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 🙂

 

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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.

T-3.5 hours…

OH man oh man. This week cannot end fast enough.

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I did have a jump lesson before my hiatus for holidays, and it went..Ok. I felt weirdly anxious, which I am going to chalk up to the pressure cooker that work has been all week. I just couldn’t shake it.

My jumping went ok, Oats had a very uncharacteristic slam on the brakes to a small oxer even from a PERFECT distance?! WTF? So, yeah odd. We re-approached and he was fine, and jumped it lovely each time after that, but still. Even during our course he had his ‘stop-hesitate-jump’ through a two stride that just seemed not great. Admittedly, I was having a lot of trouble getting straight to the two-stride, but still…

I wanted to ride the course through three times but the way I was feeling? Nah, not productive. So I rode it through twice, and called it at that.

It was ok, but I couldn’t shake the weird anxiety. UGH. Also I am thinking that I should look into some more preventative medicine for old Oats. He is getting up to 17, and not a spring chicken anymore.

I can do this. A few more hours. I can do this.

The Grand Banana: MEC race #5 recap~

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Halloween Half- Marathon! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

Finally, a race I can be proud of!! After a slew of really uninspiring races, races that blew up in my face, races that left me feeling pretty lacklustre about racing and my athletic running ability…I pulled this one out and it felt GREAT!

I wasn’t too enthused about it- to be honest, I was very anxious. My last  half marathon (MEC in June at Royal Roads) was just horrible. I felt like dying, was unsure about why I couldn’t breathe while I was running, and was just feeling concerned and a bit worried about how this was going to go. Was I going to have to walk, gasping for breath? Feeling like I was going to collapse?

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The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I did take the entire week off running, and started toning it down quite early last week- shorter runs, taking more days off, making it easier. Not gonna lie, taking the week off from running last week was TOUGH. I felt antsy, anxious, sluggy and like…What if this didn’t pay off? What then? I took a week off, for nothing? (I know a week off in the grand scheme of things is A-Ok! and I needed the rest for my legs, but try telling your brain that).

Anyways, I took time off running, took it easy, went to the corn maze on Saturday with my husband and friend, and didn’t drink. All nice things, and it was incredibly beautiful on the weekend. A kind of beauty that makes me want to live outside haha.

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Gatorade break for me. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

The morning was cold and I was kind of second-guessing my long-sleeves and shorts combo but I didn’t want to get too hot running, as I was going to be out there for awhile and it was supposed to be 17 degrees as the high for the day. Incredible!

And we’re off! I set out with a goal- try for under 5 min/km. Too ambitious? Maybe but I was just grasping at straws here. My first km felt kind of hard, but not really? 4:48/km. Hm…

But the beauty of it was…It just kept flowing. I felt light as a feather, light as air. I ran and ran, and thought about how I could do it forever.

My legs felt good, so good they wanted to be challenged.

I got caught up a bit in the gravel sections (so slow and sloggy) but counseled myself to run carefully here and pick it up when I could. Don’t try to push it too much on the ‘no grip’ sections, it isn’t worth the energy. Same for the running across the grass sections.

At 8km I had to take my shoe off to shake gravel out of it. GReeeeat….This would typically derail me bigtime, but I shook it off (literally) and kept running.

I felt happy, it was getting tough but I could do it. I was doing it. I could meet the challenge! I felt like I could do this, and then I could do even more. It was a fabulous feeling and one that has been missing from my races for a year or more. I was smiling, I felt good and I was happy.

At the finish, I was running with a young guy (who totally beat me at the end, ha) and we finished, turned to each other, and gave each other a high-five. 🙂 That’s what racing is for me- what I had been missing for so long. That purity, that feeling of fun, and freedom.

Thanks again to the excellent team at MEC, and the well organized (if a little insane) race. Good snacks, safe course and a great cheering section. I was even lucky enough to be able to go out for brunch with my husband (who ran an AMAZING race) and our friend who also battled it out to complete a solid 10k.  A great day.

Get down, stay down

Jump lesson last night, and while I’ve had a really good week of some fun and solid rides, and even some slow chukka polo learning on Wed and field rides with Oats, I struggled with anxiety last night.

What gives?

I had my heart in my throat! Oats could sense my lack of commitment and he was so BLAH for jumping- I had to really pony up and ride to my fences. I kept them at weenie height because of this weird anxiety I was dealing with. It kind of sucked, but my ride in general was okay, I just wished I had been able to ride more effectively, braver and confident? UGH. Mixed feelings- I had some great moments but overall it was a trying course for me to manage and the jumps were so small!

I wish I could get it together, ha. But, lots of positives.

Oats was amenable but clearly not willing to put forward effort if I wasn’t. Fair enough horse, fair enough.

I have another jump lesson on Saturday and I have requested we jump in the field!! Time to exercise my bravery muscles. 🙂