The Juan de Fuca Trail- China Beach to Bear Beach

So every Sunday my husband and I do ‘Sunday Funday’ and pick a location to do a mega run/hike/trail run at. We have gone up island to Duncan to run Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, to Courtenay/Comox to run to Cumberland, and locally, the Galloping Goose in Sooke to the Malahat run. We have been all over!

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You cross a lot of small creeks/waterfalls.

Last weekend I ran solo, a few loops of Elk Lake, which is a pleasant solo run because you can run to your car to get water (there are no water fountains open anymore because of COVID19 and I guess no hand sanitizer in the washrooms/outhouses anymore either, to my extreme displeasure).

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It got hot, but it was ok.

This weekend we went somewhere a little different- the trek out to the Juan de Fuca trail! We are very familiar with the 1 beach- China beach, but we wanted to trail run from China beach to Bear Beach. It’s not that far- about 7km- but can be quite wet, muddy and rugged. And boy, it was!

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We ran the 2km to China beach and it was PACKED with people. Every available square spot to park in was taken. People were crawling everywhere. I really didn’t like that- it’s just too busy now, the new Thetis Lake or East Sooke Park or something?

So it was a lot of stop and go.

We got to the beach and it had a ton of people on it too. A nice day (rare for us, we don’t really get nice weather anymore in the summer) and I guess literally everyone wanted in.

So we went down the beach and picked up the Bear beach trail and continued that way. It had far fewer people, but for a quite narrow and technical trail, it was very busy with camp hikers coming back. One guy even gave us licorice, haha. Of course I accepted it! 😉

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We splashed, climbed and scrambled our way to Bear beach, which was completely deserted. So that was worth it! It was a gorgeous day. I picked a bunch of Salmon berries, we enjoyed our Lara bars (protein ones, I don’t like the blueberry-lemon, ick I think it tastes like lemon Pledge, but the Apple Cobbler are good), and took some photos, and then ran back. On our way back we saw a mink!!! Just a zip of brown and he was gone, into the rocks to the ocean. Wish I could have seen him up close and for longer.

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The cliffside was really cool! 

It was WET! My legs got covered in mud, hahah. Big splashes everywhere!! I gave in and gave up and just went for it hahahahhaha.

By the end of the run, even my toenails had mud embedded in them, hahaha. A good adventure and a lovely day, to make up for how miserable and craptacular I was feeling on Saturday.

New adventure in dressage-jumping!

So we revisited the lesson from last Thursday, with a focus on ‘building’ the canter up to be a bigger, more energetic and ‘jumpy’ canter rather than a very tightly controlled ‘small’ canter.

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Some choice screengrabs 😉

Dressage with speedbumps!

I now tend to think of dressage for me as a process of going through stages. First we developed his ‘stretchy’ frame, next we bump the frame up a bit for his ‘jump’ frame and then kind of toggle through both. But you need the first one to get the second, if that makes sense?

It’s a sort of transitional phase.

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But so uphill! I love it! 

And yesterday had some very rocky moments (his right rein was not a thing, apparently) and he had 1 BIG spook that almost got me off, hahah. Stupid pony! But no matter, I enjoyed the end process and I think I am getting a better idea of how to manage his canter, both on the flat and through the jumps. Both trainers are right- his jump/my jump issues stem from a weakness in managing the canter.

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Heading to a small jump and he still looks good! 

If I’m not connected to him at the canter, how WILL I know where the takeoff spot is? I am too disconnected to know or figure it out! And I can feel that, I just didn’t know how to fix it.

This time I am happy to say he nailed every single distance, ha. We didn’t really jump (ok, they were cavaletti size, ha super small) much, but it was higher quality and the canter improved. We did get a little shakier and flat as we wrapped up, but I was able to watch the video and damn…His canter is looking FANCY. I also am reaching the point of jumping where this little stuff is…Not hard. Taking the spectre of ‘jumping’ out of jumping is working well for me.

My hands suck and I sit behind the motion, soooo ignore me. But Oats! Wow! Loving this. I also appreciate that in the 10 years I have owned him, I am still learning so much with him. It’s a journey, isn’t it?

 

 

 

Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

I can’t help you if I can’t help myself

Back to JUMP lessons on Saturday! It seems so funny that only a few months ago, I was fussing hardcore about having jump lessons on Saturday because it can be tough on my weekend schedule plus I just didn’t like to really be scheduled on the weekends, in case things changed, plans came up, etc…

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After my ride, I turned Oats out with his friends. Here he is having a nice grooming session with a buddy! 

Well, I guess everything changed and now I have lessons on Saturdays because no other days worked! If I wanted to do dressage lessons, the only day that worked was Thursday. My jump day! So I moved jump day to Saturday, dressage to Thursday, and Oats’ novice rider lessons are on Tuesdays. Busy busy eh?

We had a nice lesson but WOW having to get strides in the indoor and in a line (4 strides) instead of 5 strides, felt tough! Really tough! I am not used to pushing, and neither was Oats, haha.

Still it was fun, I was out of breath and tired, haha.

We did a small line in 4 strides, and then a small course working with the line/bending line. I, of course, messed it up a fair bit at first (thank GOD the jumps are like..a foot. ha).

Still, getting back into it just requires more work! More than I remember, hahah and wow it is tiring. I think Oats felt the same way 🙂 Felt so good to do it.

Getting creative when there’s nothing else to do

And of course, now that we can’t really travel or do things we are used to: Visiting with friends, happy hour, running races or in groups, horse shows, going to a movie, swimming, etc etc etc…

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My watercolour attempt! 

Ian and I have had to get much more creative- literally! We have done a few fun projects, from an Easter gingerbread house to making Sculpey animals, to watercolour paintings. It’s been pretty fun, and I guess, a fun distraction from the things we can’t normally enjoy.

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My Easter house- isn’t it fun? I bought like 5 gingerbread houses from Thrifty’s because they were a dollar each, so I used one this year for Easter. My friend even bought me some amazing flavored Peeps from the USA!

Of course, we can get take-out meals, drinks, have a picnic and have done many of these activities throughout the past 3 months as well!

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Our sculpey projects- I want to get some magnets and do up the backs of these, they are too cute not to share! 

I know what needs to be done. But why can’t I do it?

I feel extremely ambivalent about everything right now. I know some of the reasons (suffering from horrendous allergies, and now I am allergic to everything, so breathing isn’t really something I can take for granted right now. I started a new medication for endometriosis and I am hoping it freaking levels out soon, because this on top of allergies makes me feel like my body is under some sort of attack, constantly?!!).

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Course marshal

But also, just…Life ambivalent. I feel very sensitive to a lot of the bad stuff happening to my close friends and horse friends. I also am struggling with change, and trying to embrace it as a net positive, but…yeah. I also got approached to change my lesson times to the weekend, and at this point, it’s feeling like a hard no. I like having my weekends free, and my day-to-day is intensely scheduled, so having a free day is just…Mine. You get it? Add in the layers of feeling guilty about not being flexible, on top of my trainer’s father DYING last week, and just..UGh. Can I crawl out of my skin for a month or so, let me get some breathing room?

My counselor says I need a break. Like, a month break.

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Surveying the course 

I know I can’t do that- my brain would probably melt or something. But at the heart of it, she’s right- I need some space, some time. For it (riding) to be easy, non competitive, non training. I feel like I have lost a bit of the ‘why’ and the drive, to be honest.

Even when I think about competing, and there are so many fun looking events?! But I just feel…Blahhhhh about it right now. So blah. Maybe it’s my allergies talking, but yeah. I can’t get excited, I don’t want to move lesson, I just don’t want to do anything!!

Oats has been good, though our lesson on Friday was outright bad. He bucked, he was pissy, he was angry and tearing around like a deranged llama. Greeeat.. My trainer is newish to us, and said she had never seen him like that before?! Ha. Yeah it has been awhile!

He was fine this weekend though, and my husband and I went up to volunteer at Bear Mountain’s XC Pan Am cup challenge, and it was very neat! A quick ride after, and then I had my friends over for a really fun dinner – fondue!

So like things are fine, but I’m just not feeling it.  At all.

Terrible Thrills

Had my jump lesson on Thursday, and despite a LOT of drama-rama (jumps are leaving with my friends, my trainer is going through some truly devastating personal loss), it turned out pretty darn good. Note: This is not to make light of what people close to me are going through- at all. Life goes on, and it can sometimes take a real toll.

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Man, I just love this guy! 

Oats was so light, springy and forward- he felt fantastic! I haven’t felt him being this ‘fresh’ and smooth feeling, like air, in ages I felt like (and then I proceeded to ruin his light freshness this weekend, because I am an idiot)… But we worked over a small course and man, he just felt SO GOOD. Through the small three-stride, we were almost getting two. TWO! On OAts! What a little star.

We did have 1 hilarious blooper- we took a tricky inside turn and BANG almost ran head first into a jump standard. I really misjudged the turn and kind of…Drifted out further and almost smoked the second jump in our course. Yikes! Oats of course, is a freaking saint, so we circled after our regroup and just…Did it again! And he was great, of course. I love my boy.

For my dressage lesson on Friday with Sam, (yes it WAS a busy two days for us), we worked on trot, sooo much trot. Leg yield trot. Across the diagonal trot. Shoulder-in trot. Big trot. Smaller trot. Stretchy trot. Wowza…My legs were tired, and I had sweat dripping across my face. Oats was sooo good again. Light, springy, just moving gorgeously. I am too lucky to have this horse in my life.

Too bad I kind of blew up his good vibe this weekend- I felt tense, edgy and for sure let it out on him. And I know better too. I just need to actually RIDE better and let the tension go! He was going fantastically and I got too handsy and angsty.

I know better for today, and my mantra for today’s ride- relax.

 

It’s only a matter of time before I ruin his life: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ha, the title seems grim but totally isn’t- I found it and found it amusing! I don’t think I am out to ruin anyone’s life, unless they are really not into horses, rabbits, dogs or running. Then maybe I would be ruining their life!

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My friend Sarah made cupcakes- she is a professional eh?? 

Anyways, this Valentine’s Day sees me taking the day off the barn, to enjoy a movie with my husband. I was treated to a LOVELY Valentine’s day cupcake at work (yesss!). We had protestors outside this morning, which was fine. I respect the right to representation, and they were polite and calm.

Though it may not seem like it, I have also been doing a TON of riding. The vibe is still…Challenging…right now, and I was in full rant mode about some things I learned about my fellow riders (not my stablemates, other folks who I know), and the theme for this week is twofold:

  1. People do not learn.
  2. People do not change.

At least four people I know this week (god, if not MORE), are stuck in this weird hamster-wheel of logic. If you do the same thing all the time with the same people who are treating you badly, or it’s a negative environment, or whatever…You are going get the same results. Over and over. Rinse, repeat. And then complain/whine/etc loudly and repeatedly how you are the wronged party. HAH!

I would honestly laugh if I wasn’t also concerned about the animals involved. Jeesus.

Otherwise? Oats has been good, if a bit unremarkable this week. Last week felt pretty good, accomplished, this week…not so much. Not bad, he’s still my best baby, but just kind of lacklustre. His jumps last night- we moved our jump lesson to next Wed as my trainer was sick- was just ‘eh’ all around. Obviously I need lessons! Stat!!

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A red velvet cupcake at work. YUMMM

Long weekend coming up, and boy, I think I need it, and a lot of others too!

Happy V-Day 🙂

Nothing Feels Natural

Finally we had some sun! In fact, we are now on THREE whole days of sun! Can you believe it?! I can’t. We honestly had close to 3 months of straight rain, or wind and rain, or wind/rain/snow combo. Not a single clear day for months, and boy does that drain a person…

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Daisy is at another stable now, but Oats loves his friends! 

Friday I had my dressage lesson and it was really good! I wasn’t expecting much, given it was basically a tornado with pouring rain, the arena was super flooded and Oats was feeling okay but not amazing. However he really rallied and we worked on straightness in the canter on the diagonal fences, and then some head-to-the-wall leg yielding. Success! He was quite good and sweet. Love my boy 🙂

Saturday the ring was still nuts and the vibe a bit off but not too bad, it was a bit quieter which is nice, and so Oats and I worked on transitions, and his leg yields. The canter to the left is still..eh. We will call that a ‘work in progress’ shall we?

Sunday I had a race (Cedar 12K recap coming soon!), and then managed to finagle a bareback 20 minute ride on Oats after- you know I can’t resist getting a ride in, any way, or anytime I can! He was very sweet, and apparently had spend the entire night running amok outside of his paddock, going horse to horse to play bite-face with the ones who would oblige him! He then was exhausted and spent the afternoon flat on his side, sacked out. Phew!

Monday I was tired from the race, but also determined to do my ‘homework’ which I do try to do once per week- straightness on the diagonal jumps AND trot fences. It was good! I did find that when I posted trot in, I was able to control the take-off spot a bit better, rather than coming in two-point using the ‘hope and pray’ method…! Good to know. I think I ride Oats better when I am more ‘connected’ through my seat, vs straight-up butt out of the saddle 2point.

Things you learn eh? 25 years in and I’m still learning.

Anyways, day off for me, Oats teaches a beginner tonight, and I am off to dinner with friends to the new place: Boom & Batten. I hope it is good, it is very pricey.

Please Stay

It is definitely not sunny here! We have had an EPIC amount of rain, = permanently flooded indoor arena (arghh)…. And a very limited space for riders, unfortunately. I feel like this is the winter that won’t end?

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From last winter- man, it was so much drier!

I did have a good jump lesson yesterday though! Not complicated, but still managed to reveal some big holes in my jumping, in particular managing my ride- less emotions, and also the right-to-left diagonal jump where I can’t seem to figure out how to go straight, then get the correct right bend. My life struggle, basically. Well it gives me something to work on in my dressage lesson tonight>?

Also we had a small oxer and we aced it every time? Go figure! Used to be my biggest boogeyman jump…Ha. We also revisited the circle jump of last week (before the arena got even more flooded…) and Oats was so good this time too!

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Also from last year- Oats is so good! 

The only one I kept flubbing was the one lone vertical on the wall- I got weak to it, and commensurate, Oats got sucked into the base and flopped over. I did this oh…Three times? And finally womaned up and actively RODE to it, and surprise surprise, we  nailed it. Ok, so now I realize how I actually have to ride, rather than just ‘sit’ to a fence that I feel is kind of a ‘gimmie’ fence (aka pretty easy, hah). Oats did start getting tired, which is hard for me to fathom, because I didn’t feel tired?? He was huffing and puffing. He is getting to be an older pony, my little dude.

Man I love my pony. Oats is my boy, my love, my little buddy.

Otherwise, a grey and rainy day today (though it was ok for walking to work), and a riding lesson tonight, and hopefully two days of sunshine?? Fingers crossed!