Music for the long emergency

Sooooooooo…Work is crazy right now, and that is due to the emerging coronavirus. I am assisting on the file (it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ thing right now), and making life extremely difficult for many, and in some cases, deadly. It’s a real challenge, and while I don’t want to dismiss fears, the risk we have here on the Island is very low. I do accept that the impact will eventually come here- like the flu, like H1N1, it will spread and sort of becoming ‘the norm’ but right now? Yeesh. Also I can be a bit paranoid, so having this be my ‘all day everyday’ existence is difficult.

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Bright side to the weekend: Doughnuts and sunshine!! 

But anyways, my normal life is fine actually, with a few dramas. Oats got out of his pen twice this weekend- 1 time on Friday night after I rode, where I SWEAR TO GOD I double checked his latch. I have never, ever left it open.

The other boarder suggested his horse might have opened it by playing with the gate. I thought that might be it, but my trainer said it’s really unlikely, but that I probably forgot to do up the gate. Ok, but yeah…

Until Sunday night it happened AGAIN! And I was not at the barn on Sunday- at all! And even worse- he got out past the external fencing, that leads to a MAJOR ROAD. WTF?

I was pissed. And it’s definitely the new horse neighbour messing with his gate that caused it to open both nights. So, there is a new chain, and mercifully Oats is ok. Phew!

And in other annoying news…Oats was stiff, balky and shitty on THur/Fri, and I found out why- and it’s twofold- 1. He needed his feet done like, 2 weeks ago. Bad me. I thought he was fine, and he just…Wasn’t. This is entirely on me.

2. He was playing too hard with his horse friend, and was sore. He felt prettttty terrible on Thur/Fri. Thursday I chalked it up to him just being stiff, but on Friday he felt awful- moving laterally, balking, stiff, stopping. It took about 45 minutes of riding to warm him up enough to feel ‘ok’ but not great.

The farrier came out on Saturday and trimmed him up, and then I rode. He was definitely improved from Friday (no tripping!) but his left lead canter still felt like a bag of crap. His trot work was almost back to 100%. He then had Sunday off (to escape…) and then I am riding tonight. Fingers crossed that he is back to his old form by now!

Man, Life. Just…ah.

Golden State

Second dressage lesson in a two week period for us–I had scheduled it that way because I think my week coming up might be too busy to try to squeeze in another dressage lesson.

And Oats was really good! We had some moments of great ‘try’ and some of awkwardness (his head-tossing feeling blocked at the trot). We even worked on some no-stirrups canter, upon which Oats immediately went down to trot when I kicked off my stirrups. Apparently the change in seat pressure is a big trigger for him–he thinks I’m at risk of falling off, so he slows right down? Hahaha! He takes care of me (sometimes).

We worked on no-stirrup canter, to sitting trot, to walk transitions. It was a good, wholesome and very thorough ride. In the walk work, we threw in a few straight lines, working with the mirrors to determine if we were actually straight or if he was moving his butt around too much–a lot of that actually…Also something interesting- instead of wanting to come down and through his body in the canter, Oats tossed in a few swaps to right lead from the left. WTF Oats? And you say flying lead changes are too hard, and you’re putting them out right left and centre to avoid giving to the bridle? Gak! To fix this, Karen had me make sure he didn’t have the opportunity to bring his nose outside on the left rein and it mostly fixed it, though I could feel him wanting to swap instead of come down.

The trot work that got kind of wonky was when we did a fair amount of canter, and then in the trot Oats got SO balky and head-tossy…And like was hopping up/down instead of striding forward. To fix that, Karen suggested I move my elbows forward to ‘give’ to him a bit, and kick kick kick him on! He was just feeling ‘blocked’.

It took a little bit, and I had to release my defensive position to enable some success here. Interestingly, my defensive position comes into play when stuff like this happens, probably because a tiny part of me doesn’t ‘trust’ Oats to make the right decision, ie- forward.

Despite my non-trusting, he worked out of it and we got some FAB trot.

Then, hilariously, we worked on this weird exercise called ‘make the horse crazy’ haha. The idea is to use your seat – VERY firmly- to PUSH the horse forward, as much as you can. It’s great for using a driving seat and for re-training riders like me who get defensive and tend to perch forward when they are unsure. Oats didn’t respond like crazy – ha, him? Nope…But we did eventually get enough forward to canter from that one seat direction. Cool eh? Karen did caution us to not practice this at home. It has to be done under direction, because it can backfire if you do it incorrectly. Noted!

 

 

Happy Halloween!

Yep it’s that big day again- and it’s on a Friday! Yeah~

Jack O'lanterns

Jack O’lanterns

In honour of Halloween, we are making caramel apples. Yumm…I’m really looking forward to them. We did that awhile ago- probably like 7 years ago with friends, so it’s kind of a fun re-enactment.

I also love spooky movies if you hadn’t guessed, so we have been watching some good ones on Canadian Netflix- recent standouts include We Are What We Are, Resolution (it was ok, still not completely sure how I feel about it) and the Den– which was excellent.

I also highly recommend VHS, which is not available on Netflix but worth the search- Netflix has VHS 2 for some reason…It’s not as good.

Oh and I enjoyed The Sacrament by Eli Roth and Ti West. It isn’t as good as it could have been, but pretty well done nonetheless.

So yay Halloween! It’s rainy and pretty miserable here, makes me sort of glad I’m too old to trick or treat haha,

Oh and an Oats update from my lesson with Nicole yesterday- Wow. It was a toughie.

I got pretty worked up, he actually cow-kicked out when I first got on for some reason?? And he felt pissy, AGAIN.

Pissy, rude, balky and bucky. Wonderful…We were NOT CLICKING at all. I was getting madder and madder, ready to spit nails. I was frustrated, and annoyed and like- I can’t be doing all this work to keep GOING BACKWARDS?!!!

Our run through the gymnastic was sloppy, we weren’t in sync for anything, and I was just so.pissed.off.at.him.

So….What did we do? Well, as I recall very recently- ”When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Encouraged by Nicole, I took a few (a lot) of deep breaths and just keep plugging away. And did it get better? Yes. Did it get great? Nope! Not at all! Was it the lesson I *thought* I was going to have? A big NO to that one too!

So…A few good takeaways (even though the bitter, curmudgeonly part of me is still a bit incredulous about Oats. WTF pony? I hate you sometimes!!). It felt like I was trying to literally push him up a hill the entire lesson. He was so resistant, and fussy and balky. And the rude kind of balky, that makes me worried that he’s going to start bucking and NOT STOP until I’m on the ground.

But, before I get dragged into the bad, here is the good!

– I didn’t let my anger at Oats take over my whole lesson. True we had a few hissy fit moments, but we didn’t let it go overboard.

-I continued the exercises and completed them and they DID get better.

-I managed to trot a circle jump even after we blew it at the canter. Baby steps?

-We got more in-sync as we progressed.

-He didn’t buck! He had a few hiccupy, hissyfit moments. But no big EFF YOU bucks.

Curious…very curious progress(?????????) I use that word skeptically and with MUCH questioning it.

Oh and my dog was sick all night- luckily my long-suffering husband dealt with her but jeeeeesus. So gross. So annoying. Poor Gidget!

Apple chips and other fun!

So, this is kind of an alarming day- if anyone follows the news, it’s frightening over in Ottawa, where I grew up and where my family still lives and works…

But the good news, is that they are fine and things are contained. I’m very glad.

To keep my mind off things, I thought I’d recap my lesson yesterday with Karen (good!) and also I made some tasty apple chips on the weekend with my mother in law’s dehydrator and they were great!

apple chips

apple chips

So the lesson yesterday- we worked on getting the bend and if it wasn’t working on the left, we switched gears and worked it on the right- switched to left- switched to right back and forth.

We then trotted a straight line through two cones (that got bumped and banged out of place SO MANY TIMES haha) and eventually worked up to leg-yielding left and then right, and then back to left and then back to right. We did this on both sides, and leg-yielded from both sides depending on what bend we had (inside bend- leg yield left, outside bend- leg yield right)/ It was good, we worked HARD!

We then worked on the exercise at the canter and I did feel anxious- he felt balky, felt like he wanted to do his prop-buck exercise- but we worked around it. So that was good! It just feels like when he gets tired and the right lead starts feeling like too much work, he goes WAY OVERBOARD in his reaction. Like, get off now! Instead of, this is tough! We also focused more on ‘letting him stretch’ his neck down at the canter instead of propping and getting high-headed and ready to launch- with some success.

And frankly it intimidates the heck out of me, how would you like getting bucked off?

But- we are working through it. It never escalated to that point yesterday, and Karen said we got some great leg yield work out of him, probably the best we’ve gotten yet!

So that part is indeed a work in progress. Sigh. Like all things in my life…