A gala weekend!

I had a super busy, super awesome long weekend. Things kicked off right away with a gala night at the Officer’s Mess for a volunteer appreciation dinner that I attended as my husband’s date. He has been volunteering with the police department on van nights- they drive around downtown and look for expired insurance, valuables left out, and other things that they can flag for car owners.

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My phone sucks at taking photos…

It was a lovely night, good food, cheap-er drinks (my G&T was $4.50) and some dancing! I was very impressed by the brass- they hit the dance floor and showed everyone how it was done. Wow. Everyone was just so free and having fun, I was really happy to see that people like to cut loose, and relax, and it was so enjoyable.

I ate too much! (this is getting to be a problem for me…) and we did some dancing too. Overall a really fun night, and a good way to kick off the weekend. Unfortunately I had a killer headache that would.not.lift.all.effing.day. Seriously, it was miserable and not even two hardcore Motrin/Aleve would treat it. UGH.

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I loved this mirror- so stretchy!

The next day was my clinic with Norah Ross, so we didn’t stay out too late and I was too full to really drink much alcohol anyways, (not proud of this).

I ended up having a long weekend so I could get some shopping in on Monday…Stay tuned for the rest of it, other than the clinic recap posted yesterday. 🙂

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Big things

Oats and I went to a clinic this weekend–we went alone, and I can’t even say how big this is for us- it went FINE.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright. This was from our disaster clinic- happy to say things got much better!

We’ve had a very rocky road when it comes to clinics- stemming from a 2-day intro to eventing clinic that we attended a few years ago (that’s right, it took me literally YEARS to get over it) that blasted our confidence into powder, and caused a several-months setback that even turned into years later with regards to training with other instructors.

My goal for the clinic this weekend was simple: Walk Oats to the neighbouring barn. Warm him up. Ride in the clinic with as little drama as possible. Walk him home safely.

The instructor- Norah Ross- was one I had heard good things about, and I reviewed with her and the host of the clinic that I wanted this to be technical, and not to be challenged with regards to boundary-pushing. I’m not at the stage yet where that won’t cause a meltdown for me (we are WAY better at horse shows, ha).

Older Oats pix from Avalon

Older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

And I was assured that this was not the plan for the clinic, and she was right!

We did a LOT of flatwork, haha. Drop outside stirrup, no-stirrups, bending, circling, change directions, a lot. I was sweaty! Oats was a very good sport. A couple things Norah had me pegged for: Bad elbows, ie- chicken wing. Hands too far apart and too low. She really got on me about them, hahahah.

Also she dropped my stirrups 1 hole, and wow it felt weird! But good?

We moved on to jumping, and the wheels fell of briefly. We warmed up great over some x-rails, and then approaching a vertical on the diagonal, he threw one buck and I got immediately derailed…I ‘saw’ a bad distance, and tossed my upper body at him. He stopped. UGH!

Norah had me pegged straight away. She said my anxiety is causing that, and that my ride on the flat was great, so why is it falling apart jumping? Why so different? It’s like I am ‘abandoning’ my horse when things change so drastically from a calm, competent ride on the flat to somewhat panic-stricken over fences. The jumping ahead is something I had conquered, until it came creeping back when I was feeling a bit anxious…SIGH.

She asked us to change a few things- sit to the fences, no two-point. Counting- 1-2-1-2…all the way. And stay in the MOMENT! Breathe! Stay. This worked out really well, and I was very pleased with Oats’ effort when I made these changes. Clearly…I have some deep-seated issues, ughh.

Oats jumped around lovely. It was all very ‘baby steps’ and easy, but as we clearly demonstrated, we needed the baby steps…

We learned a lot, worked hard and walked home successfully without any drama. A good clinic and a big step forward for us. I even had some hot chocolate, and was able to visit with some old barn friends at the host stable too! Yeah!!

A good ride and a not-so-good ride

Had my jump lesson on Wednesday and Oats and I were fresh and ready to go! I had taken Tuesday off to attend the lousy Hudson’s Bay event with my mom.

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He was jumping better than this over the skinny!

I think that day off really lets Oats shine- I was SO pleased with his attitude jumping, and it just felt so smooth and perfect. How often do I get to say that? Haha. We worked on a bounce gymnastic, canter-in slightly collected. It scaled up to three bounce jumps (tiny), to a 1-stride jump. We then worked in the gymnastic, to a small course that included a single box ‘skinny’ fence. I was a bit concerned about the box- no wings, no guide rails…What was the likelihood of a run-out??

We started the course and he was bang on! It was great. We then approached the skinny box and Oats did have a good firm look at it, and up and over, perfectly. Wow! I was caught up celebrating and forgot to ride my last fence in the course- oops, haha.

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Last year- a very eager Oats.

Time for a second go-around: And it rode just as perfectly as the first. How often do I get that? How about never, hahah. I was so pleased with Oats, a fairly technical gymnastic, he was working hard and huffing and puffing, but he was focused, rhythmic and never wavered. Good boy Oats, I love your efforts.

My trainer said she could tell how good our rhythm was due to Oats’ snorting- he was snorting so rhythmically it was funny- “snort, snort snort- jump- snort snort snort snort-jump,” haha.

But I have to say, I was thrilled with how smooth and focused it felt.

And then there was yesterday…Ugh. I got on and Oats felt weird. We walked for a long time, because he just felt ‘lateral’ and not forward. I went up to trot, and then canter, and his canter sucked. He was short striding, and backed way off my leg. He was soooo stiff. Ahh, poor Oats.

Clearly the work the night before, probably combined with standing around all day in the rain doing nothing= stiff as anything pony. Probably a bit sore too. So, I went down to more walk, some trot and just did some light bending, serpentines, circles and called it a day.

He is getting today off, and I hope he moves around a little more- I hate when he is feeling this way.

My ripoff report: Events category

I’ve been to a lot of fun events over the past few months and years, and after yesterday’s experience I thought I should share what I learned about a few of them! I’ll chalk them into two categories- Worth It and Not Worth It.

Quite obviously, the one yesterday was Not Worth It. I have done this in the past with horse shows, sadly the ones I really liked and was promoting last year (Foxstone Stables Winter Series) went up $10/division and $10 office fees from last year to this year, and their warm-up day went from $25-$30 a day- can’t quite remember- to a rather pricey $55…And I have no idea what stabling even costs now, so yes= now priced firmly out of my budget. 😦 No longer Worth It for me.

Worth It:

Beer Week event- Beer and Pizza pairing specifically.

Hop-beer fests– Fresh to Death and the other one in the summer, Hoptonia or something- I can’t honestly remember- not too pricey, you get two sample tickets and it’s a good time. Way better value than Beer Fest, which is a huge waste of time and effort and is a ripoff.

Any brewery event– Check out new breweries for their offerings, open houses and more. They are SO good. Specifically I have enjoyed the grand opening at Caledonia Brewery, and back when Victoria Island Brewery did open houses, they were SO good!

Phillips Movie night at the Maltworks: Ok so this isn’t great value, but it’s fun, you get a beer ticket and a fun little drink to enjoy too. Not cheap but it’s a good time and provides value.

Granville Island Winter Warm-up: LOVE this one. I have only seen it offered this year and I had a fabulous time!

Art Gallery openings– Always a good time, and usually a glass of wine to enjoy along with the art. Check your neighbourhood art galleries for opening nights.

Dine around- Stay in Town: You know what? I do enjoy this, and find it to be fair value for the dollar, particularly if it’s a restaurant you’ve been meaning to hit up.

Happy Hour at Catalano: Worth it. $4 glasses of house red/white *(and it’s not bad), half-price appies that are understandably tiny, but WAY better priced than Bodega, I can’t emphasize that enough, WAY better. Any day of the week, 4-6pm. Genius!

Not Worth It: Aka a ripoff

Obviously, Gala Night at Hudson’s Bay– HAHAHAH terrible. So terrible. I am loving the entertainment value of telling people about what a joke it was.

Hillside Mall’s Night of Lights– ok, I hesitated adding this one because it was better than the miserable Gala night, but it’s too crowded, parking is a nightmare, shopping is a nightmare, their deals are ok, the swag is nice, and the appetizers are limited. Pass.

Night Shift: Nightmare at the Museum: Last year this was definitely a Worth It! But this year, no way. Too crowded, expensive, no really fun activities, impossible to get one freaking drink at, drinks are crazy expensive. Hard pass.

The Art of the Cocktail: I wanted to like this one, and I truly had a fun time at it. But it is very expensive ($65/ticket) and the crowds and lineups SUCK. I felt like I spent my whole night lining up, and then boom- all the lights turned on and we were ushered out. Plus, some of the vendors ran out before the end of the night, at 9pm. Too soon, too rushed, not enough food. Not going again.

Oktoberfest at Victoria Public Market: First year I went, I had a blast! It was very reasonably priced and I loved it. The next year, ticket prices doubled and it was not like my enjoyment of it doubled either…Hard pass this year.

Beer Week: Fish & Seafood night: Too expensive, lots of beer and super stingy on the seafood. Pass on this one.

Great Canadian Beerfest: Tickets are like $50, you get NO beer tickets with that by the way, a shitty little plastic sample cup, and ..??? Yeah, a big NO from me. Hard pass, every year.

Any craft sale you have to pay to get in to: Just DON’T. I do not care what your justifications are. My mom ran a huge and very successful craft sale for many, many years- she made enough from it to pay for my car when I graduated university. I will not pay to get the privilege of paying for anything at a craft sale- forget it. Not worth it on principle!

Editing this to update: Category 12’s 2nd anniversary open house: Too busy *quite literally packed FULL to the brim with people, not my idea of a fun time, and you had to pay for the samples of the new beer. Cheaper- $5/4 tokens, but still. Pay? Pass!! I could barely get out of there fast enough, jesus.

A review I wish I didn’t have to do: Don’t go to the Hudson’s Bay Glamour Event, ever.

I’ve been busy attending a few events lately- as I mentioned, I went to the Hillside Night of Lights and found it fine, however too busy to really enjoy. I don’t love shopping with a huge crowd, and the appetizer system was lacking- but as I am learning, at least it was there? Wish I didn’t have to say that!

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From the Hudson’s Bay event- world’s shittiest ‘glamour’ event.

My mom and I went to the Hudson’s Bay Glamour Night last night and I was really looking forward to it- it was going to be everything that the Hillside Night of Light wasn’t! Samples, some good snacks, checking things out, new styles, everything!

Except…It wasn’t.

It was so shitty, I am still laughing about it today. Dear god.

Here is the write up I posted to Facebook this morning- I don’t usually do bad reviews, and if it’s a free event then I figure, what the heck eh? But this is different. VERY different.

It was hilariously bad. A cold chocolate fountain, 1 desperate server with one tray of the hardest crostinis I have ever cracked a tooth on, and a thimble of Prosecco to try, and every part of the sham event was ‘Pay $50-$150 at Chanel/Lancome/Clinique etc- and try this service’??? No real samples or opportunities to try things out.

Oh and the lamest swag bag I have ever seen- a Y.A.M magazine (free everywhere), a bottle of Kirkland water, 1 Lindt chocolate ball, a few free perfume samples, and a $50 card to Academy Dental in Eagle Creek??

Much Glamour. So Fancy.

Does anyone want the Eagle Creek dental card? It’s yours!

I’m serious about the Eagle Creek dental card. You want it, it’s yours!

My mom and I got bored after 30 minutes of doing nothing, no food, no real ‘drinks’ to sample other than the tiny thimble, and went and let the front desk ladies know exactly what we thought of the ‘gala’ event. I know it’s not their responsibility- but they did refund us our money, which was nice. A girl behind us got her money back too!

I didn’t want my money back though, I wanted to have a nice time with my mom. Sigh…

The night wasn’t a total bust though, my parents are becoming crabbers so my mom brought two crabs for me to eat- and since I had the whole night, I steamed them and ate them with a salad. YUM!!!!!

Still, not worth missing a riding lesson for. Jesus.

Oh and on Monday Oats and I worked on counter-canter and he was really good for it. I was quite impressed- we are focused on the ‘try’ rather than how long I can keep it for, and he was picking it up fairly consistently. Good pony 🙂

Wish it. Want it. Do it.

Stolen from Brian on ‘Family Guy’ as a bit of an inside joke these days..Ha. You’ll not find me as an inspirational speaker (not my style!) but I do have to side-eye folks who are self-proclaimed inspirational gurus. What makes you an expert in others lives?

BUT I do have to say that my weekend was super-fant-astic! Loved it, all of it.

Friday, I had tickets to see Wintersleep, as we had missed them when they were in town last spring- a great opportunity to catch them again. And I would highly recommend them, they were just awesome. Good energy, came out for encores and seem to really appreciate their fan-base. Fun show all around.

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Me with long hair, Oct.

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And after my hair cut last week!

Saturday, I rode Oats and he was so great, I was goofing around over some small fences, and doing a little bit of homework: lateral work. Good pony. I did run with my husband- a tempo? run at 6k to see how my knee rehab is going. It was ok…Not great yet though. Sighhh…

Saturday night we hosted friends for some fondue and it was a blast! It was hilarious, it took alllll night to eat the fondue, but hey we had some great conversation and some laughs so it was all good.

Sunday, rode Oats and the fun and successful work we were doing over poles/small fences completely disappeared. I have no idea WTF was going on but we were just not on the same wavelength….He was supermanning over everything, just taking huge flyers. I know he has issues with small fences= kowabunga!! He does not respect them, at all. Jeeesh, it was so ugly!

I gave up on that and was like, well, maybe some flat work is in order before you land on a jump and kill us both.

He’s still fun to ride but man, he needs to get in another jump lesson to start hiking those fences UP!

I did a practice run after riding, to see how my knee would handle things. Ran just under 6k, and it was quite shaky and kept threatening to dislocate to the left. Hmm…So, I am stuck trying to rehab it still.

That evening, I went to Hillside Mall’s ‘Night of  Lights’ event. The tickets were $5, and you came and shopped and there were some deals to be had. Honestly? I wouldn’t do it again. The deals were ‘eh’ and it was PACKED. Swarming with people, and quite overwhelming. I don’t like crowds on a good day, and so it was too much for me. Also people who don’t really walk, more like barely crawl, drives me absolutely bananas.

No thanks, not again. The ticket prices do go to charity, so that is at least a nice thing!

A lovely weekend, and I am again lucky to enjoy the great weather here in the PNW.

Every sport involves packaging energy

I weirdly came to this realization yesterday, when I was riding Oats. We were just hacking around, my trainer was riding her horse. I was tired, not feeling super energized and just kind of ‘blahh’ but my ride was quite lovely- Oats is a fun ride no matter how I am feeling!

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Working on energy!

We hopped over some x-rails and then I did some more work over the 1 pole- packaging his canter so it is ‘tight’ and ‘bouncy’ so I can control the take-off spot to the pole. I started noticing that with this ‘bouncy’ canter, his take off for the pole was far more ‘up’ and explosive than his usual blahhhhhh canter, where he launches from a long spot, very flat and strung out.

Packaging his canter= gathering up energy. Who would have thought?

Ha, it’s so obvious to everyone BUT me! The work I did with him over raised poles last week has cemented in my brain that Oats needs more than one type of canter. I never knew how to achieve that, or capture that feeling, until we did that exercise and now…Now I know what I am going for.

I am planning on working up to that tight ‘packaged’ canter to fences. It is hard work for Oats, so I don’t want to burn him out on it. That’s why when I have been playing around with the exercise, we do a few jumps at a regular ‘easy’ canter, and then collect it for the pole, then let it out again.

And I was talking about this with my husband, who was saying that essentially every sport involves directing energy- and the way you do this is through becoming more efficient, technically and mechanically. Without technique, you can’t just raw-power through it. This reminds me of when I am asking Oats to go forward, he just gets flat and strung out- and we get poles down- when I package the canter, we get a much more powerful ‘up’ jump.

Hmm…