Try

Had a jump lesson last night, after a really slack week of riding (mostly in the field, and an equine counseling session). My focus for the jump ride was twofold: work on managing my anxiety during jumping with a few more techniques that I was developing with my equine counselor, and see what I can do about the ‘spur-suasion’ situation with Oats.

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Screengrabs from jumping in the field last week. So fun and so HOT! I miss that!

And did I achieve these? YES I did! It was by no means perfect (haa…) and I almost bit it hard when I decided I would ‘see’ a distance, and jump for it by spurring Oats – whoops- while simultaneously jumping ahead onto his neck. He declined my dumbass move and I wound up on his freaking neck. Yikes!

However a few good takeaways- I was able to vocalize and manage my anxiety, to the tune of having an excellent first jump on-course both times! And my first course was just lovely, no complaints. And we rode through a grid many times and it went quite well (grids are usually my absolute nemesis, ha).

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Love our homemade x-c course.

I even kind of fumbled the grid after riding the course – I got a bit backed off and less generous with my body- so I decided unilaterally that I would ride it again!

That to me is big- I quite often get backed off and decide that NO that’s it. Even during the second course, when the wheels kind of fell off and the cracks started showing…Part of me was really bummed that our first course was pretty great, and the second sucked. But I had to put that part of me away, and just. deal.with.it. Pretty? Ha no. Challenging? Oh yes. But workable? Definitely!

I think slowing things down, really allowing myself to ‘feel’ all of my nervous energy helped me have a lovely first jump each time. The rest will come.

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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!

You deserve this: Weekend update

Ah the weekend- I was on pins and needles at first, anxious to see if I was going to be deployed for flooding assistance- something I am fine with doing, but man, I did not want to go right now. So my weekend was me checking my phone constantly to see if I was going to be deployed. Spoiler: I wasn’t! YAY!

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The facility is incredible.

Saturday Ian and I visited the Fairfield Community Garage Sale and I scored a really sweet Bench jacket for $20 and a puffy polka-dot vest for $5- niiice! There were some other sales that looked pretty good but I wasn’t in need for much, so I left it at that.

Went riding and Oats was really good! I even rode without stirrups, which reminded me how much I dislike riding w/o stirrups…Ouch. I get this big knot under my thighs. Later I went for a run, and then just enjoyed the evening. It was crazy windy and cold, so we weren’t out on the patio at all. Crummy weather on Saturday!

Sunday I had arranged a lesson with another trainer, as my current dressage coach Karen Brain is on a much-needed vacation and travelling around! It didn’t start off well at all. Blah. Oats was a total loon about the end of the outdoor arena and driving me NUTS! Why was this surfacing after having such great, zen rides? ARGHHHHHH. I was so mad. He was literally jumping out of his skin every step. Wha?

Anyways, it kind of looked like we didn’t know what we were doing…Not a great first impression. BUT the lesson went well, and Oats was tired. When we went back to the exercise (raised poles on a circle, trot and then canter) he was like WHA? I have to do this again? Ha. yes. The name of the game was to improve Oats’ fitness, so when I am asking for more collected canter work he can actually do it, instead of you know…not.

Then I got changed and my friend and I drove out to the gorgeous Fairlawn Equestrian Centre for the season-end wrap up party potluck. It is amazing out there! Just stunning. I got totally sunburned, ha. We enjoyed a ton of great food (I ate way too much yesterday, ugh felt sick after) and tasty desserts too. Yum yum! And there were door prizes as well- I won a bottle of Cowboy Magic and my friend won a really cute face brush.

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Sweet prize!!

A surprise to me, I won the Adult Amateur High Point award- a really sweet Tempo Jacket from Greenhawk, and they are going to embroider it too. WOWWW! Made my day! Lucky me.

Getting past the past

Man, I am tired. After a very nice and fairly relaxing weekend (we made and decorated sugar cookies!) and went to watch some live music including Christmas carols at the Breakwater Bistro, it was straight into a rather hellish Monday at work…Ugh.

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I only have 4 more days. I can do this. I find this time of year really stressful and tiring. I sometimes have a hard time getting in the ‘Christmas Spirit’ TM but I am taking it day by day and hopefully things will turn around.

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I’m not kidding. We made & decorated a LOT of cookies!! Good times with a good friend.

In the meantime, I am just tired and kind of dragging myself to the barn to ride. My rides feel kind of short and half-assed, and yet the work Oats is giving me is really GOOD?! Go figure eh? We have been focusing on transitions (transitions, transitions, transitions..) and I am really happy with how he is going.

It’s cold though. And dark. And just…blah.

I can’t go on. I’ll go on. We have a dressage lesson today, and my friend with her horse will be joining us- I’m looking forward to seeing what she learns today!

Oats is Oats

After all that running, I bet you think my poor pony is being neglected!

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

Well, not so!

I rode him Saturday, and while I was determined to try some ‘collection’ work, I was equally determined to NOT drill the pony into the ground. And how did that pan out? Well, not so much on the collection, but he did get very sweaty and it was a fairly physical ride, but overall I was pretty ok about it.

We didn’t really get any collection, but I did figure some stuff out. Something I figured out too late- to really ask for that type of work, I have to start my warm- up very differently, ie- my hacking for a jump school warm up does NOT work if I am going to be asking for more ‘dressage’ type work later.

I needed to do more sitting trot, smaller circles, lateral work, transitions.

Hm. Ok.

So, yeah that was that. It wasn’t Oats’ fault- it was mine, on a expectations vs. reality type gig.

Anyways, I also rode after my race on Sunday to kind of ‘trick’ my legs into cooperating. I tried to ride last Monday after racing and wow, did it feel horrible. Burning legs, jello-o, wobbly…Not good. So, Sunday it is!

Our ride was very short as I also realized I was totally exhausted after the race, but I think Oats likes it when I’m like that…He’s very cooperative and fairly gentle with me. Puts up with me anyways! We did a light school, hopped over two small fences (left long to one, and short to the other. sighhh!) and did some brief transitions- walk/trot/collected/tiny trot/canter/walk…And that was it!

He was great, and I sure didn’t want to ride any more than that to be honest.

Riding on Tuesday and I’m SO glad I took Monday off this time. My legs were throbbing alll day yesterday, wow it was so painful.

Oats was good on Tuesday- the old problem of ‘no contact in trot= dolpin leaping’ reared it’s ugly head but I worked through it, in a way I am feeling more comfortable. Oats got SO sweaty though! Poor guy, it was running in rivulets down his face! I did try breaking in some new boots (Treadstone Tuscanys) on Tuesday and it made me feel like I didn’t know how to ride…Haha. On the bright side, they seemed to be MUCH easier to break in than my previous boots.

Riding tonight, and jump lesson on Thursday.