Busy week & bad weather = bad

Got some kind of bad news, although it was not unexpected, it did greatly annoy me and it looks like I will have to start seriously look at making some changes in my life. SIGHHH…Well, to be fair I did kind of start wanting a change this year, but I didn’t expect to be forced into it!

That’s life, I guess?

I was also reminded that that, indeed, is life by this quote (from a poem by D.H. Lawrence)

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

 

Anyways, despite my title, the gloomy-ass weather today (pouring rain, grey skies, 12 degrees?!) things are generally ‘ok’ this week. Been practicing hard at dressage with my two lessons this week, and my run-throughs of the tests last night in my usual jump lesson went better than expected! Ok, our overbending was an issue and Oats wanted to goggle mightily at ‘stuff’ outside the outdoor arena, but kept his shirt on and we made it work out pretty well! Also, picking up left lead canter going downhill in the outdoor= not happening. Ha.

I was in kind of a grouchy mood about the aforementioned life change, so I was extra glad my lesson went smoothly.

And for the busy week? I have something every single day this week- Mon- ride, Tues- dressage lesson, Wed, dressage lesson (a theme eh? ha), Thur- track meet! Fri, work drinks, Sat- Hopoxia (a beer fest), Sun- the dressage show!

Crazy eh?

Oh well, life is for the living and I’m gonna damn well live EVERY SECOND OF IT!!!

(I say that sitting my butt on my chair, doing nothing at the moment, oh well).

Just Give In/Never Going Home

Dressage semi-private (I know, what am I doing stacking them back-to-back?) last night. I’m stacking them because I have a dressage show up in Cowichan on Sunday, and need the practice (hah) and also because I have two events on upcoming Tuesdays and will be missing both riding and lessons.

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Totally us right now. So, where are the next Olympics?

Yesterday was actually a really good, solid and enjoyable lesson. Typically my Tuesdays are grinding, tough, sweaty and incredibly physical lessons- I have gotten serious Charley horses in my legs/hips in them the past two weeks! But this week, we focused on getting the horses listening, straight, and then reaching down and ‘calm’ through the walk, trot and canter, and a touch of counter-canter.

It was really nice! Oats enjoys this type of work and finds it very easy, for him. I think stretching down really speaks to his way of going normally, and he could dig in and really get it going last night.

Counter-canter was funny- I didn’t expect it to happen, and it did perfectly. And then I thought too hard about it, and it didn’t. How does that work? Well, I was trying to ‘manufacture’ it and trying too hard, obviously! When I let my expectations and effort -go- I was able to let it happen.

It was a really nice, calm and thorough lesson.

Jump lesson turned dressage practice & camping!

So as I mentioned I had signed up for the dressage show (happening on Sunday, yeek). So instead of my regularly scheduled jump lesson on Thursday, we decided to practice run-throughs of the tests instead. I also changed my tests from Training 1 and 3 to Training 1 and 2 and run Test 2 as a ‘test of choice’ instead (it is easier!).

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

It went ok, Test 1 was kind of flubby and awkward, while Test 2 allowed us to relax more and think throughout the test, rather than jamming it forward and doing the whole thing in ‘hyper drive’ which is more my style (see- jumping every course in a show/in practice…).

I had to slow down, allow more of Oats, and relax my arms for forward motion. Easier said than done, apparently!

And then we had Friday/Saturday off because we went camping with buddies in Parksville! And what a weekend- the whole gang was there (tons of people, kids, dogs, haha) and we played SO many games- it was insane. I played more games that one weekend than I play in an entire year, I swear it!

  • Viking bowling (fun but hard)
  • Slam Ball (hard to learn, fun to do!)
  • Kick ball
  • A foot race (I didn’t partake because I ate too much, ha)
  • Werewolf
  • Antidote

I went for a run, we played on the beach, we drank and ate WAYYY too much. I actually felt kind of sick Saturday night from all the indulging and I ended up fainting at like 1:30am?! Yikes!

I was ok though, and recovered fine and went back to bed. Gidget did not enjoy camping and puked when she got home, all over floor/couch. Yuck!

It was a great weekend with fun times and hilarious company. Loved it!!

Can’t get enough of myself- dressage update

So I signed up for a dressage show (yes it’s been a few years, yiikes) so I figured in my lesson last night, we should work on some elements of the tests. HUMBLING. Wow.

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What Oats would rather be doing. Also, why isn’t it summer anymore here? Godammit!

It was a tough, tough ride and I had to get ‘real’ with Oats, who thought he could outlast me. He was wrong! But I got tired, bigtime haha. He fussed, he fought, he threw a small hissy fit, we had to go back to the walk to confirm him, and then back to trot, then back to walk when he started fussing too much and protesting, then back to trot…rinse, repeat.

It was pretty exhausting, and my hip started to cramp up. I’m noticing more charley-horse leg episodes in my dressage days on Tuesday, likely due to the amount of work I am putting in on my legs from the running/longer run days on the weekend. It shows me that with the increasing amount of physical exertion, I need to adapt and get better about using electrolytes instead of just forgetting and then getting a major charley horse in the middle of my ride, AGAIN.

The last one I had really hurt, and it damaged my leg muscle for over a week! WTF?

Anyways, so the lesson was long, and tough and kind of an ego-killer. But you know, Karen said it was one of the first lessons where I was able to get firm, and fairly tough with Oats, and KEEP doing it. I didn’t give in, get upset (though it was certainly frustrating) I just kept.at.it.

So, yeah to sum up dressage= very hard and tiring and now what am I doing signing up for a dressage show? So I can show off my mediocre work and lack of progress?

Well, I do want to show off my fancy new dressage boots. So, there’s that!

Oats did get an apple as a treat from my barn friend, which was very nice of her. Also he was offered some really lovely fresh-cut long grass from my other barn friend. Greedy pony gobbled it right up!

Hate to say I told you so: Dressage recap

So Monday I went out to the barn and did a lazy bareback walk with Oats, and then treated his newly discovered leg fungus (scratches?! how did he get that!). He doesn’t particularly like bareback riding and always gets kind of hoppy and squealy at first….Ha.

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Go Oats go! Love a keen, uphill canter.

Then last night we had dressage ride and WOW it was a challenge. Oats was feeling quite angsty about giving the inside rein, and moving off my leg for some mild haunches- out and let me hear it! It was really hard work. He hopped up and down, had some drama moments including a brief attempt at a launch and then he just…settled. Of course then we had to do it off both sides (eek) and his right rein was worse!

I even got a mega charley horse in my thigh while I was riding- a reminder to myself to make sure I have enough potassium, calcium and electrolytes if I want to run to work (4k), do sprint intervals on the treadmill at lunch (30 minutes) and then run home (4k) and then have a tough lesson. It’s hard on my body, and I need to be more cognizant of the challenges it faces on these higher activity days.

But anyways, we even did a fun exercise I haven’t done in ages- posting at the canter! I like posting at the canter a lot, and I’m quite familiar with it so I was like yessss I got this!

Oats seems to respond well to posting at the canter too, and my trainer said we could do more work on that, and she also recommended we try it jumping too. I will!

A tough lesson and a lot of work, but again I’m starting to see some real physical changes with Oats- he looks ‘longer’ which seems weird to say, lankier and less ‘ponylike’? Cleaned up his legs for the third night in a row, and then drove home and was immediately confronted by a highway at a dead standstill…Waited for 10 freaking minutes, and then followed a bunch of cars doing a u-turn across the median to catch the highway the other way, and drove back home on smaller roads. UGHHH!!! Thanks highways! Stupid stupid stupid.

Like riding a broke horse

Had a TOUGH dressage lesson last night. Wow. I went into it feeling tired, and came out feeling exhausted! I was even talking in my sleep last night, I was so tired. Ha. But, it was the good physical tired, rather than the insane stress insomnia I was suffering from for months.

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Me this whole freaking week. Also Oats after last night..

To recap- I ran-commuted yesterday (roughly 4k to work and 4k home), went out for a fabulous breakfast with my colleagues to The Ruby (where I enjoyed an absolutely obscene breakfast of fried chicken breast on waffles, highly recommend), and I then I worked on some mild sprint intervals on the treadmill- tried to fight off puking, ugh breakfast was too soon and too big, and then I jogged home, got ready for my lesson and rode in a sweaty, exhausting, tough, challenging dressage lesson.

Whoa. That is a lot even for me!

I guess part of me felt a bit constrained by racing so much, because I was trying desperately to not get injured, overtired, too sick (failed on that) and trying to recover from the one race in time to race the next weekend.

That is no joke and quite frankly takes its toll.

So how did I cure pounding my body into the ground for six weeks? OH, by doing it in one day of course! (ha, but not really. Jogging is much easier than racing and a lot more friendly on the body).

But yes, going into my lesson I was tired.

But no rest for the righteous, eh?

We worked on getting the horses to accept the contact and be ‘over the back’ without using bend as a quicki shortcut. We did a LOT of canter at first, and then broke it down to the walk, then trot, (and a lot of halting since Oats DID NOT LIKE THIS WORK and was making life difficult)…

It was rough man! Wow. I was dripping with sweat, so was Oats. My poor fingies were cramping up. Oats kind of hated the work, having small hissyfits and dancing around, throwing his head up/around, protesting, etc.

We did achieve some really nice steps, and Karen said something that made me feel totally stunned- that you can achieve that level of work ‘the automatic’ contact where the horse goes into-and-stays-in contact the whole time?! But HOW?

Simple but never easy.

Also time.

Of course….

What makes a good man?

It felt like I hadn’t had a solid dressage lesson in forever! We had a break due to a change in my fellow rider’s schedule, so yesterday I was quite interested in getting back on the dressage train.

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Totally us right now. So, where are the next Olympics?

And you know what? It was a really good, solid and comprehensive lesson. We first worked on some modified quarter-turn on the haunches at each corner, focusing on getting the horse to move off your leg instead of ‘pulling’ around the turn. Then, we focused on getting the turn ‘all the way around’ instead of just a quarter. I had to expand my circle because Oats wanted to pivot off the hind end, instead of turning his shoulders more.

It was actually way harder than it looked or than I thought it was going to be. And we sucked at it on the left rein, yeesh. Oh well!

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Next we worked on positioning for Travers lateral work with actually some really solid progress at the walk. When we moved up to trot it was…interesting. Some things I learned and need to remind myself: Lower is always good, so allow Oats to reach/stretch his neck down when he feels resistant. If it seems awkward and too hard, break it down. Move off leg for one side. Then ask for the inside bend on the other side.

Make it really clear what you are asking: Bend. Move off leg. One at a time. THEN try combining the pieces, relaxing the pressure as you ask. Give-take, give-take.

We even got ‘some’ positioning at the trot (which was described to be as a banana shape, the horse forms a banana and you travel that way haha), which surprised me as it was kind of tricky for Oats to understand and I wasn’t expecting him to get it in the lesson. Go us!! He wanted to stretch hardcore after that and got fussy. To be expected, and actually his attitude towards the whole lesson was great- he wasn’t having any hissy fits, hopping up and down, or anything! WOW! I think that was the first time I’ve been able to ask for lateral work of such comprehensiveness without some squawking from Oats.

Go Oats go! Some really great efforts and grown up work from the pony. 🙂