A Deeper Understanding: Thanksgiving!

I feel like a broken record when I say this, but wow my weekends are busy! Riding lesson on Friday night (and after feeling like total crap last week, I had to shoe-horn myself into my breeches and go anyways. Thank you buttons for your structural integrity!). I still felt pretty miserable…

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But the lesson went well! We worked on introducing Oats to counter-canter signals, which was difficult but he was really trying, like a good boy. 🙂 Saturday more riding (we were in the field goofing off, it was soooo nice out) and then off to Victoria Beer Week’s Fresh to Death beer fest for the afternoon. It was great, and the weather was fantastic.

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Fresh to Death- see our friend the Skeleton! 

After the beer, we zipped off to The Flying Pig for some happy hour food (and I dropped my wallet on the floor and lost it there…) before heading home for quick R&R before going out to my friend’s birthday party. We were downtown at her party and didn’t get home until 1am! I was wiped! But it was an awesome day/night.

Sunday we got up and I tore the house apart trying to find my freaking wallet…Luckily the fine folks at The Flying Pig had found it, and messaged me on Facebook to tell me they had it! YESS!! We picked it up, went to the stables where I rode Oaty, and then we were off to the farm for Thanksgiving #1. Though it was pretty miserable weather, we had a super nice time with great food!

Home in the late evening, and I was up early-ish for an equine counselling session on Oats at the barn. It went well too, and then home again for lunch and preparing for Thanksgiving #2, at my parents. That went fine too, though felt quite long. The food was excellent!

And now, I am back at work. Can I get a weekend from my weekends?!!

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Know Better Learn Faster: Jump Lesson!

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All my swag from the past weekend! 

I was both looking forward to and feeling anxious about my jump lesson on Thursday. I was really happy with how the horse show went, (coachless! but with some hand-holding) and wondering how I could keep the good vibes rolling!

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Remember this from a few weeks ago? Make it almost completely dark out..and then do it. Coop set in the middle of the arena, rail at same height!

Sometimes this means I shut down, because I would rather not mess up a good thing than try and have it kind of blow up in my face. Not a good impulse and not one I am proud of. (see- why I can never play darts again…).

BUT I am learning – year by year- that I can try, and fail, and still have a lot of fun and learn tons. It’s not a one-and-done thing! I can keep going! 🙂 We were back in the outdoor to grasp the last bit of remaining daylight, and it was the last semi-private I will have (gonna miss those!).

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Oxer on diagonal, so festive! (Photo by Nicole).

We worked over a small x-rail, and then the x-rail to a small vertical both working off the diagonal. Oats was…unenthusiastic. I felt like the jumps needed to be higher to get his focus!!  Mine too maybe? He blahhhhed over the jumps. I was kind of annoyed, but like, with some fire in my belly.

Let’s DO THIS

Coursetime: Not complicated, but would require me to sit up (after a stop going into the one outside line, hahahah I decided I would jump first and Oats was like yeah, no.). And key? LEG LEG LEG even on the slow fade 3-strides to the jump. Not just sitting there like a stuffed dummy.

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This ‘Halloween’ line ended up being an oxer set further back. So fun! (Photo by Nicole).

And how did the course ride? Pretty well! The bending line gave me some trouble both times, but overall quite nicely. I got some good distances, not too much ‘stop and crawl’ over the fences, remembered to use my legs in the last 3 strides even! There were a lot of oxers, traditionally something that wigs me out, but I felt pretty good last night.

Course was: vertical on diagonal, oxer on diagonal, ride the outside line in 7, back to the first vertical on the diagonal bending line to 1st fence in outside line, oxer on second outside line to oxer on diagonal (rode well!), ride along and then turn right across the arena to jump the coop, turn left and ride the outside line of 2X oxers (7 the first time, 6 the second. Oats was on FIRE!).

We had 1 more stop the second time we rode the course, honestly it felt like Oats didn’t see the second rail set up in the oxer until the last minute- we bumped the fences up 1 hole and added an oxer. It was really dark out by this point. Re-approached and he was a-ok. In fact, the was golden.

What a great, kickass ride!

 

Cowichan District Riding Club: Jumper day!

Saturday was jumper day (my classes were all Match the Clock) and boy did we have to get up early! The show started at 8:30 a.m. with cross poles, and I was registered for the 2′ division (wanted to have a warm up) and the 2’3” division, two classes each for a total of four. I figured that was plenty for us, and as it turns out I was right–likely maybe even a bit too much for Oats!

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We got up at around 5:40 a.m. to get to the barn and…Drama. Donato caught his eyelid on something, and injured it. It was purple and swollen and just..NO. Crumbs! We have had some bad luck with this horse show in the fall- last year Oats almost died and I had to cancel our attendance the week before. 😦

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But this year was OUR year, I am proud to say! So we brought Donato with us, even with his bad eyelid, to see if he would improve and my friend hacked him quietly around the warm-up ring. He was a good boy. I was riding in the show solo, as my trainer teaches lessons on Saturdays and couldn’t leave the lessons to come and coach us. No biggie, as the heights are well within my comfort zone and I can’t even remember the last time I rode with a trainer for a dressage show?!

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This jump always rode well, even if I rode it on an angle every time.

We warmed up for the 2′ and Oats was pretty good, a little sluggy but my spurs helped him in the right direction. We went into the 2′ and had some very sloppy jumps where I hesitated and should have made a better decisions over the small jumps, but overall it was fine. Then they announced the ribbons and I was 6th? WTF? Ok, we were going too fast?!! Wha? Since when is Oats too fast? The horse that won trotted the entire course. Wth?

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Anyways, I was pretty flabbergasted by that, ha. My next round at 2′ I vowed to make better decisions and go slower. Kind of 50% of that actually happened, hahaha. My ride was better but again, too fast. ???? 6th for us.

Ok now I was on fire! I was going to fix that time thing, this time for good in the 2’3”. We went in, and were a tad quick but overall a really super round. Again a bit quick, but sooooo close. We had nice big loopy turns, a quiet round. I watched a few others go and they had some troubles- rails (they came down SO EASILY) and some refusals.

We were in 1st! Yeah!!! Lindsay said she knew it was going to happen, haha.

And then for our last round, we BLEW the first jump. Like, Oats stopped, and crawled slowly over it. Just not awake! Ha. It was a very sloppy round and I was tired, he was tired and we should have gone over a few more warm up jumps to wake up before the round. I fully own that, haha. But anyways, our time was much slower and we still placed 2nd?! YAH!

A great day, with my buddies and husband helping me out. Oats was such a good pony!

 

Time to come home: Crazy horse show weekend! Dressage day.

This past weekend Oats and I participated in the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper and dressage days (Sat jumpers, Sun dressage). Wow, I am tired! And I bet Oats is too, ha.

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I really like doing these shows because they are very reasonable, cost-wise and the people running them  (all volunteers) are lovely people and offer a very relaxed atmosphere. That being said, I was a bit anxious for dressage day as I was trying my hand at a level above where I normally show (Level 1 test 3, as opposed to just trying Level 1 test 1). Actually I am pretty new to Level 1 in general! Not an expert here!

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We warmed up and Oats was okay…Kind of dragging me around a bit, and getting strong and kind of downhill. My hauler and friend was really helpful in getting me to find a way to fix it, instead of just getting annoyed, haha.

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We went in for Test 1 and it went okay but it was a little rougher, above the bit than I would have liked. Our first lengthen was pretty weak too. Oh well!

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Then it was time for Test 3 and before it, when we were hanging out in the warm up ring, I watched a horse literally rear its rider off. Scared the daylights out of me! I find that kind of behaviour really triggering, and rattles me to see it. The rider was fine, but landed pretty darn hard. It was very frightening, but they rode a nice test regardless.

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Anndd overbent…

Test 3 I felt physically ‘rode’ better than Test 1, but it did not score as well, the judge was definitely tougher and expecting more from us (which we kind of didn’t have at this point, but hey it was a fun experience!).  The canter loops went went well until Oats kind of had a minor hissy fit about it and broke the second loop. Shit!

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Our geometry was off, but that’s a work in progress too, and the judge was very kind and commented that if we fix that, our scores will be MUCH higher. There is hope for us after all! 🙂

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Leg yield- a bit resistant. 

So this is how we scored (and I am happy with it, I know we have lots to work on), but I feel grateful to have this experience with Oats.

First Level test 1: 65% for first place

First Level Test 3: 63% for third place.

None too shabby!

Thanks again to my dear husband for braving an entire weekend of horse showing, my hauler and friend, and my other friend who’s horse had to cancel because he hurt his eye. Shoot! Bad luck.

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!

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.