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.

IMG_1463_Moment(2)

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.

IMG_1463_Moment

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.

IMG_1463_Moment(3)

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?

 

 

 

Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

67754596_720783861683615_5350773400996413440_n

The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

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.

48333559547_39663b3381_k

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.

Oh, always killin’ it

I had my dressage lesson back (and on Thursdays, what the heck? Thursdays are usually jump lessons) and it was REALLY good. After COVID-19, all of our schedules got all jumbled up and mixed around. I had to move my jump lesson to Saturdays so that we could try and get our dressage trainer on 1 day, since she was not available on Fridays anymore. Couple that with my weird tension-building anxiety and I really felt like I was in need of some really basic building blocks, ridewise.

67946521_664104480755140_7520369331637583872_n

See, this is NOT the frame I want- I want him to be ‘stretching’ down more, not so compressed with his head and neck. So, always more to do! And this is from last summer.

I wanted to be able to work with contact without getting rigid with my hands and arms. Easier said than done, haha. BUT I feel like we are really getting somewhere, a better place where I can ride and maintain contact without turning into stone, hahah.

So it felt very positive. It is a challenge, but given Oats’ advanced age, I need to start working him in a more responsible, and responsive way. I really appreciate the opportunity to modify my ride, and I have the time and headspace to make it happen. Oh, and a supportive trainer too! Can’t forget that. It’s kind of nice to not focus on horse shows right now, because I feel like this foundational work is really important and something I want to develop further for my personal riding education. ๐Ÿ™‚ Go Oats!

Except that rotten pony rolled in my saddle AGAIN!! I was raking on Wednesday and Boom!!! He went down so fast heย wrenched my damn arm and neck pretty hard. ARGHH he is sooo cheeky.

Forget Me

And as we start getting back to normal, I started my lessons back up! Of course after 2 months of no lessons…I desperately needed them. My jump lesson was good and to the point, and Oats got back to it like he had never been away! Small tiny little cross poles, but it felt good to get back to the groove again with my honest as the day is long pony. A good feeling for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

video-1582932396_Moment

Hard to believe this was in March, and like one of our last jump lessons?!

I then had my first dressage lesson back on Saturday at the freaking crack of dawn, and you know what? I wanted to really take me and Oats back to basics. My hands are too rough, I feel like he is shortening through his neck because of that in the warm-up, and our transitions are now non-existent and tough and leaning. I know a lot of this is because of the weird anxiety I had over the past two months, but that is no excuse for BAD hands and terrible warm-ups and transitions.

So, our entire dressage lesson was a rework on soft hands through the warm-up to start things off on the right foot. And you know what? It felt great! I was able to warm up with soft hands and then incrementally work them up into the contact. Oats was then more responsive off my seat!

Of course, he was still a spooky goof yesterday, so I spanked him pretty hard and then we revisited what we learned on Saturday about warming up nicely, stretching rather than compressing his neck and spent the whole ride yesterday just doing that- and it was good! He was pretty sweaty, but it wasn’t difficult work- it was just comprehensive and warming up with ‘reach’ rather than some sort of weird giraffe-neck.

He spooks because he can get bored, and I’m like, enough of that!!

But then he got down to business, and was reaching quite nicely. I’m so glad to be able to get guidance again. I definitely need it to keep both of us honest, nice to each other, and back on track!! Oats likes it too ๐Ÿ™‚

Oats and I then got to explore one of the unused pastures to see if it ok for turn-out, and it was. Oats was in hog heaven, with knee-high grass and weeds everywhere!

Music for the long emergency

Sooooooooo…Work is crazy right now, and that is due to the emerging coronavirus. I am assisting on the file (it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ thing right now), and making life extremely difficult for many, and in some cases, deadly. It’s a real challenge, and while I don’t want to dismiss fears, the risk we have here on the Island is very low. I do accept that the impact will eventually come here- like the flu, like H1N1, it will spread and sort of becoming ‘the norm’ but right now? Yeesh. Also I can be a bit paranoid, so having this be my ‘all day everyday’ existence is difficult.

IMG_1324

Bright side to the weekend: Doughnuts and sunshine!!ย 

But anyways, my normal life is fine actually, with a few dramas. Oats got out of his pen twice this weekend- 1 time on Friday night after I rode, where I SWEAR TO GOD I double checked his latch. I have never, ever left it open.

The other boarder suggested his horse might have opened it by playing with the gate. I thought that might be it, but my trainer said it’s really unlikely, but that I probably forgot to do up the gate. Ok, but yeah…

Until Sunday night it happened AGAIN! And I was not at the barn on Sunday- at all! And even worse- he got out past the external fencing, that leads to a MAJOR ROAD. WTF?

I wasย pissed. And it’s definitely the new horse neighbour messing with his gate that caused it to open both nights. So, there is a new chain, and mercifully Oats is ok. Phew!

And in other annoying news…Oats was stiff, balky and shitty on THur/Fri, and I found out why- and it’s twofold- 1. He needed his feet done like, 2 weeks ago. Bad me. I thought he was fine, and he just…Wasn’t. This is entirely on me.

2. He was playing too hard with his horse friend, and was sore. He felt prettttty terrible on Thur/Fri. Thursday I chalked it up to him just being stiff, but on Friday he felt awful- moving laterally, balking, stiff, stopping. It took about 45 minutes of riding to warm him up enough to feel ‘ok’ but not great.

The farrier came out on Saturday and trimmed him up, and then I rode. He was definitely improved from Friday (no tripping!) but his left lead canter still felt like a bag of crap. His trot work was almost back to 100%. He then had Sunday off (to escape…) and then I am riding tonight. Fingers crossed that he is back to his old form by now!

Man, Life. Just…ah.

Terrible Thrills

Had my jump lesson on Thursday, and despite a LOT of drama-rama (jumps are leaving with my friends, my trainer is going through some truly devastating personal loss), it turned out pretty darn good. Note: This is not to make light of what people close to me are going through- at all. Life goes on, and it can sometimes take a real toll.

69035455_10101141504109636_7474916873860022272_n

Man, I just love this guy!ย 

Oats was so light, springy and forward- he felt fantastic! I haven’t felt him being this ‘fresh’ and smooth feeling, like air, in ages I felt like (and then I proceeded to ruin his light freshness this weekend, because I am an idiot)… But we worked over a small course and man, he just felt SO GOOD. Through the small three-stride, we were almost getting two. TWO! On OAts! What a little star.

We did have 1 hilarious blooper- we took a tricky inside turn and BANG almost ran head first into a jump standard. I really misjudged the turn and kind of…Drifted out further and almost smoked the second jump in our course. Yikes! Oats of course, is a freaking saint, so we circled after our regroup and just…Did it again! And he was great, of course. I love my boy.

For my dressage lesson on Friday with Sam, (yes it WAS a busy two days for us), we worked on trot, sooo much trot. Leg yield trot. Across the diagonal trot. Shoulder-in trot. Big trot. Smaller trot. Stretchy trot. Wowza…My legs were tired, and I had sweat dripping across my face. Oats was sooo good again. Light, springy, just moving gorgeously. I am too lucky to have this horse in my life.

Too bad I kind of blew up his good vibe this weekend- I felt tense, edgy and for sure let it out on him. And I know better too. I just need to actually RIDE better and let the tension go! He was going fantastically and I got too handsy and angsty.

I know better for today, and my mantra for today’s ride- relax.

 

Nothing Feels Natural

Finally we had some sun! In fact, we are now on THREE whole days of sun! Can you believe it?! I can’t. We honestly had close to 3 months of straight rain, or wind and rain, or wind/rain/snow combo. Not a single clear day for months, and boy does that drain a person…

36780203_10155492758777793_2000642418411569152_n

Daisy is at another stable now, but Oats loves his friends!ย 

Friday I had my dressage lesson and it was really good! I wasn’t expecting much, given it was basically a tornado with pouring rain, the arena was super flooded and Oats was feeling okay but not amazing. However he really rallied and we worked on straightness in the canter on the diagonal fences, and then some head-to-the-wall leg yielding. Success! He was quite good and sweet. Love my boy ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday the ring was still nuts and the vibe a bit off but not too bad, it was a bit quieter which is nice, and so Oats and I worked on transitions, and his leg yields. The canter to the left is still..eh. We will call that a ‘work in progress’ shall we?

Sunday I had a race (Cedar 12K recap coming soon!), and then managed to finagle a bareback 20 minute ride on Oats after- you know I can’t resist getting a ride in, any way, or anytime I can! He was very sweet, and apparently had spend the entire night running amok outside of his paddock, going horse to horse to play bite-face with the ones who would oblige him! He then was exhausted and spent the afternoon flat on his side, sacked out. Phew!

Monday I was tired from the race, but also determined to do my ‘homework’ which I do try to do once per week- straightness on the diagonal jumps AND trot fences. It was good! I did find that when I posted trot in, I was able to control the take-off spot a bit better, rather than coming in two-point using the ‘hope and pray’ method…! Good to know. I think I ride Oats better when I am more ‘connected’ through my seat, vs straight-up butt out of the saddle 2point.

Things you learn eh? 25 years in and I’m still learning.

Anyways, day off for me, Oats teaches a beginner tonight, and I am off to dinner with friends to the new place: Boom & Batten. I hope it is good, it is very pricey.

Like a child hiding behind your tombstone

Ha, weird title but I liked it- from a song on my Spotify play list last week. As I mentioned earlier, this has just been a tough week for many in my personal life- my friend’s horse being euthanized with a broken leg, my one trainer has to put her beloved dog down on Wednesday as well, and just…. My heart aches for them. I have faced loss before, and I know how horrible and deep it is. Just so challenging.

IMG_1329

From last spring!ย 

I also had a marathon week of lessons for me and dear Oats! Kind of mixed too. Not like, over the moon amazing at all. But ok! He had a lesson with his beginner rider on Tuesday (he does not have to work that hard), and a jump lesson with me on Wed (we worked on canter-in bounce grid gymnastics, which was HARD work!) and then another jump lesson for me last night- I was sooooooooooo late, I got to the barn as my lesson was supposed to be ending… Great. I got stuck in a huge traffic jam for TWO HOURS. Eff my life. Fortunately my trainer was aware and waited for me, and my friend helped me tack up in a big rush and off we were!

56359322_391530991680989_6553961197085917184_n

Remember this from last spring? SO good!ย 

I will admit to feeling super frazzled, ha. I was having trouble connecting with Oats, feeling rushed and really tired, and I haven’t been feeling well this week at all either, along with having trouble sleeping. = success?? Ha, no. I ate mane! I disconnected and misjudged a take off spot and just straight up jumped up his neck. At a crosspole. Facepalm.
Oats, while a fabulous teacher, will still make you work for it and he does not really give many freebies. Whoops!

I tried again and since he has a heart of gold, he was like, ah yes why didn’t you say so! Jumped perfectly.

He was however kind of lazy and tired last night, and combined with me being tired and frazzled, led to a lot of miscommunications, disconnects and breaking into trot! Argh!

Oh well, the exercise we worked on was really cool- lots of slicing jumps, and jumping an ‘arrow’ shape- both into the arrow, and with the arrow. Jumping into the arrow is interesting because it’s one narrow point! Have to be straight,ย  very straight. Oats had no problems with it ๐Ÿ™‚

Dressage lesson tonight, and then Oats has his beginner lesson on Saturday as she had to do a make-up ride from the storm incident last week. Phew Oats! It is good that he is getting out every day though, because of the pretty bad weather we have had this winter the horses are not getting turned out- the paddocks are like slippery swamps.

You know this doesn’t just happen to anyone

Good god, this weekend. We have snow coming down, temps dropping to -4 with a wind chill of -10?! Here, on the Island of all places? PLUS my weekend was kind of…really sucky. Drama-rama…

51579214_10161473392780603_7418864797573185536_n

From last year- not this again?!

Friday started off great though, I had a FUN dressage lesson and I loved it! We were having a blast, Oats and I ๐Ÿ™‚ We worked on jumps (in dressage?! They were teeny tiny), and focused on ‘contact’ and not letting Oats choose the take off spot. It was really cool and a good exercise to feel his hind end power! What a neat lesson.

And then on Saturday, all hell kind of broke loose..I went riding, and Oats was fine, fun to ride and everything was great. I got home and took my dear dog Gidget out for a walk around the block. I was listening to my headphones, we were cruising down the sidewalk when a dog ran out of someone’s yard and ran aggressively at Gidget (who is fearful of dogs), and grabbed her throat?!!! WTF?! I could NOT believe what was even happening? It was such a blur. I was trying to grab Gidget to pick her up, and she was trying to run away, and this fucking dog was on her throat…Gidget was shrieking. It was terrible! I screamed so loudly my throat hurt.

64725820_10101113321852106_2112647069477896192_n (1).jpg

Who dares to hurt the love of my life?! No WAY will I let that go.ย 

The asshole owners got their awful dog back, and then yelled at ME that they already apologized. WTF? No, no no it doesn’t work that way. I yelled at THEM that they didn’t SOUND very sorry, assholes!! I knew exactly where the dog had come from too, so I had the house number. They then got into their car and drove off?! Three of them. Good god.

One of their neighbours had witnessed the whole thing and asked if Gidget was ok (she was, thankfully), and then told me that she knew them, and that their dog was ‘very nervous’ and I said it isn’t nervous, it’s aggressive and that is NOT OK, it wasn’t restrained, no leash, no collar, no nothing! Again…WTF??

I chatted with her for a bit- she was really nice! She was telling me about these cute little dogs that look like Ewoks, so I am going to do some research to see what they look like ๐Ÿ™‚

I then went home, got in my car and took photos of their house and the witnesses’s house. I called Animal Control, and reported it verbally to them. They asked me to email them a written statement and attach the photos I had taken, which I did. They were very kind and considerate, and I was pleased to have them take this seriously- it certainly felt serious, and I was beyond angry with the verbal aggression and lack of caring by the dog owners.

I was also grateful that Gidget was ok (but now she is traumatized by loose dogs, poor thing), and I am very watchful for any more incidents that I may need to report. Animal Control said they were going to take this seriously and go and talk to the owners, which is a great response.

It’s also a lesson to me- since I seem to have regular confrontations, it is important to me that I do not look like a victim. If anyone accosts me, or has something they want to confront me with or get aggressive with me, I will SCREAM and YELL and MAKE A HUGE SCENE!

It gets you witnesses. That is the most important thing. Don’t fuck with me.

Also a question for the ages- why do I always have these weird run-ins with horrible, aggressive people? Like, I put my headphones on, mind my own business, and walk on…and get assaulted verbally by people, or body slammed by one person, or screamed at by drivers, or bike riders, or men on the street. ????? Riddle me this?!

I hate people.