Cruel Runnings

This week was objectively much better than last! I’m feeling good, had my last day of shockwave and am now on a three-week trajectory to hopefully being able to run pain-free without flare-ups again, so why do I feel so ambivalent?

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I just want this good feeling back! Plus I miss the nice weather…

I have a horse show this weekend, and my lessons this week have been so…awkward that I am starting to not look forward to riding in it. Weird eh?

We worked on some technical polework in my lesson Wednesday and while hilarious, it was definitely a challenge (Oats was convinced we were JUMPING and why did we have to canter each pole nicely? Why??)…And then in my lesson yesterday, I just felt so stiff and disconnected and annoyed with Oats, who in turn ALSO felt stiff and his canter felt more like a bunny hop than a canter…It was not great. Our steering was miserable, his canter felt bad, I got really backed off in the grid-pole exercise and couldn’t focus.

Kind of a deflating few lessons. I like having super great power lessons to leave me on a confident high before my shows, but this week? Ha, NOPE.

I came out of my ride yesterday not really feeling disappointed (look, polework is tough for both of us, and I just couldn’t get in to the rhythm!), but feeling extremely ambivalent about riding in the show tomorrow. I just wanted to scratch. Sigh…

But when I get down to it, my goals for the show aren’t really anything? I want to have a fun time with my friends, and enjoy the companionship with my horse. If anything, I had a fabulous few rides last week and the weekend with Oats, so why does the impending horse show throw me in such a tizzy? Am I letting the pressure of it get to me, even if my goal is pretty much- show up, don’t embarrass yourself and learn something good!

Trying to puzzle out why I’ve felt so stiff, awkward and blah this week! I fee Oh well… I’m going to ride tonight, and for me the hardest thing about riding is to enjoy it and not make it a ‘workout’ for me and the horse. Tonight will be a test for me- can I be fair about it, and just cruise?

 

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Don’t let it get to you

I will fully admit I was not in a good place yesterday writing my blog. I wrote that post out as a cry to help for my counselor (who I reconnected with yesterday and I already feel better about that, I am going to set up a session when I get back from horse camping). I felt like I needed someone to ‘trigger’ an emotional release with me, physically if that makes sense?

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Week 2 of shockwave. Ouch. 

I know when I was crying just thinking about it, that I was far overdue for an emotional release.

Everything seems to set me off, and I honestly think that dealing with a few harsh realities from the weekend (the show that went horribly, still being injured and in pain) were just…Too much to bear on Monday. Any Monday, really.

Anyways, I did my treatment yesterday, cried about it for awhile (it is absolutely EXCRUCIATING), felt miserable about the physio saying it could take another THREE WEEKS?! and downbeat about things for a bit, reached out for help and support, and felt comforted by what I can do.

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It’s great to have friends and colleagues who support you! 

I rode yesterday, and the arena was freshly dragged, and clean of all jumps. I rode on a loose rein, and let Oats dictate his headset and basically didn’t even steer. I let him make some decisions, and I walked, trotted and cantered. Around, around and around. Looping, moving, flowing. I didn’t practice anything. I just rode.

The freedom felt incredible. I felt open, not so scared, worried or frustrated. I was smiling. Sure my leg really hurt (it looks like a bruised banana today…So raw yesterday) but I was out there, and I was riding. Doing what I love.

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Just want to have fun (I know this by heart). 

I want that back, in my personal life and my riding life. I’m done with being closed off, hurt and mad. I think personally taking some of the ‘skin’ and anxiety out of the game is going to have to be how it is for me right now. Otherwise, all I can think about is how much time this injury is taking away from my training (Haaaaaaaaaaaaa well now that’s in the toilet!!) and how frustrated I feel with my horse if I want to train for horse shows and jump lessons.

My friend is taking over my jump lesson on Thursday, so I can watch. I can’t emotionally handle pressure right now, of any kind. I need to take a step back, and a step down. I realized that this weekend. To be the kind of rider I want to be for my dear pony, and the kind of athlete I want to be, I have to let it go.

It’s funny, I want to hang on to it with my fingernails. Isn’t that what strong, tough people do? Hang on? Even writing that, I felt upset and disappointed. The reality is very different- I was happier yesterday when I didn’t have an agenda.

 

Forever is a long time: Jump lesson update

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Jump 2 in the combination.

And spoiler: It was probably the worst I’ve had all season- even worse than the one I almost fell off in? And here’s the other shocker- while I was annoyed it was going badly while I was riding, I also felt…Fine. It was like, ok this is how it is going to go. I can deal. I’m glad I got media because my friend has been coming to take videos and I LOVE seeing her! She is so cool. Just a blast to be around. 🙂

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We conquered the combination! One small win.

So what went down? It started pretty well actually! We schooled over a few x-rails (and I have to say, trotting bigger jumps really helps Oats and I to rock back, so maybe I should ask for that or practice it on my own next week…I hate it though!), and then schooled over the combination.

A few weeks ago, the combination was my BIGGEST bugaboo. HA. Now this week, we were crooked as all hell (coming out of the left is tough for us…the drift is real!) but we could buckle down and like, ride it? Rather than sitting and freezing up, ha.

So, the combination. Good! Check.

But when we went to ride the course, Oats got spooked by our friend in the field and slammed on the brakes at the first jump (the rocks) and then I looked down and stopped riding to the second jump (every time, as it turns out…the planks), and I started losing focus.

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This one rode fine for the most part- off a bending line (generous) plank jump.

The rest of the course rode pretty well at the lower height- no complaints there.

But then, I started losing touch of ‘soft’ and out of the saddle riding and basically every time I tried it, I disconnected and Oats stopped. Argh! So, that’s something to work on. He felt me disengage and he was like, nahhh…

Every time I buckled down and RODE he was like oh yeah no problem! So, clearly my ‘being soft’ is the issue here.

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This line was a yawn, but it’s also where I started losing my shit…Ha.

And then when we went to ride our second course, a few more people joined and were hanging outside the ring, with a few dogs in the shadows. Of course Oats could NOT handle it…And I mentally had a lot of trouble regrouping, and adjusting my ride and my mindset. I guess I couldn’t handle it either? He wasn’t even being that spooky, hahah. I was frazzled!!! Jumping is hard enough for me without added distractions, though in hindsight, I do value them. If i can maintain focus in the ring for my jumps, that can only be a good thing for horse shows eh?

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I love that we match this jump perfectly!!

But…Yesterday I let it get to me.

We got around, and funny enough it was at the most boring, non-interesting jumps that we had the stops at (because I thought I could stop riding at them, obviously). Hah!

Oats is a saint though, and while he will definitely call me on my bullshit, he’s very honest and forgiving. He’s like, oh ok let’s do it! Literally doesn’t really notice from jump to jump. And let’s face it- I need to be more like that myself.

“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute.”

I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.

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Christi came and took these amazing photos. So good! 

That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.

I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!

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Photos courtesy of Christi.

I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!

Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.

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Liverpool? What liverpool? Oats is the most casual pony on the planet.

I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?

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I got this mom. It’s easy. 

When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.

Another one bites the dust! (Almost!)

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Clobbered the jump. Lesson to all- don’t jump ahead! 

Had a VERY close call with falling off in my jump lesson yesterday, but you know what? I was proudest of the fact that even though my ass ended up above the saddle on his neck, barely clinging on, I regrouped, got my head straight, and went out and RODE it. Competently and quietly.

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Now that’s more like it! 

Ok it was a little bit ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ but hey, we did it! It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, for both Oats and myself. Maxed out height for us, a triple combination, going downhill into the setting sun. Not easy for us, likely easy for others! Though don’t ask me to ride a whole course after that, ha. I was spent!

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It felt easy when we did it with small jumps,and then sure, put ’em up. GULP! 

The course itself rode really well, I was feeling really glad about it, but I know that I was in my mind starting to get amped about heading to the combination, as it was the final few fences on course.

As we rounded the corner, I started gunning Oats and went to jump up his neck, and he went NOPE! Guess again!

And I had to cling on, haha.

Luckily he is as honest as a summer day, so we gathered ourselves, and headed back out. I’m just really enjoying my horse. I learned the other day that my sister’s rabbit died (peacefully, in her sleep enjoying a snooze in the backyard) and I was surprised about how I almost cried when I read about it. I just can’t imagine losing another animal, and part of me grieves in advance for when I have to make that heartbreaking decision, or see it happen to one of my darling critters.

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I remember when I almost lost Oats to a serious choking accident.

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Even at his worst after that, every day is golden. Lucky to be here. Horse shows, jumps, dressage shows, they’re all bonuses. My chances to ride him, and enjoy him, are what really matter.

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go Oats go!! 

I do still want to work on my bravery, challenge, keeping my butt out of the saddle, improved straightness and leads. So many things! But I feel good and confident that we can do it. He’s my boy.

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So majestic! 

 

Keep me honest

Had another jump lesson, and I was very pleased with how it went! Again, it was not perfect, but I felt good, confident and was really riding very forward. Oats was good as gold (a minor bulge issue and some lead/changing lead awkwardness around changing directions) but SUCH a little star!

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This rode well all night.

I am enjoying doing semi-private lessons right now, and the funny thing is that having another rider, and people watching, helps keep me honest. Focused. Riding instead of getting overfaced and backing off. It’s like I’ve reached a point in my own confidence that I need to have an audience to keep me there. Otherwise, I back off, big time. And I know right now that I don’t need to. I am going there! I am doing it! I am being challenged and meeting that challenge.

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It’s a bummer it’s so dark, darn light changing. BUT this is the first time we’ve jumped the coop as a oxer! So wide, even if it doesn’t look like it! 

I think my motto now is: Challenge me. Make me.

And we are so there! Yeah! Go Oaty pony. I’m so proud of him, bobbles, silliness and all. I have things I want to fix (elbows, the straightness problem going into the uphill line AGAIN, the difficulty in changing leads, stalling out to a chip…) But on the whole? I am enjoying what I am doing, and getting a lot out of my boy.

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This is a two-stride that I rode conservatively (read: chicken) for a three, until the last course when I was like, fuck it! I go in two! And we DID.

This week we celebrated 9 years together. Each year he gets better and better! I guess we all do? How I love this. I really appreciate, cherish and find joy in our rides. He’s my prince, my pony, my boy.

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I love this picture, because we almost match the jump! How cute is that? Plus it rode just perfectly. The best line on course. 

Whenever people are frustrated with their current horse, I just think to myself- yep been there, done that, sometimes am still there. It takes the time it takes. YEARS even (in my case). Being mad about how slow progress is doesn’t help, it never does. Your ego doesn’t trump reality.

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And the ‘out’ of the same lattice-line. It rode really nicely. 

I have had to learn some really bruising lessons about ego (life, running and horses) and I had to learn them the hard way. However, I think it’s helped shape what I do now.

Sadly, there is no footage of us finishing on the triple bar jump (first one I have gathered up the feeble shreds of my courage to jump with Oats!) because we were too close to the videographer and it is close up and dark. Ah, well. It was such a good ride that I forgot that the main reason I was excited about it was to jump the triple bar?! Ha.

These are the days that must happen to you: Jumper day update!

A good Walt Whitman quote is always applicable, I think!

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A great weekend! What a good pony. 

Oats and I finally made our debut int he 2’6” ring, after YEARS at 2′, and 2’3” – some successful, a lot not. I normally feel a lot of anxiety, and I weirdly wanted to feel anxious about this show, and just…Didn’t? I felt like, yeah old hat. Weird for me. Weird for being at a horse show, even if it is a small schooling show. I expected to feel anxious, have show nerves, but all I could think is- I can do this. I can definitely do it. Oats is a great pony, and he’s my champion. Challenge me.

My friend was riding in the 2’3”, and I had 1 class in the 2’3” as a warm-up, and then my 2’6” division. She was anxious, and I told her- nobody is even looking at you! Nobody cares! Be challenged. Bring it!!

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That’s my mantra now. 🙂 Make me work for it. Make me focus. Make me try.

We warmed up ok, after Oats spent forever and a day at the (very hot again) trailer, screaming for his buddy and pacing, and it went on and on and on…

Anyways, I was learning from my lessons the day previous, so I did NOT get on Oats too early. I waited until the first 2’3” went, and then tacked Oats up and brought him over. We trotted, cantered and my trainer came over to run us over a few small jumps- just as the ring gate volunteer was like hey you’re in two. Wow! That was quick! But it’s how I like it. 🙂

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We went in and it was…eh. He bucked a little (feeling MUCH better today) and I could tell he was a bit bored. I left the ring saying he needs more. And we waited (awhile) for the 2’6” to be set. The course was not challenging, but it did have a small combination (2 small strides, 3 Oats-sized strides, quite compressed). I kind of wanted them to put the liverpool in, we could definitely do it no problem! Sadly that is for the 2’9” division, not ours. I did not feel scared or have the jumps suddenly ‘grow’ as I usually feel. In fact, even looking back, they look low. WTF?

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We warmed up ok for the 2’6”- it was getting quite hot. I had cleverly brought in a water bucket and asked my friend who finished her division (and placed!!) to fill it and put it in the warm-up. Oats drank! Twice! He was already doing better this day.

We hopped a few verticals, biffed the oxer a few times but it was fine and then we were in. And you know what? The course rode really well- almost perfectly!! I came out smiling. And I said, I want to ride my next round exactly the same way. And I DID!! Who is this girl, who can finish all of her classes, ride competently and well, being fair to her horse, and confidently say she wants to ride exactly the same way? This girl!

I look back and wished I was in this division 5 years ago. But you know what? It’s not really any use doing that. I was a different person then. We placed 3rd in our 2’3”, 3rd in our 2’6” and 5th in our 2’6”. Placing doesn’t really matter though- I felt happy, confident and loving my boy. Go Honey Bunches of Oats!