Mr. Oats goes to a gymkhana!

Mid-August, we had the chance to go to a really fun little local gymkhana. And we are NOT western-style riders, but wanted to have fun, support some local grassroots events and check it out!

Our failed pairs race!

Oats was very much non-fast, but he was also a touch footsore, so he did his best and was a good boy until he had a freakout on the trailer coming home and almost killed all of us…UGH horses!!

Anyways we had a great time trying barrel racing, pole bending, pairs race (hah not really), keyhole. I would definitely go again.

Here’s our youtube links, enjoy! 🙂

Cowichan District Riding Club All-Pony Show!

Wow so we had a busy weekend and the horse show was a blast!!!

I loved watching all the adorable Welsh ponies, shetlands, minis, Fjords, New Forest Ponies and it was just so cool to be there. It was also an extremely HOT day, so we had to be very careful with the heat and the sun and old Oaty, who can tolerate things well but he is an animal and you have to respect their needs.

Spoiler: Winners!!

So, we parked it in the shade for a lot of the day, as it was a loooooooooong day, lol.

We got there early for the Sport Pony halter class, where Oats behaved himself fairly nicely, only getting a little irritated at the end of the class. He placed fourth in that one, and then it was time to tack up for our first u/saddle classes. We had a LONG wait, due to a class conflict. So, it started about an hour later than we thought…and I was getting hot hot hot! I hopped off and parked Oats in the shade.

A very restrained Oats in the halter class.

Then it was our turn! We did the adult hunt seat equitation, where we rode well and the judge was very complimentary (the very kind Peter Holmes) but I got dinged hard for carrying an incorrect whip, whoops! And I am kicking myself, because I KNEW better lol. Doh!

And we won this sweet plaque, redeeming ourselves in hunter hack. Isn’t it awesome?

Oh well, Oats was behaving himself perfectly 🙂

Next class: Hunter under saddle, and Oats was so good at it, and we placed first!

Oats says: No frame, just freeeee

Next up was the hunter hack, and we had to jump two little fences. Video below: and of course, Oats was a star. We had a chance to warm up over it once, and it was set a little higher, maybe 18”? They knocked a rail off for the class itself, to Oats’ disappointment. Hah.

He was first that time too! Then our ‘suitable to be a dressage horse’ class, and we were second in it. Oats was getting hot and I was getting tired too. A long lunch break, and then we zipped over to ride the trail/agility class- and I messed it up, but it was fun! 🙂

I don’t know if I’ve ever smiled this much in the show ring! 🙂

Then our final classes of the day: Barrel racing and pole bending! I scratched the keyhole race, as I noticed Oats was getting too tired by the end of barrel racing, poor guy lol. We placed first in the pole bending!! Third in barrel race. 🙂

Alll the prizes!! It was incredible!

It was a super long day but the volunteers, competitors and sponsors were absolutely fantastic. Big kudos to everyone that kept the show running safely, well and happy!! We loved it!

Mr. Oats is immortalized

In a painting! I commissioned a painting of him earlier this year, and was able to pick it up two weeks ago, when I was grabbing my race bib for the Oak Bay half actually.

Stunning! Artist is Linda Stagg

I love it so much!! The artist is a colleague of mine and incredibly talented 🙂

And this is the photo inspiration! Isn’t it amazing what she did?

And how is the old boy? Oh being a terror, like usual 😉 On Saturday I rode, and then let him have turnout while I cleaned his disgusting horse blankets, and then went to bring him in- he can’t be on grass for too long right now, it’s too rich and he is a Cushings pony so too much grass is a big no-no…And I watched as he freaking BLEW past me, and galloped into the farm yard. He went from paddock to paddock, fighting and instigating chaos with each horse. Every time I went to get him, he basically charged past me or AT me. Asshole.

He then went back into his own paddock? Weird.

Guess he’s a time-limited terror?

From the scene of the crime…He looks so innocent but he definitely is NOT

He’s been super fun in my dressage lessons, mixing in a little test-practice, with some little fences, all kinds of little things to do and all fun! I haven’t had a Working Equitation lesson in awhile, due to being away in Port Townsend, the race, and then this weekend I didn’t have my car (because I was supposed to be in a bachelorette party, which got cancelled)…So I am hoping we can revisit WE practice this weekend.

He does really enjoy it, and I’m hoping there is a WE show in Aug. so we can strut our stuff! (but NO BANKS PLEASE jesus).

Don’t shy away: Dressage lesson!

Man, I haven’t had a good dressage lesson in…2 months? Soo many things came up, unfortunately.

Nov we had extreme flooding, so had to wait for the roads/arena to dry up, and there was a gasoline shortage too. Fun!

So naturally I had to get video. Still wish I’d gotten it from the right, it was a touch nicer.

Dec we had abscesses for weeks (not so fun), snowstorms, holidays. Boy that really adds up! We also had extreme cold- a week and a half of -9 so people had frozen pipes, frozen/black ice on roads and a ton of snow. Needless to say, not a productive month.

Jan my trainer got COVID so we had to wait until she was feeling better, and now she is! Yay!

And I was thrilled with how lovely Oats was feeling. Man this guy- 20 years old and he blows me away with how lovely and accepting he was in my lesson. We worked on a little pole circuit, and to the right he was foot-perfect. To the left, we started off really well but managed to kind of blow it to the pink poles. SIGH. Something to work on, as I know going left causes my body to twist in ways I don’t really want, lol. Oh well, guess it can’t be totally perfect, can it?? It was close!

Good boy Oaty, I love you!

And the hours tick down!

That’s right, on my last day before holidayyyyys…!

And some bummer news, I no longer have a jump trainer 😦 I knew this day was coming, and fair enough: She now has to travel a great distance due to owning a farm up island. I was kind of surprised she lasted this long~ but with the increasingly bad weather making travel on the Malahat a dangerous proposition, combined with a lot of her students either not riding due to lame horses or varying schedules…I totally get it.

Just a bummer, overall but a very fair reason.

Here’s to the many years we shared- it was great! 🙂

And a video from our last real jump lesson- it was very fun. As I step Oats down from most of our competition jump lessons, it’s nice to look back at the great things we’ve done. I love our partnership and how it has grown and progressed over the years, much like my relationship with my now-former jump trainer.

Halloween fun part 2!

Barn party time! And I had already forewarned one of the organizers that 10 a.m. was likely too early for me to show up lol as I was going to be at a party and PROBABLY hungover. Wow, how right was I? Too right, unfortunately 😦

Aren’t they adorable? Hairy Potter 😉

We got home from the party around 2 a.m., YIKES. So..yeah the morning wasn’t really working for me. To add to the fun I was caught in a nasty cough- puke cycle thanks to my terrible cough from the race the day earlier…Fun times. So I got up around 9 a.m.-ish and spent a few hours puking before my kind husband bought into my madness and determination and agreed to drive me to the barn to participate.

Duff man was good at bobbing for apples!

I made it to the barn without puking so I figured I was getting closer to getting better! But tacking up was …a challenge. Every time I bent down I felt like I was going to puke again, so Ian had to help out and pick out hooves, etc. But hey were there and trying to make it! Sheesh.

I mounted (and everyone was glad to see me make it, ha) and wobbled around nauseously for a bit, thank god Oats is basically a saint pony because I was NOT riding, more like just existing at that point. Bit by bit I felt better slowly, not good enough to eat but ok to try and drink, because I was dying of thirst.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/oKeLYceOXyM

The barn organizers kindly waited for me for the trail class and we got to do that first! 🙂

And then it was games time- we started with egg and spoon and it was HARD hahahah and I think it was a tie or something. Next was musical stalls and we lost lol, and then pole bending and Oats and I beat our lesson mates 😉 and finally it was time for ride-a-buck, where we dithered if we were going to do it full bareback and guess what? We all DID?!

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/SlGkHWo0nVM

Now that was the last thing I’d figure I’d be doing, hungover as hell, but hell we did it! Oats was a total star and we only won because my lesson partner had to forfeit- she couldn’t get her very recalcitrant pony to canter. Oats and I were doing lap after lap with me clinging on, feeling like mayyyyyyybe it’s time to gently slide off and die.

Ian got the prize money ($30?) for being a good sport for the day!

And then it was time for clean up and a bonfire with weenies. I couldn’t eat any but Ian got one, and I got a mini cupcake that I ate much later, lol.

A fun time was had by all!

Working Equitation Schooling Show at Wildwood Stables!

Wow now where to begin- we took the horses (mine, and my WE coach Shelly’s mare Heidi) up island this weekend to compete in a schooling show for Working Equitation, which was also a fundraiser for the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society 🙂 And it was a pretty intense weekend for 1 major reason- RAIN. Holy god, it was basically a monsoon for two days.

Oats was definitely a trooper and managed better about the rain than I thought, but me? Yeeesh, it was pretty rough haha. A good experience all around though, so I won’t discount that! I took Friday off and we loaded up the horses at 1pm, and headed up Island. It was so balmy out that we were wearing t-shirts, which was the last nice day we had, hah. We took the horses to the hosting stables, Wildwood out in Courtenay. It’s a great place with a coverall indoor and a really big outdoor. Too bad the outdoor was basically a swimming pool all weekend!

The horses settled in nicely and I had made 1 major mistake- I grabbed the wrong hay by accident and Oats HATES the barn hay. He gets really nice mega $$$$$$ hay and I …mixed it up and brought the wrong stuff. Shoot. He then kind of had me freak out this weekend wondering why he wasn’t eating much of the hay (ok he got hungry and had to eat) but not much and then was fussy about his grain (because I had his pills in it…) and I was worried! Plus I think he wasn’t drinking water- it is well water and he can be weird about drinking, because I saw him drink heavily from one of the huge puddles?! And he drank from it all day?! Sheesh, horses…Giving me heart attacks…

Anyways, drama aside, I also had bought Good as Gold calming paste, as he’s been a bit of a nut at shows lately. Getting it into his mouth turned into a big humongous fuss where he broke a crosstie off the wall and ran backwards into another horse. I finally wrestled him into his stall and managed to sort of finagle it into the corner of his mouth, but I think you can guess that this weekend I wasn’t Oats’ favourite person…

And in the morning (Saturday) I got out there super early to feed and wrestle with him/pick out his stall, and then I immediately went back to my in-laws because it was pitch black out and HAMMERING rain, allllll day lol. I cooled my heels for a bit enjoying the warmth of indoors and then went back to the show to warm Oats up. Newsflash: It didn’t stop raining, ugh.

He was hot to trot in the outdoor, pretty amped and was trotting around with his head on a swivel, charging around. I decided not to risk an explosion by cantering him like that, so I borrowed a longe line (I have one, but why do I never think to bring it?!!) from the barn owner and longed him first. He had zero explosions, just a few head tosses and then settled nicely. Phew, good to go!

I hopped on and he was ok, but tight throughout at the trot. His canter was better but yeah, he felt a bit stiff and resistant.

Finally our dressage test, it felt like forever to get there! I was completely soaked, hahah. Wet tack, gloves, helmet, boots, horse, argh. I wasn’t super thrilled with the test, he was still tight through his back and not coming through nicely. It’s a bummer, because we have SUCH NICE dressage lessons and they do not translate to horse shows, at all. Well, he did have a year off, so it’s a process to come back I guess??

Anyways, moderate griping aside, he was very compliant and well-behaved. He did have a look at the judge’s stand, but held it together nicely and gave me an honest, if not thrilling, ride. The judge (who I know pretty well) agreed and I got hammered hard on the scores, but with the understanding that she knew we could accomplish a nicer ride. I totally get that, and I think it was fair- we just need to get to a place where we see the work translate better at shows! 🙂

And stay tuned, Sunday was the exciting stuff- Ease of Handling, and Speed Round. My faves!!! Ok, speed round is my absolute fave 😉

Jump lesson last Monday

And things have been a total zoo, so yep updates now!

We rescheduled our jump lesson to Mondays (thank GOD) because Saturdays are just too busy, and truly the trainer needs a break on Saturdays too. So Monday is just better for everyone 🙂 We started last week and worked over a very simple exercise of four jumps, two in a line and the other two on the diagonal as bending lines.

The video is quite pixilated, hoping to use my camera next time.

Simple? Yes! Easy? Ha not really. I felt very rusty? And Oats did NOT respect the poles, so he ka-blanged them and sent them flying through the simple line until we set them up as real jumps, ha. He is kind of annoying in that aspect, just doesn’t get excited…

But I wore my spurs, and he perked up- a lot. It helped that we now have a lesson partner so he and his partner horse are definitely more engaged and interested.

I was still feeling kind of rusty, but we did better and better turns (still hard to wrap my brain around those) and the jumps went up and I said it was ok!! Even though I felt anxious, ha. Been awhile since we jumped anything of substance, really.

So the jumps went up and we flubbed it HARD three times in a row, and then finally made it ok into the line. And you know what? It sucked, but it didn’t suck the joy out of the exercise for me- sure, we were failing, but we could still figure out and do it ok. And we did! So, I am still learning this lesson: Progress isn’t perfection, at all. Sure we flopped, but we picked ourselves up and finished and it went nicely.

Go team!!! No jump lesson tonight, we were away all weekend at a multi-day horse show and I am tired, and Oats is too! Phew!

Sooke Saddle Club Fun Show: Mr. Oats amps it up

So we had the fun show this weekend and we were going to do it allll: Hack classes in the AM, and games in the PM!

You would never guess how much of a crazy asshole he can be looking at this pic!

Ok in theory…

What actually happened was the hack classes- and we did showmanship first! We got third in it! Whee 🙂 I had no real idea of what it was going to be like but I knew we had to trot in-hand, so I made sure Oats was trotting with me and it went nicely.

We then tacked up and warmed up in the postage-stamp-sized area, and it was ok. I figured he’ll have some ‘go’ but he’s getting worked a lot, so no problems right?

WRONG!

Oats chose this opportunity to become a raging, fire-breathing dragon/psychopath. He was SO out of control, wowza. He bucked, twirled, spun, spooked, launched and generally went completely psychotic.

I finally have video proof- thanks to Katie!!

Funnnnnnnnnn….

He would trot fine, a little nuts and tense and then just GO FOR IT in the canter and generally try his hardest to get me off and scare everyone in the audience. I had airtime. It was pretty terrible, particularly since the other riders were trying their best to stay the hell away from our absolute shitshow and every time we cantered he’s lost his goddamned mind.

I managed to stay on literally by the skin of my teeth. He repeated that little fun maneuver EVERY. SINGLE.TIME. in the show ring. We did, however, place very nicely when he wasn’t being an absolute nutcase!

So I’d go back, and run him w/o stopping in the teeny tiny warmup in between every class. And he cantered, cantered, cantered, cantered, cantered fine in the warm-up, and then BLEW UP in the show arena. I was exhausted. My arms hurt the next day.

Proof he can canter nicely, but even then I had to keep pulling his head up so he didn’t dump me 😉

Good christ, this horse needs turnout something awful. He’s never been such a shithead as he has this year- don’t get me wrong, I am looooving our field jump lessons, the energy and presence, but GOD DAMN every show/event I have been to, he’s losing his mind and broncing with me. I have to ride him down for hours at a show- hours! He’s 20!

He did trot very nicely, was miserable to canter.

I want my hack/dressage and jump pony back, not just at home but like, for all times! sigh…

He was well mannered over the crosspoles in the hunter hack class, and threw a HUGE buck in the top right corner in the flat portion before it… Thanks dude…

Anyways after lunch he was tired, ha thank god. We did the trail class and it took an absolute eternity- 2++ hours?! So many entrants! I was very pleased with Oats during it. His big flubs were his miserable backing (but we all know that is his weak spot) around the barrels in a ‘figure eight’ where he just backed into one and knocked it flat, haha.

And we made a basket!! whoop!! Trail Class 1

Otherwise he rocked trail and came third! Out of maybe 30 riders??

Trail class 2

And then it was 4pm! The show was supposed to end at 3pm! Eeek..

We were pretty tired but wanted to do 1 games (we were supposed to do like 4 games classes but I scratched to go home b/c it was taking too long, horse is tired, I’m tired, my hauler has to go).

We did pole-bending and it was a blast!! Oats is too slow to win, but he had fun anyways. Go Oats go!

Ok this was just straight up fun!!! 🙂 Thanks to Lindsay for videoing.

Many thanks to the volunteers who did a marathon day out there- wowza. You guys are the real VIPS here!

Some really lovely counter-canter

After a lot of strenuous trying, haha. Dressage lesson last night, and in the theme of our dressage lessons- I get SO much out of them! I feel like while I am spending a lot of $$$$$$$ on lessons, they have really strengthened my relationship with Oats. This can only be a good thing, right? 😉

No dressage media so from an older horse show- we were probably schooling First here?

Last week we worked on me at the canter, not twisting. This week my lesson partner and I first tackled the infamous 3-loop serpentine from the First Level Tests. No joke, this serpentine was the BANE of my existence when I was showing in First Level (now haven’t shown dressage in like 2 years, thanks COVID and injury) soooo I wasn’t super thrilled to start off the bat with that challenging exercise.

BUT, ye of little faith it went super well!

We first schooled the exercise in the trot, because you can really work the angles here if you do it right. You don’t need to make it super round, you can sort of ‘straighten’ and then leg-yield casually back to the wall. When you get good, THEN you can make it round. But it can be tricky to hold that lead!

And you know what? Oats nailed it!! Right off the bat?! I was stunned. Then I was like, ok fine, that was his good lead (right), it’ll be worse on his left. But then he did it so perfectly to the left that we repeated the exercise twice and called it good. Who is this horse?!! I love it!

So then we upped the ante: Real counter-canter work. And this, friends was NOT easy for me- my brain felt like a tangle of spaghetti, it was confuzzling haha. But we persevered, worked through some things in a nice and challenging, but doable way, and we got it! We got it on the right, and then went back to the left, which was the harder lead to hold counter-canter in.

Go Oats!! Really loving our rides. 🙂