“First you take a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes you.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I had a jump lesson last night- I wasn’t 100% sure how it was going to go, as this week I did have my ‘surgery’ of sorts and underwent anesthesia…So I figured, just go with it!

And you know what? It went GREAT!

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I am a good boy!

We worked over a small course that had a 1-stride x-rails, 2-stride bending off a sliced skinny, and TWO oxers. Gasp! I know, oxers make a reappearance…But don’t worry we worked up to it, haha.

And Oats was going great, he was jumping kind of flat but very honest and eager, and with every new crazy thing (slicing so many skinnies) he didn’t put up one fuss. Just calmly and honestly cruised over everything. I could tell when he was thinking about chipping (and yes the two stride didn’t always ride that well…gulp) but overall I was super pleased with his attitude, how fun the lesson went, and how brave I managed to be?! Who is this girl?

At least one of the oxers and one of the single fences went to 2’6” and I didn’t even notice? I did think the oxer looked higher, but wasn’t really sure. Oats really had to start thinking about ‘jumping’ and less about ‘cruising’ over the fences. That meant I had to tighten up my core, focus more on packaging his canter so I could get more power, and less strung-out pony.

We did have some ugly spots where Oats was surprised by the increase in height and we fumbled over them, so Nicole made us do just the oxers on their own- the rest of the course rode great. I squawked about doing just the oxers- scary!! But sat with that for a minute, drank a bit of water, Oats and I caught our breath, and  just…did it. Nicole said if we aced it right off the bat, we were done–but if we bungled it, we had to do it again, haha.

With that on the line, we cruised up to the first oxer and just flew over it! And then sliced the skinny, and headed to the next oxer- effortless! We were done! It was as perfect as we’re gonna get, and I was so pleased with the lesson, and Oats. 🙂 What a nice ride.

Avalon Derby-Cross photos!

Because my rides have been fun but very boring, instead I am going to share photos that I purchased from the professional photographers at the Derby!

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This one was cute so I bought it! Oats looks so keen. All photos were purchased from Eventus Photography.

I was so happy to see photogs there, that I was definitely going to support them. Win-win!

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Loved this jump photo!

Lately my rides with Oats- jump in the field, flat in the other field, do hill work, do transitions, have fun! I’m enjoying my week with him, no lessons this week as i am preparing to go on vacation. Oats will get a small vacay as well. 🙂 After how busy I have been and he has been, I am SO looking forward to getting some time away. I need it so badly!

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A little paint effect for some fun! Pretty eh?

 

At first, you go with them. Then, they go with you. Then you go together.

A lovely saying by Tom Dorrance about horse training. It’s so true, isn’t it!

So for my jump lesson, we were back in the outdoor arena- WOW it’s so early to be there, I can’t even believe it. I’m not really that prepared to ride outdoors (when not at a horse show) yet. Oats needs his front shoes, he is very ouchy on the sand in the ring, and my riding fitness and balance need a fair bit of work…Feel very different outdoors than in.

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The course- setting and design and photo courtesy of Nicole and Sarah! (the jumps were not this high when I was jumping them, except for maybe the polka-dot planks!)

We warmed up and there was an excellent course set up, courtesy of my trainer and friend who worked to design and set it. I was both excited and kind of nervous to be back outside in the big ring. Oats felt a bit stumbly, and off-balance. He was decently forward, but I could tell he was having some trouble with his feet- first time outside- and going downhill (the ring is slightly sloped), he was having more difficulty maintaining the canter/balancing. He broke several times into a big runny trot.

So, managing these issues, we warmed up over an x-rail to a small vertical. It felt weird being in the outdoor! I felt kind of off balance too! Oats was backed off during this exercise, so we worked on getting him thinking forward- understanding too that he is challenged by the new footing, etc.

We then schooled a few lines, and repeatedly bungled the one outside line that is set slightly downhill into the sun. I just felt like Oats was unsure about it…Well he surprised me by slamming on the brakes when we came to the line at first!~ I’d forgotten than he hadn’t jumped the bridge in a year and he was surprised by it too, hahah. Oh well. We schooled it a few times, and every time we got to the pink oxer, it just felt really…blahhh. He just never felt that comfortable over that line- I believe it was a footing/balance issue.

Then we moved on to an equitation course. It wasn’t set very high, but had a few challenges- like a bending line, a broken line, a two-stride and that infamous outside line that we never rode very prettily.

The course went well, great actually. I was very pleased with Oats’ go-forward attitude!

Time to put it up!

And the wheels kind of fell off here- primarily due to a steering issue with me. Oops!

After the outside line -that STILL rode very ugly- we came in to the two-stride set higher, and I was pulling to the left…Oats went in long, and we came into the middle of the second jump. I almost fell off- because he is such a trier!

That was 100% my fault- pulling, wrong distance, steering all over the place!

We pried ourselves out of the oxer, and re-approached. This time I focused very hard on the second jump, and counter-bent Oats on the approach. We flew over it! YES!

The rest of the course rode fairly well, not so much that I can even really remember it…Oh wait, yes he seemed to get disunited on both bending and broken lines, and I believe that was due to him being a bit confused about our direction and the footing. Something to fix!

For our first go-around in the outdoor jumping, I was very pleased with Oats. He is such a trier, and he was very pleasant to ride.

Horse show recap: Inaugural Cedar Vista hunter show!

So, the horse show season is upon us and I was kind of wondering what I was going to show in this year. In past years I have shown at the Appy shows (Vancouver Island Appaloosa Horse Club), and Westside Stables shows. There are also the higher-rated and higher-cost SSITS shows that I have NOT ventured out to yet- too much $$ and we’re not polished enough.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

All in all, I was feeling pretty blah about the show season. Like, I want to show and feel confident out there but was bored by my options: Appy or Westside. Yawn…

Enter the new show season at Cedar Vista! Close-ish, new, with great footing and some really snazzy jumps. Offering a fairly reasonable series that would be brand-new to everyone. Sign me up!

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Pats for a good boy. Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

They had jumpers on Saturday and hunters on Sunday, we opted for hunters. Loaded good old Oats up and away we went!

I entered him in the 2’3” hunters and one 2’6” class, and the division included one equitation on the flat class. We warmed up in the ring and Oats was a tad looky, but overall very well behaved. The open schooling was set low, but we marched over everything–like a pro!

Then, we waited a little bit- entries were low- until my division. We were able to warm up over the new height and then start. I was feeling a strange combination of sort of nervous, but overall quite blasé at the same time. The jump heights were fine, but I wanted to get more nervous?

Then- in we go! Our first round was great, second was fine, and my eq was kind of terrible. Chip-city. UGH. Also we botched the right lead change to one line every.single.time. Ouch…

But in good news, Oats is getting his skip changes more consistently if you don’t count that one line, and my pace was pretty good, I didn’t feel too nervous! The wheels kind of fell off in my equitation…I got too ahead of myself, and anxious. Oh well. There was always the 2’6”… More warm-ups at this height (Oats and I did a LOT of jumping at this show). He was rolling so smoothly- it felt effortless. We called it quits and got ready to go in for good this time.

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Yay! Good pony! Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

And we chipped the first jump and I was SOoooo not straight. Gulp! I could hear my trainer yelling at me to calm down and breath! Right–got it! The second was better, and then the course just flowed from there…What a great way to end my rounds! Go Oats.

It was a lovely one to finish on, and the increased heights didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was just 1 flat class left- and we have historically either done really well (top 3) or horribly (crowhopping, bucking, rude, rushing, excused) in our flat classes.

Oats managed to keep his hair on and only had one goofy moment when a horse passed us- he started shaking his head, ready to crowhop at the canter. We even had a few small ‘tests’ from the judge- drop stirrups at the trot, posting trot w/o stirrups, and then pick them up again. AND sitting trot! I know, crazy eh?

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Accepting ribbons. Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

Second for us! Woop!!

Good job Cedar Vista- friendly people, niiiice prizes, good company, great footing and fancy jumps. What more can a girl ask for?! I will be back!

Weekend part 2: The Farm!

As I mentioned, we had a crazy busy weekend with family visiting. Sunday we decided to go to my in-laws farm, as it’s a great place, they wanted to see my parents when they came, and bonus- lambs!!

I got up early (thanks, daylight savings time…) and drove to the barn to do a dressage school on Oats. I wanted to kind of get him revved up and working hard, something I really didn’t want to do with my sister riding him. And so this was a great chance to do it! We worked on an exercise that seems really simple, but as with horses ‘always simple, never easy’…Canter down the long side on the quarter line, as straight as you can do it.

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From my lesson on Thursday. No wonder I didn’t stick the landing well!

Yeah, that was a lot harder than it seems. Not straight, breaking to trot, swapping leads?! Oh, Oats!

So, it ended up being a tough, though very simple, exercise. We worked on it both ways, and I mixed it up a bit by asking for trot, trotting straight, walking on the straight line and then picking up canter. Medium rate of success on that.

My family met me at the barn and we zipped off to the farm. We had lunch there, and it was really nice! The weather SUCKED though. Pouring rain, blasting wind…UGH. A repeat of Wednesday’s hair-raising drive up the Malahat.

I did get to catch a lamb though! We had to rescue them, they got stuck on the other side of the fence from their moms. Dumb animals…it happened more than once actually. How do they survive past lamb-hood?

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Springtime!

We enjoyed our mucky farm visit a lot, and then when we got back to town, we took my mom for a hike up Mt. Doug. It was a good hike, except for the fact that when we got to the top, the wind and rain picked up again and the rain felt like needles stinging my freaking face! OUCH!

We didn’t take the trail back down, we hustled as fast as we could down the road and wow…the weather was sooo horrible. Tree branches were cracking off, it was pouring rain, and the wind was in a frenzy! I was so glad to get back to the car, and even the drive home was very frightening…A tree branch cracked off in front of us while we were driving and fell in front of the car!

Sheesh, can we have a good spring yet??? It is also absolutely FREEZING these days. I hate it! We wrapped up the evening by having my sister make a very tasty Italian potato pizza for us, and her friend stayed overnight because she was going to drive back up the Malahat and the weather was still too dangerous. I think she made the right decisions–I know all too well how scary it can be at night in a storm!

May all your war stories be old stories

I was saying last night that whenever people ask me these days how Oats is, I don’t really have anything to say! He’s…fine? Good? Good ol’ Oats?

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This was three years ago! I miss summer- even if I was wearing a sweater during July…

It was kind of a funny lament, because really, he’s been so good, drama-free for ages now. I’m happy with how our jumping is coming along, our two horse shows in the fall went fine, and so?

So, I have to share my old war stories instead! I say well, this pony you see me riding with no reins? WELL he used to….hahah. And my trainer and friend laughed, and said be glad your war stories are OLD war stories and still not happening! It’s true! 🙂

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Another blast from the past.

We had a good lesson last night, and it was a very interesting exercise. Two diagonal lines, an x-rail then 3 strides to a small vertical. Then on the other diagonal, a bounce to three strides to a bounce.

The trick was getting Oats FORWARD during the first 3-stride line, and then maintaining that through the corner to the first bounce, and then GO! to the second bounce. I was kind of concerned how it was going to go- was I going to eat it through the bounce? Wibble-wobble through the first line?

It sure wasn’t perfect, and wow I lost my reins more than once through the two bounces set three strides apart, but Oats was golden!! He started getting more engaged through the exercise, and was powering himself through the bounce line really nicely. He just took care of me through it, I didn’t even have to steer, or really have reins at all.

Good pony!

It was quite a tiring exercise for me, but I was quite proud of how Oats was handling it. He was eating up those strides (for him this will always be a challenge).

The jumps were teeny-tiny but it’s more how the exercise really made us focus on a few things- forward, not pulling to a spot, no chipping in, straightness, going through a corner straight/forward. Yes!

Oats is Oats

After all that running, I bet you think my poor pony is being neglected!

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

Well, not so!

I rode him Saturday, and while I was determined to try some ‘collection’ work, I was equally determined to NOT drill the pony into the ground. And how did that pan out? Well, not so much on the collection, but he did get very sweaty and it was a fairly physical ride, but overall I was pretty ok about it.

We didn’t really get any collection, but I did figure some stuff out. Something I figured out too late- to really ask for that type of work, I have to start my warm- up very differently, ie- my hacking for a jump school warm up does NOT work if I am going to be asking for more ‘dressage’ type work later.

I needed to do more sitting trot, smaller circles, lateral work, transitions.

Hm. Ok.

So, yeah that was that. It wasn’t Oats’ fault- it was mine, on a expectations vs. reality type gig.

Anyways, I also rode after my race on Sunday to kind of ‘trick’ my legs into cooperating. I tried to ride last Monday after racing and wow, did it feel horrible. Burning legs, jello-o, wobbly…Not good. So, Sunday it is!

Our ride was very short as I also realized I was totally exhausted after the race, but I think Oats likes it when I’m like that…He’s very cooperative and fairly gentle with me. Puts up with me anyways! We did a light school, hopped over two small fences (left long to one, and short to the other. sighhh!) and did some brief transitions- walk/trot/collected/tiny trot/canter/walk…And that was it!

He was great, and I sure didn’t want to ride any more than that to be honest.

Riding on Tuesday and I’m SO glad I took Monday off this time. My legs were throbbing alll day yesterday, wow it was so painful.

Oats was good on Tuesday- the old problem of ‘no contact in trot= dolpin leaping’ reared it’s ugly head but I worked through it, in a way I am feeling more comfortable. Oats got SO sweaty though! Poor guy, it was running in rivulets down his face! I did try breaking in some new boots (Treadstone Tuscanys) on Tuesday and it made me feel like I didn’t know how to ride…Haha. On the bright side, they seemed to be MUCH easier to break in than my previous boots.

Riding tonight, and jump lesson on Thursday.