Mr. Oats turns on the afterburners!

I had every intention of doing a pretty casual ride on Tuesday, after my Monday ride on Oats was kind of ‘blah’ and he felt draggy and lazy. He was great on Saturday, had Sunday off, was very mediocre on Monday and Tuesday? Maybe good day for some lateral work or something more technical.

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Just like this, but …in an indoor arena and not summer.

HA, or so I thought!

My legs are still pretty achy and tired from the race on Sunday so I was hoping to preserve them…Nope.

I got on Oats, began a warm-up of walk/trot/canter, with some bigger gaits and smaller gaits. He immediately began fussing and getting humpy at the canter. Hm? He swapped leads, got dramatic and cranky. Interesting…We’ll do what you want to do Oats!

What did he want to do? Gallop for 35 minutes straight.

Wowza~! In all fairness it was REALLY FUN to ride. Just going, going, going, going like the Energizer Bunny. 🙂 It is so rare for me that he has this kind of positive, pure energy. We galloped, cantered, circled (when I had enough steering power to turn better), galloped some more, more canter, and thennnn could bring in transitions without any attitude.

Funny eh? He was so sweaty by the end of it, and we had a long walk cool-out.

His breathing was great during though, and he was just so steady at the long canter. He is the smoothest! I was tired though, holy cow. My leggs…

Go Oats Go!

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Not cut out for this: Dressage lesson recap

Or maybe I should say ‘Oats is not cut out for this dressage nonsense?’?

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Me dealing with nonsense. Ha.

Anyways, I approached my regular semi-private with a bit of trepidation. My legs were so tired (from the race, natch!) and I was feeling draggy and blah. My SAD lamp isn’t working yet or something something..Not sure.

I figured it was going to be a challenge, and Oats did not disappoint. It WAS! We were working on (after a warm up) getting the horses to raise their shoulders up, head up but still with mild throatlatch bending with an end goal of having the horses moving uphill, rather than diving downhill. Or, ‘dumpster-diving’ as Karen so colloquially puts it!

Oats as it turns out is good at dumpster diving. We took this work over a pole, on a circle and on a straight line. It was…hard. We had a few flying leaps, and a few instances where Oats TOLD me to take a flying leap. HA.

In the canter I used my crop to ‘encourage’ Oats to move forward and he responded with a big buck! I sat it and we continued. We went on the circle again and he lagged- crop time! I applied it and BUCK! Another buck, haha.

Now, I was able to sit the bucks pretty easily because he wasn’t actively trying to get me off. Those bucks, no freaking way and he has gotten me off a few times bucking. This time, he was just irritated and trying to find a way to ‘loosen the load’ of me sitting on his back via a buck. It didn’t work, I stayed on and kept asking.

He figured it out but wasn’t super pleased about the work.

Oh well, a step in the progression of dressage for us. He did have some lovely stretch work at the end of the ride 🙂

Right Place Right Time: Dressage recap!

Had a semi-private dressage lesson last night, and after taking two weeks off from our lessons (but definitely not from riding) it went pretty well! We worked on developing a collected canter via lateral work, specifically leg-yielding off the wall at the trot and then trying to hold it through the canter.

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Oats gets a haircut…And it has already grown out. WTF?!!!

Oats did NOT find it easy and showed this through two ways- breaking into trot from the canter, or giving me a big flying lead change! Haha

I was very pleased with his work and his attention span. He didn’t really have any big hissy-fits, which is unusual as he kind of gets worked up with this sort of disciplined lesson. He got very sweaty, despite the fact that he IS clipped. He grew a really thick coat this year, more so than previous years, and sadly the clip is not lasting…Gah.

His attitude has been very good, he almost wins for ‘most improved horse’ in that region. I know, crazy eh? Our short leg-yields were really good (for us, ha) and I was feeling very ‘flowy’ and ‘smooth’ which can be a bit of a rarity for us.

He gets a day off today, and a day off for me too before our jump lesson on Thursday.

Hate to say I told you so: Dressage recap

So Monday I went out to the barn and did a lazy bareback walk with Oats, and then treated his newly discovered leg fungus (scratches?! how did he get that!). He doesn’t particularly like bareback riding and always gets kind of hoppy and squealy at first….Ha.

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Go Oats go! Love a keen, uphill canter.

Then last night we had dressage ride and WOW it was a challenge. Oats was feeling quite angsty about giving the inside rein, and moving off my leg for some mild haunches- out and let me hear it! It was really hard work. He hopped up and down, had some drama moments including a brief attempt at a launch and then he just…settled. Of course then we had to do it off both sides (eek) and his right rein was worse!

I even got a mega charley horse in my thigh while I was riding- a reminder to myself to make sure I have enough potassium, calcium and electrolytes if I want to run to work (4k), do sprint intervals on the treadmill at lunch (30 minutes) and then run home (4k) and then have a tough lesson. It’s hard on my body, and I need to be more cognizant of the challenges it faces on these higher activity days.

But anyways, we even did a fun exercise I haven’t done in ages- posting at the canter! I like posting at the canter a lot, and I’m quite familiar with it so I was like yessss I got this!

Oats seems to respond well to posting at the canter too, and my trainer said we could do more work on that, and she also recommended we try it jumping too. I will!

A tough lesson and a lot of work, but again I’m starting to see some real physical changes with Oats- he looks ‘longer’ which seems weird to say, lankier and less ‘ponylike’? Cleaned up his legs for the third night in a row, and then drove home and was immediately confronted by a highway at a dead standstill…Waited for 10 freaking minutes, and then followed a bunch of cars doing a u-turn across the median to catch the highway the other way, and drove back home on smaller roads. UGHHH!!! Thanks highways! Stupid stupid stupid.

Scary but good?

After coming home yesterday, freezing my butt off and roosting on the couch after a mini-intense junk food binge (seriously, I am good like 85% of the time and then eat chocolate/chips/whatever I can grab my hands on like an insane madwoman…) I did NOT want to go to my dressage lesson.

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Oats working on his buddy Rylin’s nose.

Ian reminded me how I didn’t want to lesson last week either, but when I went I was happy I had gone. I still didn’t want to go.

It was dark, I was cold, stuffed to the gills on cheap chocolate and food shame.

I grudgingly dragged myself off the couch, discarded the blanket I was huddled under, and began the arduous task of piling on the layers to go to my lesson. I resented every step of the way, from boiling water to drink tea during my lesson, to putting on my shabby, falling apart UGG boots to go to the barn. Traffic was bad, and it made me even grouchier.

I got to the barn and it was freezing. All the cross-ties were taken up, which is fine, but it’s so DARK in the stalls if I have to tack up there, so I was crabby about that too. Can’t you play ponies after school or something? Not during a time I have to tack up at night, in the freezing cold, in a big rush because I am SUPER LATE from horrendous traffic? SHEESUSH.

[I am now combining sheesh with jeezus]

Oh well, we tacked up, and my trainer was super late too, hahah.

It seemed breathtakingly cold to me- my eyes were watering, my nose running, my face freezing. My lesson-mate was riding in a vest and a t-shirt? She is totally insane!?

Oats warmed up really well actually. Moving out a lot better than I thought he would, even with the bitter cold. Hm…Our trainer recommended a lot of walk work for our lesson, to avoid stressing the horses in the cold and reducing our cool-out time. We didn’t want the horses getting too worked up and sweaty. Lateral work it is! YAy….

Oh wait, last time I did that it sucked.

Except yesterday’s lesson was different. We were very proactive, and Oats was totally on-board, despite my grouchy and miserable nature. He was super with me, and focused. We worked on developing a forward walk, to ‘quick steps’ to keeping their heads high and ‘engaged’. We then worked on haunches-in at the walk, to straighten them up, to walk-canter transitions. We took that ‘up’ canter to a haunches-in at the canter on the longside. The canter felt WEIRD?! So ..up? And leapy? Oats was all confuzzled for awhile, not sure what I wanted- lead changes?

And the leaping and confusion scared the bejesus out of both of us. We are not used to animation in the canter, and all of a sudden we had so much power we didn’t know what to do with it. Funny eh?

Oats slowly started figuring out what I wanted, and wonder of wonders, we did even end up getting some haunches-in at the canter, it was easier to the left, and not quite there on the right. But hey, it was a really neat feeling and left me wanting more more more! Good pony.

Ian was right- I did have a good ride and it was super cool to experience.

Trying is always enough

No jump lesson on Wednesday- got moved to Saturday instead (and joined my 10-item long list of things I have to do on Saturday as well, wtf is going on with my week of running errands EVERY SINGLE DAY?!).

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Ummm when do I get to be this?

Anyways I digress.

My rides then this week consisted of messing around with the best of intentions on Wed, jumping some baby jumps instead of ‘cough’ trotting jumps like I wanted to, or working on counter-bend in the canter like I was supposed to…Hey it was fun though!

I did originally trot a fence or two, but Oats literally fell over the jump and face planted quite dramatically, and it scared the shit out of me, so yeah…Canter it is!! Yay! Jumping alone!!

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My reality…

The canter was fine and the jumps were teeny, non-dramatic, and fun. We then did move on to walk lateral work, and he was pretty well behaved for it, so another win-win for us.

Thursday, I was bound and determined to finally work on canter counter-bend. I started it in the trot, working both sides bend/counter-bend before moving to canter. I had an idea that he would figure out what I was asking if I started it in trot first. And did that work? Well, sort of?

He was immensely confused about the counter-bend at the canter, and would frequently drop out of the gait into a very fast and hurried trot. Well, that’s ok. We’re trying. It required more effort from him to maintain the gait, and his balance too, and I could tell it worried him a bit.

That’s fine though, and it’s a learning process. I repeated the whole shebang on the other rein, and then played with a bit of asking for counter canter (shamefully by literally asking for the counter bend and then just going into the canter from there. Straightness? What straightness??) and it was okay…

I’m pleased with Oats’ effort, and the fact that he was willing to try instead of shutting me out entirely. He was quite sweaty after his work yesterday and it looks like clip time is coming on Monday!! (I am so desperate to get him clipped, it takes forever to cool him out and I am tired of getting home after 9pm every night!!).

Night off for both of us tonight, and the lesson on Saturday when my marathon week of a zillion pesky and expensive errands continues!!! (I am jealous of those with holidays right now. god.).

A challenge

So I went into my dressage semi-private last night feeling prettttyyy good about things. Got my saddle, had some good rides the other day, and was on a PLAN! (work on lead changes).

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What? You were expecting greatness?

Yeah, no.

I was feeling cocky, and horses are very talented at bringing you down a peg or ten.

Short story- no lead change work, in fact I couldn’t even manage trot work….When asking for a forward -connected- trot, Oats would only canter. And canter. And canter. And canter. It was exhausting, we spent most of the lesson in canter.

Why was this happening? A few reasons.

He was losing his balance at the big trot, looked for me to fix it, I see-sawed both with my hands AND my body (great move, me. Not!) and he would hop into canter to fix it. Sighhhh…When that happened, I would shift forward ever so slightly and raise my hands= go horse, go!

Except, no.

It was quite a challenge and really brought my good vibes down. But I didn’t let it get to me, it was just a of work on a night when I thought things were starting to come together for us. Sighhhhhh indeed.

Small victory: When we did this work last week, my lesson mate and I both had trouble ‘telling’ when the horses were backing off the contact at a slower trot. This week, I could tell instantly when Oats was getting too fluffy in the contact, and backing off. I couldn’t exactly ‘fix’ it very well or quickly, but I could tell!

Small wins, I guess. Story of our life, hahaha.

Oats desperately needs to be clipped. He was SOAKED in sweat after. I had to cool him out for hours!! UGH..