We were wild

I had a really decent long weekend, and jump-started it by having a really solid dressage lesson on Friday. It was TOUGH! But excellent. You know that feeling of having worked hard, really hard, and gotten exactly what you wanted? That feeling!

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Not to say it was perfect, but after the sort of angst on Thursday, I told my trainer that we didn’t have a good ride, that my expectations of ‘perfection’ were ruining my ride and I wanted to get past it, over it. These weirdness spells sort of come and go, and I was ready to focus and not dwell!

We spent basically the whole lesson in canter (with plenty of walk breaks) focusing on building Oats’ lateral flexibility in the canter, leading to canter haunches-in. It was really good! And very much highlighted the difficulties I have in ‘riding’ his canter, rather than being ‘taken for a ride’ in the canter. Can I influence his canter? Or do I just sit there, like a passengers, helplessly?

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It was an important lesson for me to realize just HOW much I am needing to do and ride. I’m at the point where I can’t just sit and tune out, and expect Oats to read my mind and do ‘something’…I have to influence it, ride it, and ride every stride.

Good to know! It was a very cool lesson. Eye opening!

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Le me be mine

No jump lesson this week, as my trainer wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel. Bummer! But oh well, I used this opportunity to tune up Oats, and again kind of wished I was riding with a friend or in a lesson- I let his kind of ‘blah’ reactions colour our ride, and I wasn’t super thrilled with my personal riding, OR how I was reacting. UGH! Why do I have to keep picking at him?

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Who doesn’t love a good Oats?

I know my counselor has mentioned that these weird perfectionist drives will still resurface for me, but I always think I’ve got it licked…And then it bubbles up and ruins my ride. I want a strong relationship with my horse- NOT an angsty one. So I can’t continue to ride like he owes me something–he doesn’t. He’s a horse, and I love our partnership.

I’m looking forward to my lesson tonight, just to regain some perspective under the watchful eye of my trainer (dressage tonight). I think it’s crucial that when we ride, we do so without emotions–and for some reason, I was feeling edgy and tense last night. Oh well, I have to move on from it, and understand that this CAN bubble up, but I can choose to not engage- like I unfortunately did yesterday.

Also a friend of mine got slammed through the x-tie boards yesterday, thanks to the horse she was leasing- he had a ‘moment’ ??? No idea what happened, but he violently swung his butt and basically pushed her straight through and she broke the board with her stomach. OUCH.

I checked in with her today and she is okay- no internal bleeding, just some impressive bruising. Jesus! Maybe that was why my ride went from ‘ok’ to ‘tense and angsty’…I know I am sensitive to accidents and have anxiety/fear about them. Yikes, it was just awful.

 

No, the end is not near

Had a very busy weekend! And tried to ignore the fact that it was martyr’s day (cough, mother’s day…) not a great day for those of us experiencing strained mother-daughter and parental relationships…UGH! Enough said.

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I am feeling dressage-inspired! 

Anyways, my best solution is to grey-rock them (don’t buy into drama, be boring). It works ok, but I’m also a terrible grey-rock person- prone to outbursts! Ha. Oh well! The weekend itself was pretty good, Friday my husband and I signed up for a ‘5k Happy Hour Run’ with local running store Frontrunners, sponsored by New Balance and Sheringham Distillery. It was so fun, and the weather was fantastic! Sunny, warm, just a great day to be alive.

You had the option to demo a pair of New Balance shoes, go on a nice little 5k shake-out run through Beaconhill Park, and then back to Frontrunners for a sweet-ass cocktail, a Moscow Mule shaken up right there by the bartender! And we got to keep the nice copper mugs too! Yeah!

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Poor Gidget got sick this weekend. 

And then we got home and Gidget was sick, puking. Nooooooooo…She threw up on Ian’s arm at 3am that night. 😦 Gross. Poor dog. Luckily that seemed to be it for her. We were up and Saturday was a super nice day again, at least everywhere not in James Bay. Sunny, warm, beautiful. We went to check out the Oaklands Garage Sale block party. It was nice! I didn’t see anything I really wanted though, so didn’t pick up any garage sale scores.

Off to the barn and enjoyed a ride in the sunshine in the outdoor arena with Oaty. Then I came home and it was just freezing in James Bay. About 12 degrees and wind gusts of oh, 70km/hr? I went on a run and was grimly cursing the entire time. It.SUCKED.

Sunday I was up early to go audit the Cesar Torrente dressage clinic for the day at my dressage trainer’s fabulous stables, Fairlawn. It was really cool! Highlight of the day- watching Cesar instruct a high-level rider/horse partnership, currently competing at Prix St. Georges. It was just stunning to watch, and I was really engaged in it 🙂 How neat! I felt inspired to go ride my little nag after that, hahah.

So we did! Zipped out to the barn after lunch at the clinic and I rode in the outdoor, trying to keep in mind Cesar’s teachings at the clinic. I can get very complacent and lazy when I ride on my own, unfortunately. I feel like I’m not the only one with that bad habit though? Oats was good, we worked on picking up the counter-canter down the long side on the quarter-line of the arena. I was FROZEN though, brrrrrrr.

Moved some jumps around after, ugh I was exhausted. Drove home, contemplated going for another sad-sack run in the freezing wind and cold and just…couldn’t. Ha.

Rode yesterday and it was cold, but still ok to ride in the outdoor with a buddy. Let’s face it- the barn is my social life! 😉 And I am still feeling inspired by Cesar. Let’s hope that propels me into some more effective, focused rides.

Don’t Disconnect (Mr. Oats is a saint)

Had my first jump lesson in the outdoor yesterday, and the weather was GORGEOUS! I was feeling weirdly anxious, I guess because there is always a bit of a learning curve for me to jump in the outdoor?

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This is from last year, almost to the date actually! I remember feeling like I didn’t know how to ride then again either, haha. Oh and this felt like a ‘big’ jump.Hah! 

I start of complaining that I don’t know how to ride, and yesterday I still kind of …didn’t. Ha. Oats was a freaking saint though, somebody nominate this pony! We worked over a course of small jumps and had some good jumps, and some really…ick jumps. I just couldn’t seem to get my eye to synch up with my body? I was feeling backed off and tentative, while Oats was like yeah no, I got this mom! And he’d jump, and I’d get left behind! Shit!

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From last May. 

I think I need to get better about riding more boldly, as he clearly isn’t having the problems that I am! Next lesson I am going to focus more on feeling my ride through my body, and learning to really commit, instead of being backed off.

Makes me feel very humble, haha. I am not great, while my pony is like, yeah sure no problem mom, I got this! What a saint!

We’ve been had

This week felt really light, riding-wise as Oats got Sunday off after the horse show when I had my race, and I rode Monday, he had a lesson with his leasor on Tuesday, and had Wednesday off. I had my jump lesson last night and it was tough! We worked on bounces and boyyy I was out of shape for those, which surprised me.

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Oats caught standing in his neighbour Joey’s feed tub. He is such a little thief!! He waits until Joey brings it close enough, and then…MINE!

Also Oats is literally full of shit as he pooped before the lesson, and then slammed on the brakes to poop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOUNCE GRID?!! ARGH. What a little brat!!

Other than his mid-jump poop break, he was a good boy, though a bit sloppy with his front end over the single verticals we had in our small course, so we had to repeat them and I actually felt him ‘lift’ over the fence. I am struggling still with a few things- want to tip forward, instead of shifting hips ‘back’, elbows (always chicken wings..), and wanting to ‘chase’ Oats to the fence instead of sitting and waiting for the distance. Hm, that was probably why we were ticking some of the fences with his front end?

He gets today off and then back at it on Saturday! Love my boy, even if he is a little turd sometimes.

Times Colonist 10k: Race Recap! 30th Anniversary special edition

Wow, so this is a big local race to us, and I very rarely run it. Chiefly because it’s very busy and popular race (regularly 10,000 people registered) and it’s pricey for a 10k (early bird pricing is $45, with fees/taxes that comes to over $50 for 1 race).

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This year my work was sponsoring a team, so I thought why the heck not! Funny enough this is the race that jump started my running as an adult! I signed up in 20(11? 12?) when work paid for it, and I had never run in a race before- ever. In fact, it felt like light-years away from me ever even wanting to! But, work was paying so I figured I could try it out.

And look at me now! I have a hard time finding my old TC10k results because they are so old and I have run many races since then, but I believe my early times were in the 1-hour+ category? It’s a bit hard to tell, as the wave starts mean you are sitting on pavement for a good 10-15 minutes before your wave goes.

Needless to say, this race and I have a pretty good history, and it just felt right to be racing it again, for the 30th anniversary. I do recall running it for the 25th anniversary and they gave all finishers medals- that felt cool and special then, but at this point? I didn’t even keep that medal, and I have too many from the races I run now (age-group awards, I don’t really run ones that give finisher medals).

So this was my third time running the race with some very different expectations, haha. It was very easy logistically- pick up bib from work, jog from home at 7:30 a.m., and waltz into my wave (41-49 minutes). This was great, as it was not that congested in this wave at all. One annoyance- my watch didn’t connect to the GPS, at all. So I started the race blind, basically. There were also no clear KM markers until after the 5k intermediary timing mat placement, so I quite literally was just running by feel…

Which as it turns out, is the same ‘feel’ that I have had all year- solid effort but no PRs. 😦 SIGH. Not that I’m really complaining, but it’s a little irritating. People BLASTED out of the start sprinting, and I was like whoah, hey guys, this is a long race…

We looped around, the sun was very bright in our eyes and it was quite warm even at that time of the day. By the time we got to familiar turf (Dallas Rd), I was very ready to see some KM markers. Dallas also felt ridiculously long and sort of uphill- not steep, but just long and draggy…I never quite got my footing back on it.

But then, a glorious downhill! I was like, yes my time to shine! And I finally picked it up for the last windy KM to the finish. Funny that I live there and am really familiar with it, and yet I was like WTF where is the finish chute??! It’s deceptive, that one. Finished strong, but got passed in the chute by like 10 men. Hah!

Gun time was 43:31, and my chip time was 43:23. Respectable, but not amazing. I know I can do better (and have) but in time I suppose! I got 9/733 for my age category (W 30-34). 🙂  Felt a bit nostalgic about this race, and makes me want to go dig up my older photos and see how I felt about this race a few years ago!

Putting the work in: CDRC dressage show recap!

I forgot that I was too busy to update on my  jump lesson (last Thursday) but it was a very good, solid and workmanlike lesson. Oats was stiff and sluggy for it when we were warming up, so I was reminded by my trainer to limit my expectations for the warm-up and deal with the horse I have, in the moment and on the day. So true! Fortunately he warmed up and was moving better after a slightly longer warm-up.

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All screenshots courtesy of Nicole G.

Dressage lesson was on Friday with Sam and it was very encouraging! One thing I wasn’t so sold on were re-visiting my canter loop F-X-M. We kept swapping in the past, and I felt very unsure about it. We worked on it, and nailed it! And then I promptly forgot how to ride the transition to trot at ‘x’ and then pick up the right lead…Yikes. These tests involve much more ‘riding’ than I am used to (I find the intro to dressage a lot more ‘sitting pretty’ which I and Oats are good at. The actual physical riding part? Not so good, and needs a lot more work).

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Anyways the day of the show, the weather was horrendous. In Victoria I heard it was sunny, gale-force winds, hailing, and raining. Up at the show in Cowichan, it was 1 weather- tornadoes. Small dust devils were whipping up in the ring, and it was just chaos. I had sand in my teeth, hair, eyes, ears. Everywhere. It was just so awful and distracting. I wanted to leave!!!

But hey the show must go on?

We warmed up and Oats was feeling good, pretty jazzy considering how miserable the wind was. His left bend wasn’t very good though, and he was leaning heavily on my hands in the trot. His canter felt a tad rushy and unbalanced, but no worries, we could work on that…It was just hard to canter left, because you got a face-full of sand every time. I couldn’t really see where I was going. Poor horse too, yikes… And my friends came to watch! I felt awful for them, dealing with the insane sand and wind in their faces for hours. Troopers, all of them!!

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I was feeling good about putting front shoes on him early though. Score one for me!

We went in to the test and we had a good centreline halt, and then botched the  pattern (First Level Test 1 has a 10-metre turn to the centreline), where I left early and just sort of turned…at will. I honestly couldn’t see, so I think that had a bit part of it.

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The test rode pretty well, I was happy with Oats’ canter, his turns and some of the transitions were a bit sucky as I let my reins get way tooo long at the end.

We finished, and then prepared for my bigger challenge- First Level Test 3. Counter-canter loops, here we come!

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I am VERY pleased to say that we conquered the canter loops! I rode them too conservatively, making the too shallow, but I think that is an easy fix for sure (again I couldn’t see very well at all), and Oats tripped over part of the dressage court fencing (it was on the ground because it kept getting blown over!). Whoops!

I also flat-out forgot to ride my transition to ‘x’…yes even though I knew that was a tricky one that I had to ride more strongly. I tuned out for it, and Oats broke. Damn! 100% my fault though.

Otherwise, the test flowed nicely, I kept my reins (mostly) shorter and we did what we came to do- conquer those canter loops! 🙂 Yay! We wrapped up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Good god, the wind. I don’t know what my scores are, but I’m happy with the efforts and with how saint-like Oats was while dealing with challenging weather conditions. What a star!