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!

Advertisements

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.

Avalon Derby-Cross photos!

Because my rides have been fun but very boring, instead I am going to share photos that I purchased from the professional photographers at the Derby!

_MG_4263

This one was cute so I bought it! Oats looks so keen. All photos were purchased from Eventus Photography.

I was so happy to see photogs there, that I was definitely going to support them. Win-win!

_MG_3945

Loved this jump photo!

Lately my rides with Oats- jump in the field, flat in the other field, do hill work, do transitions, have fun! I’m enjoying my week with him, no lessons this week as i am preparing to go on vacation. Oats will get a small vacay as well. 🙂 After how busy I have been and he has been, I am SO looking forward to getting some time away. I need it so badly!

_MG_3945-Edit

A little paint effect for some fun! Pretty eh?

 

Foxstone winter series: Recap of the final show!

 

73b198e0-7442-480f-94da-475567d0d71c

Our loot- the 4th place is for our single 2’3” round!

 

7588_10154857078170603_2595534805474611451_n

It wasn’t really sunny for a single moment yesterday! Shoot!

I’ll preface this by saying I had a really great jump lesson on Thursday (even did a small grid w/o hands) so anything at the show was basically a cherry on top! That said, my recap is tinged with a bit of bitterness–I was standing in reserve champ in my division standings by the third show and I did NOT manage to hang on to it. Shoooooot! I so wanted it this  year and felt like I really worked hard to keep it!

11078100_10100364925694006_1902984973469291932_n

Lacking any new media- from last year’s show.

Instead, I dropped down to third, and honestly–it was nice to keep it there, as the final show was quite competitive in my division, with up to 14 riders per class! Crazy eh?!

Still, my goals aren’t ribbons–they’re good experiences. Sometimes I do lose sight of that.

Oats warmed up nicely in the outdoor arena and it was so wet! Wet footing splashed up all over us when we landed from a jump. I had sand on my face even! Oats had it on his bit, on his nose, everywhere. It was a very rainy day, and I was feeling supremely grouchy because of it…

11074308_10100364925968456_3070318617364946467_o

Then we went to do our brief warmup they offer in the ring, and that’s when the wheels kind of fell off…Oats was a bit crow-hoppy in the outdoor, but I brushed it off, until he was VERY humpy and crowhopping in the corners of the indoor. I immediately felt panicked…This is it, he’s going for a launch again..Just like what happened in the past. I was worried.

We pulled it together and worked over the two warmup fences twice, just to clear any residual concerns about his silly behaviour in the corners. Nicole counseled me to sit tall, and work to mitigate his silliness in the corners before he had a chance to act out. Easier said than done? Years of shows past where he completely launched me echoed in my head…

I’m not gonna lie, I was GRAY going in to my first round.

It was not a fabulous round. I rode extremely conservatively, and rather tensely as well. I didn’t give Oats as much freedom and leg as I should have (and could have). I rode deliberately for the short distance and he didn’t get a chance to act up.

Coming out, Nicole and Sarah said I looked better, and I said I felt a “bit” better but I was still riding very backwards, and constrained. Went in for round two and I couldn’t shake it! Still holding back, and very management-style riding. Oats was fine, and he was managing my silliness now…

Third round and I felt slightly better- it was my equitation round and I started coming out of it more and actually riding, instead of acting like a manikin. We even aced the trot fence that last show we completely bungled. Go us!

A LOOOONGG wait for the flat class and we kind bombed it. I’m not sure what the secret is for a great one (all the stars align?) but Oats was chargey and rude and kind of wanted to get crazy in the canter, but I held him firmly under wraps. Gak!

I started backpedaling like crazy after my flat class. Ambitiously (ok, ambitious for me, the wimp!) I had signed up for a single 2’3” class to round out my day. And then I immediately didn’t want to ride it…

I was cold, wet and it took forever for the 2” division to be over, due to the large number of entries. Still, Nicole was NOT. HEARING. IT. and basically forced me into the warm up ring for the 2’3” warm up. And you know what? Oats was GREAT in it!

I went in to the 2’3” class telling myself–this one I don’t give a shit. Go, finish your class and you’re done for the day. Who cares?!! And it was the BEST CLASS OF THE DAY!

True we had a moment of disunited canter when I thought – mistakenly- that we could get the change behind and boyyyy we sure didn’t. Ooops! But other than that I finally- finally, felt connected to Oats, and we were rockin’ it!

No silly humping or being a twit from Oats, no backwards riding from me. Just good, forward, getting it done!

I came out of the ring smiling. Smiling!! Me?! 

That, despite the ribbons for the day being kind of a wash (two 6th places, two 5th places, and a fourth), made me the happiest of the day. Heck, we did place even out of 14 riders in every one of our classes, so I’m not too sorry about the low-number ribbons. The fact that I didn’t want to, and then I did ride my best in my last class of the day, made all the difference to me.

I went the whole day waiting for that moment to happen. And then it did!

Throwback Thursday: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage

Yes, this was us at our very first dressage show last May! 

I guess this is a sort of throwback too? Funny how we had just started dressage last year. We did W/T HCBC tests and then in the fall moved up to Training…And then hit a big speedbump (bucking) in the spring, and kind of gave up dressage after that. (Or gave up dressage shows, not sure exactly where I am with that right now).

ARGH.

Then again, I am sensing a common theme here…Going well, don’t push any buttons, and then BLAM! Buttons get pushed! It gets ugly! Back outta there!

Sigh…

The learning process continues…

Had a nice, very FORWARD ride yesterday on Oats, and then hacked in the field to cool out. I thought he was being a bit of a drama queen tossing his head with the flies, until I hopped off to get the gate, and his poor eyes were covered in flies! Oops sorry Oats! 

Lessons (hard learned)

10314670_10152529093998256_6956522492982529703_n

So, Oats had Monday off while I stewed.

Actually, I had a spectacularly grouchy day and cranked at everyone all day, and then went to the beach in the evening with my Kobo for some Zen time…and of course my Kobo was dead. Excellent.

Tuesday, I had another group lesson with Karen Brain. I almost didn’t want to…I felt stupid, frustrated, embarrassed. Falling off AGAIN at yet ANOTHER horse show? WTF? How do I tell people- who think I am a fairly decent rider- that no, I really do know what I’m doing, and at home, I am actually pretty good? 

(my coworkers think all I do is fall off my horse, by now!)

But, I sucked it up and went. It was hot, we rode in the indoor. I went in complaining. I told Karen what happened, how weird I felt, and how I knew Oats was taking advantage of me being out of it. And when I got angry, and kicked his butt, how great he responded.

And her insight was VERY helpful. I felt kind of emotional even! 

She said that my symptoms of dealing with horse show anxiety (even though I want to be there) is ‘checking out’ and the time I spent ‘checked out’ Oats responded negatively (stopping at jumps, slacking off my leg). When I was forced to ‘check in’ when I was FED UP enough, bingo! Got the results I wanted/needed.

She said I probably get in the habit of checking out with Oats because it is SO EASY to do. He lulls me along at a gentle pace, nothing too forward, doesn’t really misbehave…Until I ask for something. I don’t have enough ‘him’ to check myself in.

That is also why I find her lessons so challenging- I am made to be ‘checked in’ for a solid hour. 

Oats responds very positively to Karen.

So, she said we need to work on staying checked-in throughout a ride- building on smaller ‘stressors’ to gradually bigger ones, like a horse show.

And I need to work on staying present- bending, more leg, leg to the fence. It’s easy when a trainer is yelling at you, but in a show ring? You can yell at yourself- Go legs! Sit up! Sit Deeper! 

Honestly, none of this is new to me. The sliding, slacking ‘out of it’ feeling I have always had…I just need to hear it again, and again, and again. From multiple sources. Oats is not a horse I can ride ‘checked out’ anymore.

And have a horse show that I royally embarrass myself at. That is a good incentive too.

So, Karen set up a exercise of ‘leg leg leg!’ short gallops, checking-in at the canter, bend left/right, then cruise of a 1ft jump, then gallop, then circle, bend-counter bend-gallop…It was exhausting but good.

She said that I may not want to hear it, but the horse show was a good lesson (but a hard one) to learn. 

(Photo credit to the talented Christi Kay)