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!

 

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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.

A few good rides

I rode Oats Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues but you know since I took Monday off (and spent EIGHT HOURS at the barn…) it didn’t feel like that many days in a row?

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In the big field last year.

We schooled flatwork primarily, but I also did a big-field ride on Sunday for a quicki ride (30 minutes of transitions up and down the hill) and then I rode in the smaller field last night for a dressage-type ride. Oats was really good!

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In the small field last year.

I love that the fields are opened up again, a lot of really fond memories are of us just cruising around in the field, year after year.

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha). Last year.

My friend and I also set aside some time and set up the new jump course in the outdoor arena. Wow, I am SO not good at it and it is a lot of work. I’m glad our trainer is so interested in setting up and maintaining the riding arena, lots of new jump courses to try out for fun! The weather is finally turning around, after a really blah and lousy weekend (rain on Monday, chilly and windy, on and off clouds). C’mon summer!!

Canada Day long weekend horse camp/cross-country weekend!

Oh man, this weekend was insane. I am now feeling not great, probably coming down with something…Argh. So Canada day long weekend, Oats and I ventured up to Hi Point and rode in a Jane Stone x-c clinic and camp out. With horse games! It was nuts! Hahah.

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Fun with friends at horse camp!

Friday I had plans after work so I couldn’t pack up the trailer but the family I was hauling with generously packed up my gear from my locker. That was great, because we had to get up at 5-freaking-am to load the horses and drive up island to Hi Point in time for our 8:30 am x-c lesson.

It was pouring rain during the lesson, and woooow it was kind of a drag to have that, but you know what? Oats kept his hair on and things went really well- much improved from the first time we went x-c schooling at this venue in October. I was well pleased with Oats. No bucking, a bit sassy in the beginning but let it go quickly. He was spooky about going up on the hill, but oh well…

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All photos courtesy of Nancy.

We schooled logs, a small coop, a bunch of houses, and stacks of logs. It was great!

By the time we finished, it was time for lunch (at 10:45am). I was tired man. But no rest for the wicked! We put up the tent by the small lake – so cute- and a great location, and took the horses for a little walk-around up near the Trans Canada Trail. By evening, it was time to prepare for the horse relay games- whoop!

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My team had a swimmer, a wagon-puller (who had to pull the wagon blindfolded), the horse in-hand person (me) and the rider (who rode Oats actually, so funny!!). The person rode Oats because with the riders had to assemble the horses’s bridle (from pieces!) while the in-hand person was completing the obstacle course. Yikes…yeah no. So we got a different bridle that my team member knew how to put back together quickly and she did it and rode Oats. Success!

It was hilarious!!

We won too! Yesss..I won a small bottle of gin. Hahahha.

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We had a very nice potluck dinner by the lake, and I stayed up for awhile having some wine with the other riders. I actually slept really well (surprising) and then it was time for x-c lesson number two!

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This one was…Not so great. We started off quite well and I was happy with the warm-up course we did, but then it was time to tacked ‘the church’ up on the hill, and Oats was NOT having it. UGH! He slammed on the brakes and kind of reared-spun away…More than once. Yikes.

We wound up not being able to get over it, and so we got a lead from Oats’ best friend Joey, who boldly galloped up the hill, and over the church jump wit Oats following close on his heels. Oats would then only jump the church with Joey leading- SIGH! But at least we ended with him jumping it??

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Photo thanks to Rebecca. No photos of our church disaster though!

We then moved in to jumping a show jump with a small boat as a filler- very cute- and Oats was fine with it. We jumped a lovely course with that jump, and then moved on to the next field. The next one we had a few more stops- Oats was kind of getting backed off and was surprised by the jump. He did go over it no problem the next time though!

And then we had the opportunity to watch Joey with his young rider tackle some BIG fences in a neighbouring field- woooooow so big! And then they jumped the infamous ‘boat’ in the original field. Exciting!! And a great note to end on.

The sun came out, we packed up and it was still only Sunday!

Horse goals: Go get it

Had actually very few rides last week (rode Tuesday and Thursday) took Monday/Wed/Fri off because I wasn’t feeling well on Monday (exhaustion is a thing??) and had a physiotherapy appt Wednesday after work for my back, and had a work thing Fri night that ended up kind of not happening…

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But in the end, I felt like riding fewer days worked well for Oats and myself? He had more time off, and I had time to recover from the busy horse show weekend. Win-win! It’s hard to convince my brain of this though. My busy brain likes to remind me that I need to keep going, keep grinding, keep working. But I don’t have to listen to it.

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In fact, my jump lesson on Thursday was far from perfect. So far. Ha. But it was pretty fun and by the end I was saying Oats needs to have the jumps up higher because he’s not respecting them! One jump he was just cantering over and I was like wha, where is the jump?? Pfft.

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But my dressage lesson on Saturday was really good! He felt pretty nice, very cooperative and I felt much less tense than I have been. Even the awkward moments (breaking stride, trying to drag me out of a circle, some swapping, it was like hey, ok you can just sit and be ok with this awkwardness. Just sit with it for a moment, instead of reacting, or scrambling, or whatever.) And you know what? It went just fine! 

A lesson to me- sometimes you don’t have to react, do, be, whatever. You just have to maintain and be ok with whatever is happening.

So I think my goals for the summer are:

  • Ride a 2’6” course at home – ideally comfortably. Maybe try for a 2’9” fence in a grid? I’m not going to push this too much. Feeling good and not stressed about it is key.
  • Ride a competent first level test- I don’t much care about the scoring, but I do want it to feel more cohesive, round through the back, less struggle. I will know it when I feel it. Be present in my body doing it.
  • Show at 2’3” comfortably- maybe a course at 2’6” if I am feeling confident and good about it. I’m not pushing this goal too hard- I want to feel present, confident and comfortable.
  • Practice what I preach- less tension, less stress. Ride a 5-day week, and then ride a 4-day week. Let things go with Oats, let him have more time off.

Everything at the end of everything: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show’n’ Tell recap

I feel like each year I do these, my first show is very ‘blah’ and I’m not overly thrilled with my test riding/Oats’ performance. This year was no exception. It’s like we need an outing to kind of be crummy/not exceptional to figure out what needs to be fixed.

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Last year. 

This season we made our first ‘First Level test 1’ debut though! And I was happy with how the test rode generally, I wasn’t pleased with the level of cooperation and roundness I got from Oats in it. He was quite resistant, balancing off my hands, his canter was quite high-headed (to say nothing of his canter lengthenings..ha.) All in all NOT our best work.

We also rode our Training Level Test 3- and a brush fire had started in the Metchosin hills, so in the middle of my test a fire siren started BLARING from the fire hall! WHA? Oats is apparently a saint, because he didn’t blink an eye at it…It freaked me right out, and shattered my concentration. Soooo yeah, that test. Ha.

Oats however did spook VERY hard twice at ‘A’. Silly pony! In my first test he also stopped to poop at A and then spooked at it later. ARGH!

I really liked judge Melanie Houston’s take on Oats and agreed with her on the points that needed to be addressed.

So like, yeah it was fine. A nice day, tests rode ok, but I’m honestly at the point now where ‘ok’ doesn’t cut it? Our next show and tell is in July and I have higher expectations for us by that point!

 

Take yourself with you: Crazy weekend recap~

So yeah this weekend…Wow. I am SO TIRED right now.

And this is with taking Monday off~ Yikes!

We kicked things off with a UVic Young Alumni music bingo event at Moon Under Water brewery. It was actually really fun, and I had a blast listening to all these hits from the ’80s to ’90s. There was free food (and lots of it, and it was great!) and a good atmosphere. We didn’t win at bingo but had a nice time and the night flew by.

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It was colder this year but at least it wasn’t raining!

Saturday I went riding (it was ok) and then we went to Phillips’ Backyard for Hopoxia- and we had a blast! Tried some really cool beers, Tod Creek Cider was there with a raspberry-infused cider. We walked home and took it easy, because the next morning was the MEC half-marathon! I will write about that in a separate post, but it went really well for a quite challenging and hard race.

After the race, we went riding- and I rode in the indoor because the footing was pretty deep/chewed up in the outdoor AND Oats was a total looney tunes- spooking, high alert and bolting across the outdoor when a kid was walking along the fence line. Sheeesh…

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He was ok in the indoor, which was good because we then had to get home and get ready for Ian’s dad’s birthday BBQ! Ian bbq’d some great burgers for all of us (his mom, dad, and sister) and pork tenderloin, and we listened to music and hung out on the patio. It was really nice and for once I wasn’t frozen solid!

I ate way too much, adding to my general sluggy feeling of eating/drinking way way too much this entire weekend. I went to bed pretty early as I was feeling totally wiped after the race, riding and hosting the BBQ.

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We saw a building being demolished!

And that was good, because on Monday I got up and had a riding lesson! It went really well, and we practiced releasing tension. It was a nice ride and for once I didn’t feel stressed or anxious. Just lovely! I ended up waterproofing some blankets and I’m sure I inhaled too much silicone spray, because I had a nasty headache for the rest of the day.

But my ‘weekend’ wasn’t over yet! We had the Stars concert at (WAY TOO LATE) as it turns out…they didn’t hit the stage until 10pm! I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. Boy am I paying for it today, I feel like total shit. But, the band was amazing, and I loved seeing them again- just a great energy and the lead singer- Torquil Campbell- was on fire! He rocked!!

But yes. so tired. So very tired.