BC Day Adventures on horseback

So I have a friend who is big into trail riding- she has a great trail horse, and all the fun gear like a speaker that hangs on the breastplate of her saddle, and a TRAILER! I am a self confessed trail riding chicken with my own horse. Other trail horses, no prob. Trail ride on Oats? Ughhhhhh…no.

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However, since our other friend has a horse that is recovering from a torn ligament and will likely be off for a year (god, now that is another bad story entirely 😦 ) Our trail friend had nobody to ride with, and so I gathered up my courage and said I would ride on the trails with her. And so, a plan was made!

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We went up to Glenora on Sunday, to the Cowichan Valley Trail that is basically a section of the Trans Canada Trail. There are a few trail options at the trailhead there, but we took the most basic one- straight ahead 🙂 It is very horse-friendly, with lots of parking, two small paddocks, hitching posts, water and a manure pile.

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I asked my husband to come as our lead rider on his bike! We were honestly not at all sure how Oats would be on the trail, so we thought it would be safest to have a hand on the ground just in case the horses got nutty.

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They didn’t though! Good as gold! I was really impressed and surprised. Oats can get silly waiting- he tries to rear, or go in circles, but otherwise he was as cool as a cucumber. From the minute I got on, he was just chill. He is NEVER like that at home on the trails, so I was pretty surprised.

We even got to the trestle and the horses were like no big deal?? Even my dog is afraid of bridges (but she is a huge wimp, sooo…).

We chatted, rode, had snacks and water from Katie’s saddlebags and I even rode up behind Ian to grab a Clif bar out of his backpack while he was cycling. I never thought I would be able to do that?! It was so fun, and just a really chill day.

Rocky (Katie’s dog) was also really well behaved too. The trail was busy, lots of cyclists, runners, dogs, but the horses and everyone kept it together and I was appreciative of how respectful and careful the cyclists and other trail users were. Yes! Plus it was great of Ian to come and ride his bike, because then he could pick berries for us- there were thimbleberries, wild blackberries and huckleberries. Yummy!

What a great day.

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!

Mr. Oats tries cross-country. Recaps on recaps…Starting with Avalon on Friday.

So, silence a few days but for a good reason- I was busy enjoying my horse, life, etc.

From our first outing. So much better this time around...

From our first outing. So much better this time around…

I’d taken a few days off this fall to enjoy myself and boy, did I!

This post is all about Oats and my redemption at…Avalon. I’d gone there in the past to do a small x-c clinic, and it turned into a huge disaster. The other riders were snobby and unwelcoming, the trainer coaching the clinic was a too-intense person and kind of mean (ok, seemed really mean at the time), Oats was losing his shit. He couldn’t keep his four-feet on the ground. He was up in the air, jumping around, being a nut.

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

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

Oh and I had an unpleasant run in with ‘someone’ associated with the day and he was a total psycho to me. Yeah, way to rub it in eh?

So to add it all up- I was supposed to be at a low-level clinic designed as an ‘intro to x-c’ day for fun, because hey we’re not going to the Olympics people- and the clinic participants were rude, my horse was losing his mind, I got yelled at for some reason by ‘that person’ and the trainer was kind of mean and too intense for the low level group.

A recipe for success? Not so much. I packed it up and left early, in tears, vowing never to try x-c again.

Until last Friday…!

Since I was taking some time off showing, I thought maybe I could try again. And this time, all I wanted was a new experience with my horse, one-on-one with my trainer. No clinic pressure, no crazy other people, nothing. Relaxed, low-key.

And it was GREAT! Redemption!

We hauled out on Friday and Oats went with my trainer and her horse, Query. I was so nervous. So anxious. I just wanted it to go well, and see what happened. We walked the length of both courses and I felt worried but Oats was holding it together. He was a little bit looky and ‘up’ but I mean, compared with how he could have been? He was golden!

My trainer’s horse wasn’t feeling well- just out of character and ulcery. She noticed this after she longed her in the main ring and she just didn’t settle. Oats on the other hand, was having a blast! We cruised up and down the ring, jumped the dressage ring markers (shhh…) and had a fun time! We headed back out to the x-c field to work out a bit more and I spent a lot of time cantering at the top of a hill, quite a funny feeling.

We wrapped up with my trainer unfortunately hopping off Query and hand-walking her, while she supervised my-and-Oats’ log-jumping. He was ON FIRE! It was crazy. I have never ridden him with him so eager, so focused, so intense. It was kind of fast for me, I have to admit…Haha. We even did a little hop up and down a bank and he like, charged it haha.

He was jumping really well and was just so great. Ah…redemption feels good. I was so proud of my brave little pony. Good work Oats and I left feeling super about the whole thing. Maybe we can do this, try new things, enjoy our partnership together.

After you’ve gone- Oats update!

 

So it goes

So it goes

 

I think a vacation was great for the both of us. I hopped on Oats Sunday after flying back from NYC Saturday night, getting in at midnight…3am NYC time…So wasn’t expecting greatness but he was great!

I felt a little rusty, but we worked in the indoor because I was able to ride with a friend, and she wanted to put the radio on when we rode (pls it was pretty hot!).

Oats was so cute, so agreeable. We hopped over some poles, did some trot work, some canter and some collected trot-ish.

We also trotted over a ‘skinny’ fence with no standards set up in the middle of the ring just for fun. Oats was so game!

And then yesterday, I had ANOTHER great ride. Rode in the outdoor, and Oats just SO ON! Yeah!!!! I was just really feeling his vibe, and we were clicking really well.

Hmm…maybe a vacation was needed?

I ended up cutting my ride short yesterday because I wanted to save some of his energy for tonight’s lesson – he gets Wed off- and quite frankly, because I was so happy with his attitude. Yes ma’am! It rocked!

Oats does dressage

Oats does dressage

I’m feeling very thankful that I can come back after a week and have Mr. Oaty-pony be so agreeable with me. Love that little dude. Now, if only my rotten little mutt Gidget would behave so well at her grandparent’s place, instead of taking the opportunity to become a tyrant and boss the other dogs around the yard.

Oh well. Animals- can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.