Big changes

I’m moving on from my workplace of 11 years and while this is a change I really wanted to make, I also feel very strange about it now?!

Going to miss these crazy kooks!

I started here when I had just turned 25, and now I am turning 37. Where did the time go? I’ve really valued the friendships I’ve made here and my colleagues are great people, but I came to the realization that with just under 6 months left before my sabbatical, it was time to make a more permanent change and leave my current office.

I’m staying in the same position but handling some different aspects, something I haven’t done in oh, about 7 years?? But the change is necessary and important for both my mental health and personal growth. I need to take more proactive steps towards a future that I can believe in.

So here goes nothing…and a fresh start on Monday!

Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there πŸ™‚ and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! πŸ™‚ Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! πŸ™‚

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt πŸ™‚ how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

And pre-Christmas blues

Actually, I had pre-Christmas blues instead of post-Christmas and WOW they were horrible. I wrote a cheery blog post two days before I had time off, I had talked with a counselor and I was feeling pretty darn great!

And then my last day of work, basically everything exploded and it was horrible.

I learned that two of our staff members were leaving, to add to the two who had already left in Dec. I went to the gym for lunch, and came back to work and was called in to my friend and former manager’s office urgently.

I was curious, wondering why she needed to see me so urgently?

Our friend and my former colleague had died that week. 😦

I was completely shocked, stunned and heartbroken. She is so young, only in her early thirties. I knew she had been sick, but I had no idea how bad her illness had been, and how long she had been in the hospital for. It was heartbreaking.

I numbly went back to my desk and felt terrible.

I stumbled through work that day, talking with our mutual friends and colleagues. I felt like I was sleepwalking, that this wasn’t happening to her. When I came home, I cried.

I also learned that Oats was lame again, literally three days before I was also supposed to be flying to visit family in Kelowna. WTF.

I collapsed, basically. I didn’t know what to do and it felt like my entire being, not just my brain, was collapsing inward on itself like a dying star.

My dear friend who is a total sweetheart came by and gave me some of her delicious toffee-bark and chocolates (she is the best!!) and she could tell that I was having a terrible time of it. I was.

So there I was, a few days before Christmas and my world imploded.

And the hours tick down!

That’s right, on my last day before holidayyyyys…!

And some bummer news, I no longer have a jump trainer 😦 I knew this day was coming, and fair enough: She now has to travel a great distance due to owning a farm up island. I was kind of surprised she lasted this long~ but with the increasingly bad weather making travel on the Malahat a dangerous proposition, combined with a lot of her students either not riding due to lame horses or varying schedules…I totally get it.

Just a bummer, overall but a very fair reason.

Here’s to the many years we shared- it was great! πŸ™‚

And a video from our last real jump lesson- it was very fun. As I step Oats down from most of our competition jump lessons, it’s nice to look back at the great things we’ve done. I love our partnership and how it has grown and progressed over the years, much like my relationship with my now-former jump trainer.

A little bit of Christmas spirit?

It’s not a secret that I find the holiday season very difficult and I am usually in the WORST mood before Xmas. Ugh, I just find it very depressing, phoney and fake and this is partly due to work usually blowing up in my face right before Xmas, and my family being a collection of nutbars…

r/a:t5_scdhm - Dashing through the NO!

But I take steps to combat this!

Chiefly by making things I like to do a priority and giving back to my friends, who have had hard years themselves. I also make sure to take time OFF at Xmas, so I don’t poison everyone around me with my horrible mood, lol. (Plus it’s just easier on my mental health if I am not slowly being ground down by work at the same time, so a win-win).

This year we have already been to one Xmas party and we had a BLAST!! Omg it was so fun- at my husband’s work. We made ornaments, enjoyed amazing food (an entire seacuterie!!) and danced and sang karaoke πŸ™‚

And then last weekend we made and decorated cookies as gifts for my friends and trainers πŸ™‚

So who’s been naughty or nice??

This weekend we got a tree! We also watched the Jon and Roy Christmas revue and it was really good, wow it was LONG lol we didn’t get home until after 11pm on Friday!

I also invited a friend/former colleague out to see Oats and have a pony ride and she came on Saturday and they were so good together, makes my heart proud to see people enjoying my pony too!

A nice day!

Soooo bad mood at Xmas or not, I am trying to make the best of things and I am on the home stretch- 2 DAAAYSSS!!! Let’s do it!

Life is too short: Horses go to the beach day!

We’re reclaiming our terrible year(s) and doing everything we can, right now! Life is so fleeting, so tenuous, so delicate and so fragile so why not do everything you can, all at once?

That is literally my life’s motto, so my friends and I who have all endured some truly sucky times these past few years decided to take our horses to the beach!

And boy, it was exciting! πŸ˜‰ We went late because we were anticipated to have an absolutely miserable day (atomspheric river??) with pelting rain but we lucked out and it didn’t even rain on us! Grey but not that cold. How amazing is that!

Some photos…Enjoy! We did end up getting caught by the tides and one of our member’s horses was kind of having a freak out about having to go in the crashing waves to get back to the horse trailer, so we had to backtrack and then kind of dramatically crash over some rocks to jump to the main pathway, safe from the waves. All good though.

Oats with big bro Donato!
The gang πŸ™‚

Tell me that you want me forever

Wow, so many things and so burned out. Where to begin??

Work continues to be a byzantine nightmare that I can’t escape from, like being stuck in a Escher painting or something.

Ah, my little psychopath cleans up so nicely

My own fitness- terrible. Potential leg re-injury after 8 months from my initial stress fractures. Not sure if I am going to come back from these anymore, given how frequently they reoccur and then STAY injured. Don’t you just hate your own body sometimes?

My potential hernia- Have an ultrasound next week and I kind of both hope it isn’t a hernia and hope it is. SchrΓΆdinger’s injury??

Riding- great! That is primarily what is going right. We had some awesome lessons last week, hmm let me think. For dressage we worked on NO STIRRUPS! That’s right, I did a whole lesson without them. Crazy eh?!! It went really well though! Oats was so good and calm, and we worked on canter-trot transitions w/o stirrups on a circle. Apparently no stirrups are my superpower πŸ˜‰

Jump lesson was good but we had to ride in the indoor due to the rain (blahhhhhhhh) and it is not nearly as thrilling as riding in the field, boo!!!

And then we had a saddle fitting that lasted for 2 hours and was quite comprehensive. I was glad of it, but also a tad skeptical as I have had two saddle fitters work on the saddle over the past year, with a check/re-check every year and how did it get so bad with them on it??? Riddle me this?!

And then I zipped off to watch Ian finish the Finlayson 50k!! I am always so drawn in by these events and I get SO jealous. I wish I could run again 😦 I miss it, and I am so envious of people that get to push themselves w/o breaking. When will it be my turn??

Winner winner! He did great!

But that was fine, because the next day was the Sooke Saddle Club fun show and BOY that was more excitement for me that I would prefer (in like, a year hahah good GOD). I have grey hairs now due to that show.

And Oats was nice to ride this week too, Monday was a bareback hack in the field at the walk, cruising and eating. Tuesday we worked on something tricky that we flubbed at the horse show- backing around two barrels in a figure-eight. It is HARD! We did a good warm up, canter, trot, and then focused on the barrels- he was better but still very much non-thrilled about the barrel exercise. Something good to work on then!

And as for the Fun Show? Well, stay tuned tomorrow! It is a doozy!

It just doesn’t happen

TWO jump lessons in like 4 days- go us! yay! This Tuesday Oats was verrrry sluggish off the leg, and unlike Saturday, never really woke up and got that excited. Wish I could feed him his oats again..?! Maybe?? I was wishing I had my spurs though, haha even though I had to remove them on Saturday.

Old Oats in all his glory!

We worked over a small grid, and remember- grids are my nemesis, ha. Or, they used to be. Heck, any trot fence was on my hit list! It went quite well though, so I have zero complaints about last night. Maybe one- jumps look high to me. Jumping 2ft, where he literally JUST CANTERS over it, and I am geared up for the freaking Olympics! Hahahah. I hope my brain and eyes will adjust, because Oats literally does not care and I am hyperventilating and like woah…Here we go! And he’s like, eh…

Anyways, it does serve to remind me that he is the best little dude. Not excitable, not rushy, just goes and does it. Very workmanlike. I could use a *little* excitement for the jumps here Oaty! πŸ˜‰

Oh and we did get to 2’3” oxer in the grid and it felt high! hahaha. Oh, time. Such a fickle thing.

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!! πŸ™‚

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.

Keeping your eyes up: First jump lesson back with Oats!

I was supposed to have my first lesson back on Tuesday but we rescheduled to Saturday. After a lovely dressage lesson on Thursday, I was on cloud 9!!! When Saturday rolled around though, I was a ball of anxiety. What-ifs went racing around my head, I felt sweaty and out of it, and just so anxious! For some reason all of my fears of his re-injury went around and around and it was so weird. We walked and trotted around, he’s gotten very silly about the doors and corners of the arena so I was glad to have a good 10 minute walk to get the sillies out and make him a solid and reliable citizen again, and he settled down.

We’re getting there- slowly but surely!

We limited the canter– again because we want to make sure to be VERY careful about how his post-rehab recovery goes. And when we went to right lead, we just started hopping over teeny-tiny fences! YAY! I was practically hyperventilating, and trust me when I say my breathing was kind of all over the place the whole afternoon after, because of a big post-adrenaline dump. Ha it was nuts!!

Oats was a total star! He was very chill, very ‘yes ma’am I got this’ about everything. πŸ™‚

And we just, did it! I was stiff, very awkward. I got left behind twice which feels unheard of for me?! Just because I couldn’t relax enough to really go with the movement at this stage. I also forgot where I was riding – in a course of four fences!! hahahhaahah man, I am rusty.

So glad we had this lesson on Saturday. It shut down a lot of fears in my head.

Weirdly we had a miserable ride yesterday for some reason (Oats was literally trembling with fear in the arena??? There were no bears or cougars, to my knowledge???) and was racing around like a deranged llama for most of the ride, sooooooooo yeah. It was great to have a very low-key and successful jump lesson.

As for yesterday who knows what his deal was? We had a very long, very quiet and very slow ride. I kept him in the walk until he stopped trembling and trying to exit stage left. We only trotted and then went back to walking, some lateral work that he was pretty good at, and called it quits when he was fine trotting quietly and not losing it. Horses!! My husband says they’re basically a confusing relationship hot and cold, good and bad?? Maybe!