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 ūüôā

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!

A rust-buster show with CDRC

A few weeks ago we finally went to a show, in a month where despite my best efforts, EVERYTHING got cancelled on me. ūüė¶

Best buds!

Games day with the horses? Cancelled, not enough entries.

Bachelorette party? Cancelled, bride got COVID.

Movie I wanted to go see? Left the theatres.

And so on…ARGH.

But this is the one thing that actually happened this month. And it went very well, both horses Donato and Oats were superstars and didn’t put a hoof wrong. My scores are not competitive anymore, and I am not entirely sure what to chalk that up to?

  • Performance anxiety?
  • Not able to replicate the homework we do at home in the ring?
  • Oats aging?
  • Me losing focus?

Whatever it is, it’s going on at every show we go to. SIGH. He is very well behaved but we just don’t have magic anymore. Regardless, it was a very nice day and super fun to get out there with our buds. We missed them so much over the years of injury + COVID that despite our lacklustre scoring, it’s just nice to be out, doing the things we love to do, you know?

Comeback kid?

So I deliberately haven’t been updating my blog because I wasn’t happy with what I was writing (read: ALL ranting). Gosh, it was too much even for me! I don’t like being a black cloud. And it felt like my entire summer leading to fall was just so…Disappointing.

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Dressage day. My friend did the braids, aren’t they cute?

But, as my counselor says, the path to enlightenment is long and sometimes hard. And once you’re on it, you can’t really get off it!

So, here is a recap of my season-ending horse show. And as a tale of two horse shows, it went well, and badly! Ha. I had two kind of lousy riding lessons the week before, back-to-back. They were technical and I just felt…Like I didn’t know how to ride anymore. That was a marked difference from my last show (CDRC that is) when I felt like I was on top of the world! Nothing could bring me down!

And now, I’m down. I felt deflated and uninterested in going. But I also didn’t want to bail on my friend, who I really enjoy showing with. Sooooooo…My headspace was kind of ambivalent. And I am not really an ambivalent person.

Saturday was dressage, and I was a bit anxious about it, because our last dressage outing, Oats was tense, anxious, gassy as heck and acting strangely. It worried me a lot! It was terrible. This time? Our first test sucked, he was distracted and tense through his neck/poll, but ok, fine. Our second felt lovely, enough though I forgot how to ride the counter-canter loop on the second pass and he swapped! Shit!! BUT the rest of the test was lovely, and I was super happy with Oats. We won the class with a 67%, which was very reasonable, and we were third in our first class with a 64%, which was fair. The judge was pretty tough, but I found my scores to be right in line. The classes were quite large! About 13 rides in Test 1.

Our jumping the next day, well…I was ambivalent as I mentioned, and it was pissing down rain the whole time. UGH. I so did not want to be there, getting soaked. Oats felt the same, I guess, because he stopped at SO many jumps. Shit!! Needless to say, we’ve had better, and quite frankly, been better prepared. I should have left my ego at the door and gone down a level, but I didn’t. So, I learned something more about myself and my horse- if in doubt, knock one down. There’s no harm in it.

Lessons learned, all!

Here’s to a more productive, learning September and fall. I guess it can only get better from here?

Cruel Runnings

This week was objectively much better than last! I’m feeling good, had my last day of shockwave and am now on a three-week trajectory to hopefully being able to run pain-free without flare-ups again, so why do I feel so ambivalent?

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I just want this good feeling back! Plus I miss the nice weather…

I have a horse show this weekend, and my lessons this week have been so…awkward that I am starting to not look forward to riding in it. Weird eh?

We worked on some technical polework in my lesson Wednesday and while hilarious, it was definitely a challenge (Oats was convinced we were JUMPING and why did we have to canter each pole nicely? Why??)…And then in my lesson yesterday, I just felt so stiff and disconnected and annoyed with Oats, who in turn ALSO felt stiff and his canter felt more like a bunny hop than a canter…It was not great. Our steering was miserable, his canter felt bad, I got really backed off in the grid-pole exercise and couldn’t focus.

Kind of a deflating few lessons. I like having super great power lessons to leave me on a confident high before my shows, but this week? Ha, NOPE.

I came out of my ride yesterday not really feeling disappointed (look, polework is tough for both of us, and I just couldn’t get in to the rhythm!), but feeling extremely ambivalent about riding in the show tomorrow. I just wanted to scratch.¬†Sigh…

But when I get down to it, my goals for the show aren’t really anything? I want to have a fun time with my friends, and enjoy the companionship with my horse. If anything, I had a fabulous few rides last week and the weekend with Oats, so why does the impending horse show throw me in such a tizzy? Am I letting the pressure of it get to me, even if my goal is pretty much- show up, don’t embarrass yourself and learn something good!

Trying to puzzle out why I’ve felt so stiff, awkward and blah this week! I fee Oh well… I’m going to ride tonight, and for me the hardest thing about riding is to enjoy it and not make it a ‘workout’ for me and the horse. Tonight will be a test for me- can I be fair about it, and just cruise?

 

Just Give In/Never Going Home

Dressage semi-private (I know, what am I doing stacking them back-to-back?) last night. I’m stacking them because I have a dressage show up in Cowichan on Sunday, and need the practice (hah) and also because I have two events on upcoming Tuesdays and will be missing both riding and lessons.

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Totally us right now. So, where are the next Olympics?

Yesterday was actually a really good, solid and enjoyable lesson. Typically my Tuesdays are grinding, tough, sweaty and incredibly physical lessons- I have gotten serious Charley horses in my legs/hips in them the past two weeks! But this week, we focused on getting the horses listening, straight, and then reaching down and ‘calm’ through the walk, trot and canter, and a touch of counter-canter.

It was really nice! Oats enjoys this type of work and finds it very easy, for him. I think stretching down really speaks to his way of going normally, and he could dig in and really get it going last night.

Counter-canter was funny- I didn’t expect it to happen, and it did perfectly. And then I thought too hard about it, and it didn’t. How does that work? Well, I was trying to ‘manufacture’ it and trying too hard, obviously! When I let my expectations and effort -go- I was able to let it happen.

It was a really nice, calm and thorough lesson.

Ripoff report: Horse show edition

Now, I’m typically a hard one to surprise, cost-wise with horses (newsflash: everything they do, wear, eat, train for or participate in is insanely expensive.).

But, I’ve recently come across a new one that really bugs me. The ripoff horse show.

I do a few local- emphasis on¬†local schooling shows hosted by great organizations or stables, and am proud and happy to share their names so that others can experience them at a more or less reasonable cost. They’re not cheap, nothing in horses is, but again, fairly reasonable.

These are:

  • Vancouver Island Appaloosa Club horse shows– don’t let the name fool you, they’re open to all breeds, friendly and nice. Good way to get into showing, offer very soft jump heights (for the wimps like me!!) and hack classes. Avg. $10 a class for non-members and I think $7/class for members? Cheapest game in town.
  • Sooke Saddle Club: They offer normally two ‘Show and Tell’ dressage days that are, quite frankly, a steal at the price. For $35/test, you get to ride your test, have the judge come out and put you through the wringer in the best possible way, and then you ride it again and they judge it again. I normally do two tests, so I have 4X opportunity for learning. It’s amazing!
  • Westside–I kind of hesitate with these guys–they are kind of the only game in town sometimes for shows in the off-season, and they aren’t really very cheap- think $20/class, and a $20/admin fee, but the venue is good, the courses are designed well and they have pretty good judges, from what I remember.
  • Foxstone–They only do 3 winter series shows, $45/div and a $20 admin fee- they are very reasonable and the facilities and course design are top-notch.
  • QMS–Offer both H/J and Dressage schooling shows, quite reasonable, good course design and seem to normally run on time. No quibble with these folks.
  • CDRC– SO cheap! Love them! Jumper classes are no-frills run at $10/a class, and their dressage is¬†similarly¬†no-frills but mega affordable.

And now to the rant part…

Westside has decided to offer a dressage show and tell, similar in format and the same judges that Sooke Saddle Club offers. I give them kudos for recognizing a need in the off-season, as Sooke doesn’t have an indoor arena and isn’t able to offer Show and Tell in the ¬†winter. BUT…

The prices are ludicrous. A total money grab from my view (remember, this is my personal opinion) at $50/test and the nerve to tack on a $20/ring fee. Plus, you only get to ride the test once, instead of like Sooke where you sign up, ride, get your ass handed to you by the judge in a mini lesson, and then immediately ride again. So, double the cost, minus the test. No way José.

So, there’s that. Interesting chutzpah on their end but I will not be parting with my $$$ for that. For others, fair enough, it’s their dime.

Also- I saw a poster for a Halloween jumper schooling show at a local stable – Echo Ridge, which used to be called Oak Meadows, (local, like I could walk to it with Oats…) and was¬†VERY interested. Until, I saw how much they were charging for what amounted to:

  • No real course designer
  • Tiny indoor arena to host the course- that also appears to be the only arena, no warmup ring??
  • Who is the judge?
  • No prizes/ribbons???
  • Oh wait, it’s a jackpot style class, so first place gets $8 and it goes down from there. So you can’t even make half of what the class costs back in prize money?
  • Charging for warm-up? Westside, of the ultimate money-grabber places, doesn’t even have the balls to do that. Jeeeesh.

So, for a tiny in-house jumper show hosted at their farm they were charging $20/class or 3Xclasses for $50. That’s even more than the really fancy-pants Foxstone?? Plus, they were charging $5/3 minute warm-up in the ring. I mean,¬†really?

And you know what the worst part is? I am super disappointed. I actually wanted to take Oats in this show because it’s local, (support local!) I could walk there, it sounded really fun and offered silly classes like Gamblers Choice and some other ones.

I kind of want to write a review to them, and be like…You are pricing yourself wayyyy out of the market here. If it’s a fun in-house show, don’t charge SSITS or A-level prices. Do they know this? How could they not? I’m honestly surprised and was super taken aback by the extreme¬†gouging¬†level.

I think $10/class is a very reasonable price and I would be happy to pay that for this level and type of show. I do understand that the nicer venues have higher costs and nicer decorated jumps, finery, judges and prizes, not to mention course design…But it begs the question- why are their shows cheaper, have great prizes AND offer free in-ring schooling?

Just, help me out here!

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Kings of Summer

Kings of Summer

So, took Oats to our sixth horse show this season- another jumper show at the Cowichan District Riding Club. And how did it go? Well!!… Some success, some failure.

We entered the 2” and the 2’3” jumper ‘match the clock’ jumper classes. My goals were as follows- don’t fall off, don’t go before the buzzer, don’t miss a jump, and don’t forget when you are going!!

Did I meet those goals? Close!

The course was a little trickier than the first show, a bending line, two jumps set right on the outside rail, 1 diagonal line and one jump placed right in the middle of the ring. I did NOT forget where I was going! Success!

We cruised into a pretty crazy inside turn on our first course- that not ONE other rider even attempted except for us- ha! And we placed second! The second round we placed 4th, and then it was on to the 2’3”.

Ah, here’s where the fail happens- I was going around and it felt delicious! We were rocking it so hard! Until the last fence loomed and I got all celebratory, like Oats could feel me getting excited, and BLAM! He stopped!

I ended up on his neck, crawled myself back in the saddle, and attempted it again. BLAM! Stopped again! And there was no saving it this time. FUCK~

I fell, unceremoniously, into the oxer.

So, that was how I ended my run at the 2’3”. SIGH.

Went home with underwear full of sand, and a big scratch on my back, as well as a sore arm and back. Not too sore though, I was still able to meet a friend for a run on Sunday, and go ride Oats (he was tired) and then go for a brief hike with husband and Gidget.

I’m still kind of kicking myself. WTF? When do the falls STOP HAPPENING? Like, just…argh.

So far this season, I have fallen off more than I have ever in my actual riding career. Oats bucked me off at our first dressage show, last week he spooked and I ended up in mid-air, and this weekend he stops at a fence and I fly into it. WTF WTF?

Growing pains? I have them.