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. 

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? 

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?
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Cruel Summer?

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

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It wasn’t all bad! 😉

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’? 😉 And it worked out quite well, not perfect but still some excellent learning opportunities.

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Horse girls clean up nicely! 

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! 😉 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. 🙂

The sun is shining now, I am getting shockwave treatment on my leg (first session was this morning,  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. 

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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🙂

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! 

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. 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!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he 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!? 

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! 

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. 

And then we got home and Gidget was sick, puking. Nooooooooo…She threw up on Ian’s arm at 3am that night. 😦 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 just 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 🙂 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! 😉 And I am still feeling inspired by Cesar. Let’s hope that propels me into some more effective, focused rides.

Putting the work in: CDRC dressage show recap!

I forgot that I was too busy to update on my  jump lesson (last Thursday) but it was a very good, solid and workmanlike lesson. Oats was stiff and sluggy for it when we were warming up, so I was reminded by my trainer to limit my expectations for the warm-up and deal with the horse I have, in the moment and on the day. So true! Fortunately he warmed up and was moving better after a slightly longer warm-up.

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All screenshots courtesy of Nicole G.

Dressage lesson was on Friday with Sam and it was very encouraging! One thing I wasn’t so sold on were re-visiting my canter loop F-X-M. We kept swapping in the past, and I felt very unsure about it. We worked on it, and nailed it! And then I promptly forgot how to ride the transition to trot at ‘x’ and then pick up the right lead…Yikes. These tests involve much more ‘riding’ than I am used to (I find the intro to dressage a lot more ‘sitting pretty’ which I and Oats are good at. The actual physical riding part? Not so good, and needs a lot more work).

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Anyways the day of the show, the weather was horrendous. In Victoria I heard it was sunny, gale-force winds, hailing, and raining. Up at the show in Cowichan, it was 1 weather- tornadoes. Small dust devils were whipping up in the ring, and it was just chaos. I had sand in my teeth, hair, eyes, ears. Everywhere. It was just so awful and distracting. I wanted to leave!!!

But hey the show must go on?

We warmed up and Oats was feeling good, pretty jazzy considering how miserable the wind was. His left bend wasn’t very good though, and he was leaning heavily on my hands in the trot. His canter felt a tad rushy and unbalanced, but no worries, we could work on that…It was just hard to canter left, because you got a face-full of sand every time. I couldn’t really see where I was going. Poor horse too, yikes… And my friends came to watch! I felt awful for them, dealing with the insane sand and wind in their faces for hours. Troopers, all of them!!

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I was feeling good about putting front shoes on him early though. Score one for me!

We went in to the test and we had a good centreline halt, and then botched the  pattern (First Level Test 1 has a 10-metre turn to the centreline), where I left early and just sort of turned…at will. I honestly couldn’t see, so I think that had a bit part of it.

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The test rode pretty well, I was happy with Oats’ canter, his turns and some of the transitions were a bit sucky as I let my reins get way tooo long at the end.

We finished, and then prepared for my bigger challenge- First Level Test 3. Counter-canter loops, here we come!

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I am VERY pleased to say that we conquered the canter loops! I rode them too conservatively, making the too shallow, but I think that is an easy fix for sure (again I couldn’t see very well at all), and Oats tripped over part of the dressage court fencing (it was on the ground because it kept getting blown over!). Whoops!

I also flat-out forgot to ride my transition to ‘x’…yes even though I knew that was a tricky one that I had to ride more strongly. I tuned out for it, and Oats broke. Damn! 100% my fault though.

Otherwise, the test flowed nicely, I kept my reins (mostly) shorter and we did what we came to do- conquer those canter loops! 🙂 Yay! We wrapped up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Good god, the wind. I don’t know what my scores are, but I’m happy with the efforts and with how saint-like Oats was while dealing with challenging weather conditions. What a star!