I will spite survive

A few weekends ago I went horse camping with friends! It was for a local trainer’s ‘Wine, Women and Working Equitation’ camping and clinic weekend and it was 100% what I needed! Jane Stone offered the course (limited entry), I had a great time, and Oats is SO GOOD at working equitation! His keenness and flexibility to learn makes me feel just overjoyed!

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You can’t fake a smile like that! Photos are courtesy of photographer Christi Kay. 

I took the Friday off work and we hauled the horses and a metric ton of camping gear, hay, grain, water (there is a drought right now) up island for our camping weekend. We settled in and I was happy to see that I could camp right next to my boy!  How awesome is that? I think we bonded even more because we got to camp next to each other for two nights 🙂

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The fixed gate obstacle was no problem for Oats!

Friday was an in-hand session, where we learned how to get the horse to yield and bend based off equitation science principles, specifically to work on aspects of the working equitation obstacles that we would be tackling. I’m not that great at in-hand… But hey low pressure and no fuss!

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Oats is so brave over the bridge!

Dinner that night was pizza from Prima Strada, and it was soooooo good. Yum! I sure ate well that weekend, no doubt. Saturday was our introduction to the obstacles, and we were all in different sessions. Oats was very cooperative about learning more about them (we have done a working equitation clinic before and loved it!) and he’s super good with the obstacles. Some of the other horses were not so sure about the obstacles…My friends each had their own hands full!

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I was…not great at the garrocha pole

Dinner was a potluck and we had a TON of food. I ate too much! hahah. My dear husband dropped off meatballs for me to bring AND cinnamon buns from the Ladysmith bakery (my absolute fav..ever!). It was just nice to relax and talk horses with my buddies.

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Around the ‘cattle pen’

Sunday was the ‘speed round’ and run-throughs of the course. Oats was a superstar~ I had trouble with the garrocha pole (felt like I was going soooooo fast, and had trouble timing it enough to grab it correctly), but man it was so fun.

It was exactly the weekend I needed, as I came home on Sunday night to pack for my flight out the next morning to work on my deployment to Lillooet. Busy busy!

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Cruel Summer?

This past weekend was a busy one, but with one notable absence: I am still too injured to run! 😦

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It wasn’t all bad! 😉

Otherwise, I enjoyed rides on Oats (and he was stopping at jumps again, WTF?) but I’ll have to shake that off and move on eh? I did some pretty vigorous rides, so I am looking to tone it down this week and work together with Oats. My lesson on Friday was great actually! I liked the lesson we took away from it- ‘how slow can you go’? 😉 And it worked out quite well, not perfect but still some excellent learning opportunities.

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Horse girls clean up nicely! 

Saturday I rode and it spiraled a bit more than I would have liked, ehhh. It didn’t help that Oats showed up with a huge gash on his neck, and BOTH eyes covered in eye goop. Fly-borne infection, here we come! Shit! Can’t just like, something work out for me this summer?

Makes me feel kind of cranky. The weather was not good (cold, raining), I am still injured, Oats has this gross eye goop in both eyes, he’s stopping at fences…Eh. It is all temporary, right? Now I just need to remember that, and get into why I ride: To have fun, silly!

Moving on! I went to my friend’s baby shower, in what turned out to be a really action-packed Sunday (ride, watch other friend at a horse show, go to baby shower), phew. We had a BLAST!! YEah! Plus, I won the ‘guess the chocolate bar in the diaper’ game – after loudly bragging to everyone that I was the ‘chocolate expert’ and that they should step aside…And I was right! I was the chocolate expert! 😉 I won five SWEEET chocolate bars for my prize- how perfect was that?

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Tucker enjoyed some healthy eating…

We had a lovely time and it was really nice to see my friends and horsey friends all hanging out. 🙂

The sun is shining now, I am getting shockwave treatment on my leg (first session was this morning,  YOWZA I knew it hurt but Jesus CHrist it really hurt. I was kind of like, half crying, half trying to pull my leg away…jesus. Ouch. But it works, so I guess it’s like…It hurts like a laser cutting through your leg, but it heals it much, much faster.

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In happier news, we made a paper towel diaper! hahah

Still, not so looking forward to the next session on Thursday- gulp!

Riding tonight (easy) and then a lesson on Wednesday to practice.

 

“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute.”

I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.

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Christi came and took these amazing photos. So good! 

That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.

I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!

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Photos courtesy of Christi.

I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!

Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.

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Liverpool? What liverpool? Oats is the most casual pony on the planet.

I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?

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I got this mom. It’s easy. 

When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.

Another one bites the dust! (Almost!)

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Clobbered the jump. Lesson to all- don’t jump ahead! 

Had a VERY close call with falling off in my jump lesson yesterday, but you know what? I was proudest of the fact that even though my ass ended up above the saddle on his neck, barely clinging on, I regrouped, got my head straight, and went out and RODE it. Competently and quietly.

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Now that’s more like it! 

Ok it was a little bit ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ but hey, we did it! It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, for both Oats and myself. Maxed out height for us, a triple combination, going downhill into the setting sun. Not easy for us, likely easy for others! Though don’t ask me to ride a whole course after that, ha. I was spent!

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It felt easy when we did it with small jumps,and then sure, put ’em up. GULP! 

The course itself rode really well, I was feeling really glad about it, but I know that I was in my mind starting to get amped about heading to the combination, as it was the final few fences on course.

As we rounded the corner, I started gunning Oats and went to jump up his neck, and he went NOPE! Guess again!

And I had to cling on, haha.

Luckily he is as honest as a summer day, so we gathered ourselves, and headed back out. I’m just really enjoying my horse. I learned the other day that my sister’s rabbit died (peacefully, in her sleep enjoying a snooze in the backyard) and I was surprised about how I almost cried when I read about it. I just can’t imagine losing another animal, and part of me grieves in advance for when I have to make that heartbreaking decision, or see it happen to one of my darling critters.

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I remember when I almost lost Oats to a serious choking accident.

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Even at his worst after that, every day is golden. Lucky to be here. Horse shows, jumps, dressage shows, they’re all bonuses. My chances to ride him, and enjoy him, are what really matter.

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go Oats go!! 

I do still want to work on my bravery, challenge, keeping my butt out of the saddle, improved straightness and leads. So many things! But I feel good and confident that we can do it. He’s my boy.

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So majestic! 

 

Keep me honest

Had another jump lesson, and I was very pleased with how it went! Again, it was not perfect, but I felt good, confident and was really riding very forward. Oats was good as gold (a minor bulge issue and some lead/changing lead awkwardness around changing directions) but SUCH a little star!

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This rode well all night.

I am enjoying doing semi-private lessons right now, and the funny thing is that having another rider, and people watching, helps keep me honest. Focused. Riding instead of getting overfaced and backing off. It’s like I’ve reached a point in my own confidence that I need to have an audience to keep me there. Otherwise, I back off, big time. And I know right now that I don’t need to. I am going there! I am doing it! I am being challenged and meeting that challenge.

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It’s a bummer it’s so dark, darn light changing. BUT this is the first time we’ve jumped the coop as a oxer! So wide, even if it doesn’t look like it! 

I think my motto now is: Challenge me. Make me.

And we are so there! Yeah! Go Oaty pony. I’m so proud of him, bobbles, silliness and all. I have things I want to fix (elbows, the straightness problem going into the uphill line AGAIN, the difficulty in changing leads, stalling out to a chip…) But on the whole? I am enjoying what I am doing, and getting a lot out of my boy.

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This is a two-stride that I rode conservatively (read: chicken) for a three, until the last course when I was like, fuck it! I go in two! And we DID.

This week we celebrated 9 years together. Each year he gets better and better! I guess we all do? How I love this. I really appreciate, cherish and find joy in our rides. He’s my prince, my pony, my boy.

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I love this picture, because we almost match the jump! How cute is that? Plus it rode just perfectly. The best line on course. 

Whenever people are frustrated with their current horse, I just think to myself- yep been there, done that, sometimes am still there. It takes the time it takes. YEARS even (in my case). Being mad about how slow progress is doesn’t help, it never does. Your ego doesn’t trump reality.

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And the ‘out’ of the same lattice-line. It rode really nicely. 

I have had to learn some really bruising lessons about ego (life, running and horses) and I had to learn them the hard way. However, I think it’s helped shape what I do now.

Sadly, there is no footage of us finishing on the triple bar jump (first one I have gathered up the feeble shreds of my courage to jump with Oats!) because we were too close to the videographer and it is close up and dark. Ah, well. It was such a good ride that I forgot that the main reason I was excited about it was to jump the triple bar?! Ha.

Life & Living it

Wow, the long weekend just flew by! It was busy and yet I had plenty of time to sit on my patio and drink rosé, one of my favourite summertime drinks. Thursday/Friday, my friend was staying with me while she attended to some errands in Victoria, and I also had my jump lesson on Thursday, and my dressage lesson on Friday…Which is a long-winded explanation about why I missed YET ANOTHER run club run on Saturday morning. I’m currently pitching 0-2, soon to be 0-3 (I am missing another one this Saturday, argh)… At 8am, I just don’t have it in me.

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Proof that i did indeed makeup my missing runs…

Instead I stayed up to visit with my friend and we drank a bottle of wine and a bunch of Caesars. Worth it. I had a killer headache all day starting from waking me up in the middle of the night though, ouch. Hubris. Oh well, at least my lesson went really well and OATS HAS A COUNTER CANTER you guys! Feeble and tentative, but it’s happening!!!

Oh well! I had an insanely busy day on Saturday anyways, I guess leading in from the theme of last week: Busy every day. Had to run a saddle I was trying back out to the ass-end of Deep Cove, ran to the grocery store on my way back to the barn, rode Oats in the field for a brief 30 minutes, ran the 16km I missed that AM, went to the liquor store, another grocery store, and then gas and then home.

PHEW. This mad scrambling was also going on because my husband’s parents were coming over to our house for dinner, and I had thought we agreed on Sunday, because I knew my Saturday was going to be nuts, but they got confused and came on Saturday instead?! Yikes. So, start scrambling!!

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Love my smoothies of summer! 

We had a really nice visit and shocker, the weather cooperated for once. Then Sunday was dedicated to my leisure: A super fun ride where I practiced a few of the elements we learned on Friday, including trying out our counter-canter a few more times. It was good, not easy and not perfect, but cool to start trying and practicing. Whee! Then I came home and went on a run along the ocean, and also got into a yelling match with some idiot who let his dog off-leash, where it cut me off suddenly and made me trip and almost eat dirt! And it was a big dog too, I could have been hurt badly by this. IDIOT!! It’s always these men that do stupid things, and then act surprised when you get mad at them. Assholes.

Anyways, the run was fun, hot and sweaty, my favourite!

And then Monday (ah, Monday…I love long weekends) was Canada Day! I celebrated by riding my pony in the field again, chilling out and going to a friend’s bbq party, where I also overindulged my inner glutton and was literally sweating all night thanks to my over-eating tendencies. I hate myself sometimes!!! UGH.

Now it’s rainy and Oats has his lesson day today, so no rides for me.

“There is no god any more divine than yourself”

I’m in another Walt Whitman mood again!

I had another jump lesson last night, and while it was by no means a ‘breakthrough’ or super amazing lesson, it was just good quality, and that’s good for me. Except my little bratty pony sucked back on my second round and we found out why…A poop emergency!! Gotta go!

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The course- the gymnastic is the one we worked on (obviously it was set MUCH lower for me!). Doesn’t it look beautiful?

ARGH! Oats!

We started with a gymnastic (SO not my favourite…) and I kind of flubbed it a few times, haha. But then we picked it up, and I got to work on my next-favourite thing, not sitting in the gymnastic and grinding my butt. Staying in two-point, off his back, is surprisingly difficult for me. Even more so in a gymnastic? Why, world, why?

Next we strung together a course, and I’m not saying ‘small course’ because we have the luxury in the outdoor right now of making those suckers LONG! 13 fences total, including the gymnastic (it was a canter-in gymnastic for me, trot-in for George).

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From a few weeks ago. This week, this turned into an oxer and I think the best jump for us on course! 

And I had a good time! Not perfect, jesus god not at all, but not so bad that my ego took a beating. And that friends, is what success looks like to me. Sure I let him drift horribly, his leads again were a work in progress (dammit!!) and we got a very awkward short spot more than once, but we also nailed a few jumps and they rode forward and lovely.

I think it’s all a matter of not letting your ego take the ride. You ride. Each fence. Good? GREAT! Bad? Ok moving on! Either way, my goal when I am jumping is to ‘feel’ each fence. Not drifting outside of myself, not feeling the horse. I’m done with disassociating.

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This week we jumped the oxer going the other direction, slightly downhill. 

It’s funny to me to ride with another person in my lesson, because I do it so rarely, but when I do it’s also a lesson to me- everyone deals with anxiety. And people see me ride, and think I never have to deal with it. Ha, how little they know! Anxiety used to rule my life, rule my ride and my lessons. I am still managing it, day-to-day. I just worked extremely hard to manage it, not make it go away forever- that’s not going to happen.