Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Fridayย  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) wereย so bad at the rollback exercise in my jump lesson the day prior. Bingo- that’s what we needed to work on!

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So I told Sam, and we experimented! I really enjoyed it actually, because it provided me with an opportunity to really distill the prior lesson down and play around with it a bit more. What works? What isn’t working?

We broke it down from a line of two jumps, to a single jump, trot-in. Get the lead!! That was the key. Once we did that, I learned that we could influence the correct lead by asking for canter ‘just’ in the step before the jump. Newsflash- that’s your lead.

This wasn’t quite so simple with the canter-in approach. I was getting pulled past the x-rail, and dumped down on the landing= picking up left lead instead of right. Shoot. How to fix? Change the positioning I have coming in. Instead of two-pointing and sort of floating above Oats, sit more and influence, holding the contact all the way through. And you know what? This ‘more contact’ approach did the trick! Neat eh? I’m glad we took the time to really experiment, keep an open mind when things didn’t immediately work.

How cool!

And then we worked on seating positioning influencing the canter. It was…Hard. Hahahah. But we got a lovely canter from both me AND Oats. Oats really is very happy to keep going, providing I give him the correct feedback ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Read my mind: Jump lesson with Oats

Now before I start with the glowing praises of old Oats, I have to start with reports of him being a little shit-disturber and getting out of his paddock last night and causing a ruckus, going from paddock to paddock to rile up and squabble with allllll of the other horses…OATS! God!

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The culprit!ย 

Now this is likely my fault, as when I finished my lesson my friend pointed out that Oats hadn’t been given his hay, so I put him in his paddock, moved his hay bag to his paddock, and …probably forgot to re-latch his gate. Argh!

Oh well… On to the lesson! I was feeling weirdly anxious. I’ve been struggling with just crushing fatigue this week, and a fast-moving cold, thanks in part to travel and breathing in that fine, recirculated airplane air. My muscles felt super weak, and I started feeling lightheaded at the gym almost every day. I was dragging myself around. It sucks.

So, exhaustion + sickness + lessons = success? Ha not quite, but it wasn’t the shitshow I was anticipating. It was fun! We worked on a rollback turn (that I sucked out loud at, I could NOT figure out how to jump, and then look, THEN turn, in that sequence). But I enjoyed the process!

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From a few weeks ago. I love jumping this guy!ย 

We then worked on a small bending line, which rode much better. Oats was great for it, bending lines are his expertise. We strung it together into a small course, and I could feel myself fading a bit, having trouble keeping him straight to the jumps. I even went off-course and forgot where I was going… I think because of the fatigue/exhaustion that I was dealing with. (And I think that’s how I left the gate open too…).

It wasn’t the thrilling jump lesson of a few weeks ago, where we TROTTED a 2’9” warm up fence, but you know what? With my incipient weakness and limp riding, it didn’t need to be, haha. Leave that for another day. I know myself by now, and I’m fine with what each day presents.

Oats was such a good boy though, I just love jumping him! Even if he can be a little turd sometimes.

Tristars Sooke 10k- Race Recap!

Yes that’s right, the day after we flew back from Mexico (got into town at 11 p.m. on Saturday) we were up and ready to head to Sooke to race a 10k! We did plan it this way, because the VIRA races don’t start until 11 a.m., thank god. Even then, we had a pretty tiring journey home, complete with ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ type of mad, harried scramble, so I was pretty exhausted.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

But we got up around 9 a.m. and trekked out to the race! I didn’t have real expectations- Sooke is a rolling, hilly course and I think my best time on the course was last year, with a 44:?? Can’t quite remember what but something like that. I had my watch but it was dead, haha. So, it was freewheeling!

And I have to say, there’s something to that freewheeling. I ran by feel, started pretty quick, slowed a bit on rolling hills, played rabbit with a few other obliging runners (I passed them, then they passed me, and then I passed them again), shouted encouragement to a friend in my age-group who was running well, and just kept going.

My husband ran with me, he hurt his foot in the half-marathon so had to take it easy= running with me.

We hit the turnaround and I was still feeling pretty darn good, considering I was tired and my legs felt like freaking jell-o when I got up that morning! I cruised on, and my breathing started getting a touch more labored. I fought the urge to check my (dead) watch… We hit some more rolling hills, with a steeper incline between 7-8km that really killed my pace, BUT I still had some zip in my legs!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing terrible as we rounded 8km-9km…Homestretch here we go! I was feeling pretty confident! Best of all, my husband was able to cross the finish line with me ๐Ÿ™‚ and I didn’t get passed at the finish chute, sometimes that happens and it is a killer, haha.

I finished with a time of 43:17, which seemed unusually fast for me, I thought the clock said 43:30 or something, maybe even 44:00- my eyesight is not great. Many thanks to the fine volunteers who kept us safe on-course on a very busy day and road. Great turnout too, and I was third in my age group ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m not going to complain but rather comment that the snacks selection was a tad limited and emptied out really quickly, unfortunately! The first race I have been to that had that happen. There were some really good power-balls but again, went fast.

Time owes you nothing

And enough with the running, how is the riding? Pretty darn good! I know my dressage these days is…Not great (that’s what happens when I do it unsupervised, it kind of sucks, ha) but each ride I come off my pony thinking,ย I’m so lucky to have such a great schoolmaster!ย 

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Oats in his other job- carting my husband back to the barn.ย 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being happy with what you have, the horse you have in this moment of time? Even when it is distinctly non-glamorous work (walk- canter departs yesterday, I have to limit how many I do because it is tiring for Oats).

Yesterday Oats even had a chance to play school pony, for my friend’s adult niece. The young lady had a ride on my friend’s horse and he acted kind of out of character and freaked the niece right out! I was very surprised, this is a horse that I have literally gotten on and like, whaled on him to get him to go! And he’s spooky and acting silly with a beginner rider? Wha?

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Such a good boy ๐Ÿ™‚

So I offered up good old Mr. Oats for a pony ride! We felt it was important that she have a good experience with a horse, and I offered that Oats is smaller, closer to the ground too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ian said why would you say that (hahhh) but it makes people feel safer!

So we got her up on Oats, and I just held him still. She teared up! But I said look, it’s ok. He’s not going anywhere. He stood still for a bit, and then we walked around and everything went totally fine ๐Ÿ™‚ I said- you’re in charge of the ride, you tell me when you want me to stop. And everything went fine, and no fuss or drama. Yay! What a good boy.

It just gladdens my heart to see him being such a solid little guy. Not only am I enjoying my rides, but others can too.

And on Saturday I worked on the most boring of things, but it seemed to be a little rusty…halt-trot transitions. Yay?? Ha. Oh well! Such is the tedium of the day-to-day eh?

If I like the fight in you, will you like to win?

It feels like ages since I’ve had a ride recap! I had a good dressage lesson last Friday, my jump lesson on Thursday was rescheduled to this upcoming Saturday (because we all attended a rider fitness course instead!), and I rode Sat/Monday, and took Sunday off to race in Cedar. So in short, been busy!

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My darling Oats!ย 

Friday we worked on rider positioning and straightness, featuring an exercise where I held gloves against my side, held in place with my inner arm. The idea being, the kinetic work being done also helps focus my body, and allows the horse to move more freely. It was very cool and we got some of the nicest, most connected trot I have ever seen in Oats! ๐Ÿ™‚ He was a very good boy and he seemed to really enjoy the exercise too.

I worked on the exercise again on Saturday, but was riding around lessons and just never really got into the ‘flow’ that I needed…Plus his canter was just, ugh. Very ugh. I decided to work on his canter on Monday, and I got a little too into my own head, and intense, and lost track of time while riding. I don’t love when that happens, because I have tried VERY hard to not be that rider anymore for him! I guess I still have some relapse moments… It wasn’t my finest moment, that’s for sure, but I guess they are far and few between these days at least?

I was also in a rush because we had Beer, Pizza, & Gelato night at Pizza Prima Strata so I had to finish up my ride, rush home, get changed and go to our event! This has been a pretty busy week- I am planning to ride (a light ride, no going down the rabbit hole tonight) to make up for missing my Sunday ride.

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Squid ink pizza with squid and paired with squid-ink beer. It was good!ย 

Oats on the other hand had a lesson on Tuesday when I had it off! He still gets a pretty regular schedule every week, even if my life happens to be very busy.

You can have what you want

Another jump lesson (finally!! I missed it last week when our schedules were thrown out of whack!) and another good ride to report on. This week we focused on some cavaletti work (3 cavaletti, 2 strides in between each). We did it in two ‘bigger’ strides, and I did a compressed stride of 3 strides in between and it was wayyy too easy for Oats. He is a fan of the ‘slug’ stride, apparently!

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Here’s my schoolmaster!ย 

So we decided to keep him at 2 strides, because clearly the bigger stride was more challenging for him than compressing the stride!

And then we moved on to a small course, incorporating the cavaletti work into the course. I was actually kind of tired doing the cavaletti work, it feels more ‘physical’ than just jumping jumps, weirdly. Nicole says it’s because you have to keep riding through it, rather than kind of like, ‘jump’..coast… ‘jump’! Oats was also having to work hard, and he was getting tired through the end of the last course, haha.

In the course we had a small 1-stride, and I bungled it a few times before figuring it out. He was going in boldly, and I was getting left behind and kind of jostled. Not to my liking! So I came in quiet, and asked for a closer takeoff and it worked out great! Until…I took too much back and we bungled it, haha. So, I needed to be conservative, but then ‘LET GO’ in the 1-stride. Easier said than done? But we did it well after!

I did feel vulnerable really releasing over the second element of the 1-stride. It feels weird!! But Oats was jumping great, so I had to, hahaha. Good boy ๐Ÿ™‚

And I also feel weirdly proud that his Tuesday rider is having such good rides on him- almost prouder than what I have been able to achieve on him myself. Yay Oats for being a good boy and a schoolmaster. It makes my heart feel so happy!

Love, appreciate, joy,

I’m just feeling really good about my pony these days. Had a jump lesson last night that sure wasn’t ”perfect” but man, it made me just feel so glad to have him, my Oats, with me. I rode on Monday and wanted to cry I was so cold, it was horrible. Oats was perfect, but I could tell that the chill was tough on him too.

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I heard he was a total gentleman for his rider on Tuesday (they have been having some great rides, yes!!) and hearing that just makes my heart sing. You know when you have a horse that other peopleย like?ย  And more importantly,ย like riding?ย It’s a good feeling! So going into my Thursday jump lesson I had warm fuzzies in my heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

We warmed up a tad lackluster- he was coughing a bit, and inattentive. I was like, c’mon get with the program! And bit by bit, we did. We didn’t work on anything very complicated, but there was one particular turn that made me feel a bit nervous- come around in a circle, jump the rock jump and cut left immediately (2-3? strides) to an oxer on the long side.

Now, this oxer was the friendliest oxer you could possible want. A x-rail in front of a vertical, which really draws in horses and makes it easier to jump. It was also the highest fence on the course! Two things in one! Hahahh.

The first time we did the cut away jump to the oxer, it went perfectly! The second time…I didn’t lock on to the second jump, landed and got pulled wayyyy wide to the oxer. Whoops!!! Oats had basically veered way right, and it was a judgement call: go around (would be easy!!) or right the course in 1-stride and go jump! We jumped!! It was NOT pretty, given it was at this point a 2’9” oxer, but Oats was game and away we went!

Whee!!!! Man that was funny. But we dug deep and pulled it out, hahah.

He definitely goes better when I don’t forget what I’m doing/lock on to the correct jump, but he’s such a good and honest pony that it doesn’t really matter to him anyways! So game! I think I was having a bit of a hard time seeing last night, as my eyes were watering constantly throughout the course due to the chill. (And yesterday was the warmest it’s been all week, yiiiikes!).

Anyways, things that I always have to work on: Release with my arms instead of chicken wings… Go with the horse, instead of getting caught in the back seat! This happened a few times last night, my body wasn’t clicking with it for some reason. Land on my knee/upper thigh. Hips back, consider a sitting seat to the fences to achieve this. Look where the fences are!! And stay there! I had a lot of trouble with this last night too- I’m going to partially blame the cold/tears in my eyes.

But overall, we jumped the highest we’ve jumped a single fence and it was the one on course that we jumped a few times, and even after a tricky attempt, and it was not a problem. Good to know, and I felt so appreciative and happy with my pony. Go Oats!