The messenger began to believe that the message was him.

Quote I found (I believe it is a lyric from a song?) but I liked it!

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Jump lesson recap this week- MUCH better than last week. Oats was more consistently forward, though I came into the ride with a plan. Get him off my leg, the walk in the warm-up is NOT lollygagging around, and I ride with purpose, every step. Jump lessons are too precious to half-ass the beginning!

So I marched him around, got some pissy leg kick-outs, dealt with them and moved on.

Was the lesson perfect? HAHAH no. But, it was much improved and it helped me ride with ‘my horse moving underneath me’ rather than me pushing, pulling with my body moving too much. I am particularly guilty of this when I am not sure I have enough horse to ride!

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The exercises were very simple this week: Jump a line of skinnies 4-strides apart (an easy four, which of course we biffed and got a choppy FIVE sometimes…ah Oats), and a small course with some oxers. The focus was more on flow, and we got it!

I was much improved with my upper body, staying in two-point most of the ride, back with my shoulders through the corners (still had some blips but hey…better) and Oats was riding quite nicely.

It just went so much better. I was happy with Oats, and left on a real good note. Yay!

Never let go: Jump lesson recap

Jump lesson recap. Maybe I am getting my personal life mojo back?

It was good too actually! I finally got the ‘win’ I’ve been searching for. I started off feeling a blah (I am having a lot of trouble with pressure in my ears, so right now when I breathe it feels like it goes straight through my freaking ears!). Lovely.

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I am learning how to take screenshots! Still in the indoor though. Proof that we jump oxers, haha.

I was also feeling a bit jealous- the girls at the barn are all braver than me and jumping 2’9-3′ courses and here I am, wimping out at 2’3” oxers? Wah Wah WAH.

But that’s just me- I’m proud of where I am, and proud of how far the girls have come. I am doing the best I can 🙂

I felt ready to be challenged – a bit- ha, not too much. We fumbled our way through a grid, where I learned I need to sit up or we’d eat it through the last fence, with Oats not being particularly interested in oh, ‘jumping’ through the grid. I manned up and really RODE his butt through it, but the nice hands I had been slowly developing kind of went by the wayside last night in the grid. Oh well, two steps forward, one step back type of gig. Grids have always been our nemesis…

On to the course, which I am proud to say was NOT my nemesis!

We started with the grid, and then cantered over a simple single, and then over the ‘road closed’ oxer (ooh, big scary one) ha yeah, and then over a skinny bridge in an ‘s’ turn that I kind of bungled every time, to another oxer (who is this girl?) to a skinny one-stride that rode pretty much perfectly every time. Wow!

Funny enough, we had trouble with the grid, and the other girls had trouble with the oxers, where we aced the oxers (with only one stop, I just didn’t have the right striding and Oats declined, fair enough).

It was a good ride, and the course rode great. I was tempted to do it again and Nicole was egging me on to, but I decided not to. I just couldn’t chance taking a big step back when I’m kind of feeling really fragile- two go-arounds that felt PRETTY darn good was fine for me, and a big win!

Yeeha!!

Olympic dreams: Cross-country! Phase 4

Back to the plan- we watched cross-country out in the Deodoro area, which seemed like quite the trek out but after learning how far boxing was? I was counting my blessings it was only subway + train ride away! (and a long walk).

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RIO!!

The cross-country course was extremely technical and thrilling. There were quite a few falls by horse and rider but no serious injuries and everyone was up and walking immediately. This is important because the eventing community has come under fire the past few months and years due to a number of serious falls at a series of events, some resulting in the deaths of horse or rider. It is very frightening, and I was soooo glad that while the course was very challenging, it was not a killer.

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The course (it was hard to decipher)

That aside, I was in AWE of the skill, bravery and sheer balls these gutsy horse and rider combos had. WOW. Just WOW. Go you guys! It was stunning to watch and just so amazing. I loved watching so much I was super sad to leave and wanted to come back the next day…

Just amazing.

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So much power!

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Spooky? Huge? No problems!

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Keyholes…no biggie

Wow!!!

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Just love it.

These guys are consummate professionals!

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Into the other water like no prob.

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I loved this, it is a churrascuria picnic table en rodizio!

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When do you know, you know?

Ending of a tired week. So tired. I can’t figure out this crazy body fatigue I have this week, but I hate it! And the weather, while sunny, has been freaking freezing!!

Argh, when will spring actually happen?

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I want this to look small to me. Showing when 2’3” terrified me!

But aside from my tired grouching (I think I must need some days off, like more than 2 in a row due to my tired crabbiness…) I had a great jump lesson last night, and it made me wonder–when are you sure if you are mentally ready to move up?

We are rocking 2’3” courses (shh, I know this is a very small height. But I feel like I am headed to the 2’3” Olympics here!) and I’m definitely showing 2’3” next year at our winter series.

But…

One time I showed 2’3” consistently and consistently bombed it. I wasn’t mentally ready, even though I thought I was.

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Yeah this wasn’t a great show…

So, is this new-found ‘okayness’ here to stay?

We are not great at this height, but that can be said of most heights, and I still feel a bit like, gulp… when I see the jumps go up, but I feel mostly…fine. We’re even doing oxers at this height, something unheard of for me. So, am I ready? We make mistakes, pick up our reins, and move on.

Last night we worked on a course that I rode off-course a few times hahah. But we started at 2” and moved up to 2’3” without any real screw-ups! It was pretty simple, with a diagonal line, outside line, a 1-stride in and out, a swedish oxer, and the outside jump to the diagonal jump.

We even bravely took the option to ride the swedish oxer the other way to go to the 1-stride line from the other direction, and good Oats didn’t even blink! I saw another rider in the lesson before mine’s horse slam on the brakes when she re-approached from the other direction.

I like and trust Oats to make the right decision- most of the time- and honestly most of the time he’s like, yeah whatever.

Love it!

You can’t lie to yourself

Dressage lesson semi-private last night, and we had a long chat about courage and progress. I have done a lot – a LOT – of work on this particular subject matter this past year, to manage my anxiety. So, I had some things to say on this matter for sure!

 

I still have trouble managing my anxiety on occasion- and when this happens, I have to breathe, accept and recognize how I’m feeling, acknowledge it, and let myself ‘feel’ that discomfort. The more I do this, the better I get at it. It’s a journey, for sure, and we live a long life!

In our lesson, we worked on haunches-in against the wall, quickening to trot steps, then back to walk, all in the haunches-in. We struggled a bit with maintaining the angle of the haunches-in during the transition, and actually during the trot as well, but when we changed reins and tried it again on the other rein, and then went back to the original side, things actually improved!

Oats did give one sassy buck/kick out in protest, but in the general scheme of things, he was very good and getting WAY better at lateral work without big hissyfits. Ha, never thought I’d see the day when Oats isn’t the lesson’s problem child!

Instead, my lesson partner had to manage some issues with her horse that cropped up during the canter. Her horse is very good at lateral work, better than Oats, but is managing some behavioural issues right now…

And one thing struck me- you can say ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I would definitely canter, it’s just that my back hurts’ or whatever, but in the end, you are lying to yourself and your horse. It’s ok to be afraid. Hell, I spent a good, long while being afraid of various canter transitions with Oats because I got turfed off him more than once–more than I can recall actually!

When you say ”I’m fine” ”I can do this” and etc., but you ARE AFRAID you are doing yourself, and your horse a real disservice. Be honest. Accept it. Live it! Just don’t try to bluff or bravado your way through it. I can see you are afraid. When you canter, you hunch into a fetal position and your stirrups are literally rattling around instead of firmly planted under your feet! This is not the position of a confident and forward-thinking rider! How do you FEEL?

Very telling, and interestingly, our trainer asked my lesson partner how she felt when she was longing her horse, and the horse was starting to ‘come down’ from being a total jerk. The answer? ”Oh she’s starting to be submissive to me,” and my trainer said yes, that’s good–but how do you feel? That’s not a feeling! There is a mind/body connect that is clearly missing.

Don’t say ”oh that was great” when you are really, truly, genuinely afraid. Your riding gives it away BIGTIME. Horses don’t do well with this type of cognitive dissonance.

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Yes.

How did I get over my fear? Well here’s a big one–I still feel it. I now acknowledge it, and I understand how I am feeling on any given day, and it gives me the tools to manage it, and ride well with it. I don’t push it away, shove it under, or gloss over it. It exists.

The motivation has to come from inside. I don’t think my lesson partner gets it, at all right now.

It has taken me a long time to get it. Sometimes, I don’t have it even! That’s fine, it is a part of the journey and a good part of that is recognizing how far we have come even now.

Friday Fun- Halloween, and the Mane Event!

Yes that’s right- THE George Morris is going to be teaching a clinic at the Mane Event in Chilliwack this weekend, and yours truly gets to attend! (note: not ride in. I do not have the money, talent or pony appropriate to not get a serious strip torn off me by George, hah).

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George Morris

I am SO looking forward to it! The trade show, watching the clinics (Jan Ebeling is presenting as well) and meeting up with the horse girls at the barn too. Yeah!!

It is also my husband’s 30th birthday tomorrow- so happy birthday to him! hahah.

Oats was very good for my lesson yesterday and pretty good for my ride on Wednesday (though a bit spooky I don’t think he liked the hammering-down rain!).

We worked on canter poles (10ft) and then to a small course, then back to the canter poles- it was all about maintaining a rhythm and letting him ‘figure out’ what to do when things went sideways (and boy sometimes it was clumsy! And awkward!) but I’m learning to ‘sit chilly’ and let Oats figure it out. He can, he is well capable of it when I don’t get grabby and interfere. I am pleased to say our canter rhythm was very good and we met our spots nicely (except for a tricky left-turn, which is our nemesis- you can get pace OR straightness- not both!) aha. It was mentally exhausting for me though, to ‘let go’ so I wimped out a bit early –but yet having felt pretty good about how the exercise went for us.

I hope to do more work like that next week, and really build on my ‘mental toughness’ and also my ability to let go and let Oats handle more of the work, as he well capable of.

It’s hard feeling like I am ‘giving away’ control to Oats.

Mr. Oats as 'himself'

Mr. Oats as ‘himself’

I feel like sometimes I reach a stage in my riding with him that I get ‘too successful’ and then start failing immediately (usually in jumping. hmm). It’s like I’m afraid of success, and let myself fail spectacularly.

Some things to ponder!

Fall down 7 times, get up 8

The Man in the Arena speech by Theodore Roosevelt. 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.