Jump to it!

So I had my jump lesson on Saturday (like, real jumping, not dressage jumping) and it went pretty well! We worked over a small course, and the jumps were teeny-tiny, ha. I, on the other, hand, was feeling like total crap. We had gotten rudely woken up by movers wanting us to move our car so they could get into out neighbour’s house, which is fine, but they were here before 8am!

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I want this…

I had a terrible sinus headache, staggeringly bad allergies, and felt fuzzy, muzzy and really exhausted and weak all day. Great for a riding lesson eh? My head felt like an effing balloon. I couldn’t remember a damned thing and my head/sinuses were going to explode.

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When I am doing this! How?

So yeah the lesson was fine, I just felt like absolute garbage for the entire day. I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep on the damned couch. Which I basically did as soon as I finished my lesson, ha. My allergies have taken over my damned life.

Also I am having trouble trying to get the right ‘feel’ from my Thursday lessons to translate to my jump lesson days on Saturday. I LOVE the feeling I have on Thursday, and then I get to Saturday and it feels… wimpy? I can’t get him off my leg, or get any connection. He breaks gait, slows to the fences, etc. Just not the same. How do I reconcile this?

Something to work on!

New adventure in dressage-jumping!

So we revisited the lesson from last Thursday, with a focus on ‘building’ the canter up to be a bigger, more energetic and ‘jumpy’ canter rather than a very tightly controlled ‘small’ canter.

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Some choice screengrabs 😉

Dressage with speedbumps!

I now tend to think of dressage for me as a process of going through stages. First we developed his ‘stretchy’ frame, next we bump the frame up a bit for his ‘jump’ frame and then kind of toggle through both. But you need the first one to get the second, if that makes sense?

It’s a sort of transitional phase.

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But so uphill! I love it! 

And yesterday had some very rocky moments (his right rein was not a thing, apparently) and he had 1 BIG spook that almost got me off, hahah. Stupid pony! But no matter, I enjoyed the end process and I think I am getting a better idea of how to manage his canter, both on the flat and through the jumps. Both trainers are right- his jump/my jump issues stem from a weakness in managing the canter.

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Heading to a small jump and he still looks good! 

If I’m not connected to him at the canter, how WILL I know where the takeoff spot is? I am too disconnected to know or figure it out! And I can feel that, I just didn’t know how to fix it.

This time I am happy to say he nailed every single distance, ha. We didn’t really jump (ok, they were cavaletti size, ha super small) much, but it was higher quality and the canter improved. We did get a little shakier and flat as we wrapped up, but I was able to watch the video and damn…His canter is looking FANCY. I also am reaching the point of jumping where this little stuff is…Not hard. Taking the spectre of ‘jumping’ out of jumping is working well for me.

My hands suck and I sit behind the motion, soooo ignore me. But Oats! Wow! Loving this. I also appreciate that in the 10 years I have owned him, I am still learning so much with him. It’s a journey, isn’t it?

 

 

 

Wanting things isn’t enough

Had my jump lesson this weekend, and it was a good one (before my actual weekend went to hell in a handbasket, but that’s definitely tomorrow’s rant..). We worked on a very simple exercise, focusing on almost exactly the opposite of what I did in my dressage-jump lesson, hahah!

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Enjoy some blurry screenshots! I miss riding outside in the summer…SIGH. Oh and my leg definitely slipped back here, ha. 

I intellectually understand the value of both exercises, but still feel a bit torn about which one do I follow more closely? Can I do both? I feel like Oats is good at cruising, but he’s also… just cruising, so if you want to go anywhere, you’re kind of SOL. Whereas maintaining a more ‘showjump’ seat and ride, with those sharp turns, and flexible hands, seems to get me nailing EVERY distance. What to do?

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One jump was a decent size. Old me would have laughed at it, but new me is like, WOW it is bigger? Oats didn’t care one way or the other. 

I want to be soft, forgiving and flexible. I also want an active, energetic seat that nails every single distance. How do I get both?

Oh and my ride on Sunday should have gone better but I had SO much tension and it kind of sucked. Like, it was ok but I want my hands to be softer, more forgiving even if he loses his marbles in the corner? Maybe I just need constant trainer supervision to keep me honest?!

I do want to ride better, and I think each day I can make that my opportunity. I just need to not get sucked into his drama (OH and there was drama this weekend arghh).

Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

The heart of a dark star: Jump lesson update

Ok, you know how I was saying how amazing my dressage lesson was, and how we were killing it? Picture that, but like..the total opposite in my jump lessons. ARGH. My release was all over the place, wicked right drift, you name it, we were doing it.

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Miss this- the sun, having this outdoor, jumps, everything. This year is turning out to be the worst yet! 

Oats tripped over the grid we were working on and almost face-planted through it. He couldn’t trot or canter a single pole without hitting it, HARD.

It didn’t feel that harmonious and I wanted to fix it, but you know what? It also didn’t feel scary or intimidating, just kind of frustrating. I want to be back where I was, you know? Confidently cantering 2’6-2’9” courses, instead of…face-planting through a tiny grid. HAH.

Oh well, I guess by lesson 3 back, I have not yet gotten it all figured out, that’s for darned sure. SO humbling and painful, ha.

Lessons we learn…not always the ones we intend on.

Also another gripe about the weather: It sucks. It always sucks here. We don’t get summer, apparently…Just wind, rain, sun, wind, rain and more wind. I’m freezing!!

Oh and I had the farrier out (love his new farrier) and Oats was TERRIBLE for her. Sheesh. What a jerkface. AND he tried to run over one of the girls at the barn in a bid to escape his paddock. He can be the biggest brat ever!

I can’t help you if I can’t help myself

Back to JUMP lessons on Saturday! It seems so funny that only a few months ago, I was fussing hardcore about having jump lessons on Saturday because it can be tough on my weekend schedule plus I just didn’t like to really be scheduled on the weekends, in case things changed, plans came up, etc…

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After my ride, I turned Oats out with his friends. Here he is having a nice grooming session with a buddy! 

Well, I guess everything changed and now I have lessons on Saturdays because no other days worked! If I wanted to do dressage lessons, the only day that worked was Thursday. My jump day! So I moved jump day to Saturday, dressage to Thursday, and Oats’ novice rider lessons are on Tuesdays. Busy busy eh?

We had a nice lesson but WOW having to get strides in the indoor and in a line (4 strides) instead of 5 strides, felt tough! Really tough! I am not used to pushing, and neither was Oats, haha.

Still it was fun, I was out of breath and tired, haha.

We did a small line in 4 strides, and then a small course working with the line/bending line. I, of course, messed it up a fair bit at first (thank GOD the jumps are like..a foot. ha).

Still, getting back into it just requires more work! More than I remember, hahah and wow it is tiring. I think Oats felt the same way 🙂 Felt so good to do it.

Done with those days

And as I mentioned, Oats was indeed feeling the effects of playing too hard! He didn’t feel good on Friday, but by Saturday he was working out of his stiffness and did feel much better. I didn’t push it, but instead did some light walk/trot on a loose rein. I then gave him Sunday off (so Ian and I could do another mega run out in Sooke/Metchosin on the Goose) and I rode him last night and he was back in action! yes!

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Oats looking oh so innocent

So what to do about an elderly pony who thinks he is invincible? If you know, let me know, ugh. I see his age affecting him more these days when he runs and gallops and fights with his turnout buddies. He just can’t keep up like when he was 9 years old. Try telling him that, though! Ugh!!!

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Oats on house arrest until he can be normal in the fields and not ruin himself! 

So he is on limited turnout until Sunday because I WANT to have a jumping lesson!! Silly pony can’t keep it to himself, so he gets limited turnout until I know he won’t overdo it in the field. What a goof.

Speaking of goof, after I rode last night I worked raking down the new hogfuel in the arena, and guess what my rotten little pony did? ROLLED ON MY SADDLE. For the fourth goddamned time. I was leading him and boom! Down he goes and he did NOT want to get up. Just lay there like, naaaaahhh I’m gonna roll. Eff….

At least my saddle was ok, but yeesh. What a little jerk! And yeah this is not the first time he rolled on my danged saddle. Poor saddle… Taken a lot of abuse.

 

When best laid plans…

So I was pretty excited to get BACK TO JUMPING!! Yes! With my dear Oaty. He was moving rock solid on Wednesday, just really nicely and feeling awesome…I thought my lesson on Thursday was going to be awesome!

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Man do I ever miss this!!!!!! 

Spoiler: He was lame 😦

He had the flat-tire feeling he had a few months ago, and I suspect it was due to him playing too hard with his buddies in the field. The last time this happened (his flat tire..) he was sore for a few days. He had played too hard with his neighbour horse and the next day when I went to ride= lame. This time, he was turned out with his buddies in the field during the day, and at night I went to ride him= lame.

He thinks he’s 10 years old still, not 18 going on 19 and elderly.

EFFFFF

So this couldn’t have happened, say, when I had 2 months of NO lessons? I am literally on my second lesson in two months (going on 3) and boom. No lesson. ARGH horses!!!!

I am trying not to get too wrapped in up in the downward spiral that I love getting sucked in to when he goes lame…. ughhhhhhhhh. Not sure when I can lesson again, I was going to see how he is tonight, with some more Previcox. Damn damn damn. 😦

Forget Me

And as we start getting back to normal, I started my lessons back up! Of course after 2 months of no lessons…I desperately needed them. My jump lesson was good and to the point, and Oats got back to it like he had never been away! Small tiny little cross poles, but it felt good to get back to the groove again with my honest as the day is long pony. A good feeling for sure 🙂

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Hard to believe this was in March, and like one of our last jump lessons?!

I then had my first dressage lesson back on Saturday at the freaking crack of dawn, and you know what? I wanted to really take me and Oats back to basics. My hands are too rough, I feel like he is shortening through his neck because of that in the warm-up, and our transitions are now non-existent and tough and leaning. I know a lot of this is because of the weird anxiety I had over the past two months, but that is no excuse for BAD hands and terrible warm-ups and transitions.

So, our entire dressage lesson was a rework on soft hands through the warm-up to start things off on the right foot. And you know what? It felt great! I was able to warm up with soft hands and then incrementally work them up into the contact. Oats was then more responsive off my seat!

Of course, he was still a spooky goof yesterday, so I spanked him pretty hard and then we revisited what we learned on Saturday about warming up nicely, stretching rather than compressing his neck and spent the whole ride yesterday just doing that- and it was good! He was pretty sweaty, but it wasn’t difficult work- it was just comprehensive and warming up with ‘reach’ rather than some sort of weird giraffe-neck.

He spooks because he can get bored, and I’m like, enough of that!!

But then he got down to business, and was reaching quite nicely. I’m so glad to be able to get guidance again. I definitely need it to keep both of us honest, nice to each other, and back on track!! Oats likes it too 🙂

Oats and I then got to explore one of the unused pastures to see if it ok for turn-out, and it was. Oats was in hog heaven, with knee-high grass and weeds everywhere!

My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going. 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! 🙂

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”