Field fun!

Have a crazy few weeks going down at work so have to limit the blog writing, but in the meantime we’ve been doing lots of dressage rides, zero jump lessons, and lots of working equitation lessons too!

Even Oats is embarrassed at what I am wearing!

We have also been riding around in the fields- not so much in the big field as you cannot get to it at the bottom anymore, you can only get to it from the top of the stables, so I usually just ride and then zip out to the lower fields. Today though, big field (the one he went kind of bananas in and galloped around bucking, eeek) has my name on it!!

We also rode in shorts the other day (regretfully, ouch my skin) and had some fun while Ian videotaped us jumping the small fences I put out in the field with his help. Every year, without fail, I am the only one to put jumps out- so at least this year I get to enjoy it!!!! Unlike the absolute disaster of last year, which shall not be named, ugh.

Fun in the field!!

Fun times!!

And apparently another heatwave is coming?? We have been very, very lucky to not have smoke here. I am very appreciative of that.

Field days find us again~

A bit later than usual as I was away on holidays, but we’re back in the field! I am seeing a big difference between Oats who gets turnout (he is not allowed for 1 year after his injury) and the Oats who isn’t turned out….The Oats of this year is HOT HOT HOT in the field. He was amped, so amped that all he wanted to do was bolt straight up the hill, all the time lol!!

Walking after a LOT of work

I am not used to riding hot-spicy-butt on fire Oats, haha. We ended up doing a lot and I mean LOT of work in the field to settle. Almost 1 hour straight and it was quite warm out. I don’t know where he gets this energy? I may have added to his excitement by jumping the hay bales that are literally everywhere, hahah. He was on fire about it! Got so excited that he started bucking afterwards, and then almost bucked me off going up the hill. Crazy Oats?!

In his fairness I did get left behind a few hay bales and he really didn’t like that, so he threw a few bucks on landing. I get it Oats, totally get it- ride better!

We rode a few more canters (controlled in a circle, thanks very much) and then trotted more, up and down, and then called it quits and walked around. His nostrils were flaring even! I hopped off and walked him to cool out in the farm yard, and then hosed him down. He hasn’t worked that hard in over a year, I don’t think?!

The Oats who gets turnout is never that hot to trot, so this Oats certainly is jazzed up and has energy to move his butt.

I need what you need: Lesson/ride recaps!

Rode this weekend (it was a long weekend for us, so I took Sunday off go to swimming in the river in Cowichan) and had a BLAST!

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Horse friends at the horse show from the other weekend. Summer is flying by! 

Saturday my friend and I rode in all of the fields – literally went from field to field jumping everything. It was so fun! Even the scarier fences that backed me off recently and last year (I’m looking at you, coop) we jumped. True Oats did stop at the coop once, but he figured it out and I figured out how to ride over the fence, not just to it..HA.

He was a bit silly at the gate again (a theme to be repeated in my lesson on Monday..) but no matter. We jumped a few fences in the other x-c field,including a fan jump that I at first didn’t want to jump (too high!) but then when Brenda set it up to it’s original height, I said sure no problem- and sure enough it went great!

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I have now jumped almost all of the jumps in the fields! 

From there, my friend and I rode over to yet another field and jumped a small bank going upwards. At first Oats spooked at it- WHA? What is THAT! And then he followed big brother Donato up the bank and then we did it again without Donato. Good boy Oats! 🙂

We then went into the big hay field and cantered up the hill. Oats took this to mean he can bulge his right shoulder and drag me to the gate, so we then had the opportunity to do a bit more schooling, you little jerk…

All in all, a really fun and encouraging ride. I tried things I probably never would have done without my friend there riding with me. Yes!

Sunday we took off from riding to go swimming up-Island, and then I had a dressage lesson on Sunday. The theme? Back to basics, equitation-science style. It was pretty eye opening and I came away with some things to practice (transitions using split-rein, spiraling in and out using on my hands, and turns w/o using leg, just hands). Oats was pretty good until we cooled out, and then he immediately got sticky about the gate and started threatening to rear.

I, having dealt with this, oh every single week or so? Tossed down my water bottle and started getting ready for battle. BUT here’s the switch- no battle needed. Annika asked what the problem was (Oats threatening to rear at the gate, up to the left and won’t go right) and so she said move his shoulder right then. No panic, kicking frantically, nothing. Just…right. He pops up again? No big. Go right. Up again? Easy- go right. Up again? Go right.

By taking the fuss and frantic-ness out of the behaviour, Oats gave up and went right, ha. But he is a persistent little bugger, and when I decided I was going to cool out in the arena, he immediately started trying to rear and go left again. Ah, this again. Ok. Pop up? Go right. Then forward. Stop and pop up? Go right, and then forward.

We must have done this for oh, 15 minutes or so. But guess what? I won! We then proceeded to walk calmly, and coolly, around the arena for as long as I wanted and for as long as I asked for. I went back to the gate, ‘tempted’ him to misbehave there a few times and he was fine. Darn this habit though, it is annoying!

Horses- always simple, never easy.

Be the one you love: A good lesson update

Last jumping lesson, I was kind of bemoaning the fact that Oats just didn’t have any ‘oomph’ and consequently was grinding slowly to a halt at some pretty easy fences. I just didn’t have it in me to make a change in those last few strides, even though I knew I had to. So how do I manage this? What can I do to help?

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Nancy took this photo of Oats sharing a moment with her daughter’s pony and Oats’ twin. So cute! 

A few things actually- I had an equine counseling session to determine why my anxiety was stopping me from being more proactive on Monday.

And in my riding lesson last night, I came armed with something a little more – a pair of my ‘motivator’ spurs (they are pretty long). Now a note about Oats and spurs: I could NOT use them on him for years. He would basically send me to the freaking moon. He had a very hard buck and was not afraid to use it! So, I couldn’t use my ‘motivators’ on him, heck I couldn’t even use my regular small spurs on him.

But now, he is at the ripe old age of 17 and more mature. It was time.

So I came into the ride with some backup to my leg – the long spurs. We warmed up in the arena, and I kind of wanted to have a freakout when he got silly about going through the gate to the outdoor field (where we spent time on Wednesday setting up x-c style jumps…so fun!!) but Oats gets weird about the gate, so he was rearing/hopping up, etc.

With that, I wanted to spiral. Shit!!

But Nicole talked me through it, haha and soon we were happily walking and trotting in and out of the arena to the field with no drama. Phew!! Now on to jumping. We warmed up in canter over a small x-rail to a 6-or 7- stride line. The normal Oats would get 7…and that would be a stretch. The new and improved motivated Oats? 6 bang on. Wow!!

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Our ‘x-c’ jumps in the field.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the spurs would have on our ‘forward to the jump’ at all. It was crazy- my legs got tired because instead of squeezing or kicking, I was having to steer with them, and hold them still! They were burning? Oats also had a few ‘squeal!!’ moments when he realized I was using my spurs to get some forward- a few sassy kick outs but nothing bad.

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This one looked weird but rode fine!

And I realized that I was definitely going to have to get used to this ‘new Oats’…He was very forward, but when I was not careful and kicked or squeezed with my spurs too much, he ‘spurted’ forward and would get flat over the fence= rails down. I had to be more careful about maintaining the pace, rather than trying to get ‘more’ pace as I am used to.

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We jumped the other hay bales, not these ones.

All in all, it felt crazy, exciting and kind of thrilling. Who is this new thoroughbred I am riding? It’s Oats! We also went into the field and schooled some of the small x-c jumps and he was awesome, but we also faced the forward =/ flat jump issue and he hardcore ignored some half halts and just slammed a rail. SIGH! Oh well. He was very responsive and I was very impressed. Wow.

As with any new power, comes responsibility. I will only use these for jump lessons under supervision.

A few good rides

I rode Oats Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues but you know since I took Monday off (and spent EIGHT HOURS at the barn…) it didn’t feel like that many days in a row?

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In the big field last year.

We schooled flatwork primarily, but I also did a big-field ride on Sunday for a quicki ride (30 minutes of transitions up and down the hill) and then I rode in the smaller field last night for a dressage-type ride. Oats was really good!

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In the small field last year.

I love that the fields are opened up again, a lot of really fond memories are of us just cruising around in the field, year after year.

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha). Last year.

My friend and I also set aside some time and set up the new jump course in the outdoor arena. Wow, I am SO not good at it and it is a lot of work. I’m glad our trainer is so interested in setting up and maintaining the riding arena, lots of new jump courses to try out for fun! The weather is finally turning around, after a really blah and lousy weekend (rain on Monday, chilly and windy, on and off clouds). C’mon summer!!

Taking what’s not yours

Ride/life update- all good!

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Slow chukkar- not me, but it’s a general idea. Photo by the Victoria Polo Club.

Dressage ride on Oats on Tuesday, to make up for my rather schedule-less week (no lessons, whaaat?). Transitions up to a ‘big’ or extended trot, and back down. Still not interested in listening when we are at the ‘spooky’ corner but overall a fairly good ride. A longer one, because on Wednesday…

I played polo! In the beginner’s slow chukka. And it was fun! I committed a huge foul (crossing my stick in front of another horse, which is dangerous because I could trip the horse if we were playing at speed) BUT I also got a goal- my first! 🙂

So, learning experience all ’round eh?

And after polo (it is short, 15 mins practicing and 15 mins of play time) I hop back into my car and drive to the barn to ride Oats. No rest for the wicked! We just toodled around in the field, my goal for Wednesday.

Today no jump lesson, so I was planning on schooling myself a bit in the jump ring outdoors (small fences) after work. Weather got chilly last night, and cool this morning but it’s looking pretty good for the weekend so fingers crossed.

After my very busy weekend last week, I am looking forward to a long weekend with fun times to relax! (ha, what is relaxing…I don’t think I know how to do that).

Don’t give up on your dreams, Buddy!

A busy weekend when I wasn’t really expecting it! My folks moved officially to the Island, so we spent a lot of time with them. Then the time we weren’t eating/visiting, I was riding good ol’ Oats and running (track with my husband for practice, and the trails at Thetis Lake for fun!).

Oats was great this weekend, my rides seemed fairly forgettable in a good way so yesss! Saturday I worked over a pole, and did some straightness work. Easier said than done…

We did something funny on Sunday–I jumped him around a little bit in the ring and he was a bit sassy/tired/balky, so I cut it out after a few jumps and took him to the big field, and we did…Trot sets! To me and Oats, trot sets= my sprinting track work. He was huffing and puffing, ha. Still had enough energy to s

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Running in the field is my favourite says Oats! The dressage part…not so much.

pook right at the end though, going up a hill. What a goof!

This is what we did:

Walk in field. Pick up trot for 3 minutes, and then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for 4 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for 5 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Back down!

Trot for 4 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for 3 minutes, then 2 minutes walk.

Trot for a few minutes (he spooked then, so clearly he had a lot of energy and I lost track of my time…) and then cool-down walk.

This took me to noon, and time to hop off and go home.

Monday I did an equine counselling session and we discussed the show (good at managing challenges, kind of bad at my fall/trying to hold myself together to compete); and Oats’ mystery behaviour on Wednesday- her conclusion was that he was tired. And you know? He was acting so strangely that I totally buy it. Interesting!

Tuesday was my dressage lesson with Karen Brain. We were back out in the field and it was hard work! It was also really cool. We worked on picking up the canter on the ‘up’ side of a hill, incorporating a circle, and then managing the circle to the down-part of the hill. Hilariously, we sucked at it for awhile- I couldn’t seem to manage to keep going on a circle, keep his canter ‘bouncy’ and up instead of sprawling and flat, and make my hands do what I wanted them to!

It got better though, phew. A very neat ride.

Strengths & Weaknesses: Horse edition

Appy Show July

And this is all about weaknesses:

So, I’m including a photo here that I think neatly displays one of my major faults: Busy, erratic hands that fly up, and I yank on the inside rein.

Now, I actually like the photo (the composition is lovely! Good action shot!) But DAMN, does it ever show what is going wrong.

I have problems in the dressage ring with this behaviour- oh, he’s not turning in a circle at the canter fast enough?Yank upwards! BANG! A huge buck by Oats and off I go. SHIT!

And unfortunately I got too busy with my hands this weekend. It was a really nice weekend, hot, sunny, lazy…And I got cranky and annoyed with Oats. Unreasonably so..

I guess I was hot, cranky and not feeling it. Oats, in turn, was not HAVING it. So, we rode along for awhile getting on each other’s last nerve. Ha.

I was too busy with my hands- and remember last week I wasn’t keeping his attention with my hands? Well this time, it was too much! I can’t win!

He was fussy, spooky and being ridiculous at the end of the ring. I was being annoyed, pully and grabby.

It was definitely not a win, haha.

So, yesterday I helped out at the barn clean-up day, wore a tanktop and athletic shorts to clear blackberries (ask me again what a bright idea that was) using an electric hedge trimmer. It was actually tough work! My back hurts today!

But, after the work, we had a nice potluck and I did a bit more blackberry trimming, and then saddled up Oats and went for a fun ride in the field, wearing my shorts. It was a quick, fun, and productive ride.

Gone was the pissy-grabby-sucking back BAG of a ride we had on Sunday. We cruised in the field, he was a bit spooky, but we got some really nice forward trot/canter work done. YEAH!

Some days, I guess, you need to toss it up and tool around in the field for 20 minutes…

Lesson tonight with Karen Brain!

(Photo courtesy of the talented Anne-Marie Sorvin)