New adventure in dressage-jumping!

So we revisited the lesson from last Thursday, with a focus on ‘building’ the canter up to be a bigger, more energetic and ‘jumpy’ canter rather than a very tightly controlled ‘small’ canter.

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Some choice screengrabs ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dressage with speedbumps!

I now tend to think of dressage for me as a process of going through stages. First we developed his ‘stretchy’ frame, next we bump the frame up a bit for his ‘jump’ frame and then kind of toggle through both. But you need the first one to get the second, if that makes sense?

It’s a sort of transitional phase.

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But so uphill! I love it!ย 

And yesterday had some very rocky moments (his right rein was not a thing, apparently) and he had 1 BIG spook that almost got me off, hahah. Stupid pony! But no matter, I enjoyed the end process and I think I am getting a better idea of how to manage his canter, both on the flat and through the jumps. Both trainers are right- his jump/my jump issues stem from a weakness in managing the canter.

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Heading to a small jump and he still looks good!ย 

If I’m not connected to him at the canter, how WILL I know where the takeoff spot is? I am too disconnected to know or figure it out! And I can feel that, I just didn’t know how to fix it.

This time I am happy to say he nailed every single distance, ha. We didn’t really jump (ok, they were cavaletti size, ha super small) much, but it was higher quality and the canter improved. We did get a little shakier and flat as we wrapped up, but I was able to watch the video and damn…His canter is looking FANCY. I also am reaching the point of jumping where this little stuff is…Not hard. Taking the spectre of ‘jumping’ out of jumping is working well for me.

My hands suck and I sit behind the motion, soooo ignore me. But Oats! Wow! Loving this. I also appreciate that in the 10 years I have owned him, I am still learning so much with him. It’s a journey, isn’t it?

 

 

 

Until tomorrow goes away

And another dressage lesson in the books, and man, I am getting blown away by how soft, forgiving and good Oats and I can be! It’s an excellent revelation ๐Ÿ™‚ I want to be that rider, who has a horse with a soft mouth, who has forgiving hands…And we are getting it! Now I wish I had it years ago, but to be honest, I don’t think I could have.

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Something more like this…ย 

This is just part of the journey I guess?

We added canter to our building blocks of progress, and while the canter does require much more ‘maintenance,’ it also felt way better than it normally does. Also, with the idea of contact as a ‘living’ thing to be constantly worked on, rather than a ‘set it and forget it,’ I am actually having toย ride more. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? What am I doing on a horse if not riding?

Well, the truth is I like to get statue-still and mistake that for perfection. It really isn’t. A horse is a living, breathing, flowing, reacting thing, and so am I. So, no room for turning into stone, ha. Or having a grip on my contact. Ebb and flow, take and give. And my legs need to actually be used rather than just ‘there’. It’s funny it has take me until now to ride like this, but hey- progress?!!

It is humbling but I’m really enjoying how excellent Oats feels!! Yes!

Now if only our TERRIBLE weather would freaking shake out of it. Every day is either cold, or rainy, or cold, rainy and windy. I had to go back to wearing jeans, sweaters and vests and jackets. Efff…. So much for this miserable summer.

The Comeback (Jumping the shark?)

Had a dressage lesson on Friday (my jump lesson got cancelled on Thursday), and while I really wanted it, and was very much looking forward to the dressage lesson, by Friday my ‘life impulsion’ is really…low. All I want to do is go home and drink a bottle of wine, with chips and pizza. Ha.

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From the summer. So worth it!ย 

Getting home, and immediately getting geared up for a lesson? Um…

And I am not sure why I have this draining, draggy-ness when every single time I go ahead and have my lesson, I come out of it SO HAPPY!! Like, it’s incredible. I told the trainer she must be magic, because I come in to the lesson full of complaints and like, I don’t know how to ride my own horse… And come out of it feeling SUPER!

Damn, she’s got a magic touch for sure. And I can’t even pinpoint how or why, it just…Makes sense? She tells me really minute things, and bingo- we get it! And our ride is clicking, just so smoothly. I love it. I come in grouchy and so over it, and come out feeling thrilled with our potential/capabilities. YES!

I even asked her how she can turn around our rides/my negative attitude, and she said look, I am not the one riding the horse. I tell you what I can see, you do it, and voila! We fixed it! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so true. They are 100% worth it, even on Fridays when I literally drag my reluctant ass to the stables, to find my swamp-thing horse covered head to toe in mud. *(yes this was Friday and yes I was in a bad mood about having to scrape him off to put a saddle on..ugh).

Lesson to me: It’s worth it. It’s always worth it.

Comeback kid?

So I deliberately haven’t been updating my blog because I wasn’t happy with what I was writing (read: ALL ranting). Gosh, it was too much even for me! I don’t like being a black cloud. And it felt like my entire summer leading to fall was just so…Disappointing.

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Dressage day. My friend did the braids, aren’t they cute?

But, as my counselor says, the path to enlightenment is long and sometimes hard. And once you’re on it, you can’t really get off it!

So, here is a recap of my season-ending horse show. And as a tale of two horse shows, it went well, and badly! Ha. I had two kind of lousy riding lessons the week before, back-to-back. They were technical and I just felt…Like I didn’t know how to ride anymore. That was a marked difference from my last show (CDRC that is) when I felt like I was on top of the world! Nothing could bring me down!

And now, I’m down. I felt deflated and uninterested in going. But I also didn’t want to bail on my friend, who I really enjoy showing with. Sooooooo…My headspace was kind of ambivalent. And I am not really an ambivalent person.

Saturday was dressage, and I was a bit anxious about it, because our last dressage outing, Oats was tense, anxious, gassy as heck and acting strangely. It worried me a lot! It was terrible. This time? Our first test sucked, he was distracted and tense through his neck/poll, but ok, fine. Our second felt lovely, enough though I forgot how to ride the counter-canter loop on the second pass and he swapped! Shit!! BUT the rest of the test was lovely, and I was super happy with Oats. We won the class with a 67%, which was very reasonable, and we were third in our first class with a 64%, which was fair. The judge was pretty tough, but I found my scores to be right in line. The classes were quite large! About 13 rides in Test 1.

Our jumping the next day, well…I was ambivalent as I mentioned, and it was pissing down rain the whole time. UGH. I so did not want to be there, getting soaked. Oats felt the same, I guess, because he stopped at SO many jumps. Shit!! Needless to say, we’ve had better, and quite frankly, been better prepared. I should have left my ego at the door and gone down a level, but I didn’t. So, I learned something more about myself and my horse- if in doubt, knock one down. There’s no harm in it.

Lessons learned, all!

Here’s to a more productive, learning September and fall. I guess it can only get better from here?

I hope they get it right this time

Apparently pain is a great teacher. I hope it is, because lately all I feel is pain (emotional and physical?).
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My leg feels like a throbbing mass of pain basically everyday. I HATE IT.ย 

I had an amazing spring and early summer, it felt great! Things were falling into place (I won a small half marathon! Oats and I made our 2’6” debut and it was fantastic!) and was really in this ‘challenge me’ type of mentality that I was getting a lot out of and feeling strong and confident!
Now, it feels like everything that I worked hard for kind of went off the tracks. Oats went suddenly lame before a big horse show I was really looking forward to, and we had to pull out. That same week I tripped running home over a small hose leading to a construction site and face-planted quite dramatically on the pavement. I was ok with no serious injuries, but it scared me, was painful, and took a week or so to heal.
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The last show that went well. I see a lot of things to fix, but I remember having a really fun time and smiling. How do I capture that joy again?ย 

At the same time I tripped and fell, I unknowingly had developed an overuse injury in my leg and couldn’t run at all. I have now been off for a month, and while I am getting treatment for it, it is a slow process and can expect to be injured for another month at least. I am (or was..) in the middle of training for a fall marathon and now I feel like giving up.
Oats came sound after a few weeks- longer than I thought he would be off, which was anxiety inducing to say the least- (after I healed from my fall) and things just haven’t been very smooth. I feel frustrated and things just don’t feel happy and easy, like they were before everything happened. Our rides are full of tension and while I am taking lessons regularly, we have good moments but on the whole it feels rough, awkward and makes me feel unhappy.
This came to a head this weekend when I had him at a small, no-stress schooling show and he felt AWFUL. Tense, unhappy, distracted and very anxious. We were at the same show a month ago and it was night and day! I have such happy memories of how thrilled I was at the show and I was saying I loved riding him so much I wanted to canter forever, it felt so amazing!! We were actually worried he had an episode of gas colic, he was so out of sorts and acting strangely. Not like Oats at all!
I can’t really ascribe all of his behaviour to me and what I am feeling (mostly frustrated and in pain) he could just be having an off day too, but he does mirror me closely sometimes. Too closely.
I am taking a step back this week and having my friend and competent rider take over my jump lesson so I can watch. All I feel like doing these days is griping and crying about what I can’t do?! I feel like I can’t trust myself or my body to do or know the right things anymore.
When is the next step the right move? Where do I go from here?

Cruel Summer?

This past weekend was a busy one, but with one notable absence: I am still too injured to run! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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It wasn’t all bad! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Otherwise, I enjoyed rides on Oats (and he was stopping at jumps again, WTF?) but I’ll have to shake that off and move on eh? I did some pretty vigorous rides, so I am looking to tone it down this week and work together with Oats. My lesson on Friday was great actually! I liked the lesson we took away from it- ‘how slow can you go’? ๐Ÿ˜‰ And it worked out quite well, not perfect but still some excellent learning opportunities.

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Horse girls clean up nicely!ย 

Saturday I rode and it spiraled a bit more than I would have liked, ehhh. It didn’t help that Oats showed up with a huge gash on his neck, and BOTH eyes covered in eye goop. Fly-borne infection, here we come! Shit! Can’t just like, something work out for me this summer?

Makes me feel kind of cranky. The weather was not good (cold, raining), I am still injured, Oats has this gross eye goop in both eyes, he’s stopping at fences…Eh. It is all temporary, right? Now I just need to remember that, and get into why I ride: To have fun, silly!

Moving on! I went to my friend’s baby shower, in what turned out to be a really action-packed Sunday (ride, watch other friend at a horse show, go to baby shower), phew. We had a BLAST!! YEah! Plus, I won the ‘guess the chocolate bar in the diaper’ game – after loudly bragging to everyone that I was the ‘chocolate expert’ and that they should step aside…And I was right! I was the chocolate expert! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I won five SWEEET chocolate bars for my prize- how perfect was that?

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Tucker enjoyed some healthy eating…

We had a lovely time and it was really nice to see my friends and horsey friends all hanging out. ๐Ÿ™‚

The sun is shining now, I am getting shockwave treatment on my leg (first session was this morning,ย  YOWZA I knew it hurt but Jesus CHrist it really hurt. I was kind of like, half crying, half trying to pull my leg away…jesus. Ouch. But it works, so I guess it’s like…It hurts like a laser cutting through your leg, but it heals it much, much faster.

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In happier news, we made a paper towel diaper! hahah

Still, not so looking forward to the next session on Thursday- gulp!

Riding tonight (easy) and then a lesson on Wednesday to practice.

 

Summer-born

This weekend (my birthday weekend) was very much a good news/bad news kind of time.

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From our successful Sooke Saddle Club show- things were going so well, until they weren’t! Photos are courtesy of Eila Zylak.ย 

Good news: Oats can be ridden in the indoor and in the field!

Bad news: Lame in the outdoor. And weirdly a total nut in the indoor, afraid of the person door??

Good news: The weather was so great!

Bad news: Still chilly in James Bay.

Good news: LOTS of fun friend interactions!

Bad news: I had lots of fun friend interactions because I couldn’t take my lame horse in the horse show, so I went to watch instead. I felt a bit jealous!

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Stretchy trot. Good relaxation but could use more stretch?

UGH. Well, oh well. I did a lot of running, some riding, some sweating, some shopping, lots of eating and enjoying time with my friends and family. So that is ok. I miss riding and jumping in the outdoor though, and had some super fun gallops in the field, where Oats seemed completely sound, only to find him head-bobbing lame in the outdoor arena the next day. (Though ok in the indoor?) It really does seem like what the vet said on Wednesday is true- some sort of heel bruise… Ugh. Takes time I guess.

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I was so glad I took an extra day off, to just enjoy myself. That is the biggest and best gift I could give to myself. AND I bought myself a cool Arista Sunstopper long sleeved shirt that I have been wanting for a year! AND my amazing horse friends bought Oats pink brushing boots?! Can you believe it? WOW! How lucky am I?

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๐Ÿ™‚

Now he just needs to get better so we can waltz around our jump courses flashing pink!

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Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

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Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

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From last time. It was still really windy!ย 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep.ย He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!).ย 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like heย rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!?ย 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

We were wild

I had a really decent long weekend, and jump-started it by having a really solid dressage lesson on Friday. It was TOUGH! But excellent. You know that feeling of having worked hard, really hard, and gotten exactly what you wanted? That feeling!

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Not to say it was perfect, but after the sort of angst on Thursday, I told my trainer that we didn’t have a good ride, that my expectations of ‘perfection’ were ruining my ride and I wanted to get past it, over it. These weirdness spells sort of come and go, and I was ready to focus and not dwell!

We spent basically the whole lesson in canter (with plenty of walk breaks) focusing on building Oats’ lateral flexibility in the canter, leading to canter haunches-in. It was really good! And very much highlighted the difficulties I have in ‘riding’ his canter, rather than being ‘taken for a ride’ in the canter. Can I influence his canter? Or do I just sit there, like a passengers, helplessly?

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It was an important lesson for me to realize just HOW much I am needing to do and ride. I’m at the point where I can’t just sit and tune out, and expect Oats to read my mind and do ‘something’…I have to influence it, ride it, and ride every stride.

Good to know! It was a very cool lesson. Eye opening!

No, the end is not near

Had a very busy weekend! And tried to ignore the fact that it was martyr’s day (cough, mother’s day…) not a great day for those of us experiencing strained mother-daughter and parental relationships…UGH! Enough said.

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I am feeling dressage-inspired!ย 

Anyways, my best solution is to grey-rock them (don’t buy into drama, be boring). It works ok, but I’m also a terrible grey-rock person- prone to outbursts! Ha. Oh well! The weekend itself was pretty good, Friday my husband and I signed up for a ‘5k Happy Hour Run’ with local running store Frontrunners, sponsored by New Balance and Sheringham Distillery. It was so fun, and the weather was fantastic! Sunny, warm, just a great day to be alive.

You had the option to demo a pair of New Balance shoes, go on a nice little 5k shake-out run through Beaconhill Park, and then back to Frontrunners for a sweet-ass cocktail, a Moscow Mule shaken up right there by the bartender! And we got to keep the nice copper mugs too! Yeah!

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Poor Gidget got sick this weekend.ย 

And then we got home and Gidget was sick, puking. Nooooooooo…She threw up on Ian’s arm at 3am that night. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Gross. Poor dog. Luckily that seemed to be it for her. We were up and Saturday was a super nice day again, at least everywhere not in James Bay. Sunny, warm, beautiful. We went to check out the Oaklands Garage Sale block party. It was nice! I didn’t see anything I really wanted though, so didn’t pick up any garage sale scores.

Off to the barn and enjoyed a ride in the sunshine in the outdoor arena with Oaty. Then I came home and it was justย freezing in James Bay. About 12 degrees and wind gusts of oh, 70km/hr? I went on a run and was grimly cursing the entire time. It.SUCKED.

Sunday I was up early to go audit the Cesar Torrente dressage clinic for the day at my dressage trainer’s fabulous stables, Fairlawn. It was really cool! Highlight of the day- watching Cesar instruct a high-level rider/horse partnership, currently competing at Prix St. Georges. It was just stunning to watch, and I was really engaged in it ๐Ÿ™‚ How neat! I felt inspired to go ride my little nag after that, hahah.

So we did! Zipped out to the barn after lunch at the clinic and I rode in the outdoor, trying to keep in mind Cesar’s teachings at the clinic. I can get very complacent and lazy when I ride on my own, unfortunately. I feel like I’m not the only one with that bad habit though? Oats was good, we worked on picking up the counter-canter down the long side on the quarter-line of the arena. I was FROZEN though, brrrrrrr.

Moved some jumps around after, ugh I was exhausted. Drove home, contemplated going for another sad-sack run in the freezing wind and cold and just…couldn’t. Ha.

Rode yesterday and it was cold, but still ok to ride in the outdoor with a buddy. Let’s face it- the barn is my social life! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I am still feeling inspired by Cesar. Let’s hope that propels me into some more effective, focused rides.