Cruel Summer?

This past weekend was a busy one, but with one notable absence: I am still too injured to run! 😦

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It wasn’t all bad! 😉

Otherwise, I enjoyed rides on Oats (and he was stopping at jumps again, WTF?) but I’ll have to shake that off and move on eh? I did some pretty vigorous rides, so I am looking to tone it down this week and work together with Oats. My lesson on Friday was great actually! I liked the lesson we took away from it- ‘how slow can you go’? 😉 And it worked out quite well, not perfect but still some excellent learning opportunities.

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Horse girls clean up nicely! 

Saturday I rode and it spiraled a bit more than I would have liked, ehhh. It didn’t help that Oats showed up with a huge gash on his neck, and BOTH eyes covered in eye goop. Fly-borne infection, here we come! Shit! Can’t just like, something work out for me this summer?

Makes me feel kind of cranky. The weather was not good (cold, raining), I am still injured, Oats has this gross eye goop in both eyes, he’s stopping at fences…Eh. It is all temporary, right? Now I just need to remember that, and get into why I ride: To have fun, silly!

Moving on! I went to my friend’s baby shower, in what turned out to be a really action-packed Sunday (ride, watch other friend at a horse show, go to baby shower), phew. We had a BLAST!! YEah! Plus, I won the ‘guess the chocolate bar in the diaper’ game – after loudly bragging to everyone that I was the ‘chocolate expert’ and that they should step aside…And I was right! I was the chocolate expert! 😉 I won five SWEEET chocolate bars for my prize- how perfect was that?

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Tucker enjoyed some healthy eating…

We had a lovely time and it was really nice to see my friends and horsey friends all hanging out. 🙂

The sun is shining now, I am getting shockwave treatment on my leg (first session was this morning,  YOWZA I knew it hurt but Jesus CHrist it really hurt. I was kind of like, half crying, half trying to pull my leg away…jesus. Ouch. But it works, so I guess it’s like…It hurts like a laser cutting through your leg, but it heals it much, much faster.

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In happier news, we made a paper towel diaper! hahah

Still, not so looking forward to the next session on Thursday- gulp!

Riding tonight (easy) and then a lesson on Wednesday to practice.

 

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Read my mind: Jump lesson with Oats

Now before I start with the glowing praises of old Oats, I have to start with reports of him being a little shit-disturber and getting out of his paddock last night and causing a ruckus, going from paddock to paddock to rile up and squabble with allllll of the other horses…OATS! God!

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The culprit! 

Now this is likely my fault, as when I finished my lesson my friend pointed out that Oats hadn’t been given his hay, so I put him in his paddock, moved his hay bag to his paddock, and …probably forgot to re-latch his gate. Argh!

Oh well… On to the lesson! I was feeling weirdly anxious. I’ve been struggling with just crushing fatigue this week, and a fast-moving cold, thanks in part to travel and breathing in that fine, recirculated airplane air. My muscles felt super weak, and I started feeling lightheaded at the gym almost every day. I was dragging myself around. It sucks.

So, exhaustion + sickness + lessons = success? Ha not quite, but it wasn’t the shitshow I was anticipating. It was fun! We worked on a rollback turn (that I sucked out loud at, I could NOT figure out how to jump, and then look, THEN turn, in that sequence). But I enjoyed the process!

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From a few weeks ago. I love jumping this guy! 

We then worked on a small bending line, which rode much better. Oats was great for it, bending lines are his expertise. We strung it together into a small course, and I could feel myself fading a bit, having trouble keeping him straight to the jumps. I even went off-course and forgot where I was going… I think because of the fatigue/exhaustion that I was dealing with. (And I think that’s how I left the gate open too…).

It wasn’t the thrilling jump lesson of a few weeks ago, where we TROTTED a 2’9” warm up fence, but you know what? With my incipient weakness and limp riding, it didn’t need to be, haha. Leave that for another day. I know myself by now, and I’m fine with what each day presents.

Oats was such a good boy though, I just love jumping him! Even if he can be a little turd sometimes.

I need what you need: Lesson/ride recaps!

Rode this weekend (it was a long weekend for us, so I took Sunday off go to swimming in the river in Cowichan) and had a BLAST!

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Horse friends at the horse show from the other weekend. Summer is flying by! 

Saturday my friend and I rode in all of the fields – literally went from field to field jumping everything. It was so fun! Even the scarier fences that backed me off recently and last year (I’m looking at you, coop) we jumped. True Oats did stop at the coop once, but he figured it out and I figured out how to ride over the fence, not just to it..HA.

He was a bit silly at the gate again (a theme to be repeated in my lesson on Monday..) but no matter. We jumped a few fences in the other x-c field,including a fan jump that I at first didn’t want to jump (too high!) but then when Brenda set it up to it’s original height, I said sure no problem- and sure enough it went great!

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I have now jumped almost all of the jumps in the fields! 

From there, my friend and I rode over to yet another field and jumped a small bank going upwards. At first Oats spooked at it- WHA? What is THAT! And then he followed big brother Donato up the bank and then we did it again without Donato. Good boy Oats! 🙂

We then went into the big hay field and cantered up the hill. Oats took this to mean he can bulge his right shoulder and drag me to the gate, so we then had the opportunity to do a bit more schooling, you little jerk…

All in all, a really fun and encouraging ride. I tried things I probably never would have done without my friend there riding with me. Yes!

Sunday we took off from riding to go swimming up-Island, and then I had a dressage lesson on Sunday. The theme? Back to basics, equitation-science style. It was pretty eye opening and I came away with some things to practice (transitions using split-rein, spiraling in and out using on my hands, and turns w/o using leg, just hands). Oats was pretty good until we cooled out, and then he immediately got sticky about the gate and started threatening to rear.

I, having dealt with this, oh every single week or so? Tossed down my water bottle and started getting ready for battle. BUT here’s the switch- no battle needed. Annika asked what the problem was (Oats threatening to rear at the gate, up to the left and won’t go right) and so she said move his shoulder right then. No panic, kicking frantically, nothing. Just…right. He pops up again? No big. Go right. Up again? Easy- go right. Up again? Go right.

By taking the fuss and frantic-ness out of the behaviour, Oats gave up and went right, ha. But he is a persistent little bugger, and when I decided I was going to cool out in the arena, he immediately started trying to rear and go left again. Ah, this again. Ok. Pop up? Go right. Then forward. Stop and pop up? Go right, and then forward.

We must have done this for oh, 15 minutes or so. But guess what? I won! We then proceeded to walk calmly, and coolly, around the arena for as long as I wanted and for as long as I asked for. I went back to the gate, ‘tempted’ him to misbehave there a few times and he was fine. Darn this habit though, it is annoying!

Horses- always simple, never easy.

I guess I was overdue?

For a truly shitty ride? UGH! Last night I probably shouldn’t have ridden- there were a few omens on my way out, like a man popping out in front of my car and me not seeing him until the last minute (it’s so dark out at 4pm now, it’s crazy), a car deciding to turn left into my car- I slammed on the brakes and horn at the last second and avoided an accident…

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Me this whole freaking week.

It was cold but Oats warmed up much fresher than Wednesday. I had his cooler on, and it took flight immediately off his back in…2 seconds? I didn’t even notice it was gone it flew off so fast! I had to go look for it after our ride, as it was pitch black out and the cooler is…also black.

Our ride started off promising- some nice canter work, moving better, still some stiff-headed resistance at the trot, but moving out. We worked over some poles and I noticed he wasn’t wanting to bend either direction, and wasn’t moving out off my leg very well, preferring instead to rush and speed off instead, so I slowed it down and started asking from the walk, for head-to-the-wall leg-yields.

He did his typical ‘ok this is fine fine fine fine and…NOT FINE’ hissyfit moments. Oats is like a horse at the mall- you put your quarter in, and you get only SO much time. After that? Your quarter is up, and STOP ASKING ME. So, yeah. It was fairly ugly and annoying. We worked through it on the left side, and one part of me reallllly didn’t want to repeat that struggle of wills on the right side, but anything you do on one side..YEah, I was in for a fun time.

Off the right, he moved over so fast. So fast. Like a butterfly! Zipping over…Until he started in with his big-time hissyfit moments, and he would NOT LET IT GO. I rode for what felt like hours, just trying to get him= sideways. He ran backwards, he gnashed his teeth, he threatened to rear, he pawed the air, he banged his head on the wall (multiple times?!!), he fussed, he fought, he complained, he yanked on the reins, he ran forward, backwards, he hopped up and down. UGHHHHH.

It was so horrible. And I was getting mad, too. Lose- lose.

I finally settled with letting him go forward, and then forcing his head over to the right using impulsion, and then pushing as hard as I could with my right leg. Sort of sideways? Done, reward him with letting him go forward again. Then repeat. Then repeat, and reward.

YEEEEESH. I have no idea what prompted his level of rudeness, but jesus he hasn’t been that miserable in about a year of lateral work. I have a real feeling he thought he was off the hook for ‘homework’ and took major offense to having to do it, after some fun times of cruising around over fences and poles.

Anyways, it sucked so hard. Let’s just take some brain-bleach and forget that shitty little episode…

A challenge

I went quiet last week, partly due to a large amount of stress at work, but also due to horse stress.  Yep, they both happened on the same day…Don’t you just love it? After all the shenanigans Oats has gone through lately (stopping at fences, being a dick at horse shows, stopping again at fences, me falling off in a bad 7-day period…) things got even worse. Not for riding–that’s been fine.

He banged into the stable manager when she was taking him out of the field, and she fell into a stump. On her back. Cue a hospital visit and now she’s off horses/stable work for a good two weeks, maybe up to six now. I felt terrible when I heard about this.

Jesus. First, my horse is an asshole to jump. Now he is an asshole to handle?

I was SO OVER THE HORSE THING. All of it. All of it was putting me in a really bad mood. I felt so sorry for her, and like, just…GAHHH. Last week and hell, most of the ENTIRE month of May, my horse had no redeeming qualities. NONE.

I was furious at him, angry and so pissed off.

I rode Thursday and it was actually a fairly productive ride, but I found myself chasing him to the pole exercise I was working on…So maybe I wasn’t good at letting things go. By Saturday, I had a good long time to stew in my misery and unhappiness. When my lesson time finally rolled around, I had worked myself into a frenzy of tension. Full of ‘I don’t wannas.’

So yeah, perfect to have a lesson, right?

WRONG.

This time I verbalized what was going on in my head to my instructor, who totally got it. I’m going through some stuff right now with Oats, and I’m not feeling comfortable at all. I needed to take a step back and re-evaluate and see where things are.

And I am pleased to say I did not lose my temper at Oats in my lesson, we didn’t push my boundaries with jumps- we did a small ‘x’ and a small vertical that I quite frankly could jump in my sleep- and worked on jumping those in combination with a leg-yielding pattern. It was interesting, I was very sweaty when we finished, and I didn’t at all feel keyed up, nervous, anxious or anything.

Ending on a good note. I was pleased with how it went.

Sunday, I set up the pole exercise in the outdoor and went to practice my ‘eye’- short distance, long distance, right distance. I deliberately pushed for the long distance and actually was able to ride it- wow! And I ‘collected’ sort of held for a short distance, and was able to make it.

It was a good ride, very comprehensive. I had a small jump set up, but it wasn’t calling to me yesterday, so I left it alone. Our lateral work sucked, but what else is new? Haha. Oh and Oats had a hissy fit about a car parked behind the arena- something NEW?! Gasp! But we managed just fine.

I finished feeling pretty calm and competent. I need the practice, apparently, on making decisions. I will keep on it until I feel like I can make the right decision!

I also felt awful about the stable manager so I sent her a Starbucks gift card as a ‘get well’ gesture. That made me feel a tiny bit better.

Lollygagging

Had my dressage semi-private last night and it was HARD. The hardest part? Turning!

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Feeling sorry.

I know, weird eh? Stopping at jumps, can’t turn properly…Bring on the training wheels, Oats and I are apparently regressing to kindergarten.

We warmed up well, though I could feel his tension/anxiety in the ring looking for things to spook at and be distracted by. We then moved to leg-yield all the way around the ring with walk/trot transitions up and down and up and down…It was challenging. Oats thought he could blow through my aids, and when that didn’t work, bluff me by moving his neck in but not his haunches. He was also staring around the ring like his eyes were on stalks, argh.

I am on to you, rotten pony!

I love you this much!

Sometimes, I hate you!

He had a few ‘I don’t wanna!’ moments, throwing his head around, swinging his butt in, hopping, kicking out angrily when I was like, no actually, you ARE doing this and you WILL do what I say. We worked through it, and I was fairly pleased with the end results (not perfect but still not terrible). Until…

We went to turn left and he blew through my turn-signal and dragged me through the turn. Oh no he didn’t!

That ended the more formal part of our dressage education. What followed was just freaking strength and making a decision, on my part- this was hard. My trainer Karen yelled at us to turn left! HARD! Then GO and release! Then turn again! And turn right, and go!

Oats – and I- were getting an education in turning. He has to turn (move front feet) when I say so, and I have to pick a direction and stick with it. No wishy washing, no lollygagging, no shitty little attitude trot from him. Nothing. Drag me through the long side? Sudden HARD LEFT.

Be spooky about the right corner? HARD RIGHT.

Literally all we did was turn- and go- and release- and hard turn- and go- and release.

I was dizzy!

I lost my balance a few times even!

Trainer says he was having trouble connecting his front half with his body and his hind part. So, he’s like oh sure turn my neck and swing butt out…Middle section???!!? = profit?!

It does feel strange to ride, that’s for sure. But by the end, I was freaking exhausted and he was trotting and turning nicely.

It felt very strange to have an lesson where I literally spun in turns, and trotted out so fast I got left behind. It improved, for sure, but woah. My riding definitely feels like it is in the training wheels stage right now.

WW III on a few things: Lateral work, allergy season

UGH.

I feel like right now I am just a big ball of suffering. I am having a lot of trouble breathing, my ears are irritated (my ears people?!) and I am coughing constantly, constant post-nasal drip, running nose and sinus headache from hell.

Sometimes, I hate you!

Sometimes, I hate you!

I’m not sure exactly why my seasonal (year-round seasonal…) allergies are going completely psycho but I am having a SUPER hard time dealing right now. Suffer suffer suffer…I take two Reactine pills and they turn me into a balloon-headed zombie, and the steroids I also take DO NOTHING. Woe is me.

I rode yesterday (hence the WW III reference) and then came home and slept for 2 hours. WTF…

Oh and the riding. Well! Saturday Oats was super good, a bit pokey but generally had his game face on. We schooled some small x-rails to show off for my coworker’s husband and kids who came to say hi to Oats. It was cute, he was well behaved and a fun pony. A good time was had by all.

Sunday…

Oats vs dressage

Oats vs dressage

I was going to gallop in the field for a bit, but the wind started getting really nuts, my allergies were starting to get out of control and I was just.not.feeling.it.

The horses were kind of dingbats anyways, so I headed to the indoor to do some homework: read, lateral work, not the fun gallop Oats would have preferred. And he warmed up nicely, canter is still kind of a lousy work in progress, trot was good and his walk-lateral work off my left leg was lovely!

The right was HORRIBLE.

A battle. Like, a real struggle. I was pretty determined to not let him bully me, or scare me off, or get me frustrated, so I kept at it. He pulled every game out of his nasty bag of tricks- running backwards, throwing his head up and down, gnashing at the bit, yanking the reins out of my hands, running into the wall, hopping up and down, threatening to rear…

I grimly kept. At. IT.

I was talking to him the whole time, and I called him every name in the book, but was gently, consistently, persistently keeping at it.

I did not give up. I did not get mad and let him unfocus me.

It was going to take as long as it took, and boy, it really did. I was so done, but I also realized that in this little tempest in a teapot, if I let him get away with being a shit about this, next time I’d have double the effort to being a shit.

So, he banged his head against the wall, threw his head dramatically around, ran backwards into a jump standard, and was generally committed to being a giant dickhead.

All, rather than give in to my right leg pressure.

Yes, Oats is a freaking drama queen.

The ride that could have been short ended up being VERY long indeed. I was tired, pissed off and like…Really? This again?

When he (extremely grudgingly) gave me a few NICE steps over from my right leg, I went straight and let him stretch down long and low. He immediately snatched the reins and dramatically went to stretch but I let him go.

The whole ride took soooooooooooo long, but in the end, I was the one who won that day.

I hope Oats remembers it! I have no desire to repeat that little drama-rama.

And then as I said before, hopped up on too much allergy meds (which may actually have explained why I was able to zen my way though that miserable episode) I came home and slept for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon…