Christmas part 2: Royston Xmas

I forgot to write about this AT Christmas, and I finally have a moment to do so. Over the holidays I took a big chunk of time off (had to for work basically) and at that time, I desperately needed it. Things got reeeallly rough in my horse life, personal life, and work life. It was very challenging.

I then headed off to Kelowna for a good old fashioned family Christmas, which went better than I could have hoped for! When I flew home, I had 1 night at home and then we were driving off for another family Christmas- at Royston, for the first time! Ian’s folks moved just before the pandemic hit and therefore we couldn’t spend any time at their place over the holidays the past two years. This year though, no prob!

It went really well, the weather was insane though. UGH. It had snowed a bit before we got there and it was very rainy and slushy, but on Xmas eve? Blizzard with no power!! We spent about 4 hours shovelling, woof. That I do NOT MISS about living in the North, ha.

We also had a chance to visit with my friend and her mom who moved up right near Ian’s parents too, so that was really nice, and Ian surprised me with a lovely Xmas gift- visit to the Hydropath! It was sooo nice. On Christmas Day I booked x-c skiing for a half day for me and Ian, and it was just lovely. It was cold, there was a ton of fresh snow, the skiis were way better than when I went with my mom, and we had a great time!

The only thing that really sucked was driving home. It was an absolute, hair-raising nightmare on the roads and I now have more grey hairs because of it. Jesus, I never want to drive in a black-ice, blowing snow blizzard ever again. Yikes.

Focusing forward

Dressage lesson time! Now, I knew Oats’ big energy from the past week was gone, so how would he be? WELL, hilariously he was good to warm up and when we began the real work, started getting silly about the back door being opened.

I got mad. I mean come ON we had a good warmup and you give me this? Looking for an excuse??

From a few years ago, looking good!

My trainer was pretty funny about it, she said well look at it this way- not EVERYONE wants to go to the gym to work hard and he just isn’t like that. She said we need to channel it, use it for good- not get angry. Fair enough!!

He worked quite intensely actually, I was very surprised. We hadn’t had a ride that intense since…Over a year ago maybe? We did a big power trot, and went into leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches in, and work, work work work work! Bending in a BIG bend, getting the outside rein active (ok, this is the part that I suck the hardest at….and never really got it 100%) and just powered along!

I was tired, Oats was sweaty! We really hadn’t had that kind of big intense riding yet this year, as we were definitely playing it safe.

Though, we did no-stirrups for the canter work and then I had to work harder than Oats, haha. The right rein had some lovely downward transitions, the left was a work in progress, and not so great, hahah. BUT we got some really solid work out of him and were able to amp up the intensity in a way I have been kind of leery about. Go Oats! By the end he wasn’t sweaty but I was 🙂 I guess he’s getting in good shape these days.

More Faith lessons!

I know on Saturday I was griping, mainly because my daytime lessons with Faith all seem to be a bit of a dud- she gets worked up, angsty, balky, etc. And then Oats has started losing his shit every.single.day…and ARGH. I hate horses!!

Go Faith!

BUT Faith was a gem last night, a very good girl. We trotted a crossrail twice without stirrups- ok I tried to chicken out, hahah but the second time didn’t seem so jostly so ok! And then we trotted a few small fences and she was great. Got in crooked- fixed it. Sluggy off the ground? Add leg. It all worked out! That felt pretty darned good, and redemptive from Saturday.

Oats on the other hand… I know he’s bored of rehab and looking for trouble. Every day. A lot of trouble. ARGH. He has started having freakouts about the corners of the arena (newsflash- nothing changes. EVER. He has been in the arena for 5 months…) bolting backwards, slamming on the brakes, spooking at his reflection in the mirrors (not usually a problem), and spooking at me coughing, or blowing my nose. FUN FUN!

At least she is good! 🙂

So, every ride I have to go out with the idea that rehab takes as long as it takes. He’s running backwards? Pause the watch, deal with it, and start the watch up again when he finally gets over it. Spooking and bolting backwards? Same deal. It is FREAKING EXHAUSTING to deal with every day. I decided to start adding to his trot work last night, to deal with some of his shenanigans. Very moderate- add 30 secs to his intermittent trot work on both sides for an extra minute total, and start with the intermittent trot instead of the continuous trot- leave the continuous for the second round. For some reason the continuous seems to twig his brain off even more? And I also added 30 secs/side for the continuous trot to round it out.

He felt a bit funny on the left, but I think that was because of his inconsistent trot/head carriage. Turns out spooking isn’t conducive to either?! Ha. So he does settle, and go along pretty nicely, but damn those first 20 minutes are pretty annoying and hard to manage. And may I remind you- EVERY SINGLE DAY. SIGH. I had to cancel his Friday rider, as she is quite novice, just getting back into it, and the last thing she needs is to go bolting backwards every 2 minutes…. 😦

“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute.”

I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.

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Christi came and took these amazing photos. So good! 

That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.

I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!

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Photos courtesy of Christi.

I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!

Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.

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Liverpool? What liverpool? Oats is the most casual pony on the planet.

I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?

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I got this mom. It’s easy. 

When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.

There and back again

So, I’m back from my holidays. They were much-needed, not necessarily that relaxing (are holidays with family EVER relaxing?) and ended with some car drama, but I’m glad I had the time away from work.

Christmas with the family

Christmas with the family

I needed the perspective, quite frankly.

I also needed some time away from my ‘real life,’ an area that bogs me down in the details so much so that I become enveloped from what is ‘important’ and get stuck on the routine. And I can get obsessive about ‘the routine’ to an unhealthy point.

Colossal gingerbread house

Colossal gingerbread house

But, family was stressful. We did a lot of great things, and I enjoyed good company, great food, and other fun activities. However, I also felt the strain of ‘try hard’ and a bit fakey, ‘let’s cover it up with fun and ignore the festering sadness underneath’ that I can be sensitive to…

Oh well, it’s over. Holidays aren’t always Hallmark-worthy, are they?

Buster shares a moment

Buster shares a moment

And when I flew back, my car was making a weird stuttering on the highway and stalled out in a parking lot. I was like, how long has THIS been going on?

The remains of the gingerbread house

The remains of the gingerbread house

An entire week, $1,115 later and I think it’s pretty much back to being road-worthy, but jesus. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to me! (GAHHHH!!!!)

And my darling pony has been alternately good and bad my week back. Pissy and kicking out some days, relatively forward and willing others. Pissy yesterday in my lesson with 1 kick out briefly, but was nice to jump (tiny x-rails) and we did some interesting work on straightness and coursework. Felt nice to get back in the saddle, even if my old insecurities came rearing back at me!

Now I am kind of dreading my dressage lessons…If he is pissy and bucky doing my regular work, how on earth will the more-demanding work of dressage go for us?????? I am also trying to break in new boots, ouch they are not feeling super great either.

EEK!!!

To be continued next week….

And I am back at work. Not so glorious either…

Pick one: Make complaints or ask for favours. You don’t get both.

In today’s blog entry, I will do both: It’s a good ride/bad ride scenario.

How Oats feels about me

How Oats feels about me

Ask for favours: Good lesson on Saturday! I started off by feeling anxious again. I’m struggling with performance anxiety right now, a lot of it. Everything seems to trigger it- thinking about past horse shows, looking at my old jumping photos, old videos from horse shows, watching a jumping lesson go before mine…It makes me feel anxious about my jumping, soooo anxious.

And I hate it. I voiced my concerns to Nicole and I was saying that I’m really having a tough time right now- I know I’m riding better, not jumping ahead, but I get SO ANXIOUS thinking about jumping- even just ‘thinking’ about it! Yikes.

She is very understanding, and we went right to it- and worked on gridwork, which by the way I tend to hate! hahah.

Oats flopped through it, and I felt like it kind of sucked, but when we got his ‘on fire’ motion started, the grid started getting easier. I guess we get too ‘blah blah blah’ and humdrum about jumping, and he kind of just flops through a line. BUT when I get him revved up and his energy up, we GO GO GO! And he meets the gymnastic perfectly. (Note: We had very few times actually like this).

This is interesting to me, mainly because I hate riding gymnastics, and I never knew why. Well, the why is because we go into it without enough ‘oomph’ and sometimes I let him canter in, and we flub the whole shebang.

Also straightness- still an issue. We jumped with guide poles, haha.

And now we move on to Sunday’s ride, which is make complaints: It sucked sucked sucked. Sucked so hard I was like WTF we had a good lesson on Saturday? Could have fooled me!

We were just blah, I got too into Oats at the canter and he was blowing past my aids, being rude, and I was getting rude back…UGH.

Jumping, he had a wicked right drift that I somehow DID NOT NOTICE until I took out the entire jump with my right foot. ARHG.

Hopped off, put it back up, hopped back on, jumped it (shittily) and managed to get 1. pop up jump, 1 left-behind jump, and 1 knock-down the whole jump for my jumping of the day. Wonderful. I decided to stop, before I really screwed up any more.

Jesus.

So….The show I have coming up, in October? Yeah, not so sure it is a good idea right now. How do I keep getting worse?

Needs a drink

Needs a drink

In other news, I also went for a nice run with husband, helped the barn girls rake down the new footing for the indoor arena, made applesauce with apples from the barn, visited ‘The Drake’ for a drink in the evening (All Souls Chocolate/Pumpkin Porter from Parallel 49) and made a rhubarb ‘fool’ this weekend.

A productive weekend if I do say so myself even if I was in a BAD Mood after my interesting ‘ride’ on Sunday. Hmm…Needing perspective is a daily, if not hourly, thing for me I guess!

A Year of Hibernation

So, another Oats update for ya?

  • Thursday- I had my riding lesson with Nicole. I saw her out in the field with her other students, and decided to pick up my big girl panties and have a lesson out there too. And I did! And immediately felt concerned…When did I get to be such a chicken? My heart was in my throat cantering up the hill in the field (Oats immediately spooked and I lost my stirrup) and cantering down the hill? Yikes!! NEver!

We did it though, and it went fine. We even trotted and then cantered over a small ditch! And then worked on a mini-course consisting of gallop up the hill, canter down, canter over the ditch, loop right, canter over a line of cavaletti, turn left, circle over the last cavaletti in the line and then halt in a straight line. It was not without challenges- I turned him too soon over the last circle cavaletti and he stopped and I almost fell off! He just didn’t see it and was like oh no thanks! I cantered -HARDER- and we figured it out by not cutting the circle off.

Fun times!

  • I rode Monday and was still kind of hungover, so it was slightly horrible. We worked pretty hard but very short, as I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. He wanted to be spooky ‘oh this is hard, what’s over there that I can act dramatically at?!’ But I nipped it in the bud by working him more and getting ‘busy’ with my hands. More on that from my lesson yesterday…

Busy with hands? Isn’t that a bad thing? Isn’t quiet like, the best?

Sort of!

Normally it is, but when the horse is like, lah-dee-dah, oh what’s that?!!!! Oh look! My attention is SO elsewhere!>!?! It’s time to GET THEIR ATTENTION ON YOU.

However possible. Busy hands, bend left, bend right, get A REACTION from what you are doing. That came as a surprise to me, because in my lesson with Karen Brain yesterday, she was like, you have to get TOUGHER about his attention span. Busier with your hands, start being more and doing more.

We worked on a really interesting exercise: lazer-like intensity for me, haha.

Walk a line, pick up canter from the walk, and halt at the end of the line. Canter STRAIGHT to the halt. No wibble-wobble, no trot steps, etc.

Mannnnnn it was hard.

We had trouble with the following: Walk- canter. Halt from canter. Halting straight?? Picking up the correct lead on the right.

Oats had some hissy fits- it was difficult- but we manned up and dealt with it. 

We then worked on a variation of this exercise from a circle, then to a halt in a straight line. Oats got RUDE. He tried dragging me out of the circle, throwing his head up at the transition to canter. Rude rude rude! 

Funny enough, I said Oats could be a bully. Karen agreed-she said it’s like in a relationship, when in the winter you go to a ’empowering’ workshop and suddenly come home with a renewed perspective- and suddenly, your partner’s subtle or not-so-subtle behaviours are BAD! They treat you poorly! And you’re like, I’m NOT taking this BS anymore, forget it.

That is like me and Oats. I’m NOT putting up with his crap. And he’s like whaa?? But the lucky thing about rude ponies that are bullies is that he is inherently lazy. So, he’ll fight for a few laps…And ultimately give up. Because he is lazy, he will quickly realize that fighting makes him work that much harder and it’s easier to do what I want.

But I still have to fight/ask for it. And not give up!

(Photo courtesy of the talented Elle)