Being appreciative

Rode Oats a lot this past week/weekend (Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun/Tues) and while I can’t even really remember how my rides went, with the exception of a fun jump lesson and some small jumps/polework on Saturday, I remember one thing:

I love riding him! I feel very appreciative to have him in my life, eating $$ and all.

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Photo courtesy of Nicole G. I love it so much! Big D and his mini-me.

I saw a photo my trainer took of Oats and his buddy Donato (Big D) being reuinted in the field and it made my heart sing with joy. He was so happy! The photo was sooo cute! I don’t always have these feelings and to be honest mostly take old Oats for granted (it’s like I’m afraid to acknowledge how much of an influence he is in my life, just in case). But, I heard some tragic news this past week about one of my trainer’s horses passing suddenly with a twisted-gut colic, and wow…I would be heartbroken if that happened to Oats.

So, my rides were unremarkable but you know, unremarkable is a good thing these days. I didn’t have my lesson yesterday b/c I skip every other week now for $$$-saving purposes (HA yeah right), and I will have it next week. But, we had a very solid ride focused on circles and straightness down the quarter-line. Easier said than done!

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I am learning how to take screenshots! Still in the indoor though. Proof that we jump oxers, haha.

Also, with more daylight and warmer temps, I’m wanting to actually BE at the barn more now, and my barn friends have moved back so it’s a win-win for all of us here.

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More screenshots- jumping the weird jump!

 

Poles are the worst–Or: Oats learns to take a flyer!

Jump lesson last night and I was loudly moaning about how bad my pole work on Monday was (it was terrible) so that inspired my trainer to re-enact some of my worst moments- live on screen! Ha, sort of, but yes she was interested in seeing what was going wrong with one simple exercise: 1 pole, taken on a circle at the canter.

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I’m not always terrible at poles, but I quite often am!

Simple right?

Yeah, no. Always simple, never easy.

We flailed wildly over the pole at the canter, and I got tossed around, cursed, etc. Wow, I am bad at this. Interesting note- Oats was taking the long spot EVERY TIME. Wha?? This is the pony that loves to chip!

We moved on to a jumping exercise, and Oats showed his newfound love of flying by completely bombing an x-rail…We had to move it up to a vertical because he was not respecting the fence, at all! Again, WTF?

So, we worked over a small course that involved- you guessed it, a pole on a circle, to a small haybale fence, to cantering our prior nemesis- the green box, on a circle to the right, and then through a 1-stride line, then to the jump on the outside (rode very nicely), to jump the green box again on a circle to the left, and then back to the haybale fence.

Oats went quite well, until we got to the 1-stride line and he flew into it. We barely managed to scramble out! It was quite shocking…His latent disrespect for the fences now has him like, flying at them.

That one went up to a vertical too, to back him off them a bit and stop taking such ridiculous chances!

That, however, didn’t stop Oats! Not yesterday, oh no! This time, he LAUNCHED at the haybale fence and made it like, 3’3” over…It was a small 2′ jump at best. I was like “what the eff….”  echoing as we hauled ass over it. Interesting to say the least! Oats is getting bored??

We then proceeded to cruise much more leisurely around, with me making a real effort to half-halt before the fences–a light one, he’s not going crazy here, but still doing it so he doesn’t get it in his silly pony brain to start flying the fences. He was much more workmanlike, with only one dumb mistake of mine at the green boxes so we had a re-do for that one.

So, me having to half-halt Oats, him getting bored and not respecting the fences, all very interesting progressions to me. Hmmm…It was a funny lesson though, jeeesh, I think I was laughing half the time!

Silly pony wants to be challenged more!

 

May all your war stories be old stories

I was saying last night that whenever people ask me these days how Oats is, I don’t really have anything to say! He’s…fine? Good? Good ol’ Oats?

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This was three years ago! I miss summer- even if I was wearing a sweater during July…

It was kind of a funny lament, because really, he’s been so good, drama-free for ages now. I’m happy with how our jumping is coming along, our two horse shows in the fall went fine, and so?

So, I have to share my old war stories instead! I say well, this pony you see me riding with no reins? WELL he used to….hahah. And my trainer and friend laughed, and said be glad your war stories are OLD war stories and still not happening! It’s true! 🙂

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Another blast from the past.

We had a good lesson last night, and it was a very interesting exercise. Two diagonal lines, an x-rail then 3 strides to a small vertical. Then on the other diagonal, a bounce to three strides to a bounce.

The trick was getting Oats FORWARD during the first 3-stride line, and then maintaining that through the corner to the first bounce, and then GO! to the second bounce. I was kind of concerned how it was going to go- was I going to eat it through the bounce? Wibble-wobble through the first line?

It sure wasn’t perfect, and wow I lost my reins more than once through the two bounces set three strides apart, but Oats was golden!! He started getting more engaged through the exercise, and was powering himself through the bounce line really nicely. He just took care of me through it, I didn’t even have to steer, or really have reins at all.

Good pony!

It was quite a tiring exercise for me, but I was quite proud of how Oats was handling it. He was eating up those strides (for him this will always be a challenge).

The jumps were teeny-tiny but it’s more how the exercise really made us focus on a few things- forward, not pulling to a spot, no chipping in, straightness, going through a corner straight/forward. Yes!

No lessons, but still learning

Rescheduled my lesson from Thursday again to Saturday, due to coach time changes.

No prob, I thought I’d go early on Thursday, and see what kind of horse I had with me- well, I didn’t factor in that I was rudely interrupting Oats from his dinner (grabbed him to tack up before he had dinner and boy, he was pissed). He was antsy in the cross-ties, fidgety, snatchy and irritated.

When I went to ride, he was GOING PLACES.

I actually appreciate that on him, as most of our rides are me convincing him to get his pony butt in gear, but wow…He just kept on it. Our canter transition in the warm-up was a buck!

Not an obnoxious buck, a very enthusiastic one. He was like the Energizer Bunny of horses last night- going, going, going, going. I was getting tired?! We schooled over some (very low but fun) fences, trot a x-pole, canter the hay bales, canter the lattice jump, canter the x-pole and he was not tiring a single bit. Apparently angry Oats is energetic Oats?

I got tired of jumping and he was literally still raring to go. Need I remind you of how extremely unusual that is? His preferred movement is ‘stop.’ We worked on more canter, and then worked over tiny x-pole on a canter circle, both directions, starting with the left.

I know, me doing circle jumps on my own, voluntarily. Who is this person??

We switched to right, I wanted to try it at the trot and he would NOT trot. Only canter. Okay then…We cantered, and it was at times great, and other times, very awkward.

I then continued to work him at the trot, a bit of spiraling in and out – I know, it was A TON of work to ride him last night, just very physical- and he was okay but not really tuned into me at the trot.

We did some deep bend left and right, and big trot- he continued in big trot, which was surprising. He was much better at it on the right, which is not his good side.

I finally walked and even his walk was very motivated. I hopped off to cool him out, because by this point, he was so sweaty and needed a good long cool-down time.

I was tired! Wow! I do wish I had this kind of energy when I really need it- like during my jump lessons or in a horse show.

 

Friday fun: Let’s go to the beach!

 

And swim with a good ol’ Nemo jump! kuna

Due to a new WordPress change, I am having difficulties loading any photos into my blogs, so you will just have to imagine a big inflatable Nemo, that we all jumped our horses over! Stupid WordPress! ARGH.

The awesome Nemo jump was courtesy of friend Sarah, who has a very unique eye and a talent for creating fun, crazy and freaky jumps for our ponies to play over! 

I had a lesson with my trainer Nicole yesterday and I had a GOOD TIME! Yes!! I felt like Fuck yeah!

Finally! hahah

We schooled canter circles outdoors, it felt kind of hot and god, I wanted to ‘wimp’ out, but I didn’t. I felt like, I have to start taking responsibility for my pony’s actions. I have to get him going and get him ‘angry’ ie- kind of on fire! 

No more making excuses. I can start pushing his buttons, and mine too!

So, we schooled a warmup, and then cantered over the little red panel fence. Then, we did a small round of 7 jumps, including a few lines and the Nemo jump. My goal for yesterday was to pretty much jump the Nemo jump. I’m so transparent haha. 

Went well! So well that we had to do it again! But this time, there were 12 jumps. Eeeek! I don’t think I have ever voluntarily jumped that many in a row, haha.

We jumped the flamingoes, the Nemo jump, a small two-jump combination, the red and white striped panels, the ‘road closed’ jump (and almost had a stop at it, holy..I thought he was over until he wasn’t! tricky!) and the ‘brick wall’ jump.

The entire ride, I had ‘periods of intensity’ echoing through my brain. I can do intense for this long..

And it was good! We had the 1 icky jump- the ‘road closed’ but recovered. I did get a bit left behind during the combination (couldn’t remember if it was a 1-stride or 2? Oh well!!).

So…I have to step up to the plate. For both of us.

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)

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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)