Forever & Ever: Jump lesson recap!

So, due to the success of last week with my ‘motivator’ spurs I decided to try that one again- conditions were ripe for a very non responsive zombie pony. Hot, draggy, lazy and full sun (even in the evening, when our lesson is).

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Oats’ mood yesterday: No.

Oats’ head was literally dragging on the ground. He was NOT having it yesterday.

I had my big spurs on and boy, he did not want to respond to them. He remembered from last week I suppose and was distinctly crankier and surlier about them. He responded well for the first few jumps and then a big F-U! Cranky, bucking, fussing and sucking back. Ahh…shit.

Well, the key to that is to get over with it! Sorry Oats, you are just going to have to deal.

He was very much cranky when I started using a crop for motivation as well, so this newest ‘tool’ is also eliciting a very ‘NO!’ response from him. Ah well, riding is always simple and never easy, eh?

We worked over the course and he was…not great but not horrible. It took a few jumps (like, 4) from the beginning of the course for him to let his drama-llama tendencies go and just get with the program. Of course with his drama-rama on the loose, my fear tendencies also tend to rear their ugly heads when he gets silly like this too…So it turned into a bit of me not wanting to let him have his head, him getting cranky and silly, and blahhhh…

But, progress is progress and I know this is something we can work together on.

It just feel so ugly right now! Gah!

 

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Coming Around: Smoothie Queen #2

Just some random shots from the weekend. It was lovely and hot, so I had another smoothie- this time it was frozen mango and blueberry, with a banana, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, ice cubes, water, and unflavoured kefir. It was delicious!

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There was also a show and shine, and we saw a bunch of the cars around town:

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And finally, some tipsy mini golf. Fun!

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Go Get Ahead: Happy Birthday to ME!

Ah, yes the old birthday. I found streaks of white hairs this year- wha? I’m too young for this shit!

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I had a lovely birthday though and enjoyed it several ways: Riding my horse on Friday night, to come home to a dinner of seafood and cake by my husband. Going for a looong hike on Saturday with great weather, my husband and my dog. Dinner with my in-laws which was delicious and great company! Can’t complain about that 🙂

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How Gidget hikes- in a backpack, ha. 

And on Sunday, I had a dressage lesson with Oats (mixed reviews on how the ride went. Our canter needs help, god! But our trot was super awesome!) and then I zipped out to Greenhawk to buy myself (ok let’s be real here, it was for Oats) new boots and some MSM. And completely forgot WHY I was at Greenhawk to begin with…So I have to go back now. Shit!!

And then I was off to enjoy some ceasars and mini golf with my buddy! A fantastic day and a great way to cap off my holiday – birthday haha.

Had a good ride on Oats yesterday, alternated between riding in the field, to the outdoor, back to the field. It was hot hot hot! I looooove summer weather.

 

Be the one you love: A good lesson update

Last jumping lesson, I was kind of bemoaning the fact that Oats just didn’t have any ‘oomph’ and consequently was grinding slowly to a halt at some pretty easy fences. I just didn’t have it in me to make a change in those last few strides, even though I knew I had to. So how do I manage this? What can I do to help?

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Nancy took this photo of Oats sharing a moment with her daughter’s pony and Oats’ twin. So cute! 

A few things actually- I had an equine counseling session to determine why my anxiety was stopping me from being more proactive on Monday.

And in my riding lesson last night, I came armed with something a little more – a pair of my ‘motivator’ spurs (they are pretty long). Now a note about Oats and spurs: I could NOT use them on him for years. He would basically send me to the freaking moon. He had a very hard buck and was not afraid to use it! So, I couldn’t use my ‘motivators’ on him, heck I couldn’t even use my regular small spurs on him.

But now, he is at the ripe old age of 17 and more mature. It was time.

So I came into the ride with some backup to my leg – the long spurs. We warmed up in the arena, and I kind of wanted to have a freakout when he got silly about going through the gate to the outdoor field (where we spent time on Wednesday setting up x-c style jumps…so fun!!) but Oats gets weird about the gate, so he was rearing/hopping up, etc.

With that, I wanted to spiral. Shit!!

But Nicole talked me through it, haha and soon we were happily walking and trotting in and out of the arena to the field with no drama. Phew!! Now on to jumping. We warmed up in canter over a small x-rail to a 6-or 7- stride line. The normal Oats would get 7…and that would be a stretch. The new and improved motivated Oats? 6 bang on. Wow!!

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Our ‘x-c’ jumps in the field.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the spurs would have on our ‘forward to the jump’ at all. It was crazy- my legs got tired because instead of squeezing or kicking, I was having to steer with them, and hold them still! They were burning? Oats also had a few ‘squeal!!’ moments when he realized I was using my spurs to get some forward- a few sassy kick outs but nothing bad.

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This one looked weird but rode fine!

And I realized that I was definitely going to have to get used to this ‘new Oats’…He was very forward, but when I was not careful and kicked or squeezed with my spurs too much, he ‘spurted’ forward and would get flat over the fence= rails down. I had to be more careful about maintaining the pace, rather than trying to get ‘more’ pace as I am used to.

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We jumped the other hay bales, not these ones.

All in all, it felt crazy, exciting and kind of thrilling. Who is this new thoroughbred I am riding? It’s Oats! We also went into the field and schooled some of the small x-c jumps and he was awesome, but we also faced the forward =/ flat jump issue and he hardcore ignored some half halts and just slammed a rail. SIGH! Oh well. He was very responsive and I was very impressed. Wow.

As with any new power, comes responsibility. I will only use these for jump lessons under supervision.

Never Have Enough

Had an equine counseling session, and we did it in the field! I love riding in the field and it’s been so warm lately, ahhhhh my favourite.

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A few years ago- riding in the field is my favourite! 

Some things we identified- using coping mechanisms like teeth clenching, hands in fists, and biting my tongue are older coping mechanisms (numbing actions) that became a part of me- without me really noticing or knowing. I still use these when I am managing stress, and they have a part to play- to a point. Now, knowing I use these coping mechanisms is important and also the fact that I have them isn’t bad or anything- I just have to recognize that I am using them, and be ok with it!

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Last year- wheee! 

It was a very interesting session, and I know that I will probably have a few more while I manage some anxiety that bubbles up. It’s funny, because things are actually really good right now- which is apparently the best time to manage these little ‘blips’ that come up on the surface.

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And in the meantime? Just be ok with it, and understand that it’s a process to work though. Ah, life! Like horses, like anything- something that requires effort, haha.

The one to wait: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show and Tell #2

Going into this show (only a mere month since the last one) I had a goal of riding a cleaner, more competent test. I wanted Oats to be more through his back, balanced and listening. I didn’t want his tense, head-flaily test of last month.

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From the last show- photo courtesy of Lois Burton.

And the scores? Yeah, well those can wait. We have other fish to fry.

I had a dressage lesson on Thursday instead of jumping, so I could prep our mindset for the show- and it went quite nicely. I was very pleased with how Oats was responding and felt like maybe this was a good omen for the show? A softer, listening and more responsive horse? Could be!

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Also from last show- happy to say there was improvement this time! Photo by Lois Burton.

Saturday the show was hot hot hot! I, in my infinite wisdom (thank god, b/c it usually only goes one way with me, ha) had decided to only sign up for 1 test. Good idea, me! Oats warmed up okay…But his canter was resistant, high-headed and draggy. I wasn’t super impressed with it, and quickly got annoyed. I asked Christina, who hauls us and is an experienced dressage rider at third level, for some advice.

She suggested I throw in some shoulder-fore at the canter to really work on more straightness and solidify the half-halts. So that’s what we did, and wouldn’t you know…it worked! Got him off my hands, listening better and more engaged. (Note- he sometimes flails into a flying trot while doing this exercise, but hey, baby steps).

We went into the test and wouldn’t you know, it was awesome!! Things we mucked up- my 15-metre circles were WAY too big, and my lengthens did not show enough differences…But otherwise, a really solid test and an improvement for both Oats and I, markedly, from last time. I could feel it!

The judge was very complimentary- she said didn’t I tell you to move up last year? And I said, but I did! This is my move-up! And we had a laugh at that. She ran us through the circles a few more times to work on my geometry, and we did a few lengthens in the canter- very exciting!

And then get this- she ran us through a Level 2 test! Just for fun, to play around with what is being asked at a higher level. It was hilariously bad, but super enjoyable to play with it, and see what happened! It made me feel fired-up and excited 🙂 Even though we kind of sucked at it. And our score for the level 1 test? A very generous 70%!!