You do what you want (as long as it’s what we want)

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Ah the rolltop. I don’t think I ever jumped this straight… 

Jump lesson! Yeah!! I actually have been having a hard time getting my head in the game this week. So many sad, emotional, bummer things have been happening and it’s just a huge mindfuck actually. A horse broke his leg at my barn on Monday, I got there as the vet was coming to put him down. It was horrible. Needless to say, I didn’t ride Oats (he got treats and some hand grazing), and he had his beginner lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday he gets off, and I had my lesson yesterday.

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Riddle me this- why do jumps look SO BIG on the ground/when you are jumping, and so…small in videos and photos?! Unfair! 

Yesterday I also learned more work news that sucks, basically the end of an era. So, I’m struggling right now with perspective and change and all that fun stuff, with the added bonus of stark realization that horses, pets and people aren’t forever and the fleeting moments of greatness we have with them is just that- fleeting.

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Isn’t this a nice jump? Brenda’s new lattice and standards! 

It was also psychotically windy yesterday- about 70km/hr winds at my house when I got home. I was antsy beyond belief, fidgety and anxious. I couldn’t settle at all. At the barn it was quite windy too, but not so bad as at home. I was freezing at home. The wind blew a few jumps down in the outdoor though!

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Into the four-stride line.

But you know what? Despite the total shitstorm that this week has turned out to be, riding was really good. I just love riding my pony! He’s such a good boy. 🙂 He makes me really happy.

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Into the in-and-out.

Our coursework was pretty good, and FOR ONCE my brain didn’t fall out when the jumps went higher. That, friends, is success. And that’s all I wanted. Of course our leads sucked, and our straightness could use…some work…but hey, I’m just so happy that for once it feels like I rode competently, forward, straight and focused. Plus I got to visit with some friends and that always makes me happy. The barn should be my happy place!

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And out of it! 

Small wins this week, sadly. But I needed it so, so much.

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Oats knocked this one so hard, it went FLYING! Lazy! 

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Time owes you nothing

And enough with the running, how is the riding? Pretty darn good! I know my dressage these days is…Not great (that’s what happens when I do it unsupervised, it kind of sucks, ha) but each ride I come off my pony thinking, I’m so lucky to have such a great schoolmaster! 

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Oats in his other job- carting my husband back to the barn. 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being happy with what you have, the horse you have in this moment of time? Even when it is distinctly non-glamorous work (walk- canter departs yesterday, I have to limit how many I do because it is tiring for Oats).

Yesterday Oats even had a chance to play school pony, for my friend’s adult niece. The young lady had a ride on my friend’s horse and he acted kind of out of character and freaked the niece right out! I was very surprised, this is a horse that I have literally gotten on and like, whaled on him to get him to go! And he’s spooky and acting silly with a beginner rider? Wha?

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Such a good boy 🙂

So I offered up good old Mr. Oats for a pony ride! We felt it was important that she have a good experience with a horse, and I offered that Oats is smaller, closer to the ground too 😉 Ian said why would you say that (hahhh) but it makes people feel safer!

So we got her up on Oats, and I just held him still. She teared up! But I said look, it’s ok. He’s not going anywhere. He stood still for a bit, and then we walked around and everything went totally fine 🙂 I said- you’re in charge of the ride, you tell me when you want me to stop. And everything went fine, and no fuss or drama. Yay! What a good boy.

It just gladdens my heart to see him being such a solid little guy. Not only am I enjoying my rides, but others can too.

And on Saturday I worked on the most boring of things, but it seemed to be a little rusty…halt-trot transitions. Yay?? Ha. Oh well! Such is the tedium of the day-to-day eh?

Falling into pieces

I honestly haven’t been updating much because this week has just been incredibly stressful and drama-filled and it’s been too much to deal with. I think I am coming out the other end but yowza, what a shitty week. I don’t even really want to go over it on my blog because I feel slightly traumatized by it and it’s just…no. Ugh.

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This is actually a screengrab from a few weeks ago, when I had a rib injury. 

On happier news, I have been having some lovely jump lessons on old Oats! Had a great lesson last week, and this week- while still having some bobbles, ugly jumps and such, I’m coming out of my rides just feeling OK, smooth, calmer. You know? Feeling good, totally fine and leveled out. This is in stark contrast to my other, more anxiety-filled lessons that had such highs and lows that I came out of my lessons feeling like I’d escaped?! With what, my life? Hah. The jagged peaks and valley lows aren’t really there anymore. I am learning to ride leveled-out, calmer and just…with a lot less anxiety and emotion attached to the lesson.

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Go Oats! 

Are they perfect? HAH no. Are they good? Yes. Am I having fun and learning new things, re-learning old things, working on my position, enjoying what my pony is capable of, and appreciating it? YES!

Even yesterday, after leaving work crying, sick animals and just…fraught, I wasn’t in a good mood to ride. I was grouchy, tired, upset and stressed. I complained about it to my friend at the barn and she said- I know exactly how you’re feeling, I had that this week too. But you ride, have your lesson, and you’ll be smiling before you know it! You will always be glad you did.

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And you know what? She was 100% right.

(She is also taking lessons on old Oats on Tuesdays, and I’m LOVING the glowing updates she gives me on how much of a professional he is being for her, and a gentleman. YAY!)

I rode, screwed up, fixed it, made new mistakes, and kept going. And it was good!

We worked over a small trot-in grid, x-rail to a small oxer. We then built it into a small course, where we went off course a few times, haaah. Clearly my mind wasn’t really with it last night. But was that a big deal? Nope! Just regroup and keep going. 🙂

We are now coursing 2’6” fairly confidently and feeling good about it. Now that is priceless.

Awake and pretty much sober

Funny song title, I loved it.

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Sometimes I look competent?

This week was luckily quite short, and I didn’t ride Monday (did an equine counselling session for the aforementioend family drama, Oats got to cruise around on his own), rode Tuesday (he was ok? Now I can’t remember what we did!) and had a jumping lesson last night.

The lesson went well but had some disappointments for me- I can’t seem to let.go.no.matter.what?!! Argh. Oats is not a pony that needs me on his face all the time, or ever pretty much. He’s push-button, not strong, not fast (hah) and not anything requiring a death grip on the reins. So, why?

Why indeed!

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Miss this show, he was so good! 

We worked over a trot grid (3 X trot bounce jumps, two strides to a small oxer) and damn if I didn’t find it hard to let go of his face for the two strides to the oxer. Whyyyy? He jumped it perfectly fine, and I was surprised every time.

We then worked over a small course with a circle jump, a 4-stride line (rode well each time actually, some bobbles coming in but overall quite nice) and the grid.

I was a tad anxious (see- feeling vulnerable about letting go of his face…) but he was jumping quite nicely and very reasonably, so what is my deal? The jumps went up, not high but the outside line was definitely a bit higher than previous and Oats had zero issues with it.

I did sort of improve on the ‘let go of his face’ but let’s be honest- I struggle with feeling vulnerable doing that! It’s a battle to let my body go and be ok with it, I am that strong of a rider and it’s not hard for me to do, soooo why the resistance??

Oh well, overall I was very pleased with Oats’ ‘can-do’ attitude. Good pony 🙂

 

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.

In trouble for good: Horse show recap!

It’s been a funny time- I have shown more dressage this past year than in my entire life, and you know what? I have been feeling VERY competent in it (mostly, ha). So when I had my first jumping show in a year, I kind of expected it to go, well? We attended the Cedar Vista Schooling Series jumper show, in the 2’3” match the clock jumper division.

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From a million years ago (2014 actually!). At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Well, it went, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t the consistent, competent and thoughtfully-ridden show of my dressage shows past. I still felt very nervous and anxious, and I found it quite difficult to ‘connect’ in with my dear horse. That led to me ‘checking out’ for the first, oh, three jumps on course until we got to jump 4, and I was able to connect back and actually RIDE my pony. That led to some truly sloppy rails. SIGH! And some very backed-off fences.

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At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Would I have preferred to click in for jump 1? YES! But was I at least glad I noticed I wasn’t checked in, and was able to do it for jump 4? Also YES! So, win some, lose some.

I’m going through a process here, and it is not as easy as I thought it would be.

Funny I don’t have this in dressage- jumping just has some ‘extra’ in it that leads to my brain hamsters falling off their wheels! I will have to work hard to manage it. I have some ideas to practice tomorrow in my jump lesson, so I am glad that I have a plan that I trust, to work towards.

Also, I had a really fantastic ride in the field the day before the show (Saturday) when I had my husband come and take a video of a small course of 9 fences I strung together. It was just so awesome, flowing, smooth, happy and positive. I wish all my rides could feel that nice! 🙂

Never Have Enough

Had an equine counseling session, and we did it in the field! I love riding in the field and it’s been so warm lately, ahhhhh my favourite.

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A few years ago- riding in the field is my favourite! 

Some things we identified- using coping mechanisms like teeth clenching, hands in fists, and biting my tongue are older coping mechanisms (numbing actions) that became a part of me- without me really noticing or knowing. I still use these when I am managing stress, and they have a part to play- to a point. Now, knowing I use these coping mechanisms is important and also the fact that I have them isn’t bad or anything- I just have to recognize that I am using them, and be ok with it!

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Last year- wheee! 

It was a very interesting session, and I know that I will probably have a few more while I manage some anxiety that bubbles up. It’s funny, because things are actually really good right now- which is apparently the best time to manage these little ‘blips’ that come up on the surface.

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And in the meantime? Just be ok with it, and understand that it’s a process to work though. Ah, life! Like horses, like anything- something that requires effort, haha.