Not cut out for this: Dressage lesson recap

Or maybe I should say ‘Oats is not cut out for this dressage nonsense?’?

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Me dealing with nonsense. Ha.

Anyways, I approached my regular semi-private with a bit of trepidation. My legs were so tired (from the race, natch!) and I was feeling draggy and blah. My SAD lamp isn’t working yet or something something..Not sure.

I figured it was going to be a challenge, and Oats did not disappoint. It WAS! We were working on (after a warm up) getting the horses to raise their shoulders up, head up but still with mild throatlatch bending with an end goal of having the horses moving uphill, rather than diving downhill. Or, ‘dumpster-diving’ as Karen so colloquially puts it!

Oats as it turns out is good at dumpster diving. We took this work over a pole, on a circle and on a straight line. It was…hard. We had a few flying leaps, and a few instances where Oats TOLD me to take a flying leap. HA.

In the canter I used my crop to ‘encourage’ Oats to move forward and he responded with a big buck! I sat it and we continued. We went on the circle again and he lagged- crop time! I applied it and BUCK! Another buck, haha.

Now, I was able to sit the bucks pretty easily because he wasn’t actively trying to get me off. Those bucks, no freaking way and he has gotten me off a few times bucking. This time, he was just irritated and trying to find a way to ‘loosen the load’ of me sitting on his back via a buck. It didn’t work, I stayed on and kept asking.

He figured it out but wasn’t super pleased about the work.

Oh well, a step in the progression of dressage for us. He did have some lovely stretch work at the end of the ride 🙂

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The countdown is ON!

T-3 days and counting…Oh man am I ever counting down the hours/days.

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My Reese’s Advent Calendar. I LOVE IT.

Anyways, dressage lesson last night with Karen and my friend Lindsey joined us, as I usually do a semi-private vs private because privates are $$$$ and my other regular lesson partner is injured, so I asked Lindsey if she was interested. She was! Win win.

I think she got a lot out of the lesson, at least from what I saw!

My takeaways for my ride: Practice transitioning from posting trot to sitting trot. Wow, this was way harder than I originally anticipated. I go from smooth posting to WHAM WHAM WHAM bucket of bolts sitting trot jarring my everything. Gag. It was hard, and my abs hurt? WTF?

We worked on that for awhile, making sure I didn’t tip forward and get all bunched up holding my breath (told you it was hard). We then went up into canter, and worked on getting a ‘jump’ from Oats in the canter. We were close but my timing was off in the ‘release’ part of the ride- I wasn’t releasing fast enough or near enough. Ah, well.

I need to practice posting trot to sitting trot though. Ouch!

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I am also eating a LOT of holiday candy. Man, I love Christmas candy. Mmmmmm even grabbed some treats at the Dr’s office this morning! 🙂

Right Place Right Time: Dressage recap!

Had a semi-private dressage lesson last night, and after taking two weeks off from our lessons (but definitely not from riding) it went pretty well! We worked on developing a collected canter via lateral work, specifically leg-yielding off the wall at the trot and then trying to hold it through the canter.

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Oats gets a haircut…And it has already grown out. WTF?!!!

Oats did NOT find it easy and showed this through two ways- breaking into trot from the canter, or giving me a big flying lead change! Haha

I was very pleased with his work and his attention span. He didn’t really have any big hissy-fits, which is unusual as he kind of gets worked up with this sort of disciplined lesson. He got very sweaty, despite the fact that he IS clipped. He grew a really thick coat this year, more so than previous years, and sadly the clip is not lasting…Gah.

His attitude has been very good, he almost wins for ‘most improved horse’ in that region. I know, crazy eh? Our short leg-yields were really good (for us, ha) and I was feeling very ‘flowy’ and ‘smooth’ which can be a bit of a rarity for us.

He gets a day off today, and a day off for me too before our jump lesson on Thursday.

Your ambitions also inspire others

Dressage lesson on Tuesday (my last one for two weeks, as my lesson partner is away and I have other priorities for the next few Tuesdays as well). And we re-visited the ‘diamond of doom’ ha exercise from last week.

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It’s a particularly revealing exercise, because the horses both have absolute meltdowns at some point during it- revealing without mercy the holes in our training…Yikes.

We did it first at walk-trot-walk w/o stirrups, and then I did a few w/o stirrups walk-canter (but then had to take them back) and we did it both reins, in both gaits, and the second time we went to do it off the right rein- you guessed it- HISSY FIT city for both horses.

Oats was like, no. Just no. I am done. I have done this now TWICE and I am OVER IT.

I had to walk, cajole him ‘nicely’ into the exercise while he gnashed his teeth, huffed and puffed, ran backwards and swished his tail and threw his head down. He was pissed! Nevertheless….we persevered. It was ok, I can be calm and just.keep.asking. And wouldn’t you know, he let go of his pissy attitude and started coming around.

The trick here…Is to not buy into drama. And it is soooo tempting, the drama part. He gets all fussy and huffy and I want to get into it too! But, no. Calm, quiet, walking, boring. And eventually the drama goes away by itself, ha.

Karen reminded us that the exercise isn’t always ‘nice’ or perfect but the point of it is to keep doing it, and let it expose your weaknesses. And then don’t overreact when it does- that’s the point! Let it work, and the horses will figure it out- don’t worry about them huffing and fluffing around- they are confused and having a hard time with it. You don’t need to get into it with them.

We ended on a nice canter, and Oats was forgiving by that point, ha. Good pony.

Frozen, freezing, froze

UGH. Mostly just a rant about how terrible the weather was this weekend, AND last night. FREEZING.

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Last week.

I don’t really want to ride, or run, at all in the deep-freeze. Plus we live on the island and it’s never supposed to get this cold?!! What gives. I rode grudgingly on Saturday and it was pretty miserable. Oats was good but I was just…stiff and cold. Went for a run on Saturday after riding and almost died. It was HORRIBLE. I was almost crying it was so miserable. Freezing, rain, toes frozen, face windburned and chapped…UGH.

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Practically this week. wow. 

Sunday was marginally better and I had a fun ride where I got to jump some small jumps with a ground crew (my friend Sarah’s friend Christi was visiting and set for us very nicely) and then she rode Sarah’s horse too! A fun day all around. And I wasn’t bitterly frozen.

I then hoofed it to some hills and ran a decent hill loop (and then wondered why my legs feel so tired today…) and called it quits on exercise. Husband and I ended the evening with a footbath each, with foot soak and peppermint foot lotion. Ha, the things that make you happy in the winter.

Monday I had an equine counselling session, and I rode briefly beforehand. It was FREEZING. I caught my breath going down to the indoor it was so awful. My eyes were watering just walking around. Terrible. I toughed it out for a bit, but just couldn’t warm up. Probably the coldest night I have felt of all the deep freeze nights last week. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

And today? Ran to work and it was pleasantly chilly but I was overdressed (afraid of freezing like Saturday/yesterday) and had to take my hat off I was sweating so much. Harumph.

Tuesday dressage, and no Thur jump lesson this week.

A Halloween riding lesson

The horse knows when you know, and knows when you don’t know. Ray Hunt.

And boy, ain’t it the truth!

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So much candy…Aftermath

Last night was our semi-private dressage lesson with Karen Brain, and we worked on a VERY deceptively challenging exercise- a diamond pattern, using the dressage letters in the ring as a guide for the diamond.

The goal: Straightness to each letter, horse forehead lands on the letter, and then a mild pivot – front legs only- to the next letter in the diamond shape.

The reality? A muddle of lateral movement, extreme wiggling, fussy behaviour, sucking back behind the leg, throwing hips around, front legs move too laterally again…Oh it went on!

Also the reality: Riding lessons during Halloween night= nonstop fireworks. Constantly! UGH it felt like we were riding during some sort of war. The horses were as good as gold though and saved our butts. I think it also helped that the exercise was very technically challenging and required a lot of focus, so not a lot of ‘fluffing around’ time for them to start getting silly.

The exercise was at the walk, and then we’d go walk- canter-walk from each letter in the diamond shape. It became QUITE evident that the pieces would fall apart quickly here- and we, as riders, didn’t really know what we were doing…And the horses picked up on it fast.

Oats expressed his concern at the exercise by ‘dolphin-leaping’ instead of say, picking up a nice canter. HA. He did it a few times and luckily I didn’t get unseated, but I sure did lose my reins and had to collect them up in a hurry!

We got say, 2-3 nice transitions out of oh..100. And that is progress! It was a very tough and technical lesson, but everytime I got frustrated or annoyed, Karen was like this is hard, it’s hard for the horses and hard for you so just keep trying and something will work out. It did!

Lots of learning last night for sure.