Snow Weekend

And week…

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Tucker came to work with me on Friday. He was so good! 

I want a weekend do-over! The weather was soooo bad here. Windstorms, snow storms, -15 with windchill and tons of ice. 😦 Not good. Needless to say, after walking home in the beginning of the wind/snow storm on Friday (after enjoying appetizers and drinks with a friend) I was so over it!

I went to ride Oats on Saturday and my friends warned me against the indoor- the hurricane force winds were making a terrific slamming sound and trees were slapping up against the indoor. As you can imagine, the horses were NOT having it. Neither was I, as it turns out!! I tacked up Oats and we slipped and slid our way to the indoor. The wind was hammering at us, and I hopped on him and was flinching every single time the wind slammed a tree against the indoor. NOPE!! This is not the way I want to go, honestly?!

He was a total saint, but even for a saint, there are indeed limits. And I’d hit mine. I hustled Oats back up the hill (he was confused but pleased that he didn’t have to do anything) and he was huffing and snorting and VERY excited as the wind blew straight up his butt the entire way up the hill.

So yeah, no riding Saturday. Similar story to running, except that it was very icy, and every time I turned around a corner, wind blasted me and sent me reeling off-balance. Greeeeattt….

It was horrible. The rest of my weekend was spent on the couch, reading, drinking wine and napping with my dog. There are worse things, I guess? I did ride on Sunday with a friend, and fortunately we got our ride in before the wind/snow storm picked up again for Round #2. It was a lovely ride! So dusty in the indoor though, with freezing temperatures we have not had water in the indoor, and there is like zero moisture in the air right now either. UGH!!

Got home, planned for another run, and thought the weather would hold for that. Newsflash- it didn’t. I was surprised because it didn’t look that windy, but yeah, it was horrible. I got to the small hill at Clover Point and gave up when I got blasted back UP the hill by the wind. Add in snowflakes into my eyes and NOPE!!! I gave up, and ran home. It was miserable, just so miserable.

Back to the couch!

And I was supposed to ride today…there is another blizzard. SIGH!! I guess I will struggle back home, and reschedule my ride for Wednesday (traditionally Oats’ day off, but I have to be flexible with this terrible weather). I’m just so glad I got my ride in yesterday! Man!

 

 

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Love, appreciate, joy,

I’m just feeling really good about my pony these days. Had a jump lesson last night that sure wasn’t ”perfect” but man, it made me just feel so glad to have him, my Oats, with me. I rode on Monday and wanted to cry I was so cold, it was horrible. Oats was perfect, but I could tell that the chill was tough on him too.

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I heard he was a total gentleman for his rider on Tuesday (they have been having some great rides, yes!!) and hearing that just makes my heart sing. You know when you have a horse that other people like?  And more importantly, like riding? It’s a good feeling! So going into my Thursday jump lesson I had warm fuzzies in my heart. 🙂

We warmed up a tad lackluster- he was coughing a bit, and inattentive. I was like, c’mon get with the program! And bit by bit, we did. We didn’t work on anything very complicated, but there was one particular turn that made me feel a bit nervous- come around in a circle, jump the rock jump and cut left immediately (2-3? strides) to an oxer on the long side.

Now, this oxer was the friendliest oxer you could possible want. A x-rail in front of a vertical, which really draws in horses and makes it easier to jump. It was also the highest fence on the course! Two things in one! Hahahh.

The first time we did the cut away jump to the oxer, it went perfectly! The second time…I didn’t lock on to the second jump, landed and got pulled wayyyy wide to the oxer. Whoops!!! Oats had basically veered way right, and it was a judgement call: go around (would be easy!!) or right the course in 1-stride and go jump! We jumped!! It was NOT pretty, given it was at this point a 2’9” oxer, but Oats was game and away we went!

Whee!!!! Man that was funny. But we dug deep and pulled it out, hahah.

He definitely goes better when I don’t forget what I’m doing/lock on to the correct jump, but he’s such a good and honest pony that it doesn’t really matter to him anyways! So game! I think I was having a bit of a hard time seeing last night, as my eyes were watering constantly throughout the course due to the chill. (And yesterday was the warmest it’s been all week, yiiiikes!).

Anyways, things that I always have to work on: Release with my arms instead of chicken wings… Go with the horse, instead of getting caught in the back seat! This happened a few times last night, my body wasn’t clicking with it for some reason. Land on my knee/upper thigh. Hips back, consider a sitting seat to the fences to achieve this. Look where the fences are!! And stay there! I had a lot of trouble with this last night too- I’m going to partially blame the cold/tears in my eyes.

But overall, we jumped the highest we’ve jumped a single fence and it was the one on course that we jumped a few times, and even after a tricky attempt, and it was not a problem. Good to know, and I felt so appreciative and happy with my pony. Go Oats!

A place I’ll always go

I had a lovely weekend, and while it did end up being fairly busy it was also very low-key, which is my favourite! Saturday I rode, cleaned my tack (oh god, it was so gross), chatted with friends and went on a mega long run (so cold, so long). And then went to a friend’s housewarming part- a surprise because I didn’t even know he was back in town! Yay! I’m really happy that he is back, so maybe I might have a running buddy again.

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Last winter was very snowy. Maybe this year?

We got back laaaaaaaate from the party, and then on Sunday my husband kindly came to the barn and even got up on old Oats for a ride! I am trying to work more on Oats’ canter-  one of his weakest gaits, and something that I’m trying to address by using lateral work in the canter to strengthen. Mixed results, but each ride he is coming through better, I think.

We rode, and then my husband even rode Oats up the hill back to the barn. Ha, my friends were a bit concerned but Oats was as good as gold and he did fine.

We had our dog with us too, and decided on a nice-but-increasingly chilly walk around Thetis Lake with her.

Back home -brrrr- and I went on a quickie run before dinner, after desperately trying to stave off the magnetic pull of my couch. It only won partially, hahah. Brrr it was cold, and here we are entering a week of deep-freeze, just in time for me to jet set off to Mexico on holidays for a week! Good timing!

 

You Won’t: Jump lesson update!

I’ve had kind of a mixed week- some personal-life drama (ughh) but in other news, my ligament injury seems to be making a real turnaround with treatment, so I am VERY pleased with that!! Man, it hopped on the healing train once I started treatment. Part of me is kicking myself for not doing this sooner, but hey you learn the hard way sometimes?!

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Cuddlebugs. Photo courtesy of Katie H. 

Jump lesson last night and we were in a real cold snap. Oats warmed up very stiffly, like he was running with a flat tire, ughh. Kind of like how I begin any race, as my husband said 😉

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Photo courtesy of Katie H.

So, we had to manage his stiffness in the cold, and kind of ‘work up’ to the level we needed. Luckily, after cantering and then going over some x-rails, he was moving much more smoothly. Yes! We then worked on a very basic, looping hunter-style course with 1 3-stride line in it, focusing on letting my hands go forward instead of taking back (god, this was harder than it sounds…very vulnerable position for me) no matter the distance. The problem being: When I see a distance, things are awesome! When I don’t, things get distinctly…less awesome. Meaning, they suck, I pull back or try to manage him with my hands and/or upper body. Not great.

So, I just had to ‘let go’ a little more. Mixed success on that, but overall I was fairly pleased with Oats’ effort and my effort to be a little more vulnerable and willing to get go, and also to work through the ‘push hands forward’ and take them back when I need to steer, and let them go again on my way to the jump. Riding- always simple, never easy.

Also having to rely more on my legs vs hands as a support for the jump. Hahahha yeah, this remains a work in progress… All in all, a good lesson and a good ride.

Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

This past Sunday was the Hatley Castle 8k- a fun and challenging race in the VIRA Island Race Series. Notable for a very hilly course, scenic views, and tasty hotdogs for the participants!

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Yum!

It was also freezing. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the gravel was slick and icy. A windstorm was currently raging in Victoria, luckily we only got hit with it at Royal Roads when we ran along the water at the start. Anyways, it felt pretty lousy.

I didn’t have very high hopes for the race- not that this was bumming me out, but that I’m focusing more on building more Km’s into my week and not taking a lot of time off during the week= deader legs. I know this going in, so I am not using these races for goal races, I’m realistic about what I can accomplish.

But…I’m also improving. I am getting faster, even with not-so-fresh legs supporting me.

Logistics were pretty smooth, lots of parking, hit the port-a-potties early so no lineups, and I felt pretty chill (haha, I was frozen). We warmed up, I stupidly kept my fleece on for the race b/c I was frozen, and when we hit the start line, I fumbled trying to zip it up. I couldn’t! We were going too fast. I also hit my watch ‘START’ and it didn’t. So my recipe for success:

  1. Run with your jacket flapping like Superwoman. Yeah that’s not annoying at all!
  2. Watch doesn’t start. Notice 1km in.
  3. It is so cold my exercise asthma was kind of flaring but not badly so.
  4. ….
  5. Success?

We ran up the first hill, I was getting passed like crazy but I had a feeling like- nah, I can do this. I will wait. I will bide my time and then I will go.

To be honest this ‘zen’ mindset is more to keep me from freaking out and trying to run faster when I am getting passed early. That’s a quick way for me to ruin a race. I have to run MY race.

So I hung on, lost a bit of speed and enthusiasm up the longer hill and we hit the flatter gravel section. Now it’s flat but also gravel….slippy. The guy running ahead of me slid pretty dramatically around the turnaround but he didn’t fall! Came damn close though.

I plugged along, not running great but kind of looking forward to the forested trail section. We ran for awhile on the gravel and then turned into the woods. Yes! My time to shine! (sort of). I was able to tackle the hills well here, played leapfrog with another woman runner up to the top of the hill. By then, I was able to pass her and stay past. I had been getting passed by her consistently up until then. Sweet!!

Then the loooong downhill. Ouch my hamstrings.

Flat section, some more gravel, and a slight downill again. Use it! Free speed.

And…the long leadup to the finish. I didn’t really sprint (ha, yeah like I could) and my hamstring was feeling really cranky…

But I am happy with my time: 36:39 and good enough for 1st in my AG women’s 30-34. First time ever!

(also for context: This time last year would have netted me 6th place. Ha).

Thanks again for the volunteers, race directors and VIRA for putting on a well-run, smoothly executed race despite some weather challenges!