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.

I will spite survive

A few weekends ago I went horse camping with friends! It was for a local trainer’s ‘Wine, Women and Working Equitation’ camping and clinic weekend and it was 100% what I needed! Jane Stone offered the course (limited entry), I had a great time, and Oats is SO GOOD at working equitation! His keenness and flexibility to learn makes me feel just overjoyed!

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You can’t fake a smile like that! Photos are courtesy of photographer Christi Kay. 

I took the Friday off work and we hauled the horses and a metric ton of camping gear, hay, grain, water (there is a drought right now) up island for our camping weekend. We settled in and I was happy to see that I could camp right next to my boy!  How awesome is that? I think we bonded even more because we got to camp next to each other for two nights 🙂

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The fixed gate obstacle was no problem for Oats!

Friday was an in-hand session, where we learned how to get the horse to yield and bend based off equitation science principles, specifically to work on aspects of the working equitation obstacles that we would be tackling. I’m not that great at in-hand… But hey low pressure and no fuss!

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Oats is so brave over the bridge!

Dinner that night was pizza from Prima Strada, and it was soooooo good. Yum! I sure ate well that weekend, no doubt. Saturday was our introduction to the obstacles, and we were all in different sessions. Oats was very cooperative about learning more about them (we have done a working equitation clinic before and loved it!) and he’s super good with the obstacles. Some of the other horses were not so sure about the obstacles…My friends each had their own hands full!

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I was…not great at the garrocha pole

Dinner was a potluck and we had a TON of food. I ate too much! hahah. My dear husband dropped off meatballs for me to bring AND cinnamon buns from the Ladysmith bakery (my absolute fav..ever!). It was just nice to relax and talk horses with my buddies.

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Around the ‘cattle pen’

Sunday was the ‘speed round’ and run-throughs of the course. Oats was a superstar~ I had trouble with the garrocha pole (felt like I was going soooooo fast, and had trouble timing it enough to grab it correctly), but man it was so fun.

It was exactly the weekend I needed, as I came home on Sunday night to pack for my flight out the next morning to work on my deployment to Lillooet. Busy busy!

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! 

 

Keep me honest

Had another jump lesson, and I was very pleased with how it went! Again, it was not perfect, but I felt good, confident and was really riding very forward. Oats was good as gold (a minor bulge issue and some lead/changing lead awkwardness around changing directions) but SUCH a little star!

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This rode well all night.

I am enjoying doing semi-private lessons right now, and the funny thing is that having another rider, and people watching, helps keep me honest. Focused. Riding instead of getting overfaced and backing off. It’s like I’ve reached a point in my own confidence that I need to have an audience to keep me there. Otherwise, I back off, big time. And I know right now that I don’t need to. I am going there! I am doing it! I am being challenged and meeting that challenge.

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It’s a bummer it’s so dark, darn light changing. BUT this is the first time we’ve jumped the coop as a oxer! So wide, even if it doesn’t look like it! 

I think my motto now is: Challenge me. Make me.

And we are so there! Yeah! Go Oaty pony. I’m so proud of him, bobbles, silliness and all. I have things I want to fix (elbows, the straightness problem going into the uphill line AGAIN, the difficulty in changing leads, stalling out to a chip…) But on the whole? I am enjoying what I am doing, and getting a lot out of my boy.

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This is a two-stride that I rode conservatively (read: chicken) for a three, until the last course when I was like, fuck it! I go in two! And we DID.

This week we celebrated 9 years together. Each year he gets better and better! I guess we all do? How I love this. I really appreciate, cherish and find joy in our rides. He’s my prince, my pony, my boy.

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I love this picture, because we almost match the jump! How cute is that? Plus it rode just perfectly. The best line on course. 

Whenever people are frustrated with their current horse, I just think to myself- yep been there, done that, sometimes am still there. It takes the time it takes. YEARS even (in my case). Being mad about how slow progress is doesn’t help, it never does. Your ego doesn’t trump reality.

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And the ‘out’ of the same lattice-line. It rode really nicely. 

I have had to learn some really bruising lessons about ego (life, running and horses) and I had to learn them the hard way. However, I think it’s helped shape what I do now.

Sadly, there is no footage of us finishing on the triple bar jump (first one I have gathered up the feeble shreds of my courage to jump with Oats!) because we were too close to the videographer and it is close up and dark. Ah, well. It was such a good ride that I forgot that the main reason I was excited about it was to jump the triple bar?! Ha.

Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

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Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

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From last time. It was still really windy! 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep. He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!? 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

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?