The next blue sky- Jump lesson recap!

Jump lesson on Thursday! And we are officially out in the wide open arena, and with it came a lot of anxiety and trepidation. I love riding in the outdoor (so big! so freeing!) but I have had some rough rides out there, so my love of it is always tempered by fear. Last summer, I spent a LOT of time falling off jumping in the outdoor. Sometimes twice in one lesson!

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I swear, there wasn’t one lesson I did’t fall off in. So what was up with that? Some pretty severe growing pains, I guess?

Anyways, I was excited but nervous. Nicole had set up a really cool equitation course, but it had FIVE oxers in it (could have been six, but we left the first jump a single, since we flubbed it EVERY time we went to it…yeah).

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But they were small oxers (2”) but to me, they looked big? Ha that’s my brain playing tricks on me. Last week I jumped a 2’9” oxer??? And this week I’m fussing about 2” oxers? Oh brain, get with the program.

Anyways, Oats was moving a bit weirdly because he is tender-footed and finds it hard in the outdoor until he gets his shoes on (June 8) BUT he was going pretty nice for a horse that pussy-foots everywhere! Nicole got after me for wanting to chase him at the jumps. We did get two refusals, but I chalked those up to bad distances, re-approached with no issues at all.

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Later the jumps looked tiny, ha. Oh well! We had some great moments, some really shitty ones (eeek, 3 strides in the 2, we never made the two..gah) and the first jump was always craptacular. But you know what? We DID IT!  Jumped successfully a reasonably long course in the outdoor with lots of twists, turns, oxers and a trot fence- yeah we flubbed that one too.

Things to work on: Straightness, jesus. Not straight at all as I go along the course. Elbows! Sitting in the backseat- give a little more to the horse. Breathing. The usual…;)

Good first day back in the outdoor, and bit by bit, I will conquer my outdoor demons, haha.

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At first, you go with them. Then, they go with you. Then you go together.

A lovely saying by Tom Dorrance about horse training. It’s so true, isn’t it!

So for my jump lesson, we were back in the outdoor arena- WOW it’s so early to be there, I can’t even believe it. I’m not really that prepared to ride outdoors (when not at a horse show) yet. Oats needs his front shoes, he is very ouchy on the sand in the ring, and my riding fitness and balance need a fair bit of work…Feel very different outdoors than in.

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The course- setting and design and photo courtesy of Nicole and Sarah! (the jumps were not this high when I was jumping them, except for maybe the polka-dot planks!)

We warmed up and there was an excellent course set up, courtesy of my trainer and friend who worked to design and set it. I was both excited and kind of nervous to be back outside in the big ring. Oats felt a bit stumbly, and off-balance. He was decently forward, but I could tell he was having some trouble with his feet- first time outside- and going downhill (the ring is slightly sloped), he was having more difficulty maintaining the canter/balancing. He broke several times into a big runny trot.

So, managing these issues, we warmed up over an x-rail to a small vertical. It felt weird being in the outdoor! I felt kind of off balance too! Oats was backed off during this exercise, so we worked on getting him thinking forward- understanding too that he is challenged by the new footing, etc.

We then schooled a few lines, and repeatedly bungled the one outside line that is set slightly downhill into the sun. I just felt like Oats was unsure about it…Well he surprised me by slamming on the brakes when we came to the line at first!~ I’d forgotten than he hadn’t jumped the bridge in a year and he was surprised by it too, hahah. Oh well. We schooled it a few times, and every time we got to the pink oxer, it just felt really…blahhh. He just never felt that comfortable over that line- I believe it was a footing/balance issue.

Then we moved on to an equitation course. It wasn’t set very high, but had a few challenges- like a bending line, a broken line, a two-stride and that infamous outside line that we never rode very prettily.

The course went well, great actually. I was very pleased with Oats’ go-forward attitude!

Time to put it up!

And the wheels kind of fell off here- primarily due to a steering issue with me. Oops!

After the outside line -that STILL rode very ugly- we came in to the two-stride set higher, and I was pulling to the left…Oats went in long, and we came into the middle of the second jump. I almost fell off- because he is such a trier!

That was 100% my fault- pulling, wrong distance, steering all over the place!

We pried ourselves out of the oxer, and re-approached. This time I focused very hard on the second jump, and counter-bent Oats on the approach. We flew over it! YES!

The rest of the course rode fairly well, not so much that I can even really remember it…Oh wait, yes he seemed to get disunited on both bending and broken lines, and I believe that was due to him being a bit confused about our direction and the footing. Something to fix!

For our first go-around in the outdoor jumping, I was very pleased with Oats. He is such a trier, and he was very pleasant to ride.

Foxstone winter series: Recap of the final show!

 

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Our loot- the 4th place is for our single 2’3” round!

 

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It wasn’t really sunny for a single moment yesterday! Shoot!

I’ll preface this by saying I had a really great jump lesson on Thursday (even did a small grid w/o hands) so anything at the show was basically a cherry on top! That said, my recap is tinged with a bit of bitterness–I was standing in reserve champ in my division standings by the third show and I did NOT manage to hang on to it. Shoooooot! I so wanted it this  year and felt like I really worked hard to keep it!

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Lacking any new media- from last year’s show.

Instead, I dropped down to third, and honestly–it was nice to keep it there, as the final show was quite competitive in my division, with up to 14 riders per class! Crazy eh?!

Still, my goals aren’t ribbons–they’re good experiences. Sometimes I do lose sight of that.

Oats warmed up nicely in the outdoor arena and it was so wet! Wet footing splashed up all over us when we landed from a jump. I had sand on my face even! Oats had it on his bit, on his nose, everywhere. It was a very rainy day, and I was feeling supremely grouchy because of it…

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Then we went to do our brief warmup they offer in the ring, and that’s when the wheels kind of fell off…Oats was a bit crow-hoppy in the outdoor, but I brushed it off, until he was VERY humpy and crowhopping in the corners of the indoor. I immediately felt panicked…This is it, he’s going for a launch again..Just like what happened in the past. I was worried.

We pulled it together and worked over the two warmup fences twice, just to clear any residual concerns about his silly behaviour in the corners. Nicole counseled me to sit tall, and work to mitigate his silliness in the corners before he had a chance to act out. Easier said than done? Years of shows past where he completely launched me echoed in my head…

I’m not gonna lie, I was GRAY going in to my first round.

It was not a fabulous round. I rode extremely conservatively, and rather tensely as well. I didn’t give Oats as much freedom and leg as I should have (and could have). I rode deliberately for the short distance and he didn’t get a chance to act up.

Coming out, Nicole and Sarah said I looked better, and I said I felt a “bit” better but I was still riding very backwards, and constrained. Went in for round two and I couldn’t shake it! Still holding back, and very management-style riding. Oats was fine, and he was managing my silliness now…

Third round and I felt slightly better- it was my equitation round and I started coming out of it more and actually riding, instead of acting like a manikin. We even aced the trot fence that last show we completely bungled. Go us!

A LOOOONGG wait for the flat class and we kind bombed it. I’m not sure what the secret is for a great one (all the stars align?) but Oats was chargey and rude and kind of wanted to get crazy in the canter, but I held him firmly under wraps. Gak!

I started backpedaling like crazy after my flat class. Ambitiously (ok, ambitious for me, the wimp!) I had signed up for a single 2’3” class to round out my day. And then I immediately didn’t want to ride it…

I was cold, wet and it took forever for the 2” division to be over, due to the large number of entries. Still, Nicole was NOT. HEARING. IT. and basically forced me into the warm up ring for the 2’3” warm up. And you know what? Oats was GREAT in it!

I went in to the 2’3” class telling myself–this one I don’t give a shit. Go, finish your class and you’re done for the day. Who cares?!! And it was the BEST CLASS OF THE DAY!

True we had a moment of disunited canter when I thought – mistakenly- that we could get the change behind and boyyyy we sure didn’t. Ooops! But other than that I finally- finally, felt connected to Oats, and we were rockin’ it!

No silly humping or being a twit from Oats, no backwards riding from me. Just good, forward, getting it done!

I came out of the ring smiling. Smiling!! Me?! 

That, despite the ribbons for the day being kind of a wash (two 6th places, two 5th places, and a fourth), made me the happiest of the day. Heck, we did place even out of 14 riders in every one of our classes, so I’m not too sorry about the low-number ribbons. The fact that I didn’t want to, and then I did ride my best in my last class of the day, made all the difference to me.

I went the whole day waiting for that moment to happen. And then it did!

Foxstone show recap: November show!

On paper (well, in ribbons) this show looked pretty darn good- and to be honest, my complains and frustration comes from a place of progress not fear. So that IS a good thing.

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My new show jacket! I love it. A big thanks to my trainer for taking me this day.

Let’s break it down: I placed 2nd in the equitation over fences, two thirds in the hunter o/f classes and a fourth in the flat.Not too shabby eh? Well, I made some BIG mistakes in the jump classes, to the tune of not enough leg at all, and a big add in the the line with some chips, and then a lovely round in my second class to a huge fail at the…last fence…shit! We basically stopped, and climbed over it. Nothing but a total failure to ride the last fence on my part, which was very disappointing.

I lit a fire under my butt for the last jump class- I told myself NO MORE CHIPPING and NO MORE ADDING and oh, no more forgetting to ride the last fence and start congratulating myself too early, ha.

And you know what? It was our best round! I was moving.

Except then I didn’t know how to take that ‘BIG’ energy down enough for our flat class and I totallllllly bombed it. Oats was tense and anxious, and I was handsy and clutching, feeling afraid that he was bottled up and bucky, but not really knowing how, at the moment, to deal with it. Shoooot…

So, I kind of flopped, pulled, got anxious and failed my way through the flat class- we picked up the wrong lead on the right (TWICE! kill me now…) and generally I was kind of frustrated and miserable. Our last flat class was a dream so what in hell was going on?

Well heck, it’s all a learning experience! It is actually nice to take what I’ve consciously learned from the first show, and apply it to the second show.

We didn’t get a fabulous warmup- the outside ring was frozen solid- and so was I, by the way! So we had to just slowly walk around, freezing our asses off, until we could get into the indoor to warm up over fences. The scene there was total chaos, some riders seemed to have a warm up technique of repeatedly falling off…I felt disjointed and a bit disorganized, but Oats was a dream to warm up. The only thing I was annoyed about was his throwing his head around, but that’s just a warm up thing, I’m sure.

We then sat…and sat…and sat…freezing our butts off, while we waited for the final rotation to go- and we were last in the final rotation. Lovely.

I think the issues were clear- not enough energy for our over fences classes until the last one, when I finally mustered up enough ‘go’ for the course, and then WAY too much ‘go’ for my flat.

The sitting really killed our impulsion for sure, and then when I needed to be ‘sitting’…well, we were already in the ring for the flat class and didn’t have that necessary ‘decompression’ time Oats and I apparently need to not kill anyone in a flat class. I couldn’t moderate myself enough. It was 0-60 all the time.

Hm, interesting.

I had a dream that night that I was galloping Oats and I felt a bit out of control, but that I also liked it…It was strange. I felt like that dream was telling me that was what I needed at the show, but was blocked from achieving it.

So, last night I did my equine counseling session with Vicki, and kind of actually ended up re-enacting some gallops from my dreams? Weird eh? I guess that was what I needed to get…that big gallop, the good canter, and the ‘free, floaty, smooth’ trot that I could NOT get at the show.

It had to come up somewhere. So it did. I liked it!

I like seeing the progression, and I’m liking the process. So what if I am frustrated–at least it’s taking me places to see new things about myself and my horse.

It’s funny- when I said I was half pleased, half disappointed about the show, Vicki asked what would make me 100% happy about the show. What if I came home with all first places?

I instantly knew I what I would say–that the competition was weak, so I was the best out of the worst.

That surprised me. I need to be happy with what I am achieving right now.

Foxstone hunter show: Winter series finale recap!

This Sunday we attended the final show in the Foxstone hunter winter series. They offer three horse shows over the winter as a way to tune up a bit and get some exposure. The stable is fabulous, and the people are really friendly and fun to talk to. I highly recommend attending the series- and it doesn’t hurt that the prizes they offer are SO GOOD!

I have now attended two of their shows. Last time I went to this show, I was primarily focused on gaining back confidence. I suffer from performance anxiety, and in general, extreme tension when I’m showing and jumping. I had kind of a tough summer, (lots of falls, just silly ones but they really build up) and I wanted to go out, and just…Have fun. So, I rode in the crossrails division and was the division champion! I like to joke that I am now heading to the crossrails Olympics.

So. Serious.

So. Serious.

This show, I decided I could do the 2′ feet hunter division. And when we rode it, it really wasn’t about the jumps- it was about the canter in between the jumps! Oats was a tad ‘wired for sound’ so he kind of felt edgy, like maybe he was going to pull some SERIOUS shenanigans. That led to the first jump on-course being, well, interesting for a lack of better terms. He kind of lunged forward, like he was going to do his patented ‘leap-buck-buck’ until I go flying off!

[I’m going to add here that my husband joined me and was able to take these pics! Thanks to him 🙂 even though I like to joke that he is bad luck, because I always seem to fall off when he’s at a horse show!!]

I managed to circle him, approach the first fence, and the rest of the course rode beautifully. And then the same with the second, and third, courses. So, I was like, ARGH what is with this horse? The bucking, snorty head-tossing? And then we’re like..so ON when we get rolling?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

But, I’m proud about one thing- I did NOT let it derail me. We rode the rest of the courses (and, gulp, managed to survive the flat class) without zoning out, disassociating and falling off! AND a personal Oats victory- managed to get into the ring without him balking at the in-gate and we didn’t even have to take laps outside, he managed just fine in the little area at the in-gate.

In the past, this would have completely destroyed my entire course, and division. I didn’t let it get to that point this time. And, I love Foxstone- I won the draw for my entries for the day, so my division was free! I paid for the office fees and the stall rental but other than that, made out like a bandit. What a nice idea eh?

And to top it off, we are going to the small year-end awards dinner this Wednesday AND my friend, who shows at a much higher height than me (think a foot higher!) is also getting an award. What a nice way to cap off the winter series, don’t you think?!

Great horse show prizes!

Great horse show prizes!

YAY!

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When they really get to know you they will run: Horse show #4 with Mr. Oats!

When they really get to know you they will run: Horse show #4 with Mr. Oats!

Yep, fourth this season! And as you can see from our glorious photo, it actually went quite well.

The show series is very small, low-pressure. We entered the 2’3” hunter and eq classes. I was tempted to stay for the hack classes, but it was freaking pouring rain on and off all morning, and we got SOAKED. I was feeling cranky, so I begged my coach to drive us back early. Ha.

Next time I guess?

I was feeling quite anxious when we started. Oats doesn’t have the greatest track record at this ring (bucked me off more than once, a total idiot in the flat classes) so yeah…

We did our warmup very quickly, and then hung out in the rain for awhile for our class to go. And then bang, in the ring! Oats was instantly on edge. Things that alarmed him:

– So many umbrellas.
– Alone in the ring? Where did the warmup horses go?
– Bushes! Trees! What is behind them?
– Rain? I can’t see where I’m going!
– Exciting! Everything is exciting right now! I think I’m going to jump out of my skin and maybe think about bucking?

Luckily, I managed to kind of wrestle him around the first time, umbrellas notwithstanding…It was not pretty. Anyways, back in for round #2~ MUCH better. He was still a tad unfocused, but held it together far better.

Round #3- Eq round. I saw a lot of riders (well, I exaggerate. There were 6 total in the div, it was tiny) do a pretty slick inside turn to both fence #1 and fence #4. I was intrigued. I decided that I would try for those as well, hopefully Oats felt the same.

And was he with me? YEEAH!! Felt really good, bang-on for those inside turns and we were even straight, if you can believe it. Tactful ride, he was with me, and we did it, even the short distance to the stop – wait for 5 seconds – and finish. Yes, we have on occasion blown the stop, or I think we stopped for long enough and leave early. Hah.

So, bit of a rough ride in the beginning but we pulled it together and finished with a second in 2’3” Eq. Yes!!! And I was more than happy to go home, haha. SO WET.

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Throwback Thursday: Starr at Burnaby Horsemen’s Association

Throwback Thursday: Starr at Burnaby Horsemen's Association

Love this girl! She is such a fun little ride, like driving a Mini Cooper!

I even rode her in a in-house horseshow (pony hack and x-pole equitation) and we placed quite well, even though people were laughing at us during the jumping class. I think we placed fourth in it?

I put my saddle on her and we struggled to find a girth that would fit, as she was so tiny! I never really ever rode her in a saddle, I just tooled around bareback instead. She was such a fun and bold jumper, and loved going on trails. I schooled her for her owner, who had a few horses at Burnaby Horsemen’s Association stables.

Miss her a lot, she was such a blast! I’m sure she is teaching her owner’s little boy how to ride now (oh and she could have a real naughty streak, tried to buck me off really good a few times!) And I have memories of her dragging me into a drainage ditch…Ha.

Her hand gallop was like, as slow as molasses, but she was a fun little ride.

I’ll have to post photos of her at the horse show, it was hilarious!