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!

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Le me be mine

No jump lesson this week, as my trainer wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel. Bummer! But oh well, I used this opportunity to tune up Oats, and again kind of wished I was riding with a friend or in a lesson- I let his kind of ‘blah’ reactions colour our ride, and I wasn’t super thrilled with my personal riding, OR how I was reacting. UGH! Why do I have to keep picking at him?

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Who doesn’t love a good Oats?

I know my counselor has mentioned that these weird perfectionist drives will still resurface for me, but I always think I’ve got it licked…And then it bubbles up and ruins my ride. I want a strong relationship with my horse- NOT an angsty one. So I can’t continue to ride like he owes me something–he doesn’t. He’s a horse, and I love our partnership.

I’m looking forward to my lesson tonight, just to regain some perspective under the watchful eye of my trainer (dressage tonight). I think it’s crucial that when we ride, we do so without emotions–and for some reason, I was feeling edgy and tense last night. Oh well, I have to move on from it, and understand that this CAN bubble up, but I can choose to not engage- like I unfortunately did yesterday.

Also a friend of mine got slammed through the x-tie boards yesterday, thanks to the horse she was leasing- he had a ‘moment’ ??? No idea what happened, but he violently swung his butt and basically pushed her straight through and she broke the board with her stomach. OUCH.

I checked in with her today and she is okay- no internal bleeding, just some impressive bruising. Jesus! Maybe that was why my ride went from ‘ok’ to ‘tense and angsty’…I know I am sensitive to accidents and have anxiety/fear about them. Yikes, it was just awful.

 

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!

Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Friday  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) were so bad at the rollback exercise in my jump lesson the day prior. Bingo- that’s what we needed to work on!

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So I told Sam, and we experimented! I really enjoyed it actually, because it provided me with an opportunity to really distill the prior lesson down and play around with it a bit more. What works? What isn’t working?

We broke it down from a line of two jumps, to a single jump, trot-in. Get the lead!! That was the key. Once we did that, I learned that we could influence the correct lead by asking for canter ‘just’ in the step before the jump. Newsflash- that’s your lead.

This wasn’t quite so simple with the canter-in approach. I was getting pulled past the x-rail, and dumped down on the landing= picking up left lead instead of right. Shoot. How to fix? Change the positioning I have coming in. Instead of two-pointing and sort of floating above Oats, sit more and influence, holding the contact all the way through. And you know what? This ‘more contact’ approach did the trick! Neat eh? I’m glad we took the time to really experiment, keep an open mind when things didn’t immediately work.

How cool!

And then we worked on seating positioning influencing the canter. It was…Hard. Hahahah. But we got a lovely canter from both me AND Oats. Oats really is very happy to keep going, providing I give him the correct feedback 😉

Time owes you nothing

And enough with the running, how is the riding? Pretty darn good! I know my dressage these days is…Not great (that’s what happens when I do it unsupervised, it kind of sucks, ha) but each ride I come off my pony thinking, I’m so lucky to have such a great schoolmaster! 

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Oats in his other job- carting my husband back to the barn. 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being happy with what you have, the horse you have in this moment of time? Even when it is distinctly non-glamorous work (walk- canter departs yesterday, I have to limit how many I do because it is tiring for Oats).

Yesterday Oats even had a chance to play school pony, for my friend’s adult niece. The young lady had a ride on my friend’s horse and he acted kind of out of character and freaked the niece right out! I was very surprised, this is a horse that I have literally gotten on and like, whaled on him to get him to go! And he’s spooky and acting silly with a beginner rider? Wha?

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Such a good boy 🙂

So I offered up good old Mr. Oats for a pony ride! We felt it was important that she have a good experience with a horse, and I offered that Oats is smaller, closer to the ground too 😉 Ian said why would you say that (hahhh) but it makes people feel safer!

So we got her up on Oats, and I just held him still. She teared up! But I said look, it’s ok. He’s not going anywhere. He stood still for a bit, and then we walked around and everything went totally fine 🙂 I said- you’re in charge of the ride, you tell me when you want me to stop. And everything went fine, and no fuss or drama. Yay! What a good boy.

It just gladdens my heart to see him being such a solid little guy. Not only am I enjoying my rides, but others can too.

And on Saturday I worked on the most boring of things, but it seemed to be a little rusty…halt-trot transitions. Yay?? Ha. Oh well! Such is the tedium of the day-to-day eh?

If I like the fight in you, will you like to win?

It feels like ages since I’ve had a ride recap! I had a good dressage lesson last Friday, my jump lesson on Thursday was rescheduled to this upcoming Saturday (because we all attended a rider fitness course instead!), and I rode Sat/Monday, and took Sunday off to race in Cedar. So in short, been busy!

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My darling Oats! 

Friday we worked on rider positioning and straightness, featuring an exercise where I held gloves against my side, held in place with my inner arm. The idea being, the kinetic work being done also helps focus my body, and allows the horse to move more freely. It was very cool and we got some of the nicest, most connected trot I have ever seen in Oats! 🙂 He was a very good boy and he seemed to really enjoy the exercise too.

I worked on the exercise again on Saturday, but was riding around lessons and just never really got into the ‘flow’ that I needed…Plus his canter was just, ugh. Very ugh. I decided to work on his canter on Monday, and I got a little too into my own head, and intense, and lost track of time while riding. I don’t love when that happens, because I have tried VERY hard to not be that rider anymore for him! I guess I still have some relapse moments… It wasn’t my finest moment, that’s for sure, but I guess they are far and few between these days at least?

I was also in a rush because we had Beer, Pizza, & Gelato night at Pizza Prima Strata so I had to finish up my ride, rush home, get changed and go to our event! This has been a pretty busy week- I am planning to ride (a light ride, no going down the rabbit hole tonight) to make up for missing my Sunday ride.

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Squid ink pizza with squid and paired with squid-ink beer. It was good! 

Oats on the other hand had a lesson on Tuesday when I had it off! He still gets a pretty regular schedule every week, even if my life happens to be very busy.