You know this doesn’t just happen to anyone

Good god, this weekend. We have snow coming down, temps dropping to -4 with a wind chill of -10?! Here, on the Island of all places? PLUS my weekend was kind of…really sucky. Drama-rama…

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From last year- not this again?!

Friday started off great though, I had a FUN dressage lesson and I loved it! We were having a blast, Oats and I ūüôā We worked on jumps (in dressage?! They were teeny tiny), and focused on ‘contact’ and not letting Oats choose the take off spot. It was really cool and a good exercise to feel his hind end power! What a neat lesson.

And then on Saturday, all hell kind of broke loose..I went riding, and Oats was fine, fun to ride and everything was great. I got home and took my dear dog Gidget out for a walk around the block. I was listening to my headphones, we were cruising down the sidewalk when a dog ran out of someone’s yard and ran aggressively at Gidget (who is fearful of dogs), and grabbed her throat?!!! WTF?! I could NOT believe what was even happening? It was such a blur. I was trying to grab Gidget to pick her up, and she was trying to run away, and this fucking dog was on her throat…Gidget was shrieking. It was terrible! I screamed so loudly my throat hurt.

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Who dares to hurt the love of my life?! No WAY will I let that go. 

The asshole owners got their awful dog back, and then yelled at ME that they already apologized. WTF? No, no no it doesn’t work that way. I yelled at THEM that they didn’t SOUND very sorry, assholes!! I knew exactly where the dog had come from too, so I had the house number. They then got into their car and drove off?! Three of them. Good god.

One of their neighbours had witnessed the whole thing and asked if Gidget was ok (she was, thankfully), and then told me that she knew them, and that their dog was ‘very nervous’ and I said it isn’t nervous, it’s aggressive and that is NOT OK, it wasn’t restrained, no leash, no collar, no nothing! Again…WTF??

I chatted with her for a bit- she was really nice! She was telling me about these cute little dogs that look like Ewoks, so I am going to do some research to see what they look like ūüôā

I then went home, got in my car and took photos of their house and the witnesses’s house. I called Animal Control, and reported it verbally to them. They asked me to email them a written statement and attach the photos I had taken, which I did. They were very kind and considerate, and I was pleased to have them take this seriously- it certainly felt serious, and I was beyond angry with the verbal aggression and lack of caring by the dog owners.

I was also grateful that Gidget was ok (but now she is traumatized by loose dogs, poor thing), and I am very watchful for any more incidents that I may need to report. Animal Control said they were going to take this seriously and go and talk to the owners, which is a great response.

It’s also a lesson to me- since I seem to have regular confrontations, it is important to me that I do not look like a victim. If anyone accosts me, or has something they want to confront me with or get aggressive with me, I will SCREAM and YELL and MAKE A HUGE SCENE!

It gets you witnesses. That is the most important thing. Don’t fuck with me.

Also a question for the ages- why do I always have these weird run-ins with horrible, aggressive people? Like, I put my headphones on, mind my own business, and walk on…and get assaulted verbally by people, or body slammed by one person, or screamed at by drivers, or bike riders, or men on the street. ????? Riddle me this?!

I hate people.

 

Peru adventure: Step 3 Machu Picchu~

Wow, where do I go from here? We left the jungle, spent a night in Iquitos, which is interesting and very much a frontier-town. We enjoyed margaritas (not great) and pisco sours (better) while chatting with a very friendly Dutch ex-pat who was in Iquitos writing a book. Cool eh?

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It was a very noisy town, tons of motos and tuk-tuks roaring around. We took one to the airport the next morning, headed to Cusco and eventually Machu Picchu! Flight was very bumpy which scared me, I hate turbulence. Once landing in Cusco, it became very apparent that both Ian and I had picked up a stomach bug- I blame Iquitos for mine, his was worse with a fever (jungle fever?).

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We then were greeted by our driver, who took is the 1.5 hours to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we would hop on the Peru train to the town of Aguascalientes, which is the landing base for people going to Machu Picchu (if you are not hiking it).

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The drive was fine, despite our stomachs revolting… And then in town, we got the train and it’s actually quite nice! And it freaking better be, considering how much $$$ it costs for a 1.5 hour train ride to Aguascalientes. Once in Aguascalientes, I was stunned by how¬†quiet the town is without any cars or anything. From the jungle to the mountains, Ian and I were a bit shell-shocked, and quite frankly, pretty sick.

We holed up in our hotel room (which was super noisy and weird, with like three beds in it…) but mostly clean? Had a miserable night of no sleep, and were up bright and early at like 6am to try to eat (nope) and get on the bus ($$$) to Machu Picchu. The bus takes 30 minutes of winding up hairpin turns to the mountain. It’s kind of scary too.

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Once up to Machu Picchu, we hauled ass to run to get into Waynapicchu, the ‘younger mountain’ that we had permits to hike up. They only let 200 people hike it per window (7-8am, and 10-11am). I can see why, it’s freaking rough at the top and it was so cloudy and foggy I couldn’t see how far, exactly, the plummet is!

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We huffed and puffed our way up Waynapicchu. I climbed on my hands and knees. It was cool but yeah, not doing that again.

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Once we came down, we then hired a guide to take us through Machu Picchu the right way. Well worth it, I think. We saw so many cool things, including a wild chinchilla! The views are breathtaking. If you do one great wonder of the world, I highly suggest Machu Picchu. It is a pain in the ASS to get to, but worth it if only once.

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Hold on, hold on

So…After my exciting, energy draining weekend I was looking forward to settling down and working on some good stuff (like, not falling off jumping is a big one that I am apparently incapable of doing right now…).

And I had a great ride on Tuesday- no lesson, just cruising around in the field. Oats felt great, I was chill, everything was nice. I had some high hopes for my lesson on Wednesday, looking forward to it and feeling like generally, everything is pretty fine. I spent the day loving photos of Oats from the Derby and feeling pretty much on top of the world!

Except I wasn’t.

I came into my lesson not feeling angsty, or strange or stressed or anything…And then it became immediately clear that this was NOT my day, or Oats’. He started off spooky, looking at everything and ‘startling’ constantly. I don’t do well when he is like this- it sets me off in a really BIG way- and I started having trouble managing the situation. We warmed up okay nevertheless, and he kept startling and being spooky and looky. Sadly, this only got worse as we continued on…

It started pissing me off, more and more. We went to work over trot poles to eventually build a gymnastic (not something new in our world, pretty ho-hum) and Oats COULD NOT GET HIS SHIT TOGETHER. He trotted, fumbled, tripped, stumbled, fell and just fucked around, adding in some startles that literally set my teeth on edge.

I couldn’t manage. Like, I was riding and shouting ”I¬†HATE this horse.” UGh.

Normally, when he’s like this, we can deal and get through it. But this time? Oh, no.

We slowly worked our way to a small x- rail to another x-rail, and Oats bizarrely managed to trip on the last pole, catch it hard between his hind hoofies, almost fall and sting himself so badly with this weirdness that he was limping?!!!!

I was ready to jump off- I was worried he’d really hurt himself! But Nicole convinced me to keep walking him out and eventually he worked out of it. He was just surprised. Still, wow, WTF is going on with me/my horse? I just was crying in disbelief.

So, back to the drawing board.

He trotted out okay, and then we went back to poles. Poles are ok. Then, the small x-rail…That was ok too. Then add in another x-rail, to a small vertical. The wheels immediately fell off again- Oats stumbled, tripped into the vertical, and my whole arm went through the reins. EFFFFF!!

I lost my shit. I yanked him up,  and burst into tears.

I was in the middle of probably the biggest horse-related meltdown I’ve had since…Oh, maybe a really bad dressage lesson last year, when I got off and cried?

Weird, so weird. I just couldn’t cope, or manage the situation with Oats at all. I wanted to yell, shout, scream, cry and just freak out. We ended up walking, walking, walking and breathing. Oats seemed not fazed at all, but wow, I was. In a big way.

Finally, when I was able to calm down and manage my emotions, we cantered over a few small x-rails, which were totally fine and rode great. He was still looky as hell, but it was ok.

SIGHHH

I cried a bit later, telling my friend about the ride. And then when I dismounted and was walking Oats through the gate, I went to latch it and he spooked so hard he almost fell into the gate. WTF? He is not a spooky horse…So yeah, not sure what was going on with him yesterday, but whatever it was, it sucked out loud.

Ghost on Ghost

So, this weekend. A lot of good and not-so-good things happened. We had a relaxing time at the beach on Friday with my dog, enjoying life as the sun went down on another work week.

We bought a townhouse this week too! Crazy!?!

Saturday my husband was up early to volunteer for the annual Quadra Village Day. Gidget and I joined him for some pancake breakfast–which was great, as we got there early enough to not have to wait in line for very long! Sometimes the lineups are crazy. The only thing I’d recommend is that the music they have- live bands, which is super awesome and generous but SO LOUD. Like, nobody sits in the audience because it literally drives people away it’s too loud. I feel like an old crank for saying so, but still…

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The course except for the gymnastic. That darn two-stride!

I headed home after and got ready for my jump lesson, moved from Thursday. It was pretty hot, so I was wondering how Oats would be at it. Turns out, I should have been wondering more about how I would be at it! We worked over a gymnastic, and I struggled- again- with the third fence in the line. I didn’t trust Oats through it. At all.

Why? And why now? I’ve been rocking gymnastics in the indoor- short ones- and then kind of blowing it outside. Curious. So, we worked on developing more trust through the gymnastic with Oats that basically culminated in my not being allowed reins and riding through it without hands! Hahah.

I just wanted to jump jumps, not mess around with gymnastics! I complained kind of a lot about it, haha. Then,¬†finally we move to coursework. This, I can do! (We still had to work in the gymnastic though). Went through the course and it went fairly well, with only 1 mess up moment of me fighting with Oats through a turn to the outside line. We recovered in time to catch the outside oxer (it was 2’6” which EEEK I didn’t realize!) and it went fairly well.

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No-hands screenshots!

Took a break, and Nicole set the fences to 2’6” for the most part- some were still 2’3” I think, except the gymnastic now had an oxer at the end of the four jumps.

Still, it was looking fine to me for the most part. Oh, hubris and overconfidence…How you take me down a big step.

We hopped over the first fence, cruised to the gymnastic with no problems, and then headed to the two-stride. It rode great the first time and then this time I…jumped up Oats’ neck and CRAAASH. I took out the jump by myself.

SHIT.

Messed up my bad left shoulder- I honestly thought I was gonna stick this one, until I didn’t…

Got my shoulder back in place, got back on, and rode it again. It was ugly (3 strides instead of 2) but we did it. Oats was a bit backed off. We headed to the next diagonal jump, and rode it fine. Then we went for the outside line, that rode so nicely, and bombed it with a stop at the oxer. SHIT again!

I was frazzled, and not relaxed. It was pretty obvious.

I re-approached, and calmed.the.fuck.down. Loose shoulders, ¬†low calm hands, leg on, back relaxed. Smooooooth….We got over the first little fence great, and over the oxer – a little messy, but ok. Calm….We circled over the liverpool, and then zipped off to our last fence, a cut-away through the gymnastic. It went very lovely.

And then Nicole asked me to circle back and re-approach to the two-stride! Could we pull it off again? Yep, as it turns out, when I don’t anticipate and jump up his neck, we’re fine. ¬†It rode great, in and out!

So, some things to think about eh? Not an easy or totally smooth lesson. I’ve been cruising in the past, and this would 100% make me not want to jump like at all. But this time, I got frazzled and a little hurt actually, but managed to re-assess and something MADE ME want to try it again. I didn’t even ask Nicole to bring the jumps down? I guess because it didn’t feel to me like the jumps were the issue–it was my steering and anticipation that was making it a problem.

Interesting.

 

 

And Oats gives me a heart attack

Got out to the barn last night and I was feeling pretty tired and unmotivated, I guess that’s what riding after my dressage lesson on Tuesdays gives me…But I’m not having my jump lesson tonight (other plans) and I have after-work plans on Friday night, so my jump lesson got moved to Saturday, so I haaaad to ride.

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Yeah, right.

I guess Oats was feeling the exact same way, because when I got to the barn, I went to get Oats out of his shelter and he was LAYING IN HIS HAY MOANING>?!! And kind of biting at his belly???

Dear god. The only thing running through my mind was colic!

I got his halter on, tugged him up, and surveyed his shelter. Good poops, lots of hay, he ate his dinner. So what is going on? He walked fine next to me, slowly (he is an incredibly slow walker). Nibbled at grass. Gut sounds fine, gurgly, not deadly silent.

So, wtf?

He seemed fine, by all accounts? I panic-texted my friend Sarah, who assured me that if he was pooping, gurgling and nibbling at grass he was probably fine. And you know…He was.

I tacked him up, rode him around for a bit. He was good, but quite lethargic/tired (so was I, so I can’t blame him). My riding was pretty much terrible, and it’s only due to him being an absolute saint that he didn’t dump me off at an x-rail…Ha.

He even pooped during the ride and I inspected it closely, and it was good. (yeah I know, good poops. Who am I??).

My guess…Tired. He’s actually done this once before- last year I came upon him in his shed, laying in his hay, groaning. I almost had a heart attack then too! And he was even harder to pull to his feet?! But he was fine, acting normally, but very tired and sleepy.

Maybe this is his once-a-year weirdness? Anyways, it always scares the bejeezus out of me.

My other trainer thought it might be a fart. Hahaha.

I’m just glad he was fine, and that this pretty much only happens once a year. I don’t know what I would do without my little pony buddy!

He ate a licorice candy, and this time he was super not impressed with it. He ate it because there was nothing else, but kept sniffing at my hands and mumbling them with his lips to see if what I had in my hand was tastier!

 

Danger

Saw the scariest thing last night- it was accidental, as many horse-related incidents are, but my GOD it was incredibly dangerous and SO frightening.

I normally lesson on Tuesdays with another adult rider, we take a semi-private dressage lesson together with Karen Brain. Since I hurt my shoulder at the show (and it was feeling much better, but didn’t want to push it) I came and told my riding partner I wouldn’t be in the lesson, to please tell Karen that I was coming to hack today only.

So, I came down a bit later, and a lesson had just finished up. The adult rider was in the ring with Karen, and Nicole, our other trainer, and another student rider with her leased horse ‘Tim’.

I was at the gate of the indoor when I saw the student longing Tim, and watched for a moment- and then he went PSYCHO! Bucking, galloping, kicking out as high as the 6-ft jump standards?! I have NEVER seen him act like that and I was shocked!

The student lost her grip on the longe line and Tim bolted around the arena, that had the poor adult rider on her horse, Nicole, and Karen in it! It was sooooo scary! He was bucking, kicking out, going at top-speed. I was sure he was going to run into something and break his neck or crash into the poor adult rider.

I also thanked my LUCKY STARS that I had paused outside the arena for a moment. Good lord, I’m not even sure why I did but my intuition was bang-on right there. We were safe.

Tim galloped around like a dangerous lunatic for awhile, finally coming to a frantic stop near the adult rider and her horse, who also thank god, took all of this in stride and behaved perfectly.

Nicole caught Tim, and then the student leasor brought him up to the outdoor longe ring to get the ‘sillies’ out, and he was much calmer, from what she told me. We were both stunned. Just STUNNED by this nutso behaviour. SO dangerous, and scary as hell!

I got on Oats once Tim left the ring and I was freaked out. Nervous and anxious.

Oats was a total gem, willing, quite forward (for him, in the indoor at night= snooze-fest) and nice to ride. I kept it VERY short and just hacked him lightly, as my shoulder still felt a bit sore. Also, frig I was shaken. So shaken.

That was one of the scariest moments I have witnessed lately in horses.

The general¬†consensus¬†was that Tim was excited by the new horse in the barn, ‘Java’ and he¬†basically¬†just lost his mind at her, as she was there for his first-time freakout. ???? Oh and apparently the first time he lost it, he kicked out and got his leasor- the student- on the forearm. I’m going to check and see how her arm is feeling today…

Yikes.

Apple chips and other fun!

So, this is kind of an alarming day- if anyone follows the news, it’s frightening over in Ottawa, where I grew up and where my family still lives and works…

But the good news, is that they are fine and things are contained. I’m very glad.

To keep my mind off things, I thought I’d recap my lesson yesterday with Karen (good!) and also I made some tasty apple chips on the weekend with my mother in law’s dehydrator and they were great!

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apple chips

So the lesson yesterday- we worked on getting the bend and if it wasn’t working on the left, we switched gears and worked it on the right- switched to left- switched to right back and forth.

We then trotted a straight line through two cones (that got bumped and banged out of place SO MANY TIMES haha) and eventually worked up to leg-yielding left and then right, and then back to left and then back to right. We did this on both sides, and leg-yielded from both sides depending on what bend we had (inside bend- leg yield left, outside bend- leg yield right)/ It was good, we worked HARD!

We then worked on the exercise at the canter and I did feel anxious- he felt balky, felt like he wanted to do his prop-buck exercise- but we worked around it. So that was good! It just feels like when he gets tired and the right lead starts feeling like too much work, he goes WAY OVERBOARD in his reaction. Like, get off now! Instead of, this is tough! We also focused more on ‘letting him stretch’ his neck down at the canter instead of propping and getting high-headed and ready to launch- with some success.

And frankly it intimidates the heck out of me, how would you like getting bucked off?

But- we are working through it. It never escalated to that point yesterday, and Karen said we got some great leg yield work out of him, probably the best we’ve gotten yet!

So that part is indeed a work in progress. Sigh. Like all things in my life…