Jump to it!

So I had my jump lesson on Saturday (like, real jumping, not dressage jumping) and it went pretty well! We worked over a small course, and the jumps were teeny-tiny, ha. I, on the other, hand, was feeling like total crap. We had gotten rudely woken up by movers wanting us to move our car so they could get into out neighbour’s house, which is fine, but they were here before 8am!

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I want this…

I had a terrible sinus headache, staggeringly bad allergies, and felt fuzzy, muzzy and really exhausted and weak all day. Great for a riding lesson eh? My head felt like an effing balloon. I couldn’t remember a damned thing and my head/sinuses were going to explode.

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When I am doing this! How?

So yeah the lesson was fine, I just felt like absolute garbage for the entire day. I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep on the damned couch. Which I basically did as soon as I finished my lesson, ha. My allergies have taken over my damned life.

Also I am having trouble trying to get the right ‘feel’ from my Thursday lessons to translate to my jump lesson days on Saturday. I LOVE the feeling I have on Thursday, and then I get to Saturday and it feels… wimpy? I can’t get him off my leg, or get any connection. He breaks gait, slows to the fences, etc. Just not the same. How do I reconcile this?

Something to work on!

Wanting things isn’t enough

Had my jump lesson this weekend, and it was a good one (before my actual weekend went to hell in a handbasket, but that’s definitely tomorrow’s rant..). We worked on a very simple exercise, focusing on almost exactly the opposite of what I did in my dressage-jump lesson, hahah!

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Enjoy some blurry screenshots! I miss riding outside in the summer…SIGH. Oh and my leg definitely slipped back here, ha. 

I intellectually understand the value of both exercises, but still feel a bit torn about which one do I follow more closely? Can I do both? I feel like Oats is good at cruising, but he’s also… just cruising, so if you want to go anywhere, you’re kind of SOL. Whereas maintaining a more ‘showjump’ seat and ride, with those sharp turns, and flexible hands, seems to get me nailing EVERY distance. What to do?

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One jump was a decent size. Old me would have laughed at it, but new me is like, WOW it is bigger? Oats didn’t care one way or the other. 

I want to be soft, forgiving and flexible. I also want an active, energetic seat that nails every single distance. How do I get both?

Oh and my ride on Sunday should have gone better but I had SO much tension and it kind of sucked. Like, it was ok but I want my hands to be softer, more forgiving even if he loses his marbles in the corner? Maybe I just need constant trainer supervision to keep me honest?!

I do want to ride better, and I think each day I can make that my opportunity. I just need to not get sucked into his drama (OH and there was drama this weekend arghh).

Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

Until tomorrow goes away

And another dressage lesson in the books, and man, I am getting blown away by how soft, forgiving and good Oats and I can be! It’s an excellent revelation 🙂 I want to be that rider, who has a horse with a soft mouth, who has forgiving hands…And we are getting it! Now I wish I had it years ago, but to be honest, I don’t think I could have.

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Something more like this… 

This is just part of the journey I guess?

We added canter to our building blocks of progress, and while the canter does require much more ‘maintenance,’ it also felt way better than it normally does. Also, with the idea of contact as a ‘living’ thing to be constantly worked on, rather than a ‘set it and forget it,’ I am actually having to ride more. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? What am I doing on a horse if not riding?

Well, the truth is I like to get statue-still and mistake that for perfection. It really isn’t. A horse is a living, breathing, flowing, reacting thing, and so am I. So, no room for turning into stone, ha. Or having a grip on my contact. Ebb and flow, take and give. And my legs need to actually be used rather than just ‘there’. It’s funny it has take me until now to ride like this, but hey- progress?!!

It is humbling but I’m really enjoying how excellent Oats feels!! Yes!

Now if only our TERRIBLE weather would freaking shake out of it. Every day is either cold, or rainy, or cold, rainy and windy. I had to go back to wearing jeans, sweaters and vests and jackets. Efff…. So much for this miserable summer.

Oh, always killin’ it

I had my dressage lesson back (and on Thursdays, what the heck? Thursdays are usually jump lessons) and it was REALLY good. After COVID-19, all of our schedules got all jumbled up and mixed around. I had to move my jump lesson to Saturdays so that we could try and get our dressage trainer on 1 day, since she was not available on Fridays anymore. Couple that with my weird tension-building anxiety and I really felt like I was in need of some really basic building blocks, ridewise.

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See, this is NOT the frame I want- I want him to be ‘stretching’ down more, not so compressed with his head and neck. So, always more to do! And this is from last summer.

I wanted to be able to work with contact without getting rigid with my hands and arms. Easier said than done, haha. BUT I feel like we are really getting somewhere, a better place where I can ride and maintain contact without turning into stone, hahah.

So it felt very positive. It is a challenge, but given Oats’ advanced age, I need to start working him in a more responsible, and responsive way. I really appreciate the opportunity to modify my ride, and I have the time and headspace to make it happen. Oh, and a supportive trainer too! Can’t forget that. It’s kind of nice to not focus on horse shows right now, because I feel like this foundational work is really important and something I want to develop further for my personal riding education. 🙂 Go Oats!

Except that rotten pony rolled in my saddle AGAIN!! I was raking on Wednesday and Boom!!! He went down so fast he wrenched my damn arm and neck pretty hard. ARGHH he is sooo cheeky.

Forget Me

And as we start getting back to normal, I started my lessons back up! Of course after 2 months of no lessons…I desperately needed them. My jump lesson was good and to the point, and Oats got back to it like he had never been away! Small tiny little cross poles, but it felt good to get back to the groove again with my honest as the day is long pony. A good feeling for sure 🙂

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Hard to believe this was in March, and like one of our last jump lessons?!

I then had my first dressage lesson back on Saturday at the freaking crack of dawn, and you know what? I wanted to really take me and Oats back to basics. My hands are too rough, I feel like he is shortening through his neck because of that in the warm-up, and our transitions are now non-existent and tough and leaning. I know a lot of this is because of the weird anxiety I had over the past two months, but that is no excuse for BAD hands and terrible warm-ups and transitions.

So, our entire dressage lesson was a rework on soft hands through the warm-up to start things off on the right foot. And you know what? It felt great! I was able to warm up with soft hands and then incrementally work them up into the contact. Oats was then more responsive off my seat!

Of course, he was still a spooky goof yesterday, so I spanked him pretty hard and then we revisited what we learned on Saturday about warming up nicely, stretching rather than compressing his neck and spent the whole ride yesterday just doing that- and it was good! He was pretty sweaty, but it wasn’t difficult work- it was just comprehensive and warming up with ‘reach’ rather than some sort of weird giraffe-neck.

He spooks because he can get bored, and I’m like, enough of that!!

But then he got down to business, and was reaching quite nicely. I’m so glad to be able to get guidance again. I definitely need it to keep both of us honest, nice to each other, and back on track!! Oats likes it too 🙂

Oats and I then got to explore one of the unused pastures to see if it ok for turn-out, and it was. Oats was in hog heaven, with knee-high grass and weeds everywhere!

When your life resumes (sort of)

At least my riding lessons are back on! Yes!

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I ran my shoulder into a telephone pole a few weeks ago. Totally an accident but ouch! 

But with the resuming of some ‘normal’ activities comes roaring back all of my previous concerns/issues. Footing in the indoor.  Horses not being turned out enough. The outdoor is kaput, at least for this season? UGH.

I told my husband that I want to just buy a farm and deal with all this myself, dammit!

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Ian made bagels and they were great! 

Otherwise…Address what I can, and then see what I can manage or not manage. Oats has been great otherwise, we had a return to lessons last week (jumping and dressage!) and I was really able to address our warm-up issues in a way that felt both calming, and productive. Go us! Phew!

I felt rusty as all hell but otherwise? Pretty darned good. Oats is moving great, I’m very pleased with that. I missed my trainers like crazy too. All the drama, angst, moving, rude and horrible boarders and COVID 19 and just…Man. My trip to Argentina  (haaaaaaaaa) not a thing anymore, summer holidays..?? Just. ARGH.

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Oats has enjoyed lots of hand grazing, now that I work from home during this time and I have no commute! 

It still feels like some of my life is on hold, and will remain so.

Ian and I are able to get a lot of cool runs done throughout areas locally, and in the Cowichan Valley and I feel extremely grateful that we are able to do so with ease. Same with riding- at least I can do it? Despite all the ‘should I stay or go’ angst that continues to plague us?

I miss horse shows, friends, races, travel…Happy hours are coming back, and so are hair cuts, but the other stuff? Nope.

Ian and I are forced to be creative with our time, so we do a lot of running, food projects, and some creative projects too- like water colours.

This is a long and strange time, and I didn’t want to blog about it because all I felt was gloom and doom. I don’t really feel that anymore, but I do feel like I’m in this strange limbo where everyone is acting like normal, but behind the act is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

But since it’s going to be awhile, I might as well come back for now.

Letting the dust settle

Ah, opportune as it is SO dusty in the indoor arena right now! As a follow-up to my extreme ambivalence this week…I did have my jump lesson! And I am not switching lesson days! Even better 🙂

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From two weeks ago. Oats not even really bothering with his feet… Low I guess? 

This week has it’s fair share of challenges (see- people freaking out about COVID-19 and trying to tell me it is literally the end of the world, worse than the Spanish Flu as per Wikipedia…) It’s not, and I work in the HEALTH SYSTEM on THIS VERY TOPIC so…yeah. I don’t recommend trying to scare me, this is what I am doing each day, every day. Cite BCCDC or CDC or gtfo.

I of course, struggled mightily with allergies and boom! Horrible sore throat on Wed, so swollen I could not swallow anymore. I felt miserable. Didn’t ride (though I wanted to..) and went home and took meds and lay on the couch.

Thursday felt better actually! Rode, and while my warm up was not good- Oats was really pissy and balky, and off my leg. I had to tune him up under the watchful eye of my trainer, as I want to get really pully and pushy with him when he is like this. But on course, he was great! I think this is a symptom of me not riding much this week (sick..) and his beginner lesson on Tues= No, I don’t WANNA!!

My throat hurt again today (so like, one day on, one day off???). UGH. Work is bananas (See COVID-19), the weather has been absolutely bone-chilling and just wet and windy and really raw, and I’m just over it all this week. I have engaged in the pettiest, most irritating little bunfights even.

Riding tonight though! Easy day for us both 🙂 I do love my boy.

I know what needs to be done. But why can’t I do it?

I feel extremely ambivalent about everything right now. I know some of the reasons (suffering from horrendous allergies, and now I am allergic to everything, so breathing isn’t really something I can take for granted right now. I started a new medication for endometriosis and I am hoping it freaking levels out soon, because this on top of allergies makes me feel like my body is under some sort of attack, constantly?!!).

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Course marshal

But also, just…Life ambivalent. I feel very sensitive to a lot of the bad stuff happening to my close friends and horse friends. I also am struggling with change, and trying to embrace it as a net positive, but…yeah. I also got approached to change my lesson times to the weekend, and at this point, it’s feeling like a hard no. I like having my weekends free, and my day-to-day is intensely scheduled, so having a free day is just…Mine. You get it? Add in the layers of feeling guilty about not being flexible, on top of my trainer’s father DYING last week, and just..UGh. Can I crawl out of my skin for a month or so, let me get some breathing room?

My counselor says I need a break. Like, a month break.

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Surveying the course 

I know I can’t do that- my brain would probably melt or something. But at the heart of it, she’s right- I need some space, some time. For it (riding) to be easy, non competitive, non training. I feel like I have lost a bit of the ‘why’ and the drive, to be honest.

Even when I think about competing, and there are so many fun looking events?! But I just feel…Blahhhhh about it right now. So blah. Maybe it’s my allergies talking, but yeah. I can’t get excited, I don’t want to move lesson, I just don’t want to do anything!!

Oats has been good, though our lesson on Friday was outright bad. He bucked, he was pissy, he was angry and tearing around like a deranged llama. Greeeat.. My trainer is newish to us, and said she had never seen him like that before?! Ha. Yeah it has been awhile!

He was fine this weekend though, and my husband and I went up to volunteer at Bear Mountain’s XC Pan Am cup challenge, and it was very neat! A quick ride after, and then I had my friends over for a really fun dinner – fondue!

So like things are fine, but I’m just not feeling it.  At all.

Why do I always feel this way?

Kind of a mixed week- I am not complaining because nothing bad is happening to ME, per se, just…Everyone around me?

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Oats’ favourite game. RIP Willie, Oats misses you! 

On Monday Oats was playing bite face with his neighbour horse, Joey. He then proceeded to rip a chunk of Joey’s face off, with blood splattering everywhere! Jesus christ. His owner had the emergency vet out, who did about six inches of stitches. It turns out Oats had ripped some of Joey’s face muscles, along with the skin.

My other friend’s horse is now on stall rest, after 3 weeks of lameness and a vet visit on Tuesday. Diagnosis is still TBD but maybe something with the DDFT tendon? Either way, it blows.

On Thursday morning, my trainer’s father died. It was not unexpected, as he was suffering with a terminal illness, but still- so very hard for their family.

Add these recent incidents on to a winter scarred with tragedies (my friend’s horse breaking his leg and getting put down, my trainer’s dog getting put down due to a terminal illness…) and wow, it’s just.. a lot.

My parents and my in-laws both moved away in Feb.

Can we just…like say bye to February? Maybe to all of 2020? I’m not sure yet. Jeesh.

Anyways, despite Oats turning into freaking Hannibal Lecter, he was a good boy this week. My trainer cancelled lessons on Tuesday (which I didn’t know about, I should have asked, so that was on me for sure), and he didn’t get ridden or his meds, which I was immediately annoyed about. If I had known, I have time to get to the barn on Tues nights to ride and administer meds. ARGH. So, Oats had Tues/Wed off, no lesson yesterday due to the family death, and I have a lesson tonight.

He did get his meds on Thur, and we did a little jump school (set up 3 jumps, trotted the xpole a bunch of times and then cruised the course 1X) and some stretchy trot circles to really round out the focus. He was falling back through his hind end a LOT, which to my suspicious mind is linked to him missing a few days of meds?!! Oh well, I guess not much I can do now.

He was a good boy for jumping though. Phew the arena is so dusty! Gak! We go from flooding, still mushy in some spots, to too dusty. We can’t win!!

So, a good week for me, but an extremely challenging one for everyone else.