Is it too much to ask? Dressage recap!

So my dressage semi-private lessons with Oats have been pretty good, suspiciously good lately in fact. So it was only a matter of time before Oats had a big throw-down hissyfit ‘I don’t wanna’ lesson, and last night was kind of it!

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Oats gets a haircut…

Luckily, he is also 17 and can’t buck as hard as he used to! Phew!

We worked a fairly difficult exercise- turn off the short end, and leg-yield at the trot. This will eventually turn into leg-yield and transition within the leg yield, and back to the gait. So we did trot-walk-trot (HARD), and then trot-canter and then canter-trot. Oats was fairly amenable on one rein- left rein to right leg yield and was kind of a disaster on the other!

Oh Oats!

He was like, umm…no. Instead of our regularly scheduled transition, he would LEAP instead of moving sideways. Like, actually just jumping in the air. Greeeat….

This escalated a bit into a leap-buck, but like I said he is getting older so his bucks didn’t really unseat me, thank god. Ha.

This lesson is one that we had done last year, but without the transitions. And the leg-yield was enough of a brain-melter for both horses! We could barely even get the leg-yielding so being able to ask just a ‘little bit more’ was a stretch for Oats, and he was learning (slowly and kind of nastily) but learning.

So there is progress, albeit very slow and kind of unpleasant for me when Oats really gets going. Oh well, I can manage! And it is nice to see how the exercise develops from one year to the next. Oats is also clipped, so I didn’t have to spend forever and a day cooling him out. YESSSS!

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Canter leg-yields?!

Yesss! We are back in action with our regularly scheduled dressage lesson on Tuesday. We practiced leg-yields with correct rider posture (elbows in at your side, leg yield using the LEG and not pulling/opening the rein. If the leg yield didn’t happen, that was ok. It just meant you had to sharpen up the leg aid more next time).

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And Oats was so good! I was quite pleased with him, the little goofball.

We worked our way up to canter leg yields, and while these were a tad more ‘fraught’ with challenge, it still went quite well and I was pleased with with his effort, sense of humour and ability.

The leg yield left-right was tricky and he got fairly heavy on the right rein at the canter, which made the leg yield harder to get, with less ‘jump’ at the canter and more ‘dragging freight-train’ but still, he was definitely trying. One thing we learned was that to keep the horse packaged up at the canter, you need leg and hand and some very minor bend, but you shouldn’t feel like they will fall apart if you let it go- they should carry themselves at some point. You don’t want the ‘canter canter canter SPLAT!’ feeling.

Also I learned that a slight bend is important because without it, Oats gets confused and wants to swap leads. Fair enough, horse!

The leg yield right-left at the canter went quite well! 🙂

Good boy Oats, I was so glad to have my guy back in action doing some good dressage work with minor hissy-fits.

Mixed thoughts on dressage (stressage?)

Jumped into an impromptu dressage lesson last night (I was going to take the night off, but got super tempted so I joined in last-minute. I know, I know but hey I was on time for once?!) and we worked on similar stuff to last week with one exception- I was kind of sucking at it this time.

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We worked first at the walk, then at the trot and were going to move it up to canter except we didn’t quite…make it successful at the trot. So we stuck it there, ha. Honestly it felt rougher than last week BUT also not terrible? Just that it was hard, and we were trying. His trot was really great, super amped and really ‘moving ‘ but getting him to reach down into contact was kind of not great aka a big work in progress.

He’d be in contact, I’d slowly (and my timing was off..) start giving him rein, he’d reach down, and then immediately pop back up out of contact. Ugh! I would go back to trying to get contact back, and rinse, repeat. It takes a lot of work to maintain the contact through a lower head/giving hands.

Still some pretty solid work. Just makes me feel like urghh the canter is going to be verrrry interesting if I am struggling this much with the trot!

No polo tonight, it’s getting too dark out too early now (sob). So I will just zip out the barn and do some field riding with Oats, he needs the mental break after our fairly strenuous dressage lessons.

I can’t tell what the time is telling me

Yes, back again from a busy-ish weekend…My husband ran in the Finlayson Arm 28k on Sunday (crazy!!) and I rode, did some mild running, and had my ‘take the horses to the beach’ trip cancelled due to constant rain… 😦 boo

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Canoeing with Gidget on the long weekend.

Oh well we are going to try again for this weekend. Fingers crossed it actually happens!

And I had my jump lesson on Thursday and it wasn’t…great. I am now noticing that Oats gets quite sticky and stiff off the ground later in the summer (Aug-Sept) and it does greatly impact his desire to jump outdoors. He just isn’t forward and is quite reluctant to leave the ground!

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This is something I will need to start addressing- either with Previcoxx or hind shoes or both. I want him to feel great jumping again so I will focus on his maintenance going into the spring.

I did have a good ride indoors on Saturday (rain) and he was QUITE frisky on Sunday- outdoors was soft and still wet so I think he quite enjoyed the footing!

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I watched the LIEC dressage show after riding on Sunday too and it made me feel still kind of anxious about going up a level in dressage with Oats- what am I doing? Do I even know? Yikes…

Monday I was volunteering at a work event and was not allowed to have my phone or computer with me all day= busy busy busy. Back to the grind this week though…

The girls went to school at High Point yesterday and I was beyond jealous. Mannnnn.

Labour Day Blues

A great weekend, followed by some intense strangeness and disquiet.

A death, crazy smoke covering the sky, blocking out the sun and raining ash on us, crimes, big and small.

It’s strange! I feel strange and smothered.

But anyways, let’s focus on the things that went right:

  • Rode this weekend (no polo though, was up-Island) and Oats was good! We even jumped the scary ‘skinny brush jump’ out in the field in a blazing hot day.
  • We canoed, probably for the first time in a hundred years for me- and took Gidget! She actually really enjoyed it. 🙂
  • I enjoyed many beers, cocktails and wine- always a good time.
  • We picked plums! Carrots! Beets! Chard!
  • Had happy hour with a good buddy on Friday AND got off work early.
  • Went swimming (floating) at Thetis Lake and hurt my neck paddling. Turns out I am older than I thought. Ha. It still hurts today though, which is not so funny…two days and counting.
  • Rode in a pretty intense dressage lesson last night, despite my sore neck. Not technical, but more like focusing on the elements of ‘lengthen’ strides. It was pretty good!
  • I ran! Lots of running and am happy with how my legs are feeling on the weekends- not so much during the week, they suck then, but hey weekends are awesome!

Here’s to more fun and adventure, despite the oppressive feelings that are threatening to crush us these days. It seriously feels like the apocalypse with this eerie red-grey sky!

Your Best American Girl

So, yeah. What happened was…

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  • I got deployed to assist with wildfire emergency communications in Prince George again. So, two weeks out of my summer were up there.
  • When I got home, I was immediately on vacation, that started horribly and tragically. It wasn’t good.
  • Got back from vacation, and still had some time off, so I mourned Buster, rode Oats, rode in a lesson, prepared for a dressage show on Saturday, and rode in a polo ‘slow chukka’
  • And now I am back at work, with a dressage lesson tonight, a successful dressage show in the books, and a polo night tomorrow, with jumping on Thursday.

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The show went super well, it was just a scored ‘ride a test’ where you ride the test, the judge comes out to run you through some exercises based on what she saw during the test, and then you had an opportunity to try the test again, maybe improve on what you worked on.

I did Training 2 & 3, and this time I finally had the correct Training 3 test (unlike last time, where I was kind of a disorganized mess…) and things went SO well. Oats was a tad spooky in the beginning but it was easily worked through and he gave me some really quality and consistent work.

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And our tests were scored fairly, the judge was so nice and very complimentary. She said we should be doing First Level, so I am going to talk to my dressage trainer tonight to see what she says. I was immensely flattered! Just to think, Oats and I getting these kind comments!

I’ve really been basking in kind judge comments. Our first dressage show of the season, the judge even wanted to know what kind of pony Oats was! 🙂

For a girl that prefers jumping, I am starting to wonder if I should be taking dressage a little more seriously or what these days? I am seeing some real progress with Oats in it.

Being no one, going nowhere

Now that we are back in the swing of things, I resumed my regularly scheduled lessons with Oats. That means jumping lessons on Thursdays, and dressage semi-private every other Tuesday.

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Bad pony has also been undressing his horse friend….Photo by Sarah C.

We had actually a really good jump/half practice the WRONG dressage test last Thursday, and then I had my dressage lesson this past Tuesday and I was sooooo wiped out. I was exhausted, and it lasted through yesterday too- turns out I am not recovering from the horse show/half marathon/head cold very well at all, and I’m just exhausted.

But anyways, I pleaded for some leniency in our dressage lesson as I was so weak and tired, and I got it! We did a lesson that was very light physically (walk/trot) but very difficult mentally for Oats, being a more technical, lateral-focused ride. It always brings out the worst in him, haaa….So that was tougher for me.

He had a few ‘moments’ of I Don’t Wanna but we worked through it and Karen clued me in bigtime that Oats bullies me into giving up pretty easily, so this time it was NOT going to happen! She was also very clear with me about how I needed to ‘let him go’ and release downwards so he got a very obvious release from what I was asking. Asking, but giving too, is very important.

We ended that lesson on a good note, and I am asking my friend to school Oats for me in my warm-up for my jump lesson because ever since I came back from my sister’s wedding, Oats has NOT been very good (I know, I literally just said he was good in my lessons but hear me out). He has been unfocused, distracted, spooky as all get out!

He needs to get the sillies out of his system, because I do NOT want to get spooked off yet again. He is much better when I am riding with another horse in the outdoor though. Also it is creating a lot of tension in me when I ride, and I’m not interested in being that rider for him. I want it to be harmonious, calm, relaxing and fun!