Cruel Runnings

This week was objectively much better than last! I’m feeling good, had my last day of shockwave and am now on a three-week trajectory to hopefully being able to run pain-free without flare-ups again, so why do I feel so ambivalent?

low course 1_Moment

I just want this good feeling back! Plus I miss the nice weather…

I have a horse show this weekend, and my lessons this week have been so…awkward that I am starting to not look forward to riding in it. Weird eh?

We worked on some technical polework in my lesson Wednesday and while hilarious, it was definitely a challenge (Oats was convinced we were JUMPING and why did we have to canter each pole nicely? Why??)…And then in my lesson yesterday, I just felt so stiff and disconnected and annoyed with Oats, who in turn ALSO felt stiff and his canter felt more like a bunny hop than a canter…It was not great. Our steering was miserable, his canter felt bad, I got really backed off in the grid-pole exercise and couldn’t focus.

Kind of a deflating few lessons. I like having super great power lessons to leave me on a confident high before my shows, but this week? Ha, NOPE.

I came out of my ride yesterday not really feeling disappointed (look, polework is tough for both of us, and I just couldn’t get in to the rhythm!), but feeling extremely ambivalent about riding in the show tomorrow. I just wanted to scratch. Sigh…

But when I get down to it, my goals for the show aren’t really anything? I want to have a fun time with my friends, and enjoy the companionship with my horse. If anything, I had a fabulous few rides last week and the weekend with Oats, so why does the impending horse show throw me in such a tizzy? Am I letting the pressure of it get to me, even if my goal is pretty much- show up, don’t embarrass yourself and learn something good!

Trying to puzzle out why I’ve felt so stiff, awkward and blah this week! I fee Oh well… I’m going to ride tonight, and for me the hardest thing about riding is to enjoy it and not make it a ‘workout’ for me and the horse. Tonight will be a test for me- can I be fair about it, and just cruise?

 

Summer-born

This weekend (my birthday weekend) was very much a good news/bad news kind of time.

48333556487_85c26601f3_k

From our successful Sooke Saddle Club show- things were going so well, until they weren’t! Photos are courtesy of Eila Zylak. 

Good news: Oats can be ridden in the indoor and in the field!

Bad news: Lame in the outdoor. And weirdly a total nut in the indoor, afraid of the person door??

Good news: The weather was so great!

Bad news: Still chilly in James Bay.

Good news: LOTS of fun friend interactions!

Bad news: I had lots of fun friend interactions because I couldn’t take my lame horse in the horse show, so I went to watch instead. I felt a bit jealous!

48333559417_abc8c69dcb_k.jpg

Stretchy trot. Good relaxation but could use more stretch?

UGH. Well, oh well. I did a lot of running, some riding, some sweating, some shopping, lots of eating and enjoying time with my friends and family. So that is ok. I miss riding and jumping in the outdoor though, and had some super fun gallops in the field, where Oats seemed completely sound, only to find him head-bobbing lame in the outdoor arena the next day. (Though ok in the indoor?) It really does seem like what the vet said on Wednesday is true- some sort of heel bruise… Ugh. Takes time I guess.

48333559547_39663b3381_k

I was so glad I took an extra day off, to just enjoy myself. That is the biggest and best gift I could give to myself. AND I bought myself a cool Arista Sunstopper long sleeved shirt that I have been wanting for a year! AND my amazing horse friends bought Oats pink brushing boots?! Can you believe it? WOW! How lucky am I?

48333558122_aa94a1b224_k

🙂

Now he just needs to get better so we can waltz around our jump courses flashing pink!

48333558282_d911858c62_o.jpg

These are the days that must happen to you: Jumper day update!

A good Walt Whitman quote is always applicable, I think!

64270943_10101110224124976_6435762683487715328_o (1)

A great weekend! What a good pony. 

Oats and I finally made our debut int he 2’6” ring, after YEARS at 2′, and 2’3” – some successful, a lot not. I normally feel a lot of anxiety, and I weirdly wanted to feel anxious about this show, and just…Didn’t? I felt like, yeah old hat. Weird for me. Weird for being at a horse show, even if it is a small schooling show. I expected to feel anxious, have show nerves, but all I could think is- I can do this. I can definitely do it. Oats is a great pony, and he’s my champion. Challenge me.

My friend was riding in the 2’3”, and I had 1 class in the 2’3” as a warm-up, and then my 2’6” division. She was anxious, and I told her- nobody is even looking at you! Nobody cares! Be challenged. Bring it!!

64607821_10101110224095036_499756501867429888_o

That’s my mantra now. 🙂 Make me work for it. Make me focus. Make me try.

We warmed up ok, after Oats spent forever and a day at the (very hot again) trailer, screaming for his buddy and pacing, and it went on and on and on…

Anyways, I was learning from my lessons the day previous, so I did NOT get on Oats too early. I waited until the first 2’3” went, and then tacked Oats up and brought him over. We trotted, cantered and my trainer came over to run us over a few small jumps- just as the ring gate volunteer was like hey you’re in two. Wow! That was quick! But it’s how I like it. 🙂

64447006_10101110224050126_6224707419331624960_o.jpg

We went in and it was…eh. He bucked a little (feeling MUCH better today) and I could tell he was a bit bored. I left the ring saying he needs more. And we waited (awhile) for the 2’6” to be set. The course was not challenging, but it did have a small combination (2 small strides, 3 Oats-sized strides, quite compressed). I kind of wanted them to put the liverpool in, we could definitely do it no problem! Sadly that is for the 2’9” division, not ours. I did not feel scared or have the jumps suddenly ‘grow’ as I usually feel. In fact, even looking back, they look low. WTF?

64566786_10101110224065096_6465506835251068928_o.jpg

We warmed up ok for the 2’6”- it was getting quite hot. I had cleverly brought in a water bucket and asked my friend who finished her division (and placed!!) to fill it and put it in the warm-up. Oats drank! Twice! He was already doing better this day.

We hopped a few verticals, biffed the oxer a few times but it was fine and then we were in. And you know what? The course rode really well- almost perfectly!! I came out smiling. And I said, I want to ride my next round exactly the same way. And I DID!! Who is this girl, who can finish all of her classes, ride competently and well, being fair to her horse, and confidently say she wants to ride exactly the same way? This girl!

I look back and wished I was in this division 5 years ago. But you know what? It’s not really any use doing that. I was a different person then. We placed 3rd in our 2’3”, 3rd in our 2’6” and 5th in our 2’6”. Placing doesn’t really matter though- I felt happy, confident and loving my boy. Go Honey Bunches of Oats!

Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

58784918_10161795809255191_1172811712902987776_n

Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

58784934_10161795809045191_8932787610602962944_n

From last time. It was still really windy! 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep. He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!? 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

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.

58784934_10161795809045191_8932787610602962944_n

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).

59368430_10161795809130191_76868021833957376_n

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!!

58443739_10161795809200191_2734501262413266944_n

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.

58543767_10161795809100191_8423442946434531328_n

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!

58784918_10161795809255191_1172811712902987776_n

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!

Cowichan District Riding Club: Jumper day!

Saturday was jumper day (my classes were all Match the Clock) and boy did we have to get up early! The show started at 8:30 a.m. with cross poles, and I was registered for the 2′ division (wanted to have a warm up) and the 2’3” division, two classes each for a total of four. I figured that was plenty for us, and as it turns out I was right–likely maybe even a bit too much for Oats!

IMG_1121.PNG

We got up at around 5:40 a.m. to get to the barn and…Drama. Donato caught his eyelid on something, and injured it. It was purple and swollen and just..NO. Crumbs! We have had some bad luck with this horse show in the fall- last year Oats almost died and I had to cancel our attendance the week before. 😦

IMG_1125

But this year was OUR year, I am proud to say! So we brought Donato with us, even with his bad eyelid, to see if he would improve and my friend hacked him quietly around the warm-up ring. He was a good boy. I was riding in the show solo, as my trainer teaches lessons on Saturdays and couldn’t leave the lessons to come and coach us. No biggie, as the heights are well within my comfort zone and I can’t even remember the last time I rode with a trainer for a dressage show?!

IMG_1127

This jump always rode well, even if I rode it on an angle every time.

We warmed up for the 2′ and Oats was pretty good, a little sluggy but my spurs helped him in the right direction. We went into the 2′ and had some very sloppy jumps where I hesitated and should have made a better decisions over the small jumps, but overall it was fine. Then they announced the ribbons and I was 6th? WTF? Ok, we were going too fast?!! Wha? Since when is Oats too fast? The horse that won trotted the entire course. Wth?

IMG_1131

Anyways, I was pretty flabbergasted by that, ha. My next round at 2′ I vowed to make better decisions and go slower. Kind of 50% of that actually happened, hahaha. My ride was better but again, too fast. ???? 6th for us.

Ok now I was on fire! I was going to fix that time thing, this time for good in the 2’3”. We went in, and were a tad quick but overall a really super round. Again a bit quick, but sooooo close. We had nice big loopy turns, a quiet round. I watched a few others go and they had some troubles- rails (they came down SO EASILY) and some refusals.

We were in 1st! Yeah!!! Lindsay said she knew it was going to happen, haha.

And then for our last round, we BLEW the first jump. Like, Oats stopped, and crawled slowly over it. Just not awake! Ha. It was a very sloppy round and I was tired, he was tired and we should have gone over a few more warm up jumps to wake up before the round. I fully own that, haha. But anyways, our time was much slower and we still placed 2nd?! YAH!

A great day, with my buddies and husband helping me out. Oats was such a good pony!

 

Horse goals: Go get it

Had actually very few rides last week (rode Tuesday and Thursday) took Monday/Wed/Fri off because I wasn’t feeling well on Monday (exhaustion is a thing??) and had a physiotherapy appt Wednesday after work for my back, and had a work thing Fri night that ended up kind of not happening…

35628663_10100973861836096_7384021772305170432_n

But in the end, I felt like riding fewer days worked well for Oats and myself? He had more time off, and I had time to recover from the busy horse show weekend. Win-win! It’s hard to convince my brain of this though. My busy brain likes to remind me that I need to keep going, keep grinding, keep working. But I don’t have to listen to it.

35544860_10100973861885996_6023373010491146240_n

In fact, my jump lesson on Thursday was far from perfect. So far. Ha. But it was pretty fun and by the end I was saying Oats needs to have the jumps up higher because he’s not respecting them! One jump he was just cantering over and I was like wha, where is the jump?? Pfft.

35539446_10100973861935896_5044300456197619712_n

But my dressage lesson on Saturday was really good! He felt pretty nice, very cooperative and I felt much less tense than I have been. Even the awkward moments (breaking stride, trying to drag me out of a circle, some swapping, it was like hey, ok you can just sit and be ok with this awkwardness. Just sit with it for a moment, instead of reacting, or scrambling, or whatever.) And you know what? It went just fine! 

A lesson to me- sometimes you don’t have to react, do, be, whatever. You just have to maintain and be ok with whatever is happening.

So I think my goals for the summer are:

  • Ride a 2’6” course at home – ideally comfortably. Maybe try for a 2’9” fence in a grid? I’m not going to push this too much. Feeling good and not stressed about it is key.
  • Ride a competent first level test- I don’t much care about the scoring, but I do want it to feel more cohesive, round through the back, less struggle. I will know it when I feel it. Be present in my body doing it.
  • Show at 2’3” comfortably- maybe a course at 2’6” if I am feeling confident and good about it. I’m not pushing this goal too hard- I want to feel present, confident and comfortable.
  • Practice what I preach- less tension, less stress. Ride a 5-day week, and then ride a 4-day week. Let things go with Oats, let him have more time off.