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!

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Hold onto something

After a disappointing week (ok, weeks!) of freezing, tons of snow, ice and blah leading to some serious cabin fever, I was OVERJOYED with how awesome the weekend was. And it was a long weekend to boot! Yes!!

I was able to zip out and ride Oats really fast on Friday and I so needed it! 

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Photo courtesy of Sarah C. 

I was also under a tight timeline because on Friday I took my husband out to dinner for our Valentine’s Day (I was supposed to have a jump lesson the actual day, and we all know how that turned out…) so our dinner was scheduled for the Friday. We went to Camosun College’s ClassRoom Restaurant and it was lovely! I highly recommend it- supporting the students and program, great food and very reasonably priced. Win-win-win!

Saturday was back to riding as per usual. There was still a lot of snow at the stables and the trip down to the arena was slippery and treacherous. I basically waterskiied off my boot heels all the way down, clinging to Oats’ mane. He was not loving it.

He was good to ride though, just lovely and even though he was irritating me when I was mounting up (grabbing at EVERYTHING ugh) he was focused and down to business for our ride. I also had another idea up my sleeve- begged my friend to come out to the outdoor arena with us to take photos! Basically the only good thing to come out of the massive amounts of snow.

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I loved it! Hahaha.

I also got a lot of running as the snow and ice melted and the sidewalks were safer. Yay! Went out for drinks on Saturday, and met up with a work friend for a run on Monday. Just overall loving life this long weekend. 🙂

Snow Weekend

And week…

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Tucker came to work with me on Friday. He was so good! 

I want a weekend do-over! The weather was soooo bad here. Windstorms, snow storms, -15 with windchill and tons of ice. 😦 Not good. Needless to say, after walking home in the beginning of the wind/snow storm on Friday (after enjoying appetizers and drinks with a friend) I was so over it!

I went to ride Oats on Saturday and my friends warned me against the indoor- the hurricane force winds were making a terrific slamming sound and trees were slapping up against the indoor. As you can imagine, the horses were NOT having it. Neither was I, as it turns out!! I tacked up Oats and we slipped and slid our way to the indoor. The wind was hammering at us, and I hopped on him and was flinching every single time the wind slammed a tree against the indoor. NOPE!! This is not the way I want to go, honestly?!

He was a total saint, but even for a saint, there are indeed limits. And I’d hit mine. I hustled Oats back up the hill (he was confused but pleased that he didn’t have to do anything) and he was huffing and snorting and VERY excited as the wind blew straight up his butt the entire way up the hill.

So yeah, no riding Saturday. Similar story to running, except that it was very icy, and every time I turned around a corner, wind blasted me and sent me reeling off-balance. Greeeeattt….

It was horrible. The rest of my weekend was spent on the couch, reading, drinking wine and napping with my dog. There are worse things, I guess? I did ride on Sunday with a friend, and fortunately we got our ride in before the wind/snow storm picked up again for Round #2. It was a lovely ride! So dusty in the indoor though, with freezing temperatures we have not had water in the indoor, and there is like zero moisture in the air right now either. UGH!!

Got home, planned for another run, and thought the weather would hold for that. Newsflash- it didn’t. I was surprised because it didn’t look that windy, but yeah, it was horrible. I got to the small hill at Clover Point and gave up when I got blasted back UP the hill by the wind. Add in snowflakes into my eyes and NOPE!!! I gave up, and ran home. It was miserable, just so miserable.

Back to the couch!

And I was supposed to ride today…there is another blizzard. SIGH!! I guess I will struggle back home, and reschedule my ride for Wednesday (traditionally Oats’ day off, but I have to be flexible with this terrible weather). I’m just so glad I got my ride in yesterday! Man!

 

 

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!

Lay low

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It was chilly for Gidget too! 

We’re firmly entrenched in a deep freeze here in the normally very mild climes of Vancouver Island. And I hate it. So much. I would honestly rather have rain (an unpopular opinion, but rain doesn’t make my fingers freeze walking home, and sit at my office cubicle, freezing my ass off, my pony very stiff for riding, feet frozen, frozen water buckets…I could go on).

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Ian syringe feeding the patient.

I wanted to cry walking home I was so miserable- and yes, I was dressed warmly with a winter jacket, hat, gloves and scarf. And I was miserable!! I spent all day freezing and then had a lousy walk home, and then walked my dog, and then went to spend more time at a freezing barn. Luckily the activity at the barn warmed me up and my ride, while painful and frozen, wasn’t too long and I was able to get some chill out of my bones.

Still!

I had a very nice weekend when the weather was good, just before it took a real turn for the worse…Oats in particular was feeling lovely on Sunday, so smooth..Good..Just, amazing. I love his flowy movement! I felt so lucky to ride him Sunday and just enjoy him for his fantastic gaits. I did a lot of running on the weekend, it was pretty mild out except turned cold on Sunday.

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Doing good work here. 

Went out for dinner (Dine Around Stay in Town is on right now!) to the Livet. A new restaurant to me, and I really enjoyed the $30 menu that they were offering- it was fantastic and a really decent deal too, for the level/quality of food (charcuterie starter, crispy rockfish main and chocolate-banana bread French toast with currants for dessert). YUMM!!

And best of all, the animal drama that has been plaguing me for a few weeks is starting to resolve, thank Christ. My bunny is on the mend, and eating really well and drinking water too. Phew!!!!!!

On to this week, in which I try just not to freeze. Oats gets ridden by an adult amateur on Tuesdays, so I have Tues/Wed off now. I am going to a hockey game on Wed now too, with a friend! 🙂 And maybe another dine-around event on Friday with my other friends? We’ll see!

Falling into pieces

I honestly haven’t been updating much because this week has just been incredibly stressful and drama-filled and it’s been too much to deal with. I think I am coming out the other end but yowza, what a shitty week. I don’t even really want to go over it on my blog because I feel slightly traumatized by it and it’s just…no. Ugh.

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This is actually a screengrab from a few weeks ago, when I had a rib injury. 

On happier news, I have been having some lovely jump lessons on old Oats! Had a great lesson last week, and this week- while still having some bobbles, ugly jumps and such, I’m coming out of my rides just feeling OK, smooth, calmer. You know? Feeling good, totally fine and leveled out. This is in stark contrast to my other, more anxiety-filled lessons that had such highs and lows that I came out of my lessons feeling like I’d escaped?! With what, my life? Hah. The jagged peaks and valley lows aren’t really there anymore. I am learning to ride leveled-out, calmer and just…with a lot less anxiety and emotion attached to the lesson.

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Go Oats! 

Are they perfect? HAH no. Are they good? Yes. Am I having fun and learning new things, re-learning old things, working on my position, enjoying what my pony is capable of, and appreciating it? YES!

Even yesterday, after leaving work crying, sick animals and just…fraught, I wasn’t in a good mood to ride. I was grouchy, tired, upset and stressed. I complained about it to my friend at the barn and she said- I know exactly how you’re feeling, I had that this week too. But you ride, have your lesson, and you’ll be smiling before you know it! You will always be glad you did.

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And you know what? She was 100% right.

(She is also taking lessons on old Oats on Tuesdays, and I’m LOVING the glowing updates she gives me on how much of a professional he is being for her, and a gentleman. YAY!)

I rode, screwed up, fixed it, made new mistakes, and kept going. And it was good!

We worked over a small trot-in grid, x-rail to a small oxer. We then built it into a small course, where we went off course a few times, haaah. Clearly my mind wasn’t really with it last night. But was that a big deal? Nope! Just regroup and keep going. 🙂

We are now coursing 2’6” fairly confidently and feeling good about it. Now that is priceless.

Forever is a word

So this week I finally had a jump lesson where I felt pretty darn good! No horrible cough/cold, no rib injury (that is healing very well, phew) and I just could focus on riding, rather than feeling miserable.

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He is also a good husband babysitter! 

And my jump lesson went really nicely- quite simple but focused, work over a few short courses and then strung together into a 9-jump course. I was able to work on holding my shoulders, even into a deeper spot. Success! This in turn helps Oats with his jump style in deeper spots as well. Plus we had the rocks back as fillers, in a circle jump. Oats was a bit surprised by it but he is such a good boy, he jumped it fine. 🙂 Love him.

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Oats: Okay guys, let’s get this show on the road. 

Even when we set the jumps up higher, he was surprised but just gave it a LOOK and jumped very willingly – ok he clanged it pretty darn hard with his hooves- but it stayed up and he was so good about it. My trainer laughed and said it’s the same with him and his giant doppelganger Donato- they just have exactly the same attitude, OH this got bigger! Well ok!

Love love love riding him. He’s just so willing these days, and well behaved and I feel like my riding/jumping position is getting much stronger. I do think the two weeks in a row focusing heavily on my release paid huge dividends, and it’s something I really should do more often!

Plus Oats now gets ridden on Tuesdays by a fellow adult amateur who has a horse recovering from an injury and I hear from her that he is such a good boy for her lessons too! Yay!