I don’t believe people ever change. But I’ve changed.

So I am slowly getting over the grips the death cold had on me (wow, it was grim this week) and I had my riding lesson back again too! I had to cancel last Thurs – actually my trainer cancelled because too many people were sick, and I was really starting to go down that road myself, and I was bound and determined to have a LESSON yesterday!

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Remember when we jumped a little house?

I practiced up by riding on Wednesday- it was ok, as Wednesday was the first day I was physically able to stay at work without going home early, though I still felt pretty miserable and tired.

Thursday I was more or less back in action- still feeling physically weak and coughing up a ton of grossness, as well as blowing my nose oh, every two seconds. BUT I could do it! On my way to the barn I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open, I felt so tired and exhausted, but I wanted to ride! The fatigue with this sickness has been truly eye opening. Wow. I have never felt so exhausted in my life.

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Loved this jump photo! Back from when we did our first derby! 

Anyways, I made it and the weather has mercifully turned back to mild so at least I wasn’t freezing my ass off or dealing with lung- freezing and the resultant coughing.

I am happy to say that despite my feebleness and ineffectual riding (ok that’s how it felt, Nicole said I was actually riding pretty well), Oats was on FIRE! He was so good! I love my pony, he is a little superstar. Nothing too big height wise, but we worked on long approaches to a single fence, and then 1 small sort of ‘blind’ bending line, which we aced every time- it was our best line I think! Oats even took a very enthusiastic jump to a small oxer and almost sent me over his head! I could barely hang on…I was NOT expecting to get jumped out of the tack! hahahahah

Can hardly fault the boy for jumping too well! What a star 🙂

I was really, really happy with how the lesson went, even though I was weak and basically clinging on to him. Mr. Oats is a saint pony.

What is it they say about the heart? That it’s a muscle?

Had my jump lesson last night and the temperatures dropped dramatically since earlier this week (when I was bragging about running in shorts!) so it was very cold in my lesson, unfortunately. Lucky for me, Oats is now on regular Previcox and I find that helps him a great deal with the cold/winter stiffness that he was starting to feel regularly, as an older pony.

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Seeking this good feeling- and I’ve got it! Hah no t-shirts last night, that’s for darned sure.

He was pretty bouncy and feeling good last night! I, on the other hand, felt stiff, cold and creaky. Hah. The horse was going better than the rider! I watched my friends ride in their lesson before mine, so I had an idea of what our lesson was going to consist of- though I was wrong, I had bending and broken lines up the wazoo, where theirs was a bit simpler due to a few technical issues early on (one horse had to bow out, he wasn’t feeling quite himself).

So we warmed up (ha, warm. I don’t think I ever felt warm), over a few small x-rails, then lead up to a line (5 strides), and then started working over bending lines still with the cross poles. And the funny thing? We were just nailing it! I don’t think I need to remind you how that pretty much never happens when I ride, ever. It was just so smooth, I didn’t need to think about working or trying or anything, it was was.

Nice eh?

We then moved up to work on the course, and there were so many twisty-turny bending lines, broken lines, it was so fun! Oats was a STAR!!! It was so cold that my eyes were watering the whole ride and I could barely see where I was going, hah.

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Oats is such a good pony. I love him! 

We did biff a few things (wicked drift on the first fence when I didn’t go in riding very well…) and the last fence was kind of a slump, but otherwise it was just BANG ON. Yeah!! Felt awesome! Maybe my trot fence homework is starting to pay off? I wanted to develop feel, agility, comfort and flexibility. I needed to build back my resilience- mine and Oats’- by working on the lowest-level, boring, but important work. No stakes, easy to mess up and easy to fix.

So, I guess the good news is that it is working! The bad news? I have to keep doing it! I used to have a bad habit of completely giving up when something was either working well, or not working at all. So, I keep going.

Stuck under the surface

Dude, this week…For a short week, it sure hasn’t felt short. Work was an absolute shitshow. Everyone working flat-out all hands on deck style. While not physically tiring, I was SO.TIRED. by yesterday…brain tired I guess? Just fried. I know I’m not the only one, pretty much everyone feels like this.

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Some days you ride better without hands. This remains true…To this day! 

I also had a dentist appointment, huge event, and riding lesson yesterday. I am mentally tired.

Dear god, this week!

Thankfully, Oats had his lessor resume lessons for November, so I was able to ride Monday, she rode Tuesday, and he had Wednesday off. That left me with time to stay later at work and not have to worry about trying to get to the barn. I had my lesson last night, and while my day/tacking up was clumsy (literally everything I touched fell into the dirt. EVERYTHING. Helmet, saddle pad, bridle, horse boots, my gloves…everything I touched fell on the ground)…The lesson itself was really good!!! 🙂

We worked on a series of x-poles in a bounce gymnastic and when that was going well, we moved it to NO HANDS people! I was terrified- even though Oats is a saint, I have a lot of trouble relinquishing control, particularly in front of the jump. I just want to grab! I ended up trying a few times and failing, until I finally managed to let go of the reins a good stride or two before the first x-pole and it went perfectly!

We then worked on a small course and all was well. What a little lovebug.

Dressage lesson tonight, and I hope it goes better than last week. He just felt really stiff and resistant on the left rein last week. UGH. It sucked, given our general rides/jump lessons have been so smooooth.

Why hasn’t everything already disappeared?

Had our regular jump lesson last night, and it was really good! I just felt overwhelmed with gladness…Almost sad, in fact, because I enjoy my pony so much, and I know this- all of this- is fleeting.

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Compared to this, it was peanuts. But so fun! 

I guess we enjoy things more because we know they don’t last forever?

Our lesson wasn’t groundbreaking or jumping super high or fantastically or anything, in fact it kind of pales in comparison to what we were doing this summer, but it just…Felt good. It was funny, I was laughing in it! Can you imagine?

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Yeah this wasn’t a great show…Circa 2013/14?? Ha. 

We worked on these wonky curving line set-ups, trot in to an x-rail, canter 6 strides to a small jump, come around to the jump on the circle…Very twisty-turny. But fun, and I felt really smooth (even though some of the efforts were SO awkward. HAh.) and you know, it just rode really fine. I did have trouble getting him to land on his right lead, on a straight line, and yet we were just nailing the left-to-right lead change at the jump on a circle? Horses…Gotta love ’em.

I appreciate Oats in horse shows, during show rounds, in the dressage arena, but sometimes I appreciate him more for being able to take a joke, ride bareback, trudge up the hill with me quietly at night…Just, good things all around. I appreciate him.

Feels nice to be outside!

And a bit of a blast from the past! 

Forever is a long time: Jump lesson update

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Jump 2 in the combination.

And spoiler: It was probably the worst I’ve had all season- even worse than the one I almost fell off in? And here’s the other shocker- while I was annoyed it was going badly while I was riding, I also felt…Fine. It was like, ok this is how it is going to go. I can deal. I’m glad I got media because my friend has been coming to take videos and I LOVE seeing her! She is so cool. Just a blast to be around. 🙂

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We conquered the combination! One small win.

So what went down? It started pretty well actually! We schooled over a few x-rails (and I have to say, trotting bigger jumps really helps Oats and I to rock back, so maybe I should ask for that or practice it on my own next week…I hate it though!), and then schooled over the combination.

A few weeks ago, the combination was my BIGGEST bugaboo. HA. Now this week, we were crooked as all hell (coming out of the left is tough for us…the drift is real!) but we could buckle down and like, ride it? Rather than sitting and freezing up, ha.

So, the combination. Good! Check.

But when we went to ride the course, Oats got spooked by our friend in the field and slammed on the brakes at the first jump (the rocks) and then I looked down and stopped riding to the second jump (every time, as it turns out…the planks), and I started losing focus.

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This one rode fine for the most part- off a bending line (generous) plank jump.

The rest of the course rode pretty well at the lower height- no complaints there.

But then, I started losing touch of ‘soft’ and out of the saddle riding and basically every time I tried it, I disconnected and Oats stopped. Argh! So, that’s something to work on. He felt me disengage and he was like, nahhh…

Every time I buckled down and RODE he was like oh yeah no problem! So, clearly my ‘being soft’ is the issue here.

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This line was a yawn, but it’s also where I started losing my shit…Ha.

And then when we went to ride our second course, a few more people joined and were hanging outside the ring, with a few dogs in the shadows. Of course Oats could NOT handle it…And I mentally had a lot of trouble regrouping, and adjusting my ride and my mindset. I guess I couldn’t handle it either? He wasn’t even being that spooky, hahah. I was frazzled!!! Jumping is hard enough for me without added distractions, though in hindsight, I do value them. If i can maintain focus in the ring for my jumps, that can only be a good thing for horse shows eh?

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I love that we match this jump perfectly!!

But…Yesterday I let it get to me.

We got around, and funny enough it was at the most boring, non-interesting jumps that we had the stops at (because I thought I could stop riding at them, obviously). Hah!

Oats is a saint though, and while he will definitely call me on my bullshit, he’s very honest and forgiving. He’s like, oh ok let’s do it! Literally doesn’t really notice from jump to jump. And let’s face it- I need to be more like that myself.

“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute.”

I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.

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Christi came and took these amazing photos. So good! 

That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.

I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!

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Photos courtesy of Christi.

I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!

Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.

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Liverpool? What liverpool? Oats is the most casual pony on the planet.

I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?

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I got this mom. It’s easy. 

When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.

Another one bites the dust! (Almost!)

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Clobbered the jump. Lesson to all- don’t jump ahead! 

Had a VERY close call with falling off in my jump lesson yesterday, but you know what? I was proudest of the fact that even though my ass ended up above the saddle on his neck, barely clinging on, I regrouped, got my head straight, and went out and RODE it. Competently and quietly.

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Now that’s more like it! 

Ok it was a little bit ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ but hey, we did it! It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, for both Oats and myself. Maxed out height for us, a triple combination, going downhill into the setting sun. Not easy for us, likely easy for others! Though don’t ask me to ride a whole course after that, ha. I was spent!

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It felt easy when we did it with small jumps,and then sure, put ’em up. GULP! 

The course itself rode really well, I was feeling really glad about it, but I know that I was in my mind starting to get amped about heading to the combination, as it was the final few fences on course.

As we rounded the corner, I started gunning Oats and went to jump up his neck, and he went NOPE! Guess again!

And I had to cling on, haha.

Luckily he is as honest as a summer day, so we gathered ourselves, and headed back out. I’m just really enjoying my horse. I learned the other day that my sister’s rabbit died (peacefully, in her sleep enjoying a snooze in the backyard) and I was surprised about how I almost cried when I read about it. I just can’t imagine losing another animal, and part of me grieves in advance for when I have to make that heartbreaking decision, or see it happen to one of my darling critters.

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I remember when I almost lost Oats to a serious choking accident.

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Even at his worst after that, every day is golden. Lucky to be here. Horse shows, jumps, dressage shows, they’re all bonuses. My chances to ride him, and enjoy him, are what really matter.

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go Oats go!! 

I do still want to work on my bravery, challenge, keeping my butt out of the saddle, improved straightness and leads. So many things! But I feel good and confident that we can do it. He’s my boy.

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So majestic!