Read my mind: Jump lesson with Oats

Now before I start with the glowing praises of old Oats, I have to start with reports of him being a little shit-disturber and getting out of his paddock last night and causing a ruckus, going from paddock to paddock to rile up and squabble with allllll of the other horses…OATS! God!

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The culprit! 

Now this is likely my fault, as when I finished my lesson my friend pointed out that Oats hadn’t been given his hay, so I put him in his paddock, moved his hay bag to his paddock, and …probably forgot to re-latch his gate. Argh!

Oh well… On to the lesson! I was feeling weirdly anxious. I’ve been struggling with just crushing fatigue this week, and a fast-moving cold, thanks in part to travel and breathing in that fine, recirculated airplane air. My muscles felt super weak, and I started feeling lightheaded at the gym almost every day. I was dragging myself around. It sucks.

So, exhaustion + sickness + lessons = success? Ha not quite, but it wasn’t the shitshow I was anticipating. It was fun! We worked on a rollback turn (that I sucked out loud at, I could NOT figure out how to jump, and then look, THEN turn, in that sequence). But I enjoyed the process!

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From a few weeks ago. I love jumping this guy! 

We then worked on a small bending line, which rode much better. Oats was great for it, bending lines are his expertise. We strung it together into a small course, and I could feel myself fading a bit, having trouble keeping him straight to the jumps. I even went off-course and forgot where I was going… I think because of the fatigue/exhaustion that I was dealing with. (And I think that’s how I left the gate open too…).

It wasn’t the thrilling jump lesson of a few weeks ago, where we TROTTED a 2’9” warm up fence, but you know what? With my incipient weakness and limp riding, it didn’t need to be, haha. Leave that for another day. I know myself by now, and I’m fine with what each day presents.

Oats was such a good boy though, I just love jumping him! Even if he can be a little turd sometimes.

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Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

No one does it like you

Wow, so like a week of silence… Life got too busy, work kind of blew up in my face and I couldn’t deal with 1 more thing, at all for the past two weeks. I am hopefully coming out the other end of it, but yeahhh… Not fun. At all.

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Love my boy

Also my allergies went completely off the rails and friends, I am suffering. Congested, incredible sinus pain, itchy upper palate, allergic coughing, eyes swelling shut and so itchy that I can’t even deal…Oh boy, I love it. Add this to work and I spent most of the week absolutely miserable.

But there is also the good: Weather! We had a crazy turnaround and had highs of 19-20 degrees this week. It felt incredible and sadly we are back to seasonal (still pretty decent) but on Wednesday it was downright HOT! Woah! I loved it. 🙂

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I went to the beach- 20 degrees, can you believe it? 

Horses! Oats has been a total superstar!! Love my boy. We had a gymnastics jump lesson last Thursday (I hate gymnastics, so it was …Not that inspired, ha.) and then we had a really fun jump course on Saturday, with all sorts of crazy jumps! Not high, but definitely getting more consistent at the 2’6” -ish level heights. We also had a cavaletti jump at ‘A’ that really caught us out a few times, as well as a 1-ft circle jump that I biffed HARD by staring at it, hahaha. It was fun though!!

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Got myself a latte at a new coffee shop nearby: Pretty eh?

Sunday I went on a run with a work friend, and then went riding later. Oats has been really good, although I’m noticing his ‘halt’ has turned back into ‘halt and then start flying backwards…’ so we’re working through that this week. Lovely…It’s not a new issue for us, it crops up about once or twice a year, but kind of always bugs me. Oh horses!

This week was totally psycho with work, and by Thursday I was Over.IT. and tired. So tired. I didn’t really want to go have a jump lesson, but I know that when I go, I’m happier. More ‘me’ if that makes sense? So off I went! My allergies were a bit better yesterday, I still can’t wear eye makeup but yeah anyways. My jump lesson was really good! We worked over a small course, with the rocks as a single jump down the centre-line. Hahahha it was hilarious, Oats deked out and went around it the first time, crushing the traffic cone that was designed to guide us. HAHAH silly pony!

We had a blast! He was jumping really well by the end (he did get a bit flat at first, and kind of ‘blahhhhed’ over the first jump) but we had fun and it felt good later! He also kind of tried to half-jump over the rocks and jump off to the side. Oh pony. He’s such a good boy though, and it was a cool and fun lesson. See? I always do feel glad that I went and jumped, even though I spent my week feeling itchy, miserable, tired and stressed out.

My boy is always there for me. 🙂

Bitter winter/Familiar Ways

Had my jump lesson on Saturday- finally! I felt weirdly anxious all day, I guess because it was off my routine? I don’t normally lesson on Saturdays, and I ride earlier in the day as well. Instead I had my lesson and it was after lunch, at 12:30pm. That for some reason really threw me off my game.

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Luckily Oats is a great little guy and he was not off his game, just me! Hahaha. He was very quiet- almost too quiet- because apparently he was playing too hard with his buddies in the field last week. Naughty pony! Oh well, he deserves his fun I guess, haha.

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So we worked over a pretty simple course but identified a thing that I wasn’t too pleased with – a swap left to right going straight over a single fence. And darnit, if we weren’t always doing it? Shoot!! Oh well. We did work on picking up that correct lead on landing, by really focusing ‘right’ and it made us land…straight. Ha. Oh well, I guess if it works, it works? I also am sort of wondering if it isn’t my saddle that isn’t super awesome right now? I have been waiting for the saddle maker who made my saddle to come back from his snowbird holidays to fix it/pump more air into it…It had a twist and I wanted him to review how it was fitting on old Oats…Might be more than time, I think. ARGH.

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Also his canter feels excellent as a hunter canter but wayyy sucky right now as a dressage canter. It has been making me feel very annoyed, ha. And wanting to just jump instead of working on the dressage canter…

 

You’re Smiling (but I don’t believe you)

No lesson last night *(boo, again! We didn’t have one last Thursday because we all took part in a equestrian fitness workshop, which was cool), but this time it was cancelled because the arena is too dusty and in all fairness to my trainer- it’s dangerous to her health.

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These were the rocks we clobbered. Ha, whoops! 

No joke, it’s AWFUL this year. Freezing, snowing, and now dust?  We just can’t win! We do have sprinklers for the arena, but the water that supplies them is turned off when it starts freezing, to make sure the pipes don’t freeze and burst. Usually it’s rainy enough by spring that it’s no biggie to hold tight until it warms up enough to turn them back on….Except we are now going on over a month and half of no rain, just freezing and snow. 😦

And to add to that, Oats has some minor breathing problems- a chronic respiratory condition that means I can’t really stable him indoors and his hay gets soaked. So… Yeah this really isn’t ideal for him, me, other riders/horses and my trainer! Sucks sucks sucks. Such a minor gripe but really putting a damper on my activities, this winter! *shakes fists*

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I miss this!! C’mon spring, happen already!! 

Anyways, I went out to ride last night (solo since lessons were cancelled) and with just 1 rider it’s very manageable, dust-wise. I did my own jump school! 🙂 Yay! It was so fun, and since the jumps were left up from the jumping lessons on Wednesday, I had a nice assortment of about 4 different jumps to ride around and jump. Of course I was MUCH clumsier than when I am in a lesson (riddle me this…Why??) but I had a fun time anyways, and it’s no biggie. Oats is a good and safe pony, and saved my bacon when I buried him at the rocks jump – whoops!! He didn’t even knock the poles down, so I didn’t have to get off and fix it, what a star!

So, here’s actually hoping for rain. Weird eh? I am SICK to death of being frozen, dusty, etc etc…God.

You can have what you want

Another jump lesson (finally!! I missed it last week when our schedules were thrown out of whack!) and another good ride to report on. This week we focused on some cavaletti work (3 cavaletti, 2 strides in between each). We did it in two ‘bigger’ strides, and I did a compressed stride of 3 strides in between and it was wayyy too easy for Oats. He is a fan of the ‘slug’ stride, apparently!

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Here’s my schoolmaster! 

So we decided to keep him at 2 strides, because clearly the bigger stride was more challenging for him than compressing the stride!

And then we moved on to a small course, incorporating the cavaletti work into the course. I was actually kind of tired doing the cavaletti work, it feels more ‘physical’ than just jumping jumps, weirdly. Nicole says it’s because you have to keep riding through it, rather than kind of like, ‘jump’..coast… ‘jump’! Oats was also having to work hard, and he was getting tired through the end of the last course, haha.

In the course we had a small 1-stride, and I bungled it a few times before figuring it out. He was going in boldly, and I was getting left behind and kind of jostled. Not to my liking! So I came in quiet, and asked for a closer takeoff and it worked out great! Until…I took too much back and we bungled it, haha. So, I needed to be conservative, but then ‘LET GO’ in the 1-stride. Easier said than done? But we did it well after!

I did feel vulnerable really releasing over the second element of the 1-stride. It feels weird!! But Oats was jumping great, so I had to, hahaha. Good boy 🙂

And I also feel weirdly proud that his Tuesday rider is having such good rides on him- almost prouder than what I have been able to achieve on him myself. Yay Oats for being a good boy and a schoolmaster. It makes my heart feel so happy!

Love, appreciate, joy,

I’m just feeling really good about my pony these days. Had a jump lesson last night that sure wasn’t ”perfect” but man, it made me just feel so glad to have him, my Oats, with me. I rode on Monday and wanted to cry I was so cold, it was horrible. Oats was perfect, but I could tell that the chill was tough on him too.

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I heard he was a total gentleman for his rider on Tuesday (they have been having some great rides, yes!!) and hearing that just makes my heart sing. You know when you have a horse that other people like?  And more importantly, like riding? It’s a good feeling! So going into my Thursday jump lesson I had warm fuzzies in my heart. 🙂

We warmed up a tad lackluster- he was coughing a bit, and inattentive. I was like, c’mon get with the program! And bit by bit, we did. We didn’t work on anything very complicated, but there was one particular turn that made me feel a bit nervous- come around in a circle, jump the rock jump and cut left immediately (2-3? strides) to an oxer on the long side.

Now, this oxer was the friendliest oxer you could possible want. A x-rail in front of a vertical, which really draws in horses and makes it easier to jump. It was also the highest fence on the course! Two things in one! Hahahh.

The first time we did the cut away jump to the oxer, it went perfectly! The second time…I didn’t lock on to the second jump, landed and got pulled wayyyy wide to the oxer. Whoops!!! Oats had basically veered way right, and it was a judgement call: go around (would be easy!!) or right the course in 1-stride and go jump! We jumped!! It was NOT pretty, given it was at this point a 2’9” oxer, but Oats was game and away we went!

Whee!!!! Man that was funny. But we dug deep and pulled it out, hahah.

He definitely goes better when I don’t forget what I’m doing/lock on to the correct jump, but he’s such a good and honest pony that it doesn’t really matter to him anyways! So game! I think I was having a bit of a hard time seeing last night, as my eyes were watering constantly throughout the course due to the chill. (And yesterday was the warmest it’s been all week, yiiiikes!).

Anyways, things that I always have to work on: Release with my arms instead of chicken wings… Go with the horse, instead of getting caught in the back seat! This happened a few times last night, my body wasn’t clicking with it for some reason. Land on my knee/upper thigh. Hips back, consider a sitting seat to the fences to achieve this. Look where the fences are!! And stay there! I had a lot of trouble with this last night too- I’m going to partially blame the cold/tears in my eyes.

But overall, we jumped the highest we’ve jumped a single fence and it was the one on course that we jumped a few times, and even after a tricky attempt, and it was not a problem. Good to know, and I felt so appreciative and happy with my pony. Go Oats!