Working Equitation Day 2: Redemption!

After my sad-sack ‘dressage’ test where Oats had a head tossing freakout, I forgot where I was going and he was spooking at everything, I was determined to just let it go. Ok fine, it sucked but I’m camping in a great spot, it’s super hot out and we have trails and a pond to swim in. It could be worse!!

The gang. What a great weekend!

So we trail rode, I focused on letting it go past me and I went for some more swims…Even going skinny dipping when everyone else who was finished for the weekend went on a night time trail ride. Daring eh?? HAh it was so refreshing, I slept amazingly well despite the really loud concert going on all night in a nearby farm (and they had huge tents, a professional sound system and everything!).

The next day of course I didn’t ride until… after 2pm. Was I hanging around, biting my nails, feeling hot and festering? NOPE! I was determined to actually enjoy my experience for once. I fed Oats, cleaned his stall, longed him in the morning (he was tired) and then I went on a little run to check out where the Cowichan Trail connected to where we were the day previous. Then I cooled off with a nice swim, packed up my gear and lazily went over to think about tacking up…to find they had accelerated the schedule! Yikes!

Ease of Handling round

Ha but it was totally fine. We had lots of time still! So I tacked up, and felt fairly confident about the tracks I was planning. There was no real water obstacle, and no bank, both of which challenged Oats last year.

When it was our turn, I was fairly pleased with Oats, with the understanding that he was quite footsore on the rock hard grass, and some areas were worse than others- he couldn’t hold a good canter at all, and did a fair amount of ‘trantering’ where it was very hard. He was a good boy though and I couldn’t wait for my fav- the speed round!!

Oats is NOT fast, but he’s a canny little dude and gets really into it. When we had the speed round come up, he was great!! Of course we got absolutely blown out of the water by some of the other speedier riders and horses but he’s just SO fun 🙂 and I think he really enjoys it too!

We were in last place after our miserable dressage, and then first after Ease of Handling, to settle in second place out of three. Not bad for us and a great way to wrap up our show season. Go Oats!

Working Equitation Horse Show

And the fun keeps rolling! We did the Working Equitation horse show in Glenora a few weeks ago, in mid-August. I personally think that is the best time…even though it was extremely hot. Like, very hot for us. Last year Oats was high as a kite and a bit difficult to manage, so I was more prepared this year to work on his energy levels (though I may have overestimated them and worked him into tiredness a little early?!) guess that’s better than a nutty horse on-course.

It really is beautiful eh? too bad the grass is so dead! This is for our Ease of Handling/Speed Round course.

I took Friday off work (I have a few days to use up and MAN I am really enjoying it!!) and my working equitation trainer Shelly and I loaded the horses/gear up and set out. The Malahat is pretty much terrible any time of day, but it was particularly nasty on a Friday afternoon so it took us ages to get there (and then about 2+++ hours to get home on Sunday…eff this for a 45 minute journey…).

It was a muggy day, I had already longed and bathed Oats at home so I didn’t stress him by working him further on Friday. Instead, we got the ponies comfortable in the stables, which Oats HATED and was pissed about all weekend, feeling like he was stuck in a cage… And then we went for a swim!

The next morning came really early, it was so hot out that I was slowly roasting in my tent. I went to warm up Oats after his breakfast/cleaning his stall and he was hot hot hot hot to trot! Sooo I hopped off and longed the little turd to get his yahoos out. He did have some! THEN I hopped back on and he was a gentleman.

And then, the waiting game…

And waiting…

And by the time my dressage time was up, I was pretty over it. Hot, tired, Oats was hot and pissy, and some flies were really bothering his eyes. We warmed up fairly nicely but it was very hot and stuffy in the arena, and the minute we trotted down centreline…Oats was freaked riiiight out. His head was on a swivel, he was spooking and flinging his head wildly. I got so distracted by his wacked-out behaviours that I forgot where I was going!! I had to pull up and ask the judge (who is SUPER nice). YEEEEK. I was in such a bad mood after that piss-poor showing. ARGH.

And then I noticed that everyone was crabby after dressage. HAHAH. So true.

After, to put the bad taste of the bad test out of my head, I asked Shelly to come with us on a trail ride. She did and with a few minor Oats moments (where he runs backwards and is an ass every time we stop on the trail..) they did really nicely 🙂

And then I got to go swimming again, and start perseverating about the Ease of Handling Round and Speed Round the next day… No banks this time, thank god (our real nemesis last time!).

…To be continued!

Revelstoke!

A few years ago I went to a cocktail event here in Victoria and tried a fun pecan whiskey that was called Revelstoke because they wanted to ‘Stoke the Revel’ and man, it made me laugh every time I thought of it!

So naturally we went to Revelstoke to really get into the party scene 😉

Ok not really but after Christina Lake, we wanted to get some hiking in and my husband is a trip-planner extraordinaire (I am terrible at it, just awful) so we had something different to do and enjoy in each place. We camped for 1 night after an extremely long and kind of tough travel day (avoid Hwy 30…it’s 100km of freaking dirt road and can get very shifty for about 30kms and takes FOREVER)…. We camped at a site just outside the bridge and apparently next to the train, ha.

Marmots blend in really well to the rocks.

Not a restful night, really. Plus Gidget decided she hated camping and her max was 2 days, so she was in a deflated snit about it all day and night, refusing to eat, moping around, just nothing. Argh, dogs! The campsite was pretty lame, sites so close you could peer into your neighbours tent but it had excellent clean and nice washrooms with great showers, so no complaints there!

Ok for one night, no thanks for more- particularly if you are Gidget!

We then stayed at the Stoked Hotel and man the rooms were hilariously small- basically like a closet? Oh wait, no closet though, lol. Oh well Gidget was happy to be in a room again at last, where she belongs like a princess 🙂

Wild strawberries!

We did a small loop the first day of hiking at Revelstoke Mountain National Park (up to Inspiration Loop) and found SO many berries- it was amazing!! Thimbleberries, black huckleberries, blueberries, strawberries and wild raspberries. Lucky us! And…lucky for the bears, because we promptly walked into one on the trail. It stood up briefly, but we shouted as we walked back down the trail and it left us alone, thank god. I had Gidget in a backpack, so I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a bear encounter…Eeek.

Yes there was snow! It was a sub-alpine lake we were heading to. Eva Lake.

We then went up to the ski jump and that is a cool 1km straight uphill, hot hot hot! Did some great strawberry picking on the way though.

We had a selection of great restaurants and bakeries to go to, so awesome. We took some bakery items hiking with us for a quick lunch, and it was delicious! That night we went out to the Craft Beer restaurant for some sweet beers, mac and cheese and a lame salad (ok the salad tasted great but the dressing was non-existent?!!) So a bit of a miss there.

View from the ski jump. Steeeeep

The next day we set out for a real hike and could leave Gidget in the room. We chose a very accessible loop at the Park, and it cost $20 to drive up and hike there. It was nice to be able to like drive 30 mins to the top of the mountain and hike from there- sooo easy to access, great for hikers like us who are not serious and don’t want to spend two days doing it.

The loop was about 6m, took us to two beautiful lakes, NO bears and three marmots were sighted!!! So amazing. We walk-ran it (I am still recovering from multiple leg injuries 6 months ago) and it was pretty rocky and tough in some spots. I also tripped as I am running in shoes that are no way appropriate for hiking and almost bailed face-first into a rock. Phew!!

It was beautiful to see and a great way to spend the day. We cruised back, chatted with the Park Rangers, and they suggested another short loop to read more about the Indigenous Peoples who lived on the land. It was an informative and fun little loop (1k?) and after that, a short run back to the car for another KM and we were done!

By that time it was getting very smoky. Unfortunately there are serious wildfires and one started up at Sicamous quite close to Revelstoke when we landed there. The smoke started blocking out the sun 😦 We had the great fortune to only be there for 1 really smoky day and then we were off to Kelowna to visit my family.

We enjoyed a new restaurant that night too- the Taco Club! I can highly recommend, good but pricey margaritas with some unusual twists, and I had the burrito bowl and NO WAY could I finish it- my husband had to. Too much food! Always a good thing 😉

Christina Lake

And my vacation continues! I wanted to write more last week but work got tooooo busy. After we spent some time in Princeton (there isn’t much there, ha. We did some swimming, hanging out in the river, and running), we zipped off to Christina Lake which wasn’t too far.

The river site at the campground. Living our best life!

There isn’t much of a town there but WOW the lake, it is just incredible. So warm- the warmest I have ever felt in Canada. Remarkable! The lake is also quite large but you can access it from a few different points. They do not allow dogs anywhere near the main lake at the provincial park, so we packed up our dog and went to the next park over where there was a big campsite AND they allowed dogs at the dog beach. Plus, the dog beach was super nice- usually it’s crappy and miserable, but this one was great.

Ice cream at Christina Lake, yumm!

We camped the two nights in Christina Lake at a small campsite that had it’s own river access with a sandy beach- I can’t tell you how incredible THAT felt, it was soooooooooo awesome. We basically had our own swimming hole shared with the other campers, and it was a very quiet campsite. So fortunate! I loved it.

The lake itself- sooo inviting.

We swam, camped out, went into ‘town’ for an ice cream and generally hung out in the sun for a few days. It was blazing hot out so that was key to be near the water. So amazing though 🙂 Gidget on the other hand had some complaints about camping…To be continued 😉

Ian and Gidget at Kalso. The adventure continues…

Camping take #2~

That’s right, I have now camped more this year than in my life, basically! Ha. We went up to Stoltz pool at Cowichan River and camped from Fri-Sunday, and luckily the weather was on our side. It was pretty warm out, so we didn’t need to wear too many warm clothes and didn’t freeze our butts off at night, phew.

Can’t complain!

Saturday I still wanted to ride and let’s face it, hanging around a campsite for an entire day/night?? NOT my thing. Plus it’s a no-service area, so no phones or internet! So we zipped down to Victoria and I got to ride, and pick up grain for Oats. A win-win 🙂

Ian whittling down the sticks for my mega-marshmallows to roast!

We then had lunch (sandwiches that we made) at Spectacle Lake and it was a lovely day. Headed back to our campsite, packed up our chairs and headed to the river for some chill-out time!

Sunday it was grey and drizzly, so a good day to pick up and go I guess. Decent timing of the weather, get crappy when we’re leaving. All in all, a nice weekend to try and do something different. 🙂

Goldstream? More like COLD-stream!

This weekend after dithering for literally weeks we finally did it…We pulled the trigger and CAMPED. Now, I am no camper. I am not an outdoorsy type of person, haha. But it’s been such a long year(s) during the pandemic and we were getting bored out of our skulls after 15 months of…the exact same thing every day, every weekend.

Goldstream is local to us, 20 mins from downtown, which is awesome. We can only stay locally now due to COVID-19 rules, and we respect those rules.

Deflating the damned air mattress!

Plus it was so great, we could get all of our stuff done (riding Oats for me, climbing for Ian) and then go camp. Easy-peasy right? Ha, close.

We got there and it was quite packed, but we did manage to find a spot. We unloaded, fought with the new tent (NOT an intuitive process, that one), and then hoofed it out to see the waterfall. It’s a lovely deep pool there, but quite cold as it is under a great expanse of trees and it was windy as hell on Saturday.

We actually ran into friends who were thinking about doing an impromptu camp night too and made plans to meet up later for a COVID friendly meetup around the campfire. I haven’t seen some of these folks in OVER A YEAR! How exciting!

We then waited…and waited…and waited…for the firewood person to come by and they didn’t. I was freezing! I hopped in the car and drove to the convenience store to get firewood, freaking finally. It was great wood and we had a nice fire for dinner.

We then met up with our friends and chatted around the campfire for a few hours- it was cold! I really missed seeing people and it was so nice to see them again. It felt like ‘before-times’ ya know? Before we knew it, we were cold and it was getting late so we went back to our site and went to bed. BED. Man, that sucked. It was FREEZING, and the air mattress deflated on us so we woke up (ha, like we were sleeping at all..) basically on the ground. Not fun.

Ian pumped it up a little bit more and we snuggled back down to freeze our butts off for the rest of an unrestful morning, ha.

At least the morning was gorgeous- sunny, bright and pretty warm (not in Goldstream- it is always cold there). We had some coffee, some pancakes and our friends said goodbye! We took our time and packed up, and drove to the barn so I could have a Sunday ride and medicate Oaty. It was a lovely day, not that warm (15 deg?) but so sunny! A nice end to the weekend and a great day to try something different 🙂

Oh and I tossed out the damn air mattress when we got home. I do NOT want to repeat that experience!!

Canada Day long weekend horse camp/cross-country weekend!

Oh man, this weekend was insane. I am now feeling not great, probably coming down with something…Argh. So Canada day long weekend, Oats and I ventured up to Hi Point and rode in a Jane Stone x-c clinic and camp out. With horse games! It was nuts! Hahah.

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Fun with friends at horse camp!

Friday I had plans after work so I couldn’t pack up the trailer but the family I was hauling with generously packed up my gear from my locker. That was great, because we had to get up at 5-freaking-am to load the horses and drive up island to Hi Point in time for our 8:30 am x-c lesson.

It was pouring rain during the lesson, and woooow it was kind of a drag to have that, but you know what? Oats kept his hair on and things went really well- much improved from the first time we went x-c schooling at this venue in October. I was well pleased with Oats. No bucking, a bit sassy in the beginning but let it go quickly. He was spooky about going up on the hill, but oh well…

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All photos courtesy of Nancy.

We schooled logs, a small coop, a bunch of houses, and stacks of logs. It was great!

By the time we finished, it was time for lunch (at 10:45am). I was tired man. But no rest for the wicked! We put up the tent by the small lake – so cute- and a great location, and took the horses for a little walk-around up near the Trans Canada Trail. By evening, it was time to prepare for the horse relay games- whoop!

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My team had a swimmer, a wagon-puller (who had to pull the wagon blindfolded), the horse in-hand person (me) and the rider (who rode Oats actually, so funny!!). The person rode Oats because with the riders had to assemble the horses’s bridle (from pieces!) while the in-hand person was completing the obstacle course. Yikes…yeah no. So we got a different bridle that my team member knew how to put back together quickly and she did it and rode Oats. Success!

It was hilarious!!

We won too! Yesss..I won a small bottle of gin. Hahahha.

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We had a very nice potluck dinner by the lake, and I stayed up for awhile having some wine with the other riders. I actually slept really well (surprising) and then it was time for x-c lesson number two!

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This one was…Not so great. We started off quite well and I was happy with the warm-up course we did, but then it was time to tacked ‘the church’ up on the hill, and Oats was NOT having it. UGH! He slammed on the brakes and kind of reared-spun away…More than once. Yikes.

We wound up not being able to get over it, and so we got a lead from Oats’ best friend Joey, who boldly galloped up the hill, and over the church jump wit Oats following close on his heels. Oats would then only jump the church with Joey leading- SIGH! But at least we ended with him jumping it??

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Photo thanks to Rebecca. No photos of our church disaster though!

We then moved in to jumping a show jump with a small boat as a filler- very cute- and Oats was fine with it. We jumped a lovely course with that jump, and then moved on to the next field. The next one we had a few more stops- Oats was kind of getting backed off and was surprised by the jump. He did go over it no problem the next time though!

And then we had the opportunity to watch Joey with his young rider tackle some BIG fences in a neighbouring field- woooooow so big! And then they jumped the infamous ‘boat’ in the original field. Exciting!! And a great note to end on.

The sun came out, we packed up and it was still only Sunday!

Jump lesson turned dressage practice & camping!

So as I mentioned I had signed up for the dressage show (happening on Sunday, yeek). So instead of my regularly scheduled jump lesson on Thursday, we decided to practice run-throughs of the tests instead. I also changed my tests from Training 1 and 3 to Training 1 and 2 and run Test 2 as a ‘test of choice’ instead (it is easier!).

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

It went ok, Test 1 was kind of flubby and awkward, while Test 2 allowed us to relax more and think throughout the test, rather than jamming it forward and doing the whole thing in ‘hyper drive’ which is more my style (see- jumping every course in a show/in practice…).

I had to slow down, allow more of Oats, and relax my arms for forward motion. Easier said than done, apparently!

And then we had Friday/Saturday off because we went camping with buddies in Parksville! And what a weekend- the whole gang was there (tons of people, kids, dogs, haha) and we played SO many games- it was insane. I played more games that one weekend than I play in an entire year, I swear it!

  • Viking bowling (fun but hard)
  • Slam Ball (hard to learn, fun to do!)
  • Kick ball
  • A foot race (I didn’t partake because I ate too much, ha)
  • Werewolf
  • Antidote

I went for a run, we played on the beach, we drank and ate WAYYY too much. I actually felt kind of sick Saturday night from all the indulging and I ended up fainting at like 1:30am?! Yikes!

I was ok though, and recovered fine and went back to bed. Gidget did not enjoy camping and puked when she got home, all over floor/couch. Yuck!

It was a great weekend with fun times and hilarious company. Loved it!!

Victoria Day long weekend in Port Renfrew!

And now for something entirely different- we went camping in Port Renfrew for Victoria Day. I desperately needed to get away from my personal horse drama (that continued the week after, no thank you rotten Oats), and what better place to reconnect than the quietness of Port Renfrew.

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Ripe salmonberries

Unfortunately, everyone else on the entire island had the same idea. Port Renfrew is a hidden gem no longer. It was very busy on the campsite at Pacheedat, and we practically had a party/disco going on full blast around a km up the beach. I’m NOT kidding- it was nuts! They had generators powering huge speakers on stands, disco lights, about 50 tents in the area, and more than 100 people.

Sheeeeeesh.

Well, we tried hard not to let that ruin our weekend away. We had a good campfire going, and it was just me, my husband and our dog. A nice time. We even picked salmon berries and those were ripe already and totally awesome, if you can believe it. We roasted weenies, drank beers and just had a nice time.

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Camp-style

Do I kind of wish we’d done more? Maybe. But I was kind of fried and burned out, so it came at a great time. The next day we checked out Botanical Beach, got stuck on some rocks that led to us clambering around on them for wayyy too long (ha) and then wrapped up the day by grabbing burgers in Lake Cowichan.

A good long weekend and well-deserved break from reality.

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Dog-eye view of the campsite

30

That’s right- today is my 30th birthday~

Let the good times roll!

Let the good times roll!

I still feel like I’m 21, so it feels weird to be almost a decade older. They are right- the years do go by MUCH faster once you’re past 20 years old.

What have I learned, now that I’m 30? Some good things and some bad.

  • Hangovers are practically nuclear now. Sorry body and brain!
  • No relationship is a guarantee. Not your boyfriend, your horse, your friends or even your parents marriage.
  • Education is overrated, but still something you have to check off the box for. Do it.
  • Jobs are not a guarantee of happiness or success, and jobs are also VERY hard to get. Good ones even more so.
  • Nobody has the right to treat you poorly. Don’t stand for it, and don’t stand by for it.
  • Kindness gives back more than anything. Weirdly, the more you spend, the better off you will be for it, if it’s for the right reasons.
  • Save well. Don’t be an idiot.
  • Cars don’t last forever.
  • Travel is always worth the money. You don’t get time back, you can always make money back.
  • Always have pets. The money, sadness, heartbreak, angst and worry are worth it.

So, what am I doing now that I’m 30? Ha, nothing. Work today and my dressage lesson tonight.

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This past weekend though, I spent with some good friends camping on the beach in Port Renfrew. We had a blast, it was smoking hot, and it reminded me of all the good times I’ve had over the years with them. Made me feel a bit nostalgic, actually!

A no-pants kind of weekend

A no-pants kind of weekend

And then I rode Oats on Sunday and it was HOT HOT HOT! We rode in the indoor- and I had to chase a deer out who was cooling his heels in the hog fuel, and then cooled out outdoors to escape the choking dust. Small victory: Got Oats to go through the gate to the outdoor while I was on his back! He can be weird about gates and is quite gate-sour, so it took a bit of trying, but I held my ‘zen’ and we got through fine.

The ocean is still cold!

The ocean is still cold!

Monday I rode him out in the field (small field, not gallop field) and worked on finding my distance from a very relaxed canter/two point position. Bad habits still abound: Sitting the last stride, hinging off my knee instead of pushing my foot forward, and elbows out. Still, it was really fun and he was very cooperative!