Remember me

Had a pretty good riding week last week, despite it actually being kind of a washout, as far as real ‘riding work’ …We had to ride in the outdoor, because the indoor was being scraped and new footing added, so it was for a good cause! We all worked to rake down the new footing on Tuesday, and it was such good footing that by Thursday it was mostly ok to jump in! I didn’t think it would be, so I went to cancel my jump lesson- but happily we were able to keep it.

low course 1_Moment

I do miss jumping outdoors…

There were quite a few fireworks though, yiiikes. Oats is really good about that, but they were LOUD and going off right above his head. He was a little wigged out! Good for my lesson but up at the barn it was just so close and so loud. Can’t blame the little guy!

Thursday was also the first day that week we were cantering/jumping, ha. I don’t normally do that in the outdoor because the footing is just too deep for Oats and he struggles. I really don’t want him to get a tendon strain or something struggling in deep footing at this point. When it settles, then sure we can ride out there, and in the winter when they get lights up, bonus!

Our jump lesson featured trot-in gymnastics, which are normally the bane of my existence. This week, it was good! Smoother than normal, just pretty darn good for both of us. Yes!!

I didn’t ride on Friday because we were packing up and heading out to a house rental my friend booked in Sooke for a group weekend. We had a blast!! ūüôā Now I feel totally exhausted and can’t keep my eyes open/fingers typing…So tired… Ugh.

Progress, like life, is not linear

Had an interesting equine counseling session last night. We focus on a few aspects of my life during each session. I usually bring up what I want to focus on or what I am struggling with (my parents, riding, performance anxiety, race performance). We are focusing on my race performance right now, and I have been struggling¬†mightily at races. Mad, disappointed, angry at my body for letting me down, bummed about my slower times, expecting better…You name it, I am feeling it!

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Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

My last race was good, but the time was not good. It was good because I ran within my ability and I could breathe the whole race. I was quite pleased with that, and I didn’t burn my lungs out like I have been doing.

What’s the difference? For a long time, I have been relying on the cheap fast energy of adrenaline during races. I don’t have a lot of long-term power to back that up, at all. And it burns out too fast, leaving me gasping, heaving, ready to puke, with legs that burn with lactic acid and feel weak within 1km.

This worked really well for me last year. This year, not so much.

My training has been going great, but like last year, it’s pretty much the same (though my long runs are LONGER now, ha). If I keep doing what I’m doing, my body gets used to it, and I adapt very quickly. Problem is…That doesn’t get me faster or more powerful. It gets me very complacent.

So to get better results, and power that I can rely on more, I have to change my training (and my mindset, which is making me slower this season, ha).

This means getting into the uncomfortable zone. Aka faster.

Funny enough, my equine counselor brought up a comment I got from a dressage judge years ago about Oats. “His trot looks very comfortable and easy. I bet you could trot like that all day. It’s not work though, and it’s not the power you need.” She was right! I could cruise on Oats alllllllll day with that lovely, easy trot of his. Problem is, when I wanted ‘more’ trot or collected trot, things fell apart.

She pointed out that my running is remarkably similar. My long runs? Could cruise alllllll day at my little jog-trot. Want more ‘go’ and more power? Falls apart. ¬†Ha, I am Oats. Weird eh?

Life mirrors us in more ways than we think. And for me? I am experimenting with more power moves. 500 metre pick-ups in pace during my long runs, which are killer and I hate them, but I have to do them. Oh and running hills after my rides on Sunday. We’ll see!

We interrupt this Olympic broadcast to say…

I love my pony! We had our first real jump lesson- with tiny jumps- back since our vacay and Oats came back great, if a little half-assed haha. He could NOT be bothered with tiny jumps, so he sauntered over them the whole time.

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Me from literally three years ago.

We worked over a small gymnastic (remember our last gymnastic experience- it did not go well- and this one was great) and then over a small course a few times. He was lovely! My eye kind of sucked and I made a few ‘non choices’ when it came to distances (yes-no-yes-no…go!).

Oh well! I have work to do on that clearly. The positives include my dad watching Oats go in a lesson for the first time in forever, and he remembered when Oats was a total shithead. Now, Oats looks like the easiest pony in the world to ride, and it’s nice to have people see him go completely nonchalantly…Ah…

Also positives- the jumps were tiny, rode tiny, and didn’t excite me at all. Hmmm!

So far, so good for our days back in action. Whoop! Two great lessons in a row, I am a greedy girl (a nice but extremely tough dressage lesson with Karen on Tuesday, and then my jump lesson with Nicole on Wednesday). Oats gets a well-deserved rest day today and I get to go shopping to the Sitka sale. YAY! *after work, of course. Blah…

You wear where you’re from like a second skin

Oats update~ Did a jumping lesson yesterday and it was a short one (did a warm up on my own and we went straight into jumping) and miracle of miracles, we had some of the best gridwork to date!

Cutie

Cutie

It was funny, because I was NOT expecting greatness. I was complaining to one of the lesson kids about how I hate gymnastics, the trot-in part is so awkward, and Oats tends to die out really easily…It’s just so blah.

But yesterday it wasn’t!

We did a small x-rail one-stride to a large x-rail as the gymnastic part, and then a vertical on the diagonal, to a two-stride, to a small oxer on the rail, back to the vertical on  the diagonal.

I was feeling pretty good with myself and Oats when we started the gymnastic- so smooth, and my position felt great! I felt like a hunter princess, hahah. We then worked over the raised x-rail and for some funny reason, even though it got bigger and bigger, it just never looked, ‘that impressive’ you know? It just felt like, eh, another x-rail- even though the middle of it was probably the same height as an oxer¬†combination¬†that was like giving me heart palpitations a few weeks ago!?

Go pony!

Go pony!

We kind of bungled the two-stride (ran out of impulsion, a chip) still like, made the strides but it wasn’t as pretty- but all the other jumps were NICE! And then we gathered up some steam and WENT at the two-stride and that one went fantastic!

It’s lessons like this that make me feel like Oats and I are working together as a team- yeehaw!!!

Plus- for some reason I just didn’t get as jazzed as I normally do. I felt very like, ho hum, about the size/level/complexity of the jumps and course. For me, that is a big accomplishment. Typically, I am a ball of anxiety about the jumps and raising them and oh, everything! This time, I was very zen about it, and just felt like, oh sure, yep can do.

I like that feeling. I want more of it! Go pony!

The only thing a shark respects is a bigger shark: Thursday jump update!

Actually, my Thursday jumping was very mellow. I was wanting to kind of keep things relaxed (my legs are STILL killing me) and wanted to focus on one thing- slowing down my brain.

I have problems with getting too excited jumping, and blasting around the course, rushing, motorcycling with my body, not being straight. It’s due to anxiety, of course.

Blast from the past- Oats at our old barn.

Blast from the past- Oats at our old barn.

So, we worked over small, small fences, x-rails. I still, of course,¬†tried to get excited and start rushing, motorcycling, etc. but in the end? I was able to slow it down and get straighter and calmer through the corners. It was good, and my legs started not cooperating by the end by sliding backwards, like they had a mind of their own…ARGH. Anyways, it was funny but I kind of missed that insane adrenaline rush that comes with *gasp* jumping fences higher than…2ft. HAHA.

Old barn with Oats.

Old barn with Oats.

It felt like, oh well, that was ok. Not, PHEW! We survived!!!!

Hm. Maybe I’m more into the buzz than I even realize?

Oh well! Good Oats, and good me, haha. And get with the program, legs. Jeesh.

One thing I’d like to pick out is when Oats and I had problems (and boy, did we have our fair share) how easy it is to pick out a ‘reason’ he is being a shit-head. And it’s normal, but I want to reiterate that sometimes it IS THE HORSE and his attitude- not the tack (valid sometimes), seasons (valid sometimes), chiro (valid sometimes) or ulcers (valid sometimes).

Yeah, check those out Рbut always keep in the back of your mind that it very well could be the HORSE and you have to work with that, not make excuses (like I listed above- reasons can be come excuses very easily. Trust me. I am an expert excuse machine).

I’m lucky that I have trainers that have helped me handle Oats, even when he is being a massive jerk. So much so that his status quo is ‘not jerk’ most of the time. Except maybe in flat classes at the Appy shows. Jesus, those are never going to be his forte.

But it bums me out when I see people fighting the same fights with their horses (online, in person, wherever) when it’s pretty clear they are finding reasons or making excuses, and something’s gotta give.

I’m happy with Oats most days, but he is an animal and not perfect. Hell, neither am I! So basically it works out well.

Pure Joy

I had a ride last night, and I still have a freaking cold, and was feeling suuuper tired and draggy. It’s been chilly here (for us!) close to -1 in the evenings which is quite unusual so I was feeling blah, crabby and cold, coughing and snotty, gross and out of it.

Because¬†it wasn’t a lesson, I dragged out some poles to work on my position in two-point over, and work on my eye. Oats and I warmed up and he was good, quite good. Listening, interested, sparkly.

We went up to canter, and this is where the ‘pure joy’ moment was…We cruised over and over the poles, and he was SO¬†SMOOTH…I loved it. I could go like that forever. I tried staying up in two-point- my default right now is to sit and push with my seat- and we cruised, and cruised, and cruised.

I felt so happy, so alive. ¬†Even though it’s just poles (yawn), I was just so glad about how cool, smooth and cooperative Oats was.

Of course, because I’m being me, I didn’t leave it at that but that is the memory I am left with from the ride- just cruising along, not a care in the world. Now THAT is what riding should be!

We have a lesson tonight – I’m still feeling pretty lousy from the cold I have that seems to be lingering unpleasantly, and I had some very disturbing post-apocalyptic nightmares again (why???) so yeah still kind of draggy, but we’ll see!

Old photo of Oats

Old photo of Oats

Octopus stew and other handicrafts

Well not technically octopus stew- we braised it in wine, and then grilled it and then served it over salad. Delicious! Very beefy texture.

Octopus stew?

Octopus stew?

We made this awhile ago and I never had the chance to showcase it, haha.

Also sparked my mind because we were very handmade this weekend, making an apple crumble and apple chips in the dehydrator. Yum! Love them!

And how did other things go? Oats was good, got a big clip (hahaha) and so did Gidget. Haircuts for all! So no ride for Oats Saturday, because he had to stay dry and clean for the clip and tranq.

Sleepy clipped Oats

Sleepy clipped Oats- photo courtesy of Nicole

He rode really nicely on Sunday, I schooled a few small fences outdoors and was quite pleased with his ride. Kept it short because I was so happy!

Gidget also gets a haircut

Gidget also gets a haircut

I went on a ok run on Saturday and a better run on Sunday- after getting my knee checked out by professionals on Friday, I feel like I have a better idea how to manage my knee pain- starting with a better running brace to hold my kneecap in place. Getting that tomorrow, yes! And I am also getting my knee x-rayed- hope to get that done next week.

All in all, a more productive, less stressful and happier weekend.