely.

Went to try grid again and fumbled and wobbled through it. Well, ok. Take a massive chip to the next fence. ARGH!

Single fence after that was good, and then headed back to the gymnastic. Oats leaps over, I flail wildly and pull him to stop, very narrowly missing the standards. Okayy…Take 2: We go over, I stay firmly planted in the backseat waving my arms..We make it over. Canter to the next fence, it goes well. Canter to a few more singles, also good.

I have a righteous fire lit within me, for some reason….You know grids are often easier for horses and riders? So, WTF is my problem?

Wow, it was kind of a rough ride. I have a headache today, thanks to my nose…I guess we need these rides to make us really appreciate the good ones??? Please tell me that is the truth!

Sidenote: I am making another appointment for a session with the equine counselor. It’s time for a tune-up.

This week

I haven’t particularly felt like blogging much…I think it’s a combination of a few significant stressors like my friend’s devastating news, my car being a total jackass and having to pay to get it fixed so it was safe to drive, and a freaking crapload at work= making me feel harassed, overwhelmed and just OVER it.

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Apparently Sleeping Beauty snores too! Photo courtesy of Nicole Gibby.

Maybe the weather?

Anyways, my husband said yesterday it was very easy to feel annoyed and overwhelmed and over it…But to remember the things that are going right even if your brain likes to dwell on things it hates. Funny eh?

Things that are going well:

My health, family health, animal health.

My running- I am totally GETTING IT this year and woo!! so good!

Oats- He was a total rockstar for my friend in her lesson on Saturday (confidence-giving even!) and he has been fun to ride for years now. Good pony.

I have a job

So these are all things that are going well right now, I must remember to count my blessings while grouching and grumbling. Funny how it only takes 2 days to feel really crabby…

I didn’t have a lesson on Oats on Tuesday because I need to stick to my 2/month schedule (aka it’s too much $$ and I had to pay for my car repair bill on Wed. too..gag). But, I did some hard work with him, and I think it paid off!

Monday- the holiday- he did get quite the workout too, and I was super happy with how he was coming along…I can’t really even remember what we did (it’s been kind of a stressful week), but I recall it was strenuous and good.

He had Wednesday off and it was snooze-time for Oats then. Jump lesson tonight.

Cedar 12k race recap: VIRA race #3!

This weekend didn’t start off badly actually, it was only as we finished our race that I heard the terrible news of my friends family.

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Photo courtesy of the Ceevacs. I swear I am running…

I have coverered that though, so this post will be about the race this weekend. Race #3 on the VIRA race schedule, of #7 total. This one took place in Cedar, a few hours away from Victoria. It was a 12k on ‘rolling hills’ and I had never run this one before, as last year we were in Hawaii that weekend (I would kill to do that again, actually…).

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More photos- courtesy of Bastion Running Club photographers. And that guy, totally eyeing the camera…

It is a smaller race, under 400 runners I believe. The organizers are super, clean up and bib pickup was SO fast. The race itself was…a challenge. The start was good, busy though and it led up a small hill. It was a fast field, and I was hoping to maintain at 4:45/km but secretly wanted to go a bit faster, so started off fast (4:33/km) and was trying to keep it under 4:45/km if I could.

Turns out I can, except on the way back where the big hill we trotted down suddenly became Mt. Everest on the way up…

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The turnaround, rear-view.

My breathing kind of sucked. I felt like I was struggling a bit (well at that pace, I am struggling in general) and then the hills…oh, the hills…just killed my pace. I went from a fairly reasonable and fluctuating 4:38-4:40 to a dead 5:15/km. Yeeeeesh.

And I didn’t really improve at the top, either! I just kind of ‘blahhhhed’ my way through the last 3kms.

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A really unflattering finishing. Oh well! Photo courtesy of Bastion Running Club’s Neil Gaudet.

We finished by running through the field of the elementary school, and yeah running on grass felt like I was running through Jell-o. Punishing. I was not sprinting, I can tell you that and I did get passed by a bunch of people then too. I felt like I was going to puke at the end and had to walk it off for a bit, hahaa.

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Photo courtesy of Bastion Running Club’s Neil Gaudet.

Food was good, sadly there was a glitch and no Milk 2 Go protein drinks (that I love!!) but they said next year they will have some.

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Triumphant striding to the finish!

And my time? A very respectable 56:06 (net) and 56:14 (gun). I really do have to get smarter about being near the front, I know, I know…

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The shortest, yet again…

And that placed me in 7th in my AG, and my husband placed 5th in his. Wow, so speedy!!!!

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7th! Hard earned AG.

 

When bad things happen to good people

I don’t want to write a lot about this, mainly because it’s not my story to tell. But I can’t just let it go on and leave everything ‘sunshiney’ and happy, because that’s not life and it’s not reality. My friend’s parents were recently involved in a tragic accident and her father passed away.

I found out shortly after finishing my race up in Cedar, and was in shock when I found out. These were great lovely people, who I knew through living with my friend on and off over the years. Fun, adventure-loving parents who meant the world to their daughters. They had retired and were living the life! And then this happens.

I have been sharing what happened with others close to me (my sister, my parents, my husband) because I feel like I can’t shoulder this news myself. I need others to hear it, hear what happened and understand. It’s so very sad, and sudden, and horrible.

It feels like these things happen in waves, and it seems so strange to me that the people close to me are caught in this wave. My heart goes out to my friend and her sister, who are facing this heartbreaking reality day-to-day. In just one day, one moment, their lives were changed forever.

I want to help, want to make a difference, but don’t want to interfere or anything.

Poles are the worst–Or: Oats learns to take a flyer!

Jump lesson last night and I was loudly moaning about how bad my pole work on Monday was (it was terrible) so that inspired my trainer to re-enact some of my worst moments- live on screen! Ha, sort of, but yes she was interested in seeing what was going wrong with one simple exercise: 1 pole, taken on a circle at the canter.

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I’m not always terrible at poles, but I quite often am!

Simple right?

Yeah, no. Always simple, never easy.

We flailed wildly over the pole at the canter, and I got tossed around, cursed, etc. Wow, I am bad at this. Interesting note- Oats was taking the long spot EVERY TIME. Wha?? This is the pony that loves to chip!

We moved on to a jumping exercise, and Oats showed his newfound love of flying by completely bombing an x-rail…We had to move it up to a vertical because he was not respecting the fence, at all! Again, WTF?

So, we worked over a small course that involved- you guessed it, a pole on a circle, to a small haybale fence, to cantering our prior nemesis- the green box, on a circle to the right, and then through a 1-stride line, then to the jump on the outside (rode very nicely), to jump the green box again on a circle to the left, and then back to the haybale fence.

Oats went quite well, until we got to the 1-stride line and he flew into it. We barely managed to scramble out! It was quite shocking…His latent disrespect for the fences now has him like, flying at them.

That one went up to a vertical too, to back him off them a bit and stop taking such ridiculous chances!

That, however, didn’t stop Oats! Not yesterday, oh no! This time, he LAUNCHED at the haybale fence and made it like, 3’3” over…It was a small 2′ jump at best. I was like “what the eff….”  echoing as we hauled ass over it. Interesting to say the least! Oats is getting bored??

We then proceeded to cruise much more leisurely around, with me making a real effort to half-halt before the fences–a light one, he’s not going crazy here, but still doing it so he doesn’t get it in his silly pony brain to start flying the fences. He was much more workmanlike, with only one dumb mistake of mine at the green boxes so we had a re-do for that one.

So, me having to half-halt Oats, him getting bored and not respecting the fences, all very interesting progressions to me. Hmmm…It was a funny lesson though, jeeesh, I think I was laughing half the time!

Silly pony wants to be challenged more!

 

You can’t lie to yourself

Dressage lesson semi-private last night, and we had a long chat about courage and progress. I have done a lot – a LOT – of work on this particular subject matter this past year, to manage my anxiety. So, I had some things to say on this matter for sure!

 

I still have trouble managing my anxiety on occasion- and when this happens, I have to breathe, accept and recognize how I’m feeling, acknowledge it, and let myself ‘feel’ that discomfort. The more I do this, the better I get at it. It’s a journey, for sure, and we live a long life!

In our lesson, we worked on haunches-in against the wall, quickening to trot steps, then back to walk, all in the haunches-in. We struggled a bit with maintaining the angle of the haunches-in during the transition, and actually during the trot as well, but when we changed reins and tried it again on the other rein, and then went back to the original side, things actually improved!

Oats did give one sassy buck/kick out in protest, but in the general scheme of things, he was very good and getting WAY better at lateral work without big hissyfits. Ha, never thought I’d see the day when Oats isn’t the lesson’s problem child!

Instead, my lesson partner had to manage some issues with her horse that cropped up during the canter. Her horse is very good at lateral work, better than Oats, but is managing some behavioural issues right now…

And one thing struck me- you can say ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I would definitely canter, it’s just that my back hurts’ or whatever, but in the end, you are lying to yourself and your horse. It’s ok to be afraid. Hell, I spent a good, long while being afraid of various canter transitions with Oats because I got turfed off him more than once–more than I can recall actually!

When you say ”I’m fine” ”I can do this” and etc., but you ARE AFRAID you are doing yourself, and your horse a real disservice. Be honest. Accept it. Live it! Just don’t try to bluff or bravado your way through it. I can see you are afraid. When you canter, you hunch into a fetal position and your stirrups are literally rattling around instead of firmly planted under your feet! This is not the position of a confident and forward-thinking rider! How do you FEEL?

Very telling, and interestingly, our trainer asked my lesson partner how she felt when she was longing her horse, and the horse was starting to ‘come down’ from being a total jerk. The answer? ”Oh she’s starting to be submissive to me,” and my trainer said yes, that’s good–but how do you feel? That’s not a feeling! There is a mind/body connect that is clearly missing.

Don’t say ”oh that was great” when you are really, truly, genuinely afraid. Your riding gives it away BIGTIME. Horses don’t do well with this type of cognitive dissonance.

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Yes.

How did I get over my fear? Well here’s a big one–I still feel it. I now acknowledge it, and I understand how I am feeling on any given day, and it gives me the tools to manage it, and ride well with it. I don’t push it away, shove it under, or gloss over it. It exists.

The motivation has to come from inside. I don’t think my lesson partner gets it, at all right now.

It has taken me a long time to get it. Sometimes, I don’t have it even! That’s fine, it is a part of the journey and a good part of that is recognizing how far we have come even now.