Always Forever: Jump/ride/life

Man, things got busy and I got into a few solid days of coughing my lungs out and feeling exhausted. I’m seeing the other side now but it was a few very unpleasant days.

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Plus it was GORGEOUS this weekend. What’s not to like??

Thursday was my jump lesson and I was interested in continuing the work on the automatic release that we had started the previous week. So we developed my automatic release by setting up a grid of tiny (like step-poles and 6′ x-rails) bounces, so Oats had go canter-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-out and I had no choice but to close my hip angle and have my hands low, following in the driving rein position.

It was really neat! It took a LOT of repetitions to develop the feel (for my hands and hips), so we went up and down, off the right, off the left, over and over. It did end up being quite aerobic work for Oats, who was huffing and puffing after. Poor guy! Hahha. We then set it up as part of a mini course. Go over the grid, across the diagonal over a small vertical (focusing on maintaining the auto release over it), over a small oxer (ditto) and then back over the grid the other direction.

I was pretty impressed and really felt like I was learning something! Cool hey?
Oats has been really good these past few days. I rode Saturday/Sunday and noticed he had a big lump on his spine though, ugggh. What now?! Horses!! Fortunately he doesn’t seem bothered by it. Hmm. He does have a chiropractic session in a few weeks, see if we can get to the bottom of it…

Anyways, he’s been moving fantastic and just so so good these days. Yes!!

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Hey my man

Not much of a weekend update for me- sick, coughing a lot and a friends night out where we were ALL coughing a lot! Yes, we were the ‘plague table’ out, that’s for sure. I did go on a pretty fun run where I mercifully wasn’t coughing my lungs out or having my nose running down my face, but then the other part of the weekend involved mostly feeling exhausted, coughing, having my nose run incessantly… Yeah, you get the idea. Blah.

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With the Phyllis ‘driving’ rein.

Oats also was good on Saturday but strong on the left and draggy- not wanting to bring himself ‘up’ on the left canter lead. And on Sunday he could tell my energy wasn’t good, so he was a bit of a dingus (my fault- I was exhausted and thought I could fake it. Newsflash- you can’t ever fake it with horses!!!). We still hopped over a pole and a small cavaletti I had set up to practice different release types, and I noticed that with the Phyllis (driving) rein my chicken-wing elbows weren’t so bad, but when I went to trot them without stirrups, the ‘chicken-wings’ came back with a vengeance.

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And with the non-driving rein release… I like being able to do these comparisons, actually! 

Clearly, my chicken wing release (or non-release, let’s face it) comes from a place of feeling vulnerable. Hm… Food for thought.

This week I am just hoping to not feel like warmed-over death. Spent 10 minutes coughing up stuff this AM, soooo not feeling ready for today. Ugh!!

Won’t let you down

Riding this week has been in the distinctly ‘ok’ camp- nothing amazing, but nothing bad either. Rode lightly Monday (FREEZING), worked on no-stirrups on Tuesday (much more reasonable temperatures), had a jump lesson last night where we worked on adjustability by my request over poles/small x-rails (it kind of sucked, but yeah that’s clearly where I need to improve haha), and have a dressage lesson tonight.

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Where I will likely be working on…canter adjustability. Hah.

Oats wasn’t even sweating last night, and the work is tiring for him. I guess since he is clipped and in pretty good shape, he just doesn’t sweat? He has had a recurring poopy butt though, UGHHH that is a lot of fun to deal with every day. The hay is too rich for him, and he’s been having gastrointestinal effects for about two weeks now. I had hopes that it was improving this week, until I got to the barn on Thursday and nope…Still gross. Poor pony!

He was also kind of in slugville, ha. I am putting him back on Previcox this winter, to see if it helps him move more freely when it gets cold. On Monday, he moved like the Tin Man. Stiff, uncomfortable and just awful! My husband joked that it’s like me starting a race- stiff, awkward, slow and super uncomfortable. Takes me a good 10-20 minutes to warm up into it…As for Oats I guess?

I am hoping the Previcox helps him when it gets colder out. As it is, the weather has been very mild! 🙂 Since the deep freeze on Monday. Also it’s raining a lot, sooooo yeah. Otherwise I’m just trying to put the training in on Oats, but still maintaining good perspective with a mix of easy rides, beach rides and the girls are trying to get him out on a trail ride with them one day…We’ll see about that.

I am also still focusing on rehabbing my ligament injury, which is kind of a back-and-forth journey most weeks- I can barely feel the injury anymore, except when I run too much or too fast, then it swells back up into a lump of scar tissue on my lower hip/groin. Lovely.

You Won’t: Jump lesson update!

I’ve had kind of a mixed week- some personal-life drama (ughh) but in other news, my ligament injury seems to be making a real turnaround with treatment, so I am VERY pleased with that!! Man, it hopped on the healing train once I started treatment. Part of me is kicking myself for not doing this sooner, but hey you learn the hard way sometimes?!

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Cuddlebugs. Photo courtesy of Katie H. 

Jump lesson last night and we were in a real cold snap. Oats warmed up very stiffly, like he was running with a flat tire, ughh. Kind of like how I begin any race, as my husband said 😉

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Photo courtesy of Katie H.

So, we had to manage his stiffness in the cold, and kind of ‘work up’ to the level we needed. Luckily, after cantering and then going over some x-rails, he was moving much more smoothly. Yes! We then worked on a very basic, looping hunter-style course with 1 3-stride line in it, focusing on letting my hands go forward instead of taking back (god, this was harder than it sounds…very vulnerable position for me) no matter the distance. The problem being: When I see a distance, things are awesome! When I don’t, things get distinctly…less awesome. Meaning, they suck, I pull back or try to manage him with my hands and/or upper body. Not great.

So, I just had to ‘let go’ a little more. Mixed success on that, but overall I was fairly pleased with Oats’ effort and my effort to be a little more vulnerable and willing to get go, and also to work through the ‘push hands forward’ and take them back when I need to steer, and let them go again on my way to the jump. Riding- always simple, never easy.

Also having to rely more on my legs vs hands as a support for the jump. Hahahha yeah, this remains a work in progress… All in all, a good lesson and a good ride.

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!

 

Back to the barn

I took two weeks off from riding when I was in Peru, but Oats had the lucky opportunity to have a few rides by my friend and her friend. Yes! Unfortunately, his canter sucked. It’s time for him to have a chiropractic adjustment, because a big tell for him is swapping his canter leads when asked for anything remotely more challenging that his ‘one canter’…

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I tested this when I got back and yep. High time for him to have a tune-up, as he was swapping right, left and centre! ARGH. He has an appointment this Wednesday.

But, the good news is that he was raring to go when I got back on-board. Yay! He’s still moving and feeling fine, and I had some fun rides back. I even rode the day I got back (very much NOT recommended, I was a zombie), but I missed him so much I couldn’t resist.

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We had our jumping lesson last night in the outdoor- first time for us this season and it *just* opened. I told Nicole to temper our expectations, ha because I wasn’t sure how it would go after taking two weeks off, and our first time in the outdoor. I should have just kept my mouth shut, because it went great!  Oats was super, and once we got through the course he started really flowing. He started off sticky and backed off (due to the change in footing I believe) but I was quite happy with how the course rode.

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Bonus: We now have rocks to jump, thanks to Nicole and Brenda buying jumps from the other trainer Karen. And Oats jumped them without any issues! Yessss!

It feels so so good to ride again. I always miss him when I am travelling 🙂

The messenger began to believe that the message was him.

Quote I found (I believe it is a lyric from a song?) but I liked it!

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Jump lesson recap this week- MUCH better than last week. Oats was more consistently forward, though I came into the ride with a plan. Get him off my leg, the walk in the warm-up is NOT lollygagging around, and I ride with purpose, every step. Jump lessons are too precious to half-ass the beginning!

So I marched him around, got some pissy leg kick-outs, dealt with them and moved on.

Was the lesson perfect? HAHAH no. But, it was much improved and it helped me ride with ‘my horse moving underneath me’ rather than me pushing, pulling with my body moving too much. I am particularly guilty of this when I am not sure I have enough horse to ride!

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The exercises were very simple this week: Jump a line of skinnies 4-strides apart (an easy four, which of course we biffed and got a choppy FIVE sometimes…ah Oats), and a small course with some oxers. The focus was more on flow, and we got it!

I was much improved with my upper body, staying in two-point most of the ride, back with my shoulders through the corners (still had some blips but hey…better) and Oats was riding quite nicely.

It just went so much better. I was happy with Oats, and left on a real good note. Yay!