Life & Living it

Wow, the long weekend just flew by! It was busy and yet I had plenty of time to sit on my patio and drink rosé, one of my favourite summertime drinks. Thursday/Friday, my friend was staying with me while she attended to some errands in Victoria, and I also had my jump lesson on Thursday, and my dressage lesson on Friday…Which is a long-winded explanation about why I missed YET ANOTHER run club run on Saturday morning. I’m currently pitching 0-2, soon to be 0-3 (I am missing another one this Saturday, argh)… At 8am, I just don’t have it in me.

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Proof that i did indeed makeup my missing runs…

Instead I stayed up to visit with my friend and we drank a bottle of wine and a bunch of Caesars. Worth it. I had a killer headache all day starting from waking me up in the middle of the night though, ouch. Hubris. Oh well, at least my lesson went really well and OATS HAS A COUNTER CANTER you guys! Feeble and tentative, but it’s happening!!!

Oh well! I had an insanely busy day on Saturday anyways, I guess leading in from the theme of last week: Busy every day. Had to run a saddle I was trying back out to the ass-end of Deep Cove, ran to the grocery store on my way back to the barn, rode Oats in the field for a brief 30 minutes, ran the 16km I missed that AM, went to the liquor store, another grocery store, and then gas and then home.

PHEW. This mad scrambling was also going on because my husband’s parents were coming over to our house for dinner, and I had thought we agreed on Sunday, because I knew my Saturday was going to be nuts, but they got confused and came on Saturday instead?! Yikes. So, start scrambling!!

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Love my smoothies of summer! 

We had a really nice visit and shocker, the weather cooperated for once. Then Sunday was dedicated to my leisure: A super fun ride where I practiced a few of the elements we learned on Friday, including trying out our counter-canter a few more times. It was good, not easy and not perfect, but cool to start trying and practicing. Whee! Then I came home and went on a run along the ocean, and also got into a yelling match with some idiot who let his dog off-leash, where it cut me off suddenly and made me trip and almost eat dirt! And it was a big dog too, I could have been hurt badly by this. IDIOT!! It’s always these men that do stupid things, and then act surprised when you get mad at them. Assholes.

Anyways, the run was fun, hot and sweaty, my favourite!

And then Monday (ah, Monday…I love long weekends) was Canada Day! I celebrated by riding my pony in the field again, chilling out and going to a friend’s bbq party, where I also overindulged my inner glutton and was literally sweating all night thanks to my over-eating tendencies. I hate myself sometimes!!! UGH.

Now it’s rainy and Oats has his lesson day today, so no rides for me.

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Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

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Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

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From last time. It was still really windy! 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep. He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!? 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

We were wild

I had a really decent long weekend, and jump-started it by having a really solid dressage lesson on Friday. It was TOUGH! But excellent. You know that feeling of having worked hard, really hard, and gotten exactly what you wanted? That feeling!

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Not to say it was perfect, but after the sort of angst on Thursday, I told my trainer that we didn’t have a good ride, that my expectations of ‘perfection’ were ruining my ride and I wanted to get past it, over it. These weirdness spells sort of come and go, and I was ready to focus and not dwell!

We spent basically the whole lesson in canter (with plenty of walk breaks) focusing on building Oats’ lateral flexibility in the canter, leading to canter haunches-in. It was really good! And very much highlighted the difficulties I have in ‘riding’ his canter, rather than being ‘taken for a ride’ in the canter. Can I influence his canter? Or do I just sit there, like a passengers, helplessly?

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It was an important lesson for me to realize just HOW much I am needing to do and ride. I’m at the point where I can’t just sit and tune out, and expect Oats to read my mind and do ‘something’…I have to influence it, ride it, and ride every stride.

Good to know! It was a very cool lesson. Eye opening!

Putting the work in: CDRC dressage show recap!

I forgot that I was too busy to update on my  jump lesson (last Thursday) but it was a very good, solid and workmanlike lesson. Oats was stiff and sluggy for it when we were warming up, so I was reminded by my trainer to limit my expectations for the warm-up and deal with the horse I have, in the moment and on the day. So true! Fortunately he warmed up and was moving better after a slightly longer warm-up.

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All screenshots courtesy of Nicole G.

Dressage lesson was on Friday with Sam and it was very encouraging! One thing I wasn’t so sold on were re-visiting my canter loop F-X-M. We kept swapping in the past, and I felt very unsure about it. We worked on it, and nailed it! And then I promptly forgot how to ride the transition to trot at ‘x’ and then pick up the right lead…Yikes. These tests involve much more ‘riding’ than I am used to (I find the intro to dressage a lot more ‘sitting pretty’ which I and Oats are good at. The actual physical riding part? Not so good, and needs a lot more work).

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Anyways the day of the show, the weather was horrendous. In Victoria I heard it was sunny, gale-force winds, hailing, and raining. Up at the show in Cowichan, it was 1 weather- tornadoes. Small dust devils were whipping up in the ring, and it was just chaos. I had sand in my teeth, hair, eyes, ears. Everywhere. It was just so awful and distracting. I wanted to leave!!!

But hey the show must go on?

We warmed up and Oats was feeling good, pretty jazzy considering how miserable the wind was. His left bend wasn’t very good though, and he was leaning heavily on my hands in the trot. His canter felt a tad rushy and unbalanced, but no worries, we could work on that…It was just hard to canter left, because you got a face-full of sand every time. I couldn’t really see where I was going. Poor horse too, yikes… And my friends came to watch! I felt awful for them, dealing with the insane sand and wind in their faces for hours. Troopers, all of them!!

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I was feeling good about putting front shoes on him early though. Score one for me!

We went in to the test and we had a good centreline halt, and then botched the  pattern (First Level Test 1 has a 10-metre turn to the centreline), where I left early and just sort of turned…at will. I honestly couldn’t see, so I think that had a bit part of it.

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The test rode pretty well, I was happy with Oats’ canter, his turns and some of the transitions were a bit sucky as I let my reins get way tooo long at the end.

We finished, and then prepared for my bigger challenge- First Level Test 3. Counter-canter loops, here we come!

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I am VERY pleased to say that we conquered the canter loops! I rode them too conservatively, making the too shallow, but I think that is an easy fix for sure (again I couldn’t see very well at all), and Oats tripped over part of the dressage court fencing (it was on the ground because it kept getting blown over!). Whoops!

I also flat-out forgot to ride my transition to ‘x’…yes even though I knew that was a tricky one that I had to ride more strongly. I tuned out for it, and Oats broke. Damn! 100% my fault though.

Otherwise, the test flowed nicely, I kept my reins (mostly) shorter and we did what we came to do- conquer those canter loops! 🙂 Yay! We wrapped up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Good god, the wind. I don’t know what my scores are, but I’m happy with the efforts and with how saint-like Oats was while dealing with challenging weather conditions. What a star!

Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Friday  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) were so bad at the rollback exercise in my jump lesson the day prior. Bingo- that’s what we needed to work on!

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So I told Sam, and we experimented! I really enjoyed it actually, because it provided me with an opportunity to really distill the prior lesson down and play around with it a bit more. What works? What isn’t working?

We broke it down from a line of two jumps, to a single jump, trot-in. Get the lead!! That was the key. Once we did that, I learned that we could influence the correct lead by asking for canter ‘just’ in the step before the jump. Newsflash- that’s your lead.

This wasn’t quite so simple with the canter-in approach. I was getting pulled past the x-rail, and dumped down on the landing= picking up left lead instead of right. Shoot. How to fix? Change the positioning I have coming in. Instead of two-pointing and sort of floating above Oats, sit more and influence, holding the contact all the way through. And you know what? This ‘more contact’ approach did the trick! Neat eh? I’m glad we took the time to really experiment, keep an open mind when things didn’t immediately work.

How cool!

And then we worked on seating positioning influencing the canter. It was…Hard. Hahahah. But we got a lovely canter from both me AND Oats. Oats really is very happy to keep going, providing I give him the correct feedback 😉

Don’t let it get to you: Riding fieldtrip!

So this weekend we had our rescheduled trip out to the fancy environs of Fairlawn, the stables owned by a trainer and her family. I ride with this trainer regularly, but we wanted the whole meal-deal- a ride in her fabulous indoor with all the works! And we were NOT disappointed! It was lovely 🙂

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They still had a lot of snow, but the driveways were cleared enough to be able to get the horse trailer (my friend hauls for us, it’s her rig/truck) onto the property and the horses off and tacked up.

The place is gorgeous! We had soooo much room, we didn’t know what to do with it! Oats and I worked on the counter-canter loop and boy did it feel different with so much space to play with. Not gonna lie, we struggled a bit but when I figured it out, so did Oats and he was happy to comply. I still feel a bit like the loop challenges me personally, and so it’s something I want to ‘finesse’ a little more until our next horse show…

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Synchronized waiver-signing 😉

Which is counting down! Our first dressage schooling show will be later in April 🙂 I can’t wait to take my guy out more. We had a really nice time, and it was great to be able to practice in a bigger arena.

Put the days away

Had a dressage lesson last Friday and I was feeling sooooooooo tired, low energy, blah, you know the draggy fatigue I’ve been complaining about for oh, 3+ weeks now? It was kind of a hard sell, particularly on a Friday night (hello hang out on my couch time!) PLUS I was dog-sitting my friend’s dog, so he came over just before my lesson.

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Mr. Oats learns some fancy moves! I wish I was sitting up more…

But anyways, despite the myriad excuses of why I didn’t want to, I did. And it was great!! Not perfect, ha are they ever? But just genuinely good. I learned some really interesting exercises and have since practiced them on my own with Oats.

I have been wanting to improve his counter-canter and work towards flying lead changes- clean and proper ones, not grab-and-leap ones. So on that note we worked on canter-walk transitions, which have historically been a challenge for us. Walk-canter? Sure! Canter- walk? Nope!

We developed the canter-walk by coming in on a circle, using a touch of shoulder-fore and then spiraling in to the walk. Like, circle, coming in using shoulder-fore and 1-2-3 WALK.

It was cool! On the left he was super! On the right= struggle bus. Ahhh well.

We used the basis of that exercise to then go large and focus on walk- pick up counter canter- go straight along the long side in counter canter and then walk, pick up true canter for the short side, back to walk, counter canter and rinse, repeat.

It was really neat! We were getting it!! 🙂

So pleased with how Oats is really learning his stuff through these exercises. And we’re not like, drilling him to death on it- a few run-throughs, he gets the idea, more importantly ‘I’ get the idea, and we’re good!

I even practiced it a bit yesterday and was quite happy with how our amateur fumbling went. Whee!