We took the opportunity to do a field trip on the weekend to try out our dressage trainer’s amazing new footing at her farm, Fairlawn. It’s also a gorgeous facility, so huge and spacious and bright so why not !?!
The ponies were…less than thrilled to see the trailer pull up again (Two WEEKS in a row?) but got onboard when we were there 🙂
And I said: Let’s do something FUN! That’s all I want to do now, lol. I only have less than a month left here, so let’s make the most of it and really enjoy ourselves, so that is the lesson we got- a pas de deux lesson with the two dudes!
And they are so cute together, I think they’re really figuring out how to rate with each other!! And Becky and I only forgot where we were going once or twice I think 😉 The horses picked it up faster than we did.
We then enjoyed a little cruise around the fields after, as they have a lovely little pond you can ride around. The boys were very well behaved, and it was just such a fun and chill atmosphere. Can you ask for any better? Plus the weather has been amazing lately…chilly today, but far, far above the seasonal temps for Oct. We’re stuck in the groundhog day of my dreams…An endless summer!
And the fun keeps rolling! We did the Working Equitation horse show in Glenora a few weeks ago, in mid-August. I personally think that is the best time…even though it was extremely hot. Like, very hot for us. Last year Oats was high as a kite and a bit difficult to manage, so I was more prepared this year to work on his energy levels (though I may have overestimated them and worked him into tiredness a little early?!) guess that’s better than a nutty horse on-course.
I took Friday off work (I have a few days to use up and MAN I am really enjoying it!!) and my working equitation trainer Shelly and I loaded the horses/gear up and set out. The Malahat is pretty much terrible any time of day, but it was particularly nasty on a Friday afternoon so it took us ages to get there (and then about 2+++ hours to get home on Sunday…eff this for a 45 minute journey…).
It was a muggy day, I had already longed and bathed Oats at home so I didn’t stress him by working him further on Friday. Instead, we got the ponies comfortable in the stables, which Oats HATED and was pissed about all weekend, feeling like he was stuck in a cage… And then we went for a swim!
The next morning came really early, it was so hot out that I was slowly roasting in my tent. I went to warm up Oats after his breakfast/cleaning his stall and he was hot hot hot hot to trot! Sooo I hopped off and longed the little turd to get his yahoos out. He did have some! THEN I hopped back on and he was a gentleman.
And then, the waiting game…
And by the time my dressage time was up, I was pretty over it. Hot, tired, Oats was hot and pissy, and some flies were really bothering his eyes. We warmed up fairly nicely but it was very hot and stuffy in the arena, and the minute we trotted down centreline…Oats was freaked riiiight out. His head was on a swivel, he was spooking and flinging his head wildly. I got so distracted by his wacked-out behaviours that I forgot where I was going!! I had to pull up and ask the judge (who is SUPER nice). YEEEEK. I was in such a bad mood after that piss-poor showing. ARGH.
And then I noticed that everyone was crabby after dressage. HAHAH. So true.
After, to put the bad taste of the bad test out of my head, I asked Shelly to come with us on a trail ride. She did and with a few minor Oats moments (where he runs backwards and is an ass every time we stop on the trail..) they did really nicely 🙂
And then I got to go swimming again, and start perseverating about the Ease of Handling Round and Speed Round the next day… No banks this time, thank god (our real nemesis last time!).
A few weeks ago we finally went to a show, in a month where despite my best efforts, EVERYTHING got cancelled on me. 😦
Games day with the horses? Cancelled, not enough entries.
Bachelorette party? Cancelled, bride got COVID.
Movie I wanted to go see? Left the theatres.
And so on…ARGH.
But this is the one thing that actually happened this month. And it went very well, both horses Donato and Oats were superstars and didn’t put a hoof wrong. My scores are not competitive anymore, and I am not entirely sure what to chalk that up to?
Not able to replicate the homework we do at home in the ring?
Me losing focus?
Whatever it is, it’s going on at every show we go to. SIGH. He is very well behaved but we just don’t have magic anymore. Regardless, it was a very nice day and super fun to get out there with our buds. We missed them so much over the years of injury + COVID that despite our lacklustre scoring, it’s just nice to be out, doing the things we love to do, you know?
Man, I haven’t had a good dressage lesson in…2 months? Soo many things came up, unfortunately.
Nov we had extreme flooding, so had to wait for the roads/arena to dry up, and there was a gasoline shortage too. Fun!
Dec we had abscesses for weeks (not so fun), snowstorms, holidays. Boy that really adds up! We also had extreme cold- a week and a half of -9 so people had frozen pipes, frozen/black ice on roads and a ton of snow. Needless to say, not a productive month.
Jan my trainer got COVID so we had to wait until she was feeling better, and now she is! Yay!
And I was thrilled with how lovely Oats was feeling. Man this guy- 20 years old and he blows me away with how lovely and accepting he was in my lesson. We worked on a little pole circuit, and to the right he was foot-perfect. To the left, we started off really well but managed to kind of blow it to the pink poles. SIGH. Something to work on, as I know going left causes my body to twist in ways I don’t really want, lol. Oh well, guess it can’t be totally perfect, can it?? It was close!
After a lot of strenuous trying, haha. Dressage lesson last night, and in the theme of our dressage lessons- I get SO much out of them! I feel like while I am spending a lot of $$$$$$$ on lessons, they have really strengthened my relationship with Oats. This can only be a good thing, right? 😉
Last week we worked on me at the canter, not twisting. This week my lesson partner and I first tackled the infamous 3-loop serpentine from the First Level Tests. No joke, this serpentine was the BANE of my existence when I was showing in First Level (now haven’t shown dressage in like 2 years, thanks COVID and injury) soooo I wasn’t super thrilled to start off the bat with that challenging exercise.
BUT, ye of little faith it went super well!
We first schooled the exercise in the trot, because you can really work the angles here if you do it right. You don’t need to make it super round, you can sort of ‘straighten’ and then leg-yield casually back to the wall. When you get good, THEN you can make it round. But it can be tricky to hold that lead!
And you know what? Oats nailed it!! Right off the bat?! I was stunned. Then I was like, ok fine, that was his good lead (right), it’ll be worse on his left. But then he did it so perfectly to the left that we repeated the exercise twice and called it good. Who is this horse?!! I love it!
So then we upped the ante: Real counter-canter work. And this, friends was NOT easy for me- my brain felt like a tangle of spaghetti, it was confuzzling haha. But we persevered, worked through some things in a nice and challenging, but doable way, and we got it! We got it on the right, and then went back to the left, which was the harder lead to hold counter-canter in.
Had a dressage lesson last night and it was just so good! Not perfect but man, I feel like Oats and I are really reaching a deeper understanding via how I am twisting my body?! So the problem is ME! hahah.
We worked over trot poles, looping around them and then cantering them and trotting juuuust at the last second- which, whoops, Oats jumped over the row of poles one time when I didn’t transition in time, hahah. Good boy 😉
We worked on leg yielding into the poles which was cool and then we took away all the poles but one, and then worked on cantering up to them STRAIGHT and managing the turns without my body twisting in the air. It was much harder to do than I realized?!
Oats was very steady and very focused on this exercise. His canter felt really awesome! While we were certainly not perfect, it felt like a very thorough and excellent learning exercise. Now to actually do this when we ARE jumping….Is the real challenge!
And last week we had a really cool ‘zen’ lesson as I call it, where my lesson partner and I were pretzeled into many different shapes, hands off the reins, legs off the saddles, in an effort to find our real centre and straightness- and wow, the horses LOVED this. They were so relaxed, and we focused on deep ‘square’ or diaphragm breathing. I could even see Oat’s ears relax when I was going into the canter transition. He got a bit tense, I sat straight (which still feels like scissoring, ha) and breatheeeed…And he relaxed immediately and we got the nicest left lead canter we’ve gotten in forever!
And I think this intensive bodywork is paying off- he felt fantastic last night, and we had a really fun jump lesson the previous Saturday as well. Just loving all of these lessons, it costs mega $$$$$$ but wow I am getting so much horse and so much physically out of them 🙂 it is awesome! Plus, I want to do ALLLL the things this year. I know how fleeting horses are, and how fragile the situation can be. I just want to do this forever!!!
Phew this was a super busy weekend, to top off a super busy and bummer few weeks.
I signed Oats up for a Working Equitation horse show! We have some experience with this discipline, but I was also taking lessons on Sundays to practice up, as well as working on our dressage with our trainer. We hauled out bright and early Saturday to Hi-Point in Glenora for our dressage day at 9:30am.
The test was quite simple, similar to a training level test? But no fear, I had a good warmup and then immediately rode pretty poorly soooooo it was still challenging for us. At first we went to warmup in the field (Hi-Point has the only x-c on the island) and Oats was AMPED. I was pretty sure he was going to buck me off lol. So a trainer suggested we move to a section of the indoor roped off for warm-ups and bingo, he settled right away.
After our dressage ride it was still SO early, ha. I knew Oats would need more work- a new place where he has done x-c and he was hot hot hot means he needs a lot more work to get him chill and used to it. After all, we had our two rounds the next day (Sunday), Ease of Handling and Speed Round.
So I hung out a lot, and watched the Intro class finish their Ease of Handling (they don’t do speed rounds). Then I got Oats out, wearing shorts again (haaa) and rode him. As I suspected, he WAS amped. Good at the trot, but power-trotting around and tossing his head excitedly. We cantered, and he was good, and then tried to buck, haha. He has a very powerful buck and just snakes his head down and humps up and woooof it’s hard to get back, haha.
So, rode that for awhile even though it was HOT out, like close to 30 deg?? I was hot, Oats was hot but he had a ton of ‘go’.
After our ride he chilled out and was sooo thirsty, poor boy! That would be the theme for the weekend- Oats is sooo thirsty!
After my ride, we went to the pond for a swim 🙂 I had my mango White Claws, and all was right with the world. I even had a bbq with my new friends that evening, and it was delicious. Early to bed, I felt very tired. A long day in the sun and around people?!! I have been a total hermit for like a year?! ha.
I did feel worried about the course, as it had several x-c elements that Oats was not familiar with (water, a bank). Turns out I was right to be concerned…
Which was too bad, because after dressage we were leading! To be continued…
Dressage lesson time! Now, I knew Oats’ big energy from the past week was gone, so how would he be? WELL, hilariously he was good to warm up and when we began the real work, started getting silly about the back door being opened.
I got mad. I mean come ON we had a good warmup and you give me this? Looking for an excuse??
My trainer was pretty funny about it, she said well look at it this way- not EVERYONE wants to go to the gym to work hard and he just isn’t like that. She said we need to channel it, use it for good- not get angry. Fair enough!!
He worked quite intensely actually, I was very surprised. We hadn’t had a ride that intense since…Over a year ago maybe? We did a big power trot, and went into leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches in, and work, work work work work! Bending in a BIG bend, getting the outside rein active (ok, this is the part that I suck the hardest at….and never really got it 100%) and just powered along!
I was tired, Oats was sweaty! We really hadn’t had that kind of big intense riding yet this year, as we were definitely playing it safe.
Though, we did no-stirrups for the canter work and then I had to work harder than Oats, haha. The right rein had some lovely downward transitions, the left was a work in progress, and not so great, hahah. BUT we got some really solid work out of him and were able to amp up the intensity in a way I have been kind of leery about. Go Oats! By the end he wasn’t sweaty but I was 🙂 I guess he’s getting in good shape these days.
Ha, I had some kind of disappointing rides on Oats the past week that led me to not being thrilled about writing about them. In a nutshell, he’s suddenly feeling good. REALLY good. So he’s been a little hot rod to ride, spicy and bouncing (literally) hot to trot and I hated it!! I felt out of control, unsure and unused to it.
It’s not a bad thing, but after 8 months of rehab, and 10 months total post-rehab I felt completely out of my league with my new, fast, alert Superpony who was jazzed up beyond belief and NOT settling to his old, sedate Oats of past.
I didn’t know what to do? We hand galloped for 45 minutes last Saturday because he was so jazzed up and wasn’t settling, at all. GO GO GO like the Energizer Bunny?! I almost wished we HAD our jump lesson b/c I could really use that power and energy, but on my own hacking? Sheesh man, this is a lot to work with.
Sunday he was a touch calmer but still had a real undercurrent of BIG energy. We worked over some cross rails, and it was fine. Monday we did some quieter work- most at the walk/trot, and focused on lateral work at the walk and a touch at the trot.
Tuesday he was on fire again, and damn, we had a long, hard ride. Sort of a ‘Come to Jesus’ ride I guess? He was MOVING though and by the end, going incredibly nicely. It was just exhausting- physically and emotionally- to ride out the little pocket rocket first!
Wednesday I didn’t ride, man I was tired! So I put Oats’ halter on and we took a walk to a local park to watch the tennis players. People loved seeing him going down the sidewalk- ”Look, a horsie!!!” and I told them his name was Mr. Oats and the kids shouted ”I love you Mr. Oats!!’…so that was cute!
Thursday we finally had a lesson- I also chalk his bigtime energy to us not having jump lessons for three weeks, and no dressage lesson last week either. We need some help to harness this!! (and supervision, I guess!) ha. It went really well! I started off tense and wanting to get in a fight with Oats, but we did a big power warm -up that was basically hand galloping around over some teeny cavalettis with my lesson mate, and then settled and focused and this is funny, for the wild man Oats, our lesson was mostly done later without stirrups 😉 so, I guess not so wild after all??
It’s a matter of perspective. I’m beyond fortunate to have a zippy, SOUND hot to trot pony after so many years and if he’s feeling GOOD GOOD GOOD right now and wants to GO, well, I go with him and enjoy that ride! I have a real feeling it won’t last, and he’ll be back to little old draggy Oats, but until then…Hang on and gooooo!
(Ok so it will take a bit of convincing on my behalf to really enjoy that feeling of ‘too much’ but damn, he is looking and moving amazingly well right now).
Dressage lesson last night! Our trainer noticed my warmup was a bit backed off, with me sitting in the backseat (ha, now where have I heard that before, oh right, in my jump lessons!) and so guess what we did? Get ROLLING at the trot, big trot, bigger trot, and then CANTER! All on a very loose rein. It felt kind of wild to me, a little bit like we were just ripping around, but wouldn’t you know…we had a very lovely, loose through the back canter AND trot. Ok, after the downward transition we kind of bumbled into the trot but then he’d come down and release nicely. He still has that ‘snatch’ at the reins to come down, but he was much more consistent than before.
Kind of blew my mind a little! Sometimes dressage isn’t a tightly-held warmup and trot/canter, eh?? Sometimes it is a little wild!
Oats loved it, and his canter was SO consistent, forward and light over the back. Good boy! Plus he is looking fantastic these days- not so scraggly and gross and scrawny. I’m very glad to see him gain his weight back and his coat is just shining. He doesn’t look 19 right now, turning 20 in October 🙂
It was a very fun ride and reminded me to let go of the control sometimes (duh a horse person with control issues? Say it ain’t so 😉 ) ahahaha.
Plus on Wednesday we went on a hack around the block and while he did require a lot of convincing to get past the new, huge greenhouse (that wasn’t there last time!! Scary!!) that involved some running backwards, he got over it and was a gentleman for the rest of the ride, if a bit edgy/looky. Good pony, and PHEW!! I am a big trail ride chicken, haha so I rely on him to help me out here.
And my legs update- I had my hip tendon worked on last night (THANK GOD it was driving me insane for like 2 months, ugh, so gross…the tugging/irritation was constant) and I am entering my third walk-run of the week today at lunch. Fingers crossed for a recovery- even the physio was stumped about why I keep getting injured when I am in great shape and in general don’t have too many physical issues, other than the obvious hypermobility?!! Ah….