The machine that made us: Jump lessons!

Yesterday. Wow. So, the day went pretty seamlessly- work was good, it was fairly pleasant to run home and I was heading out to enjoy a walk with Gidget. I had my headphones in, and was listening to my favourite podcast at the moment (Casefile, check it out!) until my good mood came to a screeching halt thanks to an insanely rude, entitled neighbour.

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Dirty details don’t need to come out but protip: Confronting someone with ‘are you deaf’? pretty much NEVER goes well, you old crank. God, it really brought my happy mood down and raised alllllll of my hackles. Don’t mess with me. 

Anyways, I was amped and angry and then spent over an hour driving in traffic to the barn, leading to me rushing around and literally running to grab tack, horse, boots…Yeah. I was in an awful mood going into my riding lesson. Pissed, running late, angry, etc etc the proverbial black cloud was hanging over me.

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This sadly bled into my ride. I felt awkward, clumsy, not connecting well, Oats felt sucked back, tenderfooted and his canter? Ha, what canter. He could not hold the canter, warmed up feeling like a piece of cardboard…Yeah. So, success??

We worked over a few elements of the course in the outdoor and they went ok, until we strung them into a course. Ugh, horrible. I was getting left behind, riding defensively, you name it, I was doing it. I could NOT get in the ‘groove’ per se.

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We regrouped, and then went to tackle the course again- and Nicole suggested I let my body ‘flow’ more and focus on a big, exaggerated two-point bend/release instead of my stiff, defensive, ‘sit’ position. This would help Oats jump better too, as he would feel me committing more to the jump and not riding from the backseat (one of my bigger flaws at the moment).

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Brenda kindly gave Oats her old flymask after his other one got destroyed last week. Wonder how long this will last?

And wouldn’t you know, it worked! Our second course rode really well! Some bobble fences, but overall it flowed much better, we met the fences together, rather than Oats and then me, and it was overall just much more pretty and positive. A great note to end on! AND my friend was there, so I got video + screenshots from it. YES! Plus- I matched with Oats (on purpose this time) so we look pretty too.

So, from good, to really bad, to good again. A rollercoaster of a day!

 

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100 of anything

Monday I had an equine counseling session, in which we reviewed my dressage tests to discuss how they went, and things to improve on (more emotionally than physically). There were lots of points to get better on, but what Vicki said was the biggest win for me was when I felt Oats getting tense in the ring in the canter – historically our biggest challenge- I ‘let go’ of his face and gave more with my hands, so he didn’t get bottled up and angry. It led to a really good feeling and a strong test.

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Throwback Thursday to…Sunday! Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

Even in the warm-up, I ‘gave’ more when I felt him wanting to get bottled up and start swapping his leads (he does this at horse shows, not so much at home). And guess what, when I ‘gave’ he didn’t want to swap anymore! A metaphor for life perhaps? By letting go you get more back, rather than grabbing and trying to control the horse (life). Interesting!

On to what I had to practice though- transitions. So many transitions. Our weakest points are too abrupt and head too high/loss of contact.

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Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

So how to fix? UGH, by doing a lot of transitions, of course. My favourite. (not).

On Tuesday I came out ready for action. I was going to do 100 transitions, and I found that this would take most of my ride actually. Up, down, big trot, little trot. Halt-trot, halt-walk. Walk- canter, big canter, little canter (this never actually happened, as our more focused canter work needed to not be during a shitshow lesson that was happening at the same time…).

It was tough! I was sweating, Oats was working hard.

It was a good effort though and a really interesting way to structure the work I found. Rather than riding around aimlessly, we had a purpose. Something I do struggle with, particularly when I am working around other riders in a small indoor during their lessons, when I am trying to stay out of their way and they are all over the place!

Go Oats Go!

Wild’n’Wooly show recap: SUCCESS!

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Braid job and photo thanks to the lovely Sarah C!

After having to cancel two dressage shows with Oats this past year, I was understandably concerned about this one–I REALLY wanted to take him. The Wild’n’Wooly shows are new to us, I wanted to support them, and last time I took Blaze and had a great time. I thought maybe I could do even better with Oats~

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Photo thanks to John.

We were at Training Level, because of our rustiness. In September I was planning on moving him up to First Level, but after he almost died, we had to cancel. Which was fine, I would rather enjoy lots more years with my boy! And then this past spring he had the plague that all the horses picked up, so I couldn’t bring him and NO WAY was I feeling prepared enough to jump straight to First Level this spring. So, Training it is!

And it went sooo well! He warmed up really nicely, listening, not overbent, not bucky- though he did feel QUITE jazzed in the show arena, which made me feel a bit concerned, but when I ‘gave’ him my hands in the canter he responded really nicely and stretched instead of getting ‘up’ and bottled up and balky. Sooo that’s a win!

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Braids by Sarah C. Awesome job eh?

He was a total dink to get into the arena though- running backwards, gate sour. We had to get a running start from Christina every time. SIGH. Oats you are way too mature and experienced to be a crank about going in the in-gate. That was the only big bobble from our day though, so as one of my friends also riding put it ‘I’d rather the horse be a dink about going into the ring rather than have them be a dink IN the ring!’ Ha, ok that’s so true.

So the tests had some minor mistakes- my halt sucked at my first Training Level 2 test, but otherwise was ok. I came into my Training 3 test way ‘wowing’ out at the centreline approach (whoops!) but my halts were better and my circles were better. My stretchy trot wasn’t great either time, and my long-rein walk Oats was rooting. Ah!

I was rewarded well though, and came out of my Training 3 test feeling good about it, like I had improved on my Training 2 test. I NEVER feel that way normally. So that was awesome. Our final test was Prix Caprilli Training and I had a BLAST!! I was smiling, felt awesome, and loving it! Oats was super engaged too, and he was locked in on the fences hahah. Finally something we can both agree on. We did have one major bobble- our ‘stretchy trot’ ended up like, trot-walk-balk- square instead of circle. Whoops!

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All my friends. What could be better?? Photo thanks to John.

But that was pretty much our only big mistake. I came out smiling, and feeling really good.

A great day even before I checked the scores. I knew at that point they didn’t matter– I rode tests I was proud of, happy with. I had a great time with my horsey friends, I was a bit bummed for them that their tests did not go as smoothly. Horses can be heartbreakers. They work so hard and deserve to see that work provide some results!

My results: Training 2: 68% for a second place, Training 3: 71% for a first place, Prix Caprilli (?) not sure, I didn’t pick it up yet.

We were the Training Champs with 70% avg. and we also received the Judge’s Choice award. I am over the moon with his comment: “Lovely rider, I would have her ride my horses anytime!” WOWWWW! 🙂

And that friends, is an awesome day. I do not expect that kind of feedback normally, so I am floating on air with it now.

 

The messenger began to believe that the message was him.

Quote I found (I believe it is a lyric from a song?) but I liked it!

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Jump lesson recap this week- MUCH better than last week. Oats was more consistently forward, though I came into the ride with a plan. Get him off my leg, the walk in the warm-up is NOT lollygagging around, and I ride with purpose, every step. Jump lessons are too precious to half-ass the beginning!

So I marched him around, got some pissy leg kick-outs, dealt with them and moved on.

Was the lesson perfect? HAHAH no. But, it was much improved and it helped me ride with ‘my horse moving underneath me’ rather than me pushing, pulling with my body moving too much. I am particularly guilty of this when I am not sure I have enough horse to ride!

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The exercises were very simple this week: Jump a line of skinnies 4-strides apart (an easy four, which of course we biffed and got a choppy FIVE sometimes…ah Oats), and a small course with some oxers. The focus was more on flow, and we got it!

I was much improved with my upper body, staying in two-point most of the ride, back with my shoulders through the corners (still had some blips but hey…better) and Oats was riding quite nicely.

It just went so much better. I was happy with Oats, and left on a real good note. Yay!

Don’t get stuck: Ride updates!~

I have been quiet on the ride front lately (didn’t ride Sunday, Saturday was kind of terrifying with Canadian Geese crash-landing constantly on the roof of the indoor. I hated it! Oats was a total saint though.)

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Monday I was determined to practice. Practice anything! But I was pretty sure I was going to work on some dressage-y items, so I brought my dressage whip and mindset. Except…It was dead quiet, only one other rider around, and a few small x-rails set up, and…Well jumping was way too fun so jumping won!

I still did some cruising around with purpose though- I worked on my release, relaxed body in two-point, and just went around, and around, and around. It was really nice! It felt like a very solid ride, but in a quiet and calm way. After jumping, I practiced holding a relaxed, shoulders-down, chest-open two-point in trot. For what felt like forever. My legs were burning!

Oats is only too happy to go along with ‘me days’ when I work harder on myself than on the horse. He was as good as gold.

Last night is my usual Tuesday dressage lesson, but I cancelled and am trying to reschedule for Sunday. Good thing too, because traffic was HORRIFIC and it took me over an hour to get to the barn last night. My lesson usually starts at 6:30pm- I didn’t get TO the barn until after 6:30. Eff my life. I was fuming!

I was so tempted to take that bad mood and work it out on my dear Oats. Luckily I am aware of that temptation now, and can defuse it when it rears its ugly head. Instead, we worked on something physical, but great to practice- trot-sitting trot-canter-sitting trot-posting trot. Sounds easy right? Yeah…No. My abs were killing me, I was sweating?!

The transition between posting trot to sitting trot (while NOT letting the trot die out, or you ‘forget’ to ride during it) is much harder than you think. Phew!! It was a very physically demanding ride for the both of us, and I was able to work out my traffic angst in a good and productive, kind way.

Good pony! 🙂 I am happy with how my rides felt this week. I felt more dialed-in and connected, like I was focused on the ride instead of feeling airy-fairy and halfassed like last week.

Cobble Hill 10k VIRA race recap!

Ah, the 10k. Last year it was the bane of my freaking existence. I was actually contemplating the (kind of grim?) idea that my days of progressing and getting faster were completely over.

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So, you can see I was running a tight pack most of the entire race and I got passed right at the finish too. Ha. Photo by Neil Gaudet.

I was struggling- a LOT. My breathing sucked, I was sucking air even on ‘easy’ runs and had some truly frightening race moments where I thought I was going to collapse. I think now it was me dealing albeit poorly with allergy-induced asthma, but at this point who knows??

It was just kind of a rude awakening because I’d been getting progressively faster (ha, well fast for me) and seeing some good 45-minute or so 10ks (45:23 was my best)…and then bang, the bottom dropped out and I was clawing on to 47-something minute 10ks wondering wtf was going on?

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Photo by Lois D’ell. Me gaining on the pack…Yes I can do it!

Anyways as I am learning I was deep in a plateau. Like, a year plateau. I kind of mentally gave up last year’s lousy race season and did whatever I wanted running-wise for the summer/fall. I ran a 10k in …Sept? And it was pretty blah. I was terrified I was going to stop breathing, we ran it and it was a 47+ minute ish one. I didn’t have any trouble breathing! Maybe I could trust myself?

But..it still felt hard. I still sucked at it.

I ran a half at Halloween and blew it out of the park!! It was the first race where I felt GOOD!! I was high-fiving, smiling, having a rockin’ good time. Turning the corner on my sad-sackery? Maybe…?

I still felt kind of ambivalent about the 2018 race season. Given how shitty my last one was, I sure wasn’t holding my breath (ha). The 8k I ran two weeks ago shocked me- I was running faster paces than I ever even tried. And it didn’t feel bad?

But, you know the 10k is a different beast.

The drive up to the race saw it just pouring rain, hammering down. Victoria had a windstorm. I was feeling kind of grouchy…Not another blasting wind/rain pain race?!

But you know what?  I ran the fastest race I have ever run. YESSS!! It did NOT feel easy- it felt hard. But, it was a hard I could do! I had to let go a bit of mentally beating myself up in the middle sections, I was starting to struggle, worry, and think that I couldn’t get it.

But then I could. And I did. And I waited, saw my chance and hauled ass!

I wasn’t sure if this was going to be my day, but it was!! I ended up with a very respectable 43:09 gun time. Good enough for 4th in my AG and 13th woman overall (a smaller field). I am BEYOND happy with that effort! 🙂

The food was also great after the race, and the volunteers were very cheery and kept us safe on the course, as it is an open track with cars on the road.

Ever on your mind: Jump lesson~

And it was…humbling. And hard. For the past few weeks, we have been working on ‘two point’ alll the way to the fence, rather than two-point up to the fence and then me sitting 2-3 strides in.

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Blurry screengrabs are all I got. But hey, at least I have that!

Well, I am trying the two point all the way and mentally I am struggling. It’s like I freeze and can’t commit to a distance or pace or anything when I am in two point? WTF? My eyes aren’t connected to my distance, so why can’t I do something? It’s like I don’t trust the two-point yet.

Hm…

My neural pathways are telling me ‘watch out, danger!’ and my body is like nah we’re fine I got this. How do I retrain myself to be ok with this?

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Pick up your feet!

Repetitions I guess!

We were also jumping a titch higher than I usually do (cuz yes I am a weenie) and it was fine, I’m just trying to figure out my body/brain connection right now…Leading to some VERY humbling moments, ha.

Figure it out brain!

Plus I have taken the week off from pretty much all activity (ie- cardio/running/running to work) and disappointingly feel no less TIRED. Blahhhh. Also maybe getting a sore throat? Ah.

I still think everyone needs an Oats though, he is a good pony. 🙂