So many things! Horse update

So, in between my crazy schedule lately of holiday- work trip up North- music festival in Vancouver I had a jump lesson! And I wasn’t 100% pleased with Oats (his effort to my effort ratio does NOT always match up) I was pleased with how it rode in the end, and in my anxiety levels.

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I was riding in a semi-private with another young rider – just for the month of Sept- but I’m really enjoying it! It’s fun to watch another rider negotiate the same course and see what challenges they face, and how their horse jumps as well.

Oats was stuck off my leg, sulky and kind of rude about it for oh, the first 2 or 3 jumps in the course but we figured it out and he got with the program. AND the jumps went a little higher and we didn’t wig out (Oats knocked a rail off one, dammit!). That will cost us in the hunter/jumper ring…

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Weather was great, and we had some nice jump vibes. Bonus- the other rider’s mom was there and took some photos. YES! I never get media, so I am just loving it. 🙂 It started raining this weekend (and basically didn’t stop in Vancouver) so our time in the outdoor is sadly limited. I will enjoy it while I can.

Another busy week coming right up!

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Hard but worth it

I had a sports psychologist session with the great Dave Freeze yesterday, right before my riding lesson and it was really insightful. Weirdly I cried on and off the entire time, but I didn’t feel sad- I felt pretty good. And my face didn’t get all red and hot like real tears, I felt fine, no puffy swollen eyes, nothing. It was just emotion, coming out like how it wanted to!

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Whee! Jump jump. From a lesson a few weeks ago.

(As a non-crier, it felt weird).

Anyways, it was a lot to go through and I felt kind of wrung out by the end, but I have some valuable tools to work with and the best part- I was able to head straight over to my lesson after and put it into practice!

Basically to sum it up all I have to do for riding:

  1. Show up
  2. Give it my best
  3. Manage my mistakes
  4. Learn
  5. Look for high powered FUN!

Easy right? Ha! But yes some good things to work on.

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Go Oats go!

I went into my lesson feeling pretty good! Almost immediately I had some ‘external bubble’ things to deal with- it was freezing, so I was shivering and had to grab my gross old barn jacket to wear. No problem, addressed.

Then, Oats was really draggy and non-interested in my warmup. High headed, kind of frustrating, slow off the leg, reins not there, spooky and generally not paying attention. Spooks? Over and done with. Letting it go.

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Funny thing, this was a very awkward jump. Looks fine in a still eh?

Lazy? Deal, don’t dwell.

I was actually pretty good at managing my emotions well in the warm-up, whereas I know I wanted to get frustrated. But you know what? Regardless of how he warms up, I can manage MY emotions- I can’t manage his. So, I will do that!

Anyways, the warm up for the course was good for the first half, and then the second half I got left behind a few times, Oats was hesitant and backed off. No problem. I will go around and try it again! See how that goes. (better).

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Jumping the coop. It is so pretty!

Course time- I was a bit nervous- see the backed-off part…But I thought, hey let’s just see how this goes? I make a mistake, I manage it. No biggie. And you know what? It rode really nicely! Not perfect (HAH) but pretty darn good.

We did the course once, and I had some fleeting thoughts of doing it again, but decided against it. I have to minds of this. Sarah A and Sarah B.

Sarah A: You are a chicken! Why didn’t you ride it again? It went so well, what are you afraid of, screwing it up??

Sarah B: The course went well and you managed all your minor errors. Nice work. Why don’t we take that good feeling home and know that you can be kinder to yourself on a day that you already did a lot of personal work? There is always a next time to ride a good course.

See where I am going with this? It’s tough. I want to be Sarah B all the time 🙂 And if I was, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this! Moving on…ha.

Calling you from my dreams: Ride recaps!

Now where did I leave off? Oh yeah, my friend and I had another fun bomb around the x-c fields jump session, AND I even got her to take media! We jumped everything a bunch of times and it was great. Until…

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Thanks to Lindsay for the media. Not a high jump but a wider one!

We went to the small field that is super rutted and full of holes to jump the coop, and I was sitting watching her jump and BLAM! Oats spooked, and spun so fast I didn’t even have time to formulate 1 thought- and bang, I was on the ground. And damn, did it hurt! The field has had no rain, and the ground feels like freaking concrete right now.

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Jumping the coop (it looks bigger in person, I swear) right after I fell off.

I fell hard on my right hip, but the twisting motion meant my left hip/pelvis really hurt the most. I hopped back on and jumped the jumps in the field, and then we were finished with that. Walking back up the hill to the barn sucked though, I was in world of hurt and limping a bit. I thought I could maybe power through and still go running but nope…my back, pelvis, neck and shoulders were just killing me.

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We could never figure out the right distance to this. He kept stopping! Jerk! 

So I had to take the next few days off running (just walking was hard enough) and I rode on the Sunday before my holiday but very gingerly and was quite sore. Damn!

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Oh well, by the time my holidays came the pain had mostly lifted and I am back to riding (rode in the ring on Saturday and in the field Sunday) and running like normal. I do have a massage therapy appointment tomorrow afternoon to help with the pelvic/hip tightness.

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Horses!!

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Ha. So awkward.

Try

Had a jump lesson last night, after a really slack week of riding (mostly in the field, and an equine counseling session). My focus for the jump ride was twofold: work on managing my anxiety during jumping with a few more techniques that I was developing with my equine counselor, and see what I can do about the ‘spur-suasion’ situation with Oats.

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Screengrabs from jumping in the field last week. So fun and so HOT! I miss that!

And did I achieve these? YES I did! It was by no means perfect (haa…) and I almost bit it hard when I decided I would ‘see’ a distance, and jump for it by spurring Oats – whoops- while simultaneously jumping ahead onto his neck. He declined my dumbass move and I wound up on his freaking neck. Yikes!

However a few good takeaways- I was able to vocalize and manage my anxiety, to the tune of having an excellent first jump on-course both times! And my first course was just lovely, no complaints. And we rode through a grid many times and it went quite well (grids are usually my absolute nemesis, ha).

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Love our homemade x-c course.

I even kind of fumbled the grid after riding the course – I got a bit backed off and less generous with my body- so I decided unilaterally that I would ride it again!

That to me is big- I quite often get backed off and decide that NO that’s it. Even during the second course, when the wheels kind of fell off and the cracks started showing…Part of me was really bummed that our first course was pretty great, and the second sucked. But I had to put that part of me away, and just. deal.with.it. Pretty? Ha no. Challenging? Oh yes. But workable? Definitely!

I think slowing things down, really allowing myself to ‘feel’ all of my nervous energy helped me have a lovely first jump each time. The rest will come.

Forever & Ever: Jump lesson recap!

So, due to the success of last week with my ‘motivator’ spurs I decided to try that one again- conditions were ripe for a very non responsive zombie pony. Hot, draggy, lazy and full sun (even in the evening, when our lesson is).

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Oats’ mood yesterday: No.

Oats’ head was literally dragging on the ground. He was NOT having it yesterday.

I had my big spurs on and boy, he did not want to respond to them. He remembered from last week I suppose and was distinctly crankier and surlier about them. He responded well for the first few jumps and then a big F-U! Cranky, bucking, fussing and sucking back. Ahh…shit.

Well, the key to that is to get over with it! Sorry Oats, you are just going to have to deal.

He was very much cranky when I started using a crop for motivation as well, so this newest ‘tool’ is also eliciting a very ‘NO!’ response from him. Ah well, riding is always simple and never easy, eh?

We worked over the course and he was…not great but not horrible. It took a few jumps (like, 4) from the beginning of the course for him to let his drama-llama tendencies go and just get with the program. Of course with his drama-rama on the loose, my fear tendencies also tend to rear their ugly heads when he gets silly like this too…So it turned into a bit of me not wanting to let him have his head, him getting cranky and silly, and blahhhh…

But, progress is progress and I know this is something we can work together on.

It just feel so ugly right now! Gah!

 

Be the one you love: A good lesson update

Last jumping lesson, I was kind of bemoaning the fact that Oats just didn’t have any ‘oomph’ and consequently was grinding slowly to a halt at some pretty easy fences. I just didn’t have it in me to make a change in those last few strides, even though I knew I had to. So how do I manage this? What can I do to help?

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Nancy took this photo of Oats sharing a moment with her daughter’s pony and Oats’ twin. So cute! 

A few things actually- I had an equine counseling session to determine why my anxiety was stopping me from being more proactive on Monday.

And in my riding lesson last night, I came armed with something a little more – a pair of my ‘motivator’ spurs (they are pretty long). Now a note about Oats and spurs: I could NOT use them on him for years. He would basically send me to the freaking moon. He had a very hard buck and was not afraid to use it! So, I couldn’t use my ‘motivators’ on him, heck I couldn’t even use my regular small spurs on him.

But now, he is at the ripe old age of 17 and more mature. It was time.

So I came into the ride with some backup to my leg – the long spurs. We warmed up in the arena, and I kind of wanted to have a freakout when he got silly about going through the gate to the outdoor field (where we spent time on Wednesday setting up x-c style jumps…so fun!!) but Oats gets weird about the gate, so he was rearing/hopping up, etc.

With that, I wanted to spiral. Shit!!

But Nicole talked me through it, haha and soon we were happily walking and trotting in and out of the arena to the field with no drama. Phew!! Now on to jumping. We warmed up in canter over a small x-rail to a 6-or 7- stride line. The normal Oats would get 7…and that would be a stretch. The new and improved motivated Oats? 6 bang on. Wow!!

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Our ‘x-c’ jumps in the field.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the spurs would have on our ‘forward to the jump’ at all. It was crazy- my legs got tired because instead of squeezing or kicking, I was having to steer with them, and hold them still! They were burning? Oats also had a few ‘squeal!!’ moments when he realized I was using my spurs to get some forward- a few sassy kick outs but nothing bad.

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This one looked weird but rode fine!

And I realized that I was definitely going to have to get used to this ‘new Oats’…He was very forward, but when I was not careful and kicked or squeezed with my spurs too much, he ‘spurted’ forward and would get flat over the fence= rails down. I had to be more careful about maintaining the pace, rather than trying to get ‘more’ pace as I am used to.

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We jumped the other hay bales, not these ones.

All in all, it felt crazy, exciting and kind of thrilling. Who is this new thoroughbred I am riding? It’s Oats! We also went into the field and schooled some of the small x-c jumps and he was awesome, but we also faced the forward =/ flat jump issue and he hardcore ignored some half halts and just slammed a rail. SIGH! Oh well. He was very responsive and I was very impressed. Wow.

As with any new power, comes responsibility. I will only use these for jump lessons under supervision.

Endless memory- you have to want it: Jump lesson!

So recently I listed my horse goals for the summer, and among them were jump a 2’6” course, jump a  2’9” fence and some other ones. I am happy to say I am getting VERY close to my goals!

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Ok from a few weeks ago, but still cool! 

While realizing that with these goals weren’t to just ‘scramble’ over the jumps- I wanted them to feel good, competent, relaxed and focused. So with that in mind, I rode in my lesson last night focused on a few items: Forward! (yeah.. sort of didn’t happen), straight, calm and focused.

And a good number of the jumps were 2’6” and I am happy to say they were not a big deal. It was more like, Oats was a deflating tire going to some of the jumps and we had a few stops. No biggie. They weren’t mean or scary stops, they were just Oats trundling to a slow…stop. Ha. One jump, I was like ok this is enough. Backed him up a few strides and WENT! And he cantered a stride and jumped it, and we went back around and did it fine. Oats, if only you had listened to me at first- we could have just jumped it once! Silly pony.

He ground to a halt over one oxer and again it was just a lack of impulsion. I am starting to learn how to act, rather than ‘react’. It’s tough for me! Oats was giving me NO gimmie jumps, that’s for sure. Nicole got into action with a longe whip just in case (we didn’t need it in the end, haha).

And at the final oxer? Oats soared over it (ok, it was not that high but still). He was great! He really gave me that jump for sure 🙂

So it was not all pretty and definitely not flawless. Also I kept forgetting where the last jump was. Whoops….

Oh well. Checking off some of my goals, piece by piece.