Back on track and back to the grind.

Christmas holidays came and went and I was blissfully away for TWO whole weeks of it!! It was very worth it, and I had a great holiday. Highlights include…


Barn Christmas party featuring the best Secret Santa ever!!


Taking the horses up island to Hi Point to take part in the Christmas by donation Jump Day for Cowichan Therapy horses, and the Hoof ‘n’ Woof that I had a BLAST at!


Going to Ucluelet for a little downtime with my husband and dog, and we enjoyed a cool wood cabin, wood-fired pizza, wine, a hike and some running trails.


A massage at Bear Mountain’s Sante Spa. Worth it!!

A movie- we had free tickets to go see Molly’s Game. Recommend, even if it was a bit long for my liking. All movies are though, ha.

Christmas eve at my in-laws farm in Cobble Hill featuring- SNOW! That’s right, a white Christmas on the island. We never get that!


Christmas day party at my parents, where I was the designated driver- went well, better than I thought it would actually.

Jump lesson with Oats- pretty fun!

Dressage lesson with Oats- toughhhh workout!

Working equitation- ease of handling- clinic with Oats. We had a great time and Oats was really good at it! I want to do more of this!! Everyone was really interested in the Working Equitation after we posted a video of it to my Facebook.

Hiking at East Sooke Park- New Years day, and a fun activity to do with the husband and dog.

Seafood for New Years Eve- a classic!!

And I loved all of my presents, I got some great ones even if my husband went wayy overboard on my gifts this year (Blundstone Boots, cool horsey socks, Back On Track knee brace, winter gloves, a neat book) I got everything I could have possibly wanted. I even have my SAD lamp plugged in at work now.


Big things

Oats and I went to a clinic this weekend–we went alone, and I can’t even say how big this is for us- it went FINE.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright. This was from our disaster clinic- happy to say things got much better!

We’ve had a very rocky road when it comes to clinics- stemming from a 2-day intro to eventing clinic that we attended a few years ago (that’s right, it took me literally YEARS to get over it) that blasted our confidence into powder, and caused a several-months setback that even turned into years later with regards to training with other instructors.

My goal for the clinic this weekend was simple: Walk Oats to the neighbouring barn. Warm him up. Ride in the clinic with as little drama as possible. Walk him home safely.

The instructor- Norah Ross- was one I had heard good things about, and I reviewed with her and the host of the clinic that I wanted this to be technical, and not to be challenged with regards to boundary-pushing. I’m not at the stage yet where that won’t cause a meltdown for me (we are WAY better at horse shows, ha).

Older Oats pix from Avalon

Older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

And I was assured that this was not the plan for the clinic, and she was right!

We did a LOT of flatwork, haha. Drop outside stirrup, no-stirrups, bending, circling, change directions, a lot. I was sweaty! Oats was a very good sport. A couple things Norah had me pegged for: Bad elbows, ie- chicken wing. Hands too far apart and too low. She really got on me about them, hahahah.

Also she dropped my stirrups 1 hole, and wow it felt weird! But good?

We moved on to jumping, and the wheels fell of briefly. We warmed up great over some x-rails, and then approaching a vertical on the diagonal, he threw one buck and I got immediately derailed…I ‘saw’ a bad distance, and tossed my upper body at him. He stopped. UGH!

Norah had me pegged straight away. She said my anxiety is causing that, and that my ride on the flat was great, so why is it falling apart jumping? Why so different? It’s like I am ‘abandoning’ my horse when things change so drastically from a calm, competent ride on the flat to somewhat panic-stricken over fences. The jumping ahead is something I had conquered, until it came creeping back when I was feeling a bit anxious…SIGH.

She asked us to change a few things- sit to the fences, no two-point. Counting- 1-2-1-2…all the way. And stay in the MOMENT! Breathe! Stay. This worked out really well, and I was very pleased with Oats’ effort when I made these changes. Clearly…I have some deep-seated issues, ughh.

Oats jumped around lovely. It was all very ‘baby steps’ and easy, but as we clearly demonstrated, we needed the baby steps…

We learned a lot, worked hard and walked home successfully without any drama. A good clinic and a big step forward for us. I even had some hot chocolate, and was able to visit with some old barn friends at the host stable too! Yeah!!

Clinic of a lifetime- William Fox- Pitt!

That’s right, not only was I in Kauai for a holiday, but I had to rush back to attend the William Fox-Pitt clinic in Chilliwack the next weekend! (I am a hunter rider who dabbles in bad dressage, but hey, you can ALWAYS learn from an Olympian!).

See a bit about his story here.

William Fox-Pitt

William Fox-Pitt

I literally did rush back, took the red-eye flight from Kauai, hopped on the Skytrain, went to the station and got on the Greyhound. Rode the Greyhound into Chilliwack, called a cab, and cabbed to the Heritage Centre.

The first day- the day I missed the majority of- was dressage, and as much as I hate to say it, dressage in my view is more of a personal victory type of riding. Not so flashy, not so thrilling and difficult to describe to other people why you’re so excited about it…

So, the first day I got there around 2 p.m. and watched the upper-level riders work on their dressage and it was a bit boring. We left around 6 p.m. to head out for dinner – I was hungry- it was a LONG DAY and I needed a bellini or something to clear my head, haha.

The next day we got up super early (for me, ugh was still tired) despite my protests that I was SURE we didn’t have to get up to go that early…We didn’t, by the way. HAH!

Jumping was much more interesting. So interesting…Here’s what I picked up.

  • Horses need to ‘lock in’ to a jump. Ears pricked, looking interested.
  • By keeping them on their toes, they learn to anticipate the jump. This means doing warm up jumps at a trot and walk (eek), and doing strange things like all skinnies, and bounce skinnies!
  • Reins are pretty much always too long.
  • Rider bodies need to stay back. The bigger risk is jumping ahead or leaning up the neck. If in doubt, wait it out. Be still.
  • Hands mostly need to come down. I’m bad for this one jumping too, my hands raise up really high.
  • Watch the track- you mostly always have time in a line to turn, so don’t swivel your body to turn too early. Riders mostly turn too early than too late.
  • Jumping one handed-particularly on a tough track with tons of inside turns- REALLY makes you keep your body back!
  • Dressage is so important (I know I just said it was boring, yeah to watch, but the flexibility and bend developed there helps with the aforementioned inside jumping one-handed..)
  • People who look very impressive online seem to ride totally psycho horses that look extremely unpleasant to handle and ride. That was a real surprise.
  • A lot of horses in the clinic were pro rides and very tough looking to ride. There is a good reason I am an amateur!

If you’re interested in more clinic recaps by the riders, be sure to check out Eventing Nation’s article on it.

Back in the saddle (much to Oats chagrin!)

That’s right, my holiday and Oats’ holiday came to an abrupt end.

Wish I was back at the beach

Wish I was back at the beach

Well, sort of abrupt. I had an inkling that Oats would be flying high on life when I got back, having sat around loafing for a week…And boy, was I RIGHT~

I let him rip around the sand ring, and couldn’t even maintain a pretense of behaviour. He galloped, snorting and rip-roaring, for at least 15 minutes. He kicked the gate! Jeeze! I stayed the hell out of the way, until he managed to calm down after a good few minutes of insane hair-raising moves.

He was pretty sweaty and huffing and puffing, so I didn’t ride for that long, but it didn’t matter anyways- he was COATED in sweat. White sweat up by his ears! We, inspired by my visit to the William Fox-Pitt clinic in Chilliwack the past weekend (yes that’s right, not only did I go to Kauai but I flew back on the red-eye and went straight to Chilliwack via Greyhound to go to the clinic all weekend! Nuts! I know!), decided to try some basic trot fences, focusing on keeping a rhythm and Oats’ clued into the fences.

Mixed success on that one, he was very amenable, but I let the ball drop in front of the green box and he stopped- curious about it, as it was at an awkward angle. I re-approached and he figured it out!

Good boy, and then we had our lesson with Karen on Tuesday (yesterday) and he was GOOD! He didn’t always want to be, he was literally shocked when we changed direction and worked on the same exercise to the left?!! He thought we were done?! He got kind of huffy and annoyed, ears back, head shaking but figured it out eventually, good pony haha.

He was working hard, so we took more breaks than we normally do- see, I can be lenient to a pony who has had a whole week off! (and me too, ugh I was exhausted!). Oats even had sweat running down his forehead, which reminds me, he needs to be clipped again bigtime, he is getting WAY TOO SWEATY doing normal work. Yeeeesh.

So, I noticed I have a habit of tipping forward...

So, I noticed I have a habit of tipping forward…

So, we worked on me not leaning forward during transitions- any of them, eek bad idea. Not losing my track during transitions. Maintaining a solid ‘contact’ during transitions on the circle- big walk-small trot-big trot- canter. It was tough! But good.

I think Oats will get a day off today, so he doesn’t completely hate me on my return. I want him to be fresh and good to go for my jumping lesson on Thursday, and to be honest, I want to be energized too! Ah…Feels like a bit of a long week.

Next up- recap of the William Fox-Pitt clinic!~


Sooo the countdown is on- T-minus one day until I fly to Hawaii tomorrow!!! I CAN’T WAIT!



I will be putting this blog on another week’s hiatus, Oats gets a week of holidays to himself and so do I. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so glad we booked this. Yes, the Canadian dollar is sinking faster than the Titanic, but you know what? Life is too short, and I would rather have time than money right now anyways. Time to enjoy myself, have some adventures, try awesome island fruit, drink pineapple wine (maybe) and rum!

Not only am I flying to Hawaii for a holiday, but the day I fly back on a red-eye, I hop on the bus to audit the William Fox- Pitt clinic. Can you believe it? I’m the luckiest girl around these days (now if all my work stuff would suddenly all clear up, then I could relax a little more..). I spend the weekend I get back auditing the clinic with friends, how fun!?!

And now for a little Oats recap- I rode him Wednesday as a short hack, and it was better than last week’s hack (well, because my foot cooperated and didn’t hideously cramp up) and we cruised over a few small x-rails and verticals. I was struggling a bit with my eye being pretty off, and funny enough Oats is really going for those ‘out of stride’ distances, where I am used to the ‘hold hold hold ok GO!’ method he normally goes for, so you guessed it…Got left behind a bunch!

And that theme sort of continued on Thursday’s lesson, but we got a MUCH better ‘showjump’ canter and I rode his out of stride jumps smoothly (for the most part, though I still actually got left behind two or three times??).

We even did this crazy jump-a skinny- on an angle!  I was like WTF is this? It is something eventers do I gather, because I sure have never jumped anything like it. Surprisingly it rode really well every time we approached it.

The best jump on course I believe! Funny last week I was saying it had been a long time since we’d done a skinny- and we did one- and then this week, it’s not only a skinny but we jump it on an angle? I was SO sure we were going to crash into the standards, or I’d take one out with my foot! Oats was so honest about it, and was like ‘jump on an angle? Sure, whatever’ and that’s why I love that little bratty pony so much!

So, all in all good and we’re definitely learning a lot. Love riding, and I am DEFINITELY looking forward to my holiday in a tropical climate.