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 🙂

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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 🙂

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.

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Bright side to the weekend: Doughnuts and sunshine!! 

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 was 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.

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Man, I just love this guy! 

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…

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

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 🙂

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.

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From last spring! 

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!

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Remember this from last spring? SO good! 

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,  very straight. Oats had no problems with it 🙂

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…

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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 🙂 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.

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

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 🙂

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.

 

Now I’m not so young and looking for a fight

I feel like I held it together really well this week, up until oh…Thursday? Then, everything kind of broke loose and I had what felt like a slow-moving meltdown. I guess I’m glad it took until Thursday?

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Last weekend was pretty beautiful and not that cold! 

Our first full week and work was BANANAS. Events every single day (and into next week too, natch!), my trainer received some really terrible news and had to cancel jump lessons last night (probably good, because I was in a truly horrible mood), my mother decided to make an issue of me not attending a cousin’s wedding (in Feb, in the middle of nowwhere, and by the way I’m not close to them, though they are lovely people), I hadn’t gotten paid yet for Oat’s lease, and when I got to the barn, my jump crop was missing, and when I got home, I ripped the mailbox off the side of my house. LOVELY.

Sooooo yeah.

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I really liked the festival of lights! 

Anyways, I brought this awful mood to Oats in my warm-up, something that I am not happy with myself about, but the good news is that my friends were doing some jump schooling anyways and I did a few jumps and YES that always improves my mood!! Oats was a star and good boy as always 🙂 and the funniest part was when we were cooling out, I dropped the reins and let him go on ‘pony cruise control’ following his friend horse. It was so funny! It definitely improved my mood. What a little sweetheart…

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Friends! 

We are also facing a real bout of nasty winter weather, with wind gusts this AM up to 80 km/hr, snow?? and rain. So far just rain and it’s not cold enough to snow here, but yeahh…Next week is looking VERY ugly- a high of -2? In Victoria?? Noooo! But I won’t get too angsty.

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Very cool! 

I did have friends to hear me out about the work/family situation, which I really appreciate. God, some people just get under your skin, and stay there like a piece of glass! Mostly family! Ha.

Dressage lesson tonight- and I hope Oats feels a little more flexible through his neck, but I’m not holding my breath- we will see what horse we get on the day, right?