“Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s day-to-day living that wears you out.” Anton Chekhov

As I mentioned yesterday, we are in the middle of an on-and-off tropical storm (for Canada, we’re probably the warmest place in the whole country right now at 13-17 degrees!) so it’s definitely wet and windy.

I was kind of dreading my lesson yesterday- I wasn’t sure about Oats behaving himself in dressage, and our canter in these lessons leaves a LOT to be desired. Ie- I have no desire to get bucked off again…

Oats vs dressage

Oats vs dressage

So, I told Karen straight out that it makes me anxious, that I feel like I don’t know how to handle it (the canter, transitions, his naughtiness) when things go sideways. She listened and was like there are many different roads to Rome, per se, so we can work the issues you have at the canter at different gaits (ie- walk/trot) and set those ‘rules’ in place, so when you do canter, you’re not suddenly faced with trying to fix problems, or running into ‘scary’ situations where you’re set up to fail- get bucked off.

One such issue- him balking, getting light in front at the canter, and either launching into a buck, or swapping his leads. This is caused by him being behind my leg, bigtime. And the cure is more leg, and/or crop…Which can also equal a buck. So what to do?

Well a big clue is that he also does this at the trot. So….We worked on getting the ‘rules’ in place at the walk, then at the trot, and then increasing my ‘ask’ from the trot by 5%, and 10% more. It was tough, not gonna lie. We STILL ran into the ‘balking, pissy, wanting to get light’ issue at the trot when I asked for bend and forward. The forward got lost in his ‘balk’ and lightness in front.

But, a bonus was that he did seem quite interested in moving up to canter on his own- ie, the trot work was challenging, so cantering was starting to look like the easier option, rather than the canter BEING the hard option.


I was sweating, got a mega leg cramp (ouch!) and worked pretty darn hard at the trot, harder than I can recall in recent memory. We really put the screws to him, and challenged him at the trot, to set up a better response for when I start asking for more canter work without getting scared off or intimidated by him.

I felt a bit cranky, like why haven’t we progressed beyond this? Why do I still have this dressage-fear with him?

Funny, but I guess we ARE making progress. It’s just incremental, not linear, but it’s there.

Ah well, horses.

“Be gentle in what you do, and firm in how you do it” Buck Brannaman

So, weekend recap. I normally like doing these on Tuesday, because sometimes Mondays are just.too.damn.difficult to wrap my poor brain around, let alone blog coherently on the same day…

Friday night, I rushed after work to set up for the craft fair at my friend’s place. Made it home around 6 p.m., slapped makeup and a dress on, and we cabbed to my husband’s work Xmas party. We had a great time! Drinks, casino games for charity, food, dancing…What’s not to like! I had been feeling tired, generally put-upon and draggy but just felt totally livened up!

Fancy Christmas party!

Fancy Christmas party!

We got home around 1 a.m. and then the next morning up bright and early for the craft sale.

I was tired, no doubt. It was kind of a long day, but I sold all of my products with three exceptions: 1 lip scrub and 2 foot scrubs. Not too shabby!! I’m not sure if I will do it again, I liked making them more than selling them, to be honest.

Craft sale- bath/body

Craft sale- bath/body

No Oats riding on Saturday, as I was at the craft sale for the whole day!

Sunday I went riding and Oats was in rare form…Excited to go down to the ring, squealing a bit and kind of jumping around on the way down. Part of my brain was like hmm…Should I have been longing him before I ride, as he’s had two days off?

Anyways, he settled down fine in the ring, with only a few head-tossing moments when Donato was thundering behind us in the canter (large horses cantering with us is a FIRECRACKER moment for Oats, and he generally starts losing his shit when that happens) so I pulled him back down to trot to prevent any major bucking or leaping sprees.

He was pretty good though, otherwise. We worked on straightness at the canter on the diagonal over a pole, and then trotted a small vertical (funny, we first trotted to it and he slammed on the brakes, he -and I- had gotten distracted by someone walking past the indoor arena waving a blue jacket!) But we pulled it together, and re-approached from the right facing away from the open side of the indoor and did it twice, successfully.

He was so tired after though, I was surprised my little Oats was huffing and puffing. To think of it, I was sweaty and out of breath too! hah.

We are apparently in the middle of a tropical storm right now, so I expect tonight’s lesson might not go…smoothly…But we shall see!


Don’t you know what regret looks like?

Don't you know what regret looks like?

Actually, despite my weirdly gloomy title, things are fine with Oats, and well, with life too!

I did feel a bit sad about the memorial I attended this weekend. It’s just hard. And I think it will continue to be hard for some time.

It made me thing, while I was furious at Oats for being a psycho at the show, does it really matter? I am lucky enough to ride my pony when I want, in good health both he and I. Occasionally we get to horse show! And when it goes well, that’s even more lucky! How great is that!?

So why do I constantly want more, get pissed off when it goes sideways, get so nervous my hands shake? Oh, that’s the million-dollar question.

But after the memorial, life is too short to get gloomy and down on myself for something I actually ENJOY doing. It’s tough, gritty and takes my breath away (when I end up holding it for an entire jumping round!!) but there’s nothing I can compare it to.

So, bad day at the show? Well, there’s always another chance. If you’re lucky enough to own a horse, you’re lucky enough.

Rode Oats for a bit in the outdoor yesterday and he was good as gold, I was VERY careful to not push him too hard- just a little bit of canter, trot one jump (that he cantered) and a bit of transition/trot work. He was so good!

Lessons this week- might do two!


“When he gets up in the morning and sees his dirty face, he sets about washing the mirror”

So, rode Wed and had a jumping less on Thurs.

Let’s start with Wednesday. Howlingly windy, blustery day but still quite sunny. So, I ventured off to the outdoor arena and immediabely began second-guessing my choice. SPOOKY! OMG! The harrow is there? A hay bale? Geese? Yeah, Oats did a few running away quickly spooks, and then a few backing-up-in fear spooks, and then 1 or 2 leap sideways spooks.

We did get some jumps in, and they were not great- chip in, or leave long and get left behind. ARGH! We did 1 outside line neatly, and then twice clumsily. SIGH!

We did hop over a cavaletti that was festooned with crazy crap though, and he didn’t give it a second look. He did, however, jump sideways at nothing.

So, after a final jump through of the line and the cavaletti, I hopped off and finished my ride in the indoor. I didn’t want to ACTUALLY fall off!

He was good as gold in the indoor.

Thurs- Lesson day! We started in the outdoor- again a cold and blustery day (how is this summer? I’m effing freezing!) and Oats VERY reluctant to move forward at the canter- like, I was struggling. My trainer suggested we move to the indoor and I look at getting front shoes for Oats, because that kind of reluctance can indicate foot-sore.

So, we are now getting shoes!

In the indoor, we moved straight into jumping. The exercise was 1 fence on the long side, ride a circle over a small fence, loop back around to the diagonal, and finish on another diagonal. Easy, right? Umm…

We got a few stops at the final diagonal because (if you remember my post on Tuesday about Oats stopping at the tiny fence) I WAS NOT STRAIGHT AT ALL.

How did it get this bad? Waahhh?

He physically couldn’t get over the jump because he was bulging to the right so much. What the hell man?

So, that mystery was figured out, anyways.

We worked over it using poles set on a diagonal V shape against the jump and really got Oats to GO! More pace!

Working over the course again, we got over that tricky diagonal fence (not tricky at all, but some reason really screwing with me) and landed falling-in too much. That meant our turn to the circle fence was messed up- we were on the wrong lead, too close to the turn. I pulled for the turn anyways (YIKES!) and Oats almost fell! He slipped BIGTIME.

My coach yelled, that was a BAD DECISION!! YEEEah you don’t need to tell me that! Holy shit!

We righted ourselves, picked up the canter, rode the circle jump and continued on our way. PHEW!

Ended ok but not great, but sometimes you need those super-gritty rides to figure out that no, you’re not going to DIE jumping, but sometimes it gets ugly. And that’s life. Deal with it!

Oats was a good pony though, for not actually falling on me. Ha.


Finding a distance: Riding updates with Mr. Oats

Finding a distance: Riding updates with Mr. Oats

Without further ado…Every ride I have on Oats is a good ride. I want to tell everyone that when they ask how my ride went! Yay!

Saturday- Rode during a lesson…Having trouble remembering what exactly we did. Oh, now I remember- raised canter poles on each diagonal. This was interesting for Oats, because it was set up to ask for flying lead changes. Oats was having none of that! He cantered through well, and knocked a lot of them flat. He did get one change though…

Sunday- Worked harder than I thought I was going to! Did some really nice canter work, and cantered over a crossrail a bunch of times. Thought my legs were going to fall off…

Tuesday- Watched a friend ride in her lesson, and she was having a bit of an off day. You know those days, when the ‘never stops’ horse is stopping with you? When you see a great distance…and seemingly forget to ask for it? Yeah, I’ve had those. It was tough, because she is a good rider, and things just weren’t clicking for the two of them.

Rode Oats a bit during, felt kind of blah…And then, when they finished, I asked my coach to drop the rails off a few of the fences so I could play around with them, and it was FUN! We trotted a few, cantered a few, and just had a good time. They thought Oats looked cute (yes, hacking with an audience…not always something I enjoy, but it’s nice to get feedback!!) and then we cantered over one of the haybales jumps that I had my coach leave up. We nailed it!!


So that’s the week so far with Mr. Oats! A friend braided his forelock and he looked ADORABLE. I will have to load that photo up.


Throwback Thursday: Riding up north

Throwback Thursday: Riding up north

Yes, I used to live in the Yukon! In Whitehorse, to be exact. And it always struck me as very funny that a place that has ‘horse’ in the title could be so….backwater when it came to real horses.

To be fair, I was moving to YT directly from Vancouver, which was a pretty horsey place (I lived in Burnaby, and rode at the Burnaby Horsemen’s facility). It was awesome!

Yukon? Not..so…much. People here tended to keep their horses outside all year, didn’t have stalls, barns or tackrooms (all creature comforts I was DEFINITELY used to!) and definitely not many arenas or indoor arenas. Actually, the first indoor arena in YT opened up while I was there, crazy eh?

And it gets extremely cold. -44 cold. And it was -30 for literally months at a time. People seemed to yahoo around in the bush all summer, their horses sat outside doing pretty much nothing in the winter, and then they hopped back on. Needless to say, the horsemanship I saw wasn’t overall great.

There were standouts though, and from what I understand, they competed their horses at QMS during the school year. Every year, at the ONE horse show offered in Whitehorse, they were the only riders who looked flat-out fabulous. Everyone else was kind of a scary shitshow.

I was genuinely concerned when I watched the hunters over fences and equitation classes.

Anyways, here’s myself and a big ol’ appy Josie. Not sure what her story really was, but she was pretty cute, green to jumping but very honest. We placed ok at the show, from what I can recall- and trust me, winning ribbons that said Whitehorse horse show was worth it- where else will I ever see that again? Haha.

I rode her in a dirt arena, and sometimes we hauled to the new indoor arena. She did get really sour as a lesson horse, and I eventually stopped leasing her when I started getting blamed for her bitter attitude. Forget that! I bought Mr. Oats, and moved back to Victoria…Which feels like a freaking horse mecca compared with Whitehorse.

So anyways, here’s the two of us in a hunter hack class- we wove drunkenly up to this fence and I was frankly surprised she jumped it! haha.


“And my good dreams? They all come with a velvet muzzle and four legs. All my good dreams are about horses.”–In Colt Blood

Here’s a quick Oats update:

No ride Thursday (had the Mounties concert instead).

Saturday: I was a bit hesitant because Oats had two days off, and I was wondering if he was going to be a wild man. I didn’t longe him, and was thinking if I was going to regret that the whole way down to the arena. But you know what? He was great. I had a fantastic canter going, so round and I felt like I could control every stride of it. I cantered in to a crossrail and could measure our strides exactly…It felt like a breakthrough ride.

Sunday- Rode a bit late due to my running going late. That meant we were in the arena during a few lessons, so I felt a bit more frazzled. No matter, he gave me some really nice canter work, our transitions were ok on a circle (when I wasn’t dodging anyone?!!!) and we got to watch a few riders go. On the whole, he was ok. We did have another epic battle of wills when I started pulling his mane again….aRGH. Haha. My husband asked why I spent three hours at the barn. THREE Hours? Jesus! I didn’t even realize I was gone that long!!!

Yikes! I’m too horsey, I think!


Throwback Thursday & a Week of Mr. Oats

Throwback Thursday & a Week of Mr. Oats

Here’s me and Lucy again, it looks like it’s time stamped for July 15, 2006. Loved that girl! She was such a lovely ride. We enjoyed our time together at Bear Hill very much.

Now on to my current beast…Hah I can barely remember my rides from the weekend, but they were pretty good I think…

Saturday– Flatwork with Oats, as we rode during a beginner’s riding lesson. I was expecting to feel bored by it, but in my work with Oats getting increased contact, our flat rides have actually felt HARD. They are physically a LOT of work!? What the heck? No horse-shaped balloon here. We did transitions on a circle; trot-canter-walk-trot-canter-walk. And it was tough!

Sunday– Hmmm now I really can’t remember… Oh wait, I wanted husband to take some pics or a video, and promptly rode Oats over a few small fences set up (haybales, x-rails, and a few verticals 2′) and he was great! We even trotted a small 2′ oxer! And no husband…So, no pics. He came down to the arena as we were cooling out. Booo!

Tuesday– More flatwork on a circle. Transition, some nice canter work that felt pretty connected. Trotted a vertical. Oats had a lovely canter.

Wednesday– Group lesson with Sarah and Donato. Yay! Oats was a tad cranky at Donato (who is this monster running up behind me???) but he can deal with. I was very proud of our canter work- over the ‘death circle’ of poles that foiled us many times in the past in the summer. Our canter has gotten SO much better, it felt great! We moved on to trotting, then cantering a crossrail, then working over a small course of 4 or so jumps. It was great! Donato was a very fancy jumper, just a bit quick.

So that’s our week in an nutshell. Taking today off (I do usually ride Thursdays) because I am going to a Mounties concert! YEAH!!!


Friday Funny- Worm Yoga? Oh, it’s ‘Warm’ Yoga. Hm.

Friday Funny- Worm Yoga? Oh, it's 'Warm' Yoga. Hm.

<<strong>Much less interesting!

I misread a sign on the way to work the other day, and it made me laugh so hard!

Also, I love this rabbit photo. It reminds me of a younger Buster Bunny. So cute!

And a quick update on Oats:

Tuesday– He was good, we worked on a bunch of poles, to the skinny bridge, over some small fences. He quickly learned that he could fake me out over the bride because I didn’t put up wings to block him. So, I rode it the other direction-bridge-bending line- pole and it looked sufficiently new, so he couldn’t fake out and pretend to jump it.

Wed– lesson! We worked HARD. Canter poles, lengthen – shorten- normal. Then cantering over a series of poles set at a normal stride length, to a small hay bale jump. We kind of failed at setting up for flying-lead changes, as he wasn’t off my leg enough, arghh.

Thurs– Oats felt surly, like if I made the wrong move, he would buck. So, I tempered my expectations and just hacked around, and wouldn’t you know…He didn’t have a chance to get angry and buck. Did some canter circles, transitions, trotted a cross-rail. He was ok afterward, looked fairly decent. What attitude sometimes though!

Looking forward to the weekend, as I am registered in a sports psych workshop at Greenhawk!