Working Equitation Day 2: Redemption!

After my sad-sack ‘dressage’ test where Oats had a head tossing freakout, I forgot where I was going and he was spooking at everything, I was determined to just let it go. Ok fine, it sucked but I’m camping in a great spot, it’s super hot out and we have trails and a pond to swim in. It could be worse!!

The gang. What a great weekend!

So we trail rode, I focused on letting it go past me and I went for some more swims…Even going skinny dipping when everyone else who was finished for the weekend went on a night time trail ride. Daring eh?? HAh it was so refreshing, I slept amazingly well despite the really loud concert going on all night in a nearby farm (and they had huge tents, a professional sound system and everything!).

The next day of course I didn’t ride until… after 2pm. Was I hanging around, biting my nails, feeling hot and festering? NOPE! I was determined to actually enjoy my experience for once. I fed Oats, cleaned his stall, longed him in the morning (he was tired) and then I went on a little run to check out where the Cowichan Trail connected to where we were the day previous. Then I cooled off with a nice swim, packed up my gear and lazily went over to think about tacking up…to find they had accelerated the schedule! Yikes!

Ease of Handling round

Ha but it was totally fine. We had lots of time still! So I tacked up, and felt fairly confident about the tracks I was planning. There was no real water obstacle, and no bank, both of which challenged Oats last year.

When it was our turn, I was fairly pleased with Oats, with the understanding that he was quite footsore on the rock hard grass, and some areas were worse than others- he couldn’t hold a good canter at all, and did a fair amount of ‘trantering’ where it was very hard. He was a good boy though and I couldn’t wait for my fav- the speed round!!

Oats is NOT fast, but he’s a canny little dude and gets really into it. When we had the speed round come up, he was great!! Of course we got absolutely blown out of the water by some of the other speedier riders and horses but he’s just SO fun 🙂 and I think he really enjoys it too!

We were in last place after our miserable dressage, and then first after Ease of Handling, to settle in second place out of three. Not bad for us and a great way to wrap up our show season. Go Oats!

Working Equitation Horse Show

And the fun keeps rolling! We did the Working Equitation horse show in Glenora a few weeks ago, in mid-August. I personally think that is the best time…even though it was extremely hot. Like, very hot for us. Last year Oats was high as a kite and a bit difficult to manage, so I was more prepared this year to work on his energy levels (though I may have overestimated them and worked him into tiredness a little early?!) guess that’s better than a nutty horse on-course.

It really is beautiful eh? too bad the grass is so dead! This is for our Ease of Handling/Speed Round course.

I took Friday off work (I have a few days to use up and MAN I am really enjoying it!!) and my working equitation trainer Shelly and I loaded the horses/gear up and set out. The Malahat is pretty much terrible any time of day, but it was particularly nasty on a Friday afternoon so it took us ages to get there (and then about 2+++ hours to get home on Sunday…eff this for a 45 minute journey…).

It was a muggy day, I had already longed and bathed Oats at home so I didn’t stress him by working him further on Friday. Instead, we got the ponies comfortable in the stables, which Oats HATED and was pissed about all weekend, feeling like he was stuck in a cage… And then we went for a swim!

The next morning came really early, it was so hot out that I was slowly roasting in my tent. I went to warm up Oats after his breakfast/cleaning his stall and he was hot hot hot hot to trot! Sooo I hopped off and longed the little turd to get his yahoos out. He did have some! THEN I hopped back on and he was a gentleman.

And then, the waiting game…

And waiting…

And by the time my dressage time was up, I was pretty over it. Hot, tired, Oats was hot and pissy, and some flies were really bothering his eyes. We warmed up fairly nicely but it was very hot and stuffy in the arena, and the minute we trotted down centreline…Oats was freaked riiiight out. His head was on a swivel, he was spooking and flinging his head wildly. I got so distracted by his wacked-out behaviours that I forgot where I was going!! I had to pull up and ask the judge (who is SUPER nice). YEEEEK. I was in such a bad mood after that piss-poor showing. ARGH.

And then I noticed that everyone was crabby after dressage. HAHAH. So true.

After, to put the bad taste of the bad test out of my head, I asked Shelly to come with us on a trail ride. She did and with a few minor Oats moments (where he runs backwards and is an ass every time we stop on the trail..) they did really nicely 🙂

And then I got to go swimming again, and start perseverating about the Ease of Handling Round and Speed Round the next day… No banks this time, thank god (our real nemesis last time!).

…To be continued!

Mr. Oats goes to a gymkhana!

Mid-August, we had the chance to go to a really fun little local gymkhana. And we are NOT western-style riders, but wanted to have fun, support some local grassroots events and check it out!

Our failed pairs race!

Oats was very much non-fast, but he was also a touch footsore, so he did his best and was a good boy until he had a freakout on the trailer coming home and almost killed all of us…UGH horses!!

Anyways we had a great time trying barrel racing, pole bending, pairs race (hah not really), keyhole. I would definitely go again.

Here’s our youtube links, enjoy! 🙂

Cowichan District Riding Club All-Pony Show!

Wow so we had a busy weekend and the horse show was a blast!!!

I loved watching all the adorable Welsh ponies, shetlands, minis, Fjords, New Forest Ponies and it was just so cool to be there. It was also an extremely HOT day, so we had to be very careful with the heat and the sun and old Oaty, who can tolerate things well but he is an animal and you have to respect their needs.

Spoiler: Winners!!

So, we parked it in the shade for a lot of the day, as it was a loooooooooong day, lol.

We got there early for the Sport Pony halter class, where Oats behaved himself fairly nicely, only getting a little irritated at the end of the class. He placed fourth in that one, and then it was time to tack up for our first u/saddle classes. We had a LONG wait, due to a class conflict. So, it started about an hour later than we thought…and I was getting hot hot hot! I hopped off and parked Oats in the shade.

A very restrained Oats in the halter class.

Then it was our turn! We did the adult hunt seat equitation, where we rode well and the judge was very complimentary (the very kind Peter Holmes) but I got dinged hard for carrying an incorrect whip, whoops! And I am kicking myself, because I KNEW better lol. Doh!

And we won this sweet plaque, redeeming ourselves in hunter hack. Isn’t it awesome?

Oh well, Oats was behaving himself perfectly 🙂

Next class: Hunter under saddle, and Oats was so good at it, and we placed first!

Oats says: No frame, just freeeee

Next up was the hunter hack, and we had to jump two little fences. Video below: and of course, Oats was a star. We had a chance to warm up over it once, and it was set a little higher, maybe 18”? They knocked a rail off for the class itself, to Oats’ disappointment. Hah.

He was first that time too! Then our ‘suitable to be a dressage horse’ class, and we were second in it. Oats was getting hot and I was getting tired too. A long lunch break, and then we zipped over to ride the trail/agility class- and I messed it up, but it was fun! 🙂

I don’t know if I’ve ever smiled this much in the show ring! 🙂

Then our final classes of the day: Barrel racing and pole bending! I scratched the keyhole race, as I noticed Oats was getting too tired by the end of barrel racing, poor guy lol. We placed first in the pole bending!! Third in barrel race. 🙂

Alll the prizes!! It was incredible!

It was a super long day but the volunteers, competitors and sponsors were absolutely fantastic. Big kudos to everyone that kept the show running safely, well and happy!! We loved it!

Mr. Oats is immortalized

In a painting! I commissioned a painting of him earlier this year, and was able to pick it up two weeks ago, when I was grabbing my race bib for the Oak Bay half actually.

Stunning! Artist is Linda Stagg

I love it so much!! The artist is a colleague of mine and incredibly talented 🙂

And this is the photo inspiration! Isn’t it amazing what she did?

And how is the old boy? Oh being a terror, like usual 😉 On Saturday I rode, and then let him have turnout while I cleaned his disgusting horse blankets, and then went to bring him in- he can’t be on grass for too long right now, it’s too rich and he is a Cushings pony so too much grass is a big no-no…And I watched as he freaking BLEW past me, and galloped into the farm yard. He went from paddock to paddock, fighting and instigating chaos with each horse. Every time I went to get him, he basically charged past me or AT me. Asshole.

He then went back into his own paddock? Weird.

Guess he’s a time-limited terror?

From the scene of the crime…He looks so innocent but he definitely is NOT

He’s been super fun in my dressage lessons, mixing in a little test-practice, with some little fences, all kinds of little things to do and all fun! I haven’t had a Working Equitation lesson in awhile, due to being away in Port Townsend, the race, and then this weekend I didn’t have my car (because I was supposed to be in a bachelorette party, which got cancelled)…So I am hoping we can revisit WE practice this weekend.

He does really enjoy it, and I’m hoping there is a WE show in Aug. so we can strut our stuff! (but NO BANKS PLEASE jesus).

Don’t shy away: Dressage lesson!

Man, I haven’t had a good dressage lesson in…2 months? Soo many things came up, unfortunately.

Nov we had extreme flooding, so had to wait for the roads/arena to dry up, and there was a gasoline shortage too. Fun!

So naturally I had to get video. Still wish I’d gotten it from the right, it was a touch nicer.

Dec we had abscesses for weeks (not so fun), snowstorms, holidays. Boy that really adds up! We also had extreme cold- a week and a half of -9 so people had frozen pipes, frozen/black ice on roads and a ton of snow. Needless to say, not a productive month.

Jan my trainer got COVID so we had to wait until she was feeling better, and now she is! Yay!

And I was thrilled with how lovely Oats was feeling. Man this guy- 20 years old and he blows me away with how lovely and accepting he was in my lesson. We worked on a little pole circuit, and to the right he was foot-perfect. To the left, we started off really well but managed to kind of blow it to the pink poles. SIGH. Something to work on, as I know going left causes my body to twist in ways I don’t really want, lol. Oh well, guess it can’t be totally perfect, can it?? It was close!

Good boy Oaty, I love you!

And the hours tick down!

That’s right, on my last day before holidayyyyys…!

And some bummer news, I no longer have a jump trainer 😦 I knew this day was coming, and fair enough: She now has to travel a great distance due to owning a farm up island. I was kind of surprised she lasted this long~ but with the increasingly bad weather making travel on the Malahat a dangerous proposition, combined with a lot of her students either not riding due to lame horses or varying schedules…I totally get it.

Just a bummer, overall but a very fair reason.

Here’s to the many years we shared- it was great! 🙂

And a video from our last real jump lesson- it was very fun. As I step Oats down from most of our competition jump lessons, it’s nice to look back at the great things we’ve done. I love our partnership and how it has grown and progressed over the years, much like my relationship with my now-former jump trainer.

More chaos part 2?

Went a touch radio silent due to a lot of different factors all colliding at once, unfortunately:

Man, bring me back to this!

Major stress at work/burnout

Bad flareup of my chronic disease, ruinining an entire week of my life again

Oats went lame and I had a total meltdown over it

Gidget had a really bad flare up of her reverse sneezing and went into dog-shock for a few days. It was really hard to see 😦

So yeah…It was a very challenging period of weeks for me, Oats and the family.

Some bright sides: Oats lameness was temporary! He had a small abscess (in the same spot as his 2018 big abscess that summer) and now he is good to go. We even had a working equitation lesson on Sunday and he was a champ though I definitely felt quite rusty.

Work is ok for now and I am counting down the days until I am off on holidays!

My disease is back in remission until the next flare-up, and Gidget has a vet appointment today to figure out our next plan of attack. I don’t really expect that they will have any answers but…We made it over 3 weeks ago when we desperately needed it, so I still am hoping for some kind of solution or treatment for her symptoms.

I guess even through the blackest days, there is still hope?!

Also a bummer, but one I really knew was going to happen: My jump trainer who I have been with for over a decade (?!!) is not travelling to coach us anymore. I totally get it, no issue from me but it’s also a bit sad to see the end of an era.

I’ve reassessed mine and Oats relationships after his serious injury and jumping for competitions just doesn’t seem that worth it anymore? We’ve shown for so many years and it’s not always about ‘higher/faster/stronger’ for me– it’s about enjoying the journey and our relationship these days. I still love horse showing, but it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be, you know?

Halloween fun part 2!

Barn party time! And I had already forewarned one of the organizers that 10 a.m. was likely too early for me to show up lol as I was going to be at a party and PROBABLY hungover. Wow, how right was I? Too right, unfortunately 😦

Aren’t they adorable? Hairy Potter 😉

We got home from the party around 2 a.m., YIKES. So..yeah the morning wasn’t really working for me. To add to the fun I was caught in a nasty cough- puke cycle thanks to my terrible cough from the race the day earlier…Fun times. So I got up around 9 a.m.-ish and spent a few hours puking before my kind husband bought into my madness and determination and agreed to drive me to the barn to participate.

Duff man was good at bobbing for apples!

I made it to the barn without puking so I figured I was getting closer to getting better! But tacking up was …a challenge. Every time I bent down I felt like I was going to puke again, so Ian had to help out and pick out hooves, etc. But hey were there and trying to make it! Sheesh.

I mounted (and everyone was glad to see me make it, ha) and wobbled around nauseously for a bit, thank god Oats is basically a saint pony because I was NOT riding, more like just existing at that point. Bit by bit I felt better slowly, not good enough to eat but ok to try and drink, because I was dying of thirst.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/oKeLYceOXyM

The barn organizers kindly waited for me for the trail class and we got to do that first! 🙂

And then it was games time- we started with egg and spoon and it was HARD hahahah and I think it was a tie or something. Next was musical stalls and we lost lol, and then pole bending and Oats and I beat our lesson mates 😉 and finally it was time for ride-a-buck, where we dithered if we were going to do it full bareback and guess what? We all DID?!

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/SlGkHWo0nVM

Now that was the last thing I’d figure I’d be doing, hungover as hell, but hell we did it! Oats was a total star and we only won because my lesson partner had to forfeit- she couldn’t get her very recalcitrant pony to canter. Oats and I were doing lap after lap with me clinging on, feeling like mayyyyyyybe it’s time to gently slide off and die.

Ian got the prize money ($30?) for being a good sport for the day!

And then it was time for clean up and a bonfire with weenies. I couldn’t eat any but Ian got one, and I got a mini cupcake that I ate much later, lol.

A fun time was had by all!

Working Equitation horse show Day 2: Ease of Handling/Speed Round

That’s right, Sunday Sunday Sunday was the most exciting day! And true to form, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Monsoon raining, a ‘weather bomb’ event was descending on us at the same time…How would Oats fare?

Pretty well actually!

Mr. Oats in the speed round!

I went straight to longe him, and I was a bit concerned- he hadn’t really eaten much of his hay (because it was the wrong hay, I am an idiot) and was fussy about his breakfast (it had his pills in it, which he hates..) so I had to hand feed him his grain as a ‘treat’…And he wasn’t drinking so he ran to the nearest huge puddle (there were TONS) and had a 5 minute drink from it.

All those issues aside, he was lazy. I had to chase him around with the longe whip in the pouring rain in the swimming-pool outdoor and he wasn’t very jazzed about it, ha. Poor Oats! So we didn’t need much prep time at all, which was good because unlike the day before, we rode first thing! Course walk was at 8:30am, and I got up at 6ish to be ready to feed Oats, longe/warmup and then course walk and then immediately ride. Busy!

The course was fairly straightforward due to us being constrained in a small indoor, rather than the huge outdoor that we were really hoping for (thanks, weather…) but it had some neat lines and good flow. The only super awkward turn was the single slalom turn to the gate (obstacle #6) but we made it work, but you had to be extra careful about getting disqualified from crossing your lines on that approach.

I wished we had a bridge though! I like those. But we gotta work with what we got!

I was up first too, so I didn’t have a chance to watch, eeeek. But it went well! We majorly flubbed the back-up and knocked down the corridor 😦 which is super irritating because I swear to god, I have BEEN PRACTICING on that?! Also I missed the ring AGAIN on the garrocha line…Again I just don’t seem to have the grip/wrist strength to really accomplish that. Well, things to keep hammering home I guess?!!! ARGH.

But again, the course still flowed pretty nicely and I took a long approach to get to obstacle #1 because I didn’t feel like I had enough ‘flow’ so it was a bit circuitous, but overall an ok course.

Next up was the course walk for Speed Round (my personal fav!!), with a slightly shortened course by 1 fence, and we started and ended with the jump (also my fav obstacle, haha. Oats is good at it!) and the start was quite a tight little turn from the jump to the figure-eight barrels. We ALMOST ran straight into the barrels but I sat up and we roughly kind of steered around it. Heck, speed is about speed and that’s it- so who cares how nice it looks?

Winners!

Oats was a bit slow off the leg for some of them, but turned nicely and was very accommodating for the whole round. What a little pleaser, my Oats 🙂 We had a lot of fun with this round for sure! I was smiling and smiling after.

I wanted to do it over and over again, so much fun! And best of all my father-in-law and husband came to watch the speed round too. Yay 🙂 My WE trainer also did well, though I know she struggled a bit with the jump intro and end- a bit nervous but her horse is a good girl.

It was very nice to have all the volunteers and everyone helping out- we had a lovely weekend despite the challenging and terrible weather events!

And Oats had a clean sweep of all of the classes- a first for dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed Round- can you believe it?!!! I can’t! We packed up and cleaned our stalls and headed out…Straight into a hurricane. ARGH again. It was rough travelling home and I know my trainer handled the trailer very carefully with our precious cargo on board.

A tiring but good weekend!