Horsey updates!

Oats had two lessons this week AND a trail ride around the block- what a great week for us!

Tuesday was our jump lesson, and I had done a few trot fences the day before and kind of failed at them, sooooo it was homework time: Trot all the fences! Truth be told, I am the weakest at trot fences. Man, I just do not like them. So it was a good opportunity to really get deep in the discomfort zone, hahah.

Miss the good old days when we jumped in the outdoor. Maybe again??

We did a little course of the trot fences, a few canter circles and he was really good. I was…Less good, ha but learning. Go pony!

Wednesday I remembered that I don’t want to get into a fight with Oats, like at all and we had a bad track record of just really crummy rides on Wednesday. Spooky, stiff resistant, angsty, just argh. So I let all that go and put on my ‘Please Pass Wide and Slow’ vest and we hit the streets.

Oats was great! I NEVER trail ride him, and he has not been off property since last August, two days before his serious injury sidelined him for 7-8 months! The spookiest part of the ride was leaving the property actually- we go through the owner of the farm’s driveway, past their house and barn, and dump trucks, surveyors who were clearing property, sheds, machinery, long haul trucks and a dump truck drove right up to as as we were heading out- non stop excitement!

Oats kept his hair on THANK GOD and was a gem about it, and we both breathed a sigh of relief when we got to the road. The roads were very busy but people were relatively careful and I rode in the middle of my lane to ensure nobody tried to buzz us.

And then on Thursday for our dressage lesson, I was a tad apprehensive, because last Thursday Oats was very stiff and uncooperative. Not bad, just…not very good, and our canters had been deeply crappy since. So, not thinking great things. BUT I did ride in my silly fitted saddle pad, like I did for my hack, to see if he needed more padding since he lost weight. Anything works, right?

He was great! He warmed up nicely, and the name of the game was, how little of a ‘hint’ of an outside rein can you use to keep him straighter? My inclination is to straight-up bend to the outside and as I am learning…It’s too much. Be more subtle, less cueing, easier.

He was so lovely, it was the nicest canter again. We were back, baby!! Yeah Oats!

Now all he has to do is gain some weight and we’re golden. I guess going out on a hack and NOT engaging in a fight with him really worked out for us, phew 🙂

Review time: Mega IKEA gummies AND sand in my chips?!

That’s right, you have all been good people so a big review on offer!

Read on and find out why sand is NOT a good chip flavour… But first- the best gummies and jellies I have had in a very long time…

And a small digression on gummies VS jellies. I have lectured Ian on this more times than I can count, so I’m not sure what that says about me, or him… A jelly is made without gelatine, think harder shell and a softer, jelly-like chew- at its finest, it is a fruit pate. Gummies are made with gelatine typically and think about gummy worms, or gummy bears, you get it! A bouncy chew all the way through.

Now these beauties from IKEA are a mix of jellies AND gummies. My sister kindly sent them to me from Calgary!

The cola moose is a jelly- and wow, the flavour is very deep for a cola candy. It has almost a cuba libre spark of lemon in it, and the chew is stiff outside and very chewy inside- delicious! These are a big hit and I highly recommend, if you can get to an IKEA anytime in the next year or so….

The fruit stick that looks like a sour worm is a gummy candy but looks are deceiving- it is NOT sour. I was kind of put off by that?? I did feel a bit fooled, ha. It’s ok, a bit too sweet and the taste is indistinct ‘sweet’ rather than ‘has a flavour’…Not a fan fav here.

Next up- watermelon skulls! Now this is a gummy with a VERY strong bite/chew. It is also huge, so don’t try to cram it all in your mouth it’s a pretty big choking hazard, haha. Bite this one in half, and it is a juicy flavourful fun taste experience. I highly recommend this one- the only downside is that it is a big ass gummy so eat carefully.

Finally- two hearts! These are jellies again. A nice, bouncy chew but not as tough as the watermelon skulls, thankfully. I am not really sure what flavour those are, but they’re very pleasant and…bland. A bit dull in a way that the texture can’t save them. A bit reminiscent of the fruit sticks, really. Cute, fun to eat, and kind of dull… Maybe give these a miss? I think the flavour would be much improved if it was a stronger berry/cherry taste, with a zing to it. You can do it IKEA! If you of anyone can take the atrocities of horse meatballs and pivot to ‘plant balls’ then I have confidence that you can take a blah gummy and really amp it up- I’m not wrong here, am I?

And now, what you may have been waiting for….

Ian bought these new types of Takis from Thrifty’s the other week. The art on the cover is kind of ‘90’s…like it would impress me when I was also enjoying Viva Puffs and other favourites of my childhood. Also Jalapeno Typhoon? Seems like a strange flavour comparison to make, but I guess I have never been in a typhoon before, I guess they could go with jalapenos…It’s weird though. Ian is a big chip person, me not so much (my tastes run more to the candy/chocolate/peanutbutter/marshmallow variety) but I tried a few and what did I crunch on, to my dismay?? SAND.

Yeah, jalapeno- it’s a fine flavour- but SAND in my chips? The grinding, horrible crunch was just awful. It honestly reminded me of a camping trip my friends, Ian and I took to Port Renfrew where we camped on the beach (Pacheedat) and my friends made me a birthday cake over the campfire. So sweet right? Well it was up until the point it got dropped in the sand, and then everyone gamely crunched and gritted their way through a pretty horrible sand-and-chocolate cake. I felt like I could redeem that a bit because I also had a mini ‘Birthday Cake Vodka’ to enjoy that night…Except my poor, much-beleaguered teeth. God, no wonder I lose about half a tooth every goddamned year (ok well it couldn’t be the candy, because then there would be no god right??) 😉

Anyways, he kept eating them and I told him not to because I complained to Bimbo (who owns and distributes Takis) and they said they were going to pick them up to test where the sand came from, after asking me to describe it? It’s…sand? I don’t know where to go with a description, have YOU ever eaten sand? 10/10 do not recommend. And that, friends is the story of my life. I have had so many products with foreign contaminants, it feels like par for the course these days. Plastic in my chocolate, a red seed pod in a bottle of Pharmasave ibuprofen, gravel in my Planter’s peanut butter TWICE, and now sand in my chips??

I’m sure these are fine normally, but like… Nah. Also I don’t like the texture of the kettle-cooked chips anyways, I am a fan of the regular rolled Takis in flavours so eye-wateringly searing that I can only manage like, 1 or two chips, not a fistful like how I want to eat them. So, my suggestion is pass on this, and buy the rolled Fuego ones. Those are great with a beer 😉

A stiff dressage lesson

Oats was just not there yesterday unfortunately. We had a private due to our other lesson partner’s horse with a cough, and Oats warmed up stiff and resistant and kind of…Stayed that way. It was definitely a bummer, but we ended up breaking down the steps to get the lovely, soft bending horse that I am used to having!

Is this too much to ask for? Right now, YES! hahah

Step 1: Leave the trot alone and go back to sitting trot quietly bending in a big bend in small circles.

Step 2: Trot/walk from the sitting trot to walk transitions. The key here is to keep a very deep headsets and relax over the back.

Step 3: Canter is from sit trot, deep bend, and when it falls apart, then ask for a trot transition BEFORE it goes. Sit the trot down, and bend deeply. Keep riding through the transition.

Our right lead was actually not bad, but the left certainly didn’t improve that much. We had a few moments of ‘yes thats it, that is the canter I wanted!!’ but we couldn’t keep it at all. And our downward transitions on the left were…Not good.

And I am trying to figure out how to get more weight on Oats. Time for new hay I think, after discussing it with both trainers this week. I upped his Equi-Cal to the max last night (after weighing it on Becky’s food scale) and I have a phone number for a new hay guy with better hay. I will call him today!

And we go through a LOT of Equi-Cal now. Like…a bag a week! it’s nuts! Have to go and get more next week even. I have, of course, like three freaking bags of All Phase still and none left of Equi-Cal, because that is all Oats was fed for the past 12 years! ARGH.

I miss my chubbier Oats, and I want him back 🙂 He was never really chubby but he was at a healthy weight and I didn’t feel his poor spine bones all the time when I rode him bareback.

Jump lesson #5

And it went quite well! As I have been working back up to our regular height/ability with Oats, I did find myself getting freaked out by going ‘too fast’ and feeling rusty and out of control. We addressed that by trotting in to a line instead of cantering, and it has made all the difference.

Still needs work? My legs felt flappy and weird trotting in this week, and Oats was crooked as all hell, funny enough with a big LEFT drift even though he tends to drift right?

Wheee! Mega-dramatic release by me over a tiny jump 🙂

Also I kind of gave up leg-wise and we had two mega chips every evident in the video, hahahah. My fault, 100%. When I actually ‘rode’ to the jump, things were great. If I gave up? Well, chip-city and a re-do. Oats has been performing really well, honest to a fault. It’s just me that needs to get their butt in gear!

And then of course I ride on Wednesday and I don’t know what it is about Wednesdays but Oats is always SO bad?! He picks that day to really lose his mind about every single corner in the arena, regardless of whatever is going on IN those corners…Yesterday he lost his mind about a squirrel outside the arena in one corner, and then had a comically dramatic meltdown including a rapid backpedal at warp speed when the trainer moved the wheelbarrow…. Sheesh. Maybe I should just start giving him Wednesdays off?? Save us a bit of drama and hassle? He’s such a gem on Tuesdays and then kind of a nightmare on Wednesdays. ARgh.

All in all, I’m very happy with our progress. Good boy! 🙂

An amazing weekend!

The weather was INCREDIBLE last week and this weekend. Wow. After my extensive complaining that April was the new February (no joke, I realized I had been writing ‘Feb’ on all my journal entries for Oats?? I guess it really did feel like Feb?), we had a real turnaround with a heat wave and I loved it!!

So glorious…

Sadly, like all things ephemeral and temporary, it will not last, but man…Wasn’t it glorious? Weather up to 20 degrees (15 where I live on the water always), and it was just stunning. It was easy to forget we are still in the middle of a pandemic that is getting worse before it gets better- my vaccine time is NOT going to be soon, sadly- it was just so nice to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

I enjoyed the sunlight perhaps a bit tooooo much- my face was sun-shocked and red and tight but not sunburned after my extravagances this weekend. Even with sunscreen! Ha! I guess it had been that long since it was so sunny and warm, my poor skin didn’t know what to do.

We took drinks to the beach and sat for a few hours and watched otters play in the seaweed beds, hunting. We people-watched, admired the sunlight, the water, and listened to music. It was perfect.

On Saturday my husband joined me on the track!! I know! He never does, so we hoofed it over there after I rode Oats (lightly- he is very hot with his shedding fur coat and is not acclimatized at all), and worked on rehabbing both of us for running again. Me due to injury, him due to not running over the winter. It was hot and really nice out.

That afternoon we hit the beach again! It was glorious.

Sunday I went for a brief run, then headed back to the stables to ride and medicate Oats, and then we set up a work party for Sunday so after our ride I worked in the fields cutting back blackberries, dumping and scrubbing water tubs, and checking fence lines, picking rocks and fallen branches. Hot work and damn those blackberries are terrible. But, good to get it done and such a lovely weekend to do it on eh? Hard to believe it was April.

The good times never last though, and this fine, fine weather will be going on Thursday. Back to cold and rain. I am already sad to see it go….

The future and the past

We had our fifth dressage lesson back! Oats was quite good for it, really he is a pony that just shows up and nails lessons, isn’t he? Funny considering he had another meltdown the day earlier about…The corner of the arena? Ha. As he ages, he seems to be very reactive/spooky about the strangest things. Noises don’t really bother him, like geese crash-landing on the tin roof, but the corners of the arena, that never change? OMGGGG! He does seem to be developing a warmblood-like spook in his older years…

From last fall or so, but this is what I face every day- filth!!

Anyways, he was super! Funny that his canter coming back into work has been 100% better than his canter BEFORE his serious injury? Like what are the odds?

We also did some trot leg yield, which we were…Not great at. We haven’t done them in 8 months, so it clearly is a work in progress. Not quite so fun as his dreamy, dreamy canter….Where I even got him to trot in a downward transition using only my body/seat. I was so surprised when it actually worked that I lost the contact in that moment, shoot! But wow it felt so good!! 🙂

From last summer but this is what we’re working on! Sooooo smooth

I am very pleased with his return back to work in dressage-land. Very consistent, even if we do have to kind of work on some resistance/bending in the warm ups (I guess some things never change haha) but his work is holding for longer, and getting more consistent. I am particularly in love with the canter we are getting.

And Oats has now been on Equi-Cal for almost a week, and he gets two pumps of Camellina oil, as he lost weight coming back into work and I don’t want him to lose any more! It was quite the shock for me to see him lose weight, as he has always been a very easy keeper. My guess is coming back into work + Prascend + low sugar hay = struggling to maintain, poor dude. I hope to see progress on his weight soon, and also his darned shedding. My god, he is FILTHY every single day!

I figure I will keep him on Equi Cal for the rest of the bag, and then by summer transition him back to oats. I just don’t want to transition him to them too early, as he is still gaining back muscle and power from his many months off.

Here’s to being here

Had my FOURTH jump lesson back last night! And I remembered how I was kind of freaked out last lesson, because I felt like Oats was going ‘too fast’ (haa first time I had ever written that!!)? Well, I had a plan of attack. It was few-fold, and started with addressing how I felt disconnected at the canter (so now I can sit if I want to get re-connected), and then work on the line, but…start it with a trot-in fence.

I know right, me asking for TROt fences??? Nope!

But I did! And it totally worked. It removed the weird speed anxiety I had been having, and made it a whole lot more pleasant to try. And I normally really dislike trot fences, sooo this was funny!

A million years ago, we jumped this from the trot so I know we can do some nice trot fences when we want to 🙂 And we did!

And then we worked on a sort of half-circle vertical and he aced it, the good boy. He was kind of freaking out about a deer wandering around the path outside the arena, and could NOT deal, but when we moved on to the half circle he was pretty darned ok with it. Phew!

My trainer then set it up higher on one end, so if we got a bit of a drift, it was to jump the high side- so I let him drift a little 😉 Get a little taste of higher, these little xrails are booooooring (ok yeah boring and yet I still manage to have a wig-out at them, haha). I guess Oats thought it was boring too because he was just lovely over the small vertical! He’s like hey bring ’em to me, I got this!

Good pony.

I was also in a much better headspace. I can’t keep going back to compare myself and Oats at this stage in the journey back, it only makes me feel frustrated and anxious. Something to progress, not look back at!

Between the breaths

I had my dressage lesson on Thursday, and I was feeling apprehensive. Why is it that my rides are SO GOOD in my lessons, and then so….underwhelming, disappointing, frustrating on my own?

I mean look at this handsome boy, who wouldn’t love him?

So I did it. I owned up to my trainer and told her that I had been struggling, and how do I change it?

Well, firstly, she called me on my BS and said I needed to change my attitude and expectations first. I had a bad attitude about progress- wanting too much and accepting too little, ha. And that my rides previously were great chiefly because I had no expectations about them- they just ‘were’ and it was great!

From last summer- so nice! We’ll get there 🙂

It’s all true, isn’t it?

So we worked on developing a good, solid canter, one that I can take to a jump, or to a circle or anywhere. It felt really nice! And we also worked on a better mental state, one that accepts fluctuations in my ride and in my day. Can I accept that the day I come with a plan could get derailed? And be positive and kind about my ride? Yes, I definitely can.

And now I need to start!

My rides this weekend were great actually- not amazing, but solid, no-drama rides. Getting me and Oats where I needed to go. I only wanted to start the tension yesterday, and ended up letting it go, phew. Saturday I was actually in a pretty bad, amped up mood: I locked my keys and phone in the car at the feed store, fun fun. Ended up cooling my heels for awhile after I borrowed a phone to call the tow truck, and then a cool $70 to get it opened up! Shoot!

I was at the feed store to buy a fattening product for Oats, as he has been losing weight as an oldster who is getting back into work regularly now (four weeks, can you believe it??). He needs more help to address his weight, as I noticed in the past two weeks I had to put my girth up two extra holes on each side! Funny that I was so worried about him blowing up and getting chubby only a few months ago….Well, the work is good for him, and soon he will be back at his regular weight with a little extra help. Poor guy is getting skinny!

We also had our farrier appointment on Friday and he was well behaved, which is always a treat. 🙂

And me? My leg injuries are still giving me a lot of stress and trouble. Had another shockwave session on my left leg last week, which was excruciating, and had my hip tendon worked on (crunched the hell out of it squatting down at the barn and pulled it out, and it never went back in for weeks= pain and discomfort). So, hoping something works out for once?!!! Been now two months. Yay.