I need what you need: Lesson/ride recaps!

Rode this weekend (it was a long weekend for us, so I took Sunday off go to swimming in the river in Cowichan) and had a BLAST!

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Horse friends at the horse show from the other weekend. Summer is flying by! 

Saturday my friend and I rode in all of the fields – literally went from field to field jumping everything. It was so fun! Even the scarier fences that backed me off recently and last year (I’m looking at you, coop) we jumped. True Oats did stop at the coop once, but he figured it out and I figured out how to ride over the fence, not just to it..HA.

He was a bit silly at the gate again (a theme to be repeated in my lesson on Monday..) but no matter. We jumped a few fences in the other x-c field,including a fan jump that I at first didn’t want to jump (too high!) but then when Brenda set it up to it’s original height, I said sure no problem- and sure enough it went great!

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I have now jumped almost all of the jumps in the fields! 

From there, my friend and I rode over to yet another field and jumped a small bank going upwards. At first Oats spooked at it- WHA? What is THAT! And then he followed big brother Donato up the bank and then we did it again without Donato. Good boy Oats! 🙂

We then went into the big hay field and cantered up the hill. Oats took this to mean he can bulge his right shoulder and drag me to the gate, so we then had the opportunity to do a bit more schooling, you little jerk…

All in all, a really fun and encouraging ride. I tried things I probably never would have done without my friend there riding with me. Yes!

Sunday we took off from riding to go swimming up-Island, and then I had a dressage lesson on Sunday. The theme? Back to basics, equitation-science style. It was pretty eye opening and I came away with some things to practice (transitions using split-rein, spiraling in and out using on my hands, and turns w/o using leg, just hands). Oats was pretty good until we cooled out, and then he immediately got sticky about the gate and started threatening to rear.

I, having dealt with this, oh every single week or so? Tossed down my water bottle and started getting ready for battle. BUT here’s the switch- no battle needed. Annika asked what the problem was (Oats threatening to rear at the gate, up to the left and won’t go right) and so she said move his shoulder right then. No panic, kicking frantically, nothing. Just…right. He pops up again? No big. Go right. Up again? Easy- go right. Up again? Go right.

By taking the fuss and frantic-ness out of the behaviour, Oats gave up and went right, ha. But he is a persistent little bugger, and when I decided I was going to cool out in the arena, he immediately started trying to rear and go left again. Ah, this again. Ok. Pop up? Go right. Then forward. Stop and pop up? Go right, and then forward.

We must have done this for oh, 15 minutes or so. But guess what? I won! We then proceeded to walk calmly, and coolly, around the arena for as long as I wanted and for as long as I asked for. I went back to the gate, ‘tempted’ him to misbehave there a few times and he was fine. Darn this habit though, it is annoying!

Horses- always simple, never easy.

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Mr. Oats turns on the afterburners!

I had every intention of doing a pretty casual ride on Tuesday, after my Monday ride on Oats was kind of ‘blah’ and he felt draggy and lazy. He was great on Saturday, had Sunday off, was very mediocre on Monday and Tuesday? Maybe good day for some lateral work or something more technical.

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Just like this, but …in an indoor arena and not summer.

HA, or so I thought!

My legs are still pretty achy and tired from the race on Sunday so I was hoping to preserve them…Nope.

I got on Oats, began a warm-up of walk/trot/canter, with some bigger gaits and smaller gaits. He immediately began fussing and getting humpy at the canter. Hm? He swapped leads, got dramatic and cranky. Interesting…We’ll do what you want to do Oats!

What did he want to do? Gallop for 35 minutes straight.

Wowza~! In all fairness it was REALLY FUN to ride. Just going, going, going, going like the Energizer Bunny. 🙂 It is so rare for me that he has this kind of positive, pure energy. We galloped, cantered, circled (when I had enough steering power to turn better), galloped some more, more canter, and thennnn could bring in transitions without any attitude.

Funny eh? He was so sweaty by the end of it, and we had a long walk cool-out.

His breathing was great during though, and he was just so steady at the long canter. He is the smoothest! I was tired though, holy cow. My leggs…

Go Oats Go!

Taking what’s not yours

Ride/life update- all good!

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Slow chukkar- not me, but it’s a general idea. Photo by the Victoria Polo Club.

Dressage ride on Oats on Tuesday, to make up for my rather schedule-less week (no lessons, whaaat?). Transitions up to a ‘big’ or extended trot, and back down. Still not interested in listening when we are at the ‘spooky’ corner but overall a fairly good ride. A longer one, because on Wednesday…

I played polo! In the beginner’s slow chukka. And it was fun! I committed a huge foul (crossing my stick in front of another horse, which is dangerous because I could trip the horse if we were playing at speed) BUT I also got a goal- my first! 🙂

So, learning experience all ’round eh?

And after polo (it is short, 15 mins practicing and 15 mins of play time) I hop back into my car and drive to the barn to ride Oats. No rest for the wicked! We just toodled around in the field, my goal for Wednesday.

Today no jump lesson, so I was planning on schooling myself a bit in the jump ring outdoors (small fences) after work. Weather got chilly last night, and cool this morning but it’s looking pretty good for the weekend so fingers crossed.

After my very busy weekend last week, I am looking forward to a long weekend with fun times to relax! (ha, what is relaxing…I don’t think I know how to do that).

Teeth for days

Not a busy weekend, but a good one. Friends dinner out on Thursday, games night with the barn girls on Friday night, and nothing but hanging out with the husband on Saturday night. Just the way I like it- balanced visits/hangouts with friends and some quiet time.

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Fun in the field from last week!

Rode Oats Saturday and Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves riding in the field on Sunday (or at least I did, Oats seemed more interested in taking me back to the gate, ha when we were cooling out).

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha).

No dressage lesson tonight, and I skipped riding last night to let my legs hopefully recover. They have been having a hard time with recovery- I keep getting a big knot in my inner thigh muscles and it’s threatening to spasm prettttty hard. I have recurring issues with charley horses, quite severe ones, so I’m trying to make sure that doesn’t happen!

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I also went on a fairly long run on Sunday and was pleased with my recovery on that. I just need to be careful balancing riding and long runs, or else I will burn myself out physically!

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What more could a girl want?

That’s right, yesterday was my birthday! The big 3-1 for me~

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Celebrating at the barn with a big delicious cake! Thanks Sarah C, you’re the best!

In all honesty, things I have been focusing on overshadowed my b-day- my lesson with Jane Stone on Thursday that I was alternately looking forward to and worried about, my race on Saturday, Rock the Shores on Sunday, and oh, my big upcoming international trip.

So yeah, lots going on eh?

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More presents than I deserve!

But regardless, I had a GREAT birthday! (well, except for the having to be at work part. That part sucked). I hauled ass home from work, ran my dog out, threw on my riding clothes, wolfed down a Clif Bar and immediately got stuck in traffic for 45 minutes. SIGH.

I asked to have our semi-private lesson in the big field when I learned that the girls had so nicely put the jumps out there. A chance to work on my weaker skills at home? Even though I had previously fallen off at the Derby jumping in the field? SURE! Let’s do it. I knew it would be a challenge for me, because of my anxieties.

As it turns out, all my worries and fears were…for naught! Poof!

Jane was very understanding about what I have going on, and we worked it, man! I was really enjoying the lesson, we tried jumping a cavaletti to warm up, normal at first, and then some terrain-work, and then set to land flat and head slightly downhill. Success!

And then we started working on a small course, and it went super fantastic. Oats was so keen, I was loving it. We had a few bobbles- getting straight to a fence and him getting disunited, but it was fine and we worked with it.

I got a lot of confidence out of the lesson and felt so positive about it. Go us! Jane was very complimentary about our horses (who were perfect) and my position~ yay!!

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My second birthday cake- made by my husband! Menagerie on top provided by my sister.

And the cherry on top? A birthday cake at the barn accompanied by good friends and a Palm Bay. Yum!!! I even had more cake at home baked by my husband, who make an amazing cake that I immediately wanted to eat more of, even though I knew it would make me sick….

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It was a good night.

Yep I had cake and more cake with wine instead of dinner last night. So sue me, it’s my birthday!!! 🙂

At first, you go with them. Then, they go with you. Then you go together.

A lovely saying by Tom Dorrance about horse training. It’s so true, isn’t it!

So for my jump lesson, we were back in the outdoor arena- WOW it’s so early to be there, I can’t even believe it. I’m not really that prepared to ride outdoors (when not at a horse show) yet. Oats needs his front shoes, he is very ouchy on the sand in the ring, and my riding fitness and balance need a fair bit of work…Feel very different outdoors than in.

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The course- setting and design and photo courtesy of Nicole and Sarah! (the jumps were not this high when I was jumping them, except for maybe the polka-dot planks!)

We warmed up and there was an excellent course set up, courtesy of my trainer and friend who worked to design and set it. I was both excited and kind of nervous to be back outside in the big ring. Oats felt a bit stumbly, and off-balance. He was decently forward, but I could tell he was having some trouble with his feet- first time outside- and going downhill (the ring is slightly sloped), he was having more difficulty maintaining the canter/balancing. He broke several times into a big runny trot.

So, managing these issues, we warmed up over an x-rail to a small vertical. It felt weird being in the outdoor! I felt kind of off balance too! Oats was backed off during this exercise, so we worked on getting him thinking forward- understanding too that he is challenged by the new footing, etc.

We then schooled a few lines, and repeatedly bungled the one outside line that is set slightly downhill into the sun. I just felt like Oats was unsure about it…Well he surprised me by slamming on the brakes when we came to the line at first!~ I’d forgotten than he hadn’t jumped the bridge in a year and he was surprised by it too, hahah. Oh well. We schooled it a few times, and every time we got to the pink oxer, it just felt really…blahhh. He just never felt that comfortable over that line- I believe it was a footing/balance issue.

Then we moved on to an equitation course. It wasn’t set very high, but had a few challenges- like a bending line, a broken line, a two-stride and that infamous outside line that we never rode very prettily.

The course went well, great actually. I was very pleased with Oats’ go-forward attitude!

Time to put it up!

And the wheels kind of fell off here- primarily due to a steering issue with me. Oops!

After the outside line -that STILL rode very ugly- we came in to the two-stride set higher, and I was pulling to the left…Oats went in long, and we came into the middle of the second jump. I almost fell off- because he is such a trier!

That was 100% my fault- pulling, wrong distance, steering all over the place!

We pried ourselves out of the oxer, and re-approached. This time I focused very hard on the second jump, and counter-bent Oats on the approach. We flew over it! YES!

The rest of the course rode fairly well, not so much that I can even really remember it…Oh wait, yes he seemed to get disunited on both bending and broken lines, and I believe that was due to him being a bit confused about our direction and the footing. Something to fix!

For our first go-around in the outdoor jumping, I was very pleased with Oats. He is such a trier, and he was very pleasant to ride.

Fail Friday- courtesy of my jump lesson?

Well, when I write ‘Fail’ I really mean- we did it, and it wasn’t perfect or pretty.

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I am learning how to take screenshots! Still in the indoor though. Proof that we jump oxers, haha. Yesterday was a bit higher I believe?

We were back to doing small courses, and the jumps got up to 2’6”, and the wheels kind of fell off for Oats and I. I started doing things with my hands (pulling him up over the jump, leaning, chasing, arghh) and he started doing his thing- trying to jump from a standstill- the ultimate chip.

BUT here’s where it changes- this would normally be like, IT for me. Some ugly jumps at the peak of our height, ability-wise? Noooo way. And an oxer at 2’6”? Extra nooo way. But you know what? It was ok. I kind of mentally kicked myself- this was the last course and we’d actually been doing really nicely- and on we went!

Sure the oxer rode really weird pretty much every time- a big LAUNCH courtesy of  Air Oats, but after we landed (in kind of a heap), I picked up the reins, and just kept riding. I even re-approached the oxer, mistakenly thinking I could ride it better the second time – newsflash- not really! And kept trying.

We had 1 stop- it was at a vertical and I just wasn’t organized enough to support Oats properly. My fault, and it wasn’t a nasty stop, it was just heyyyy we’re doing what now?

Sorry Oats!

We even did the double-stacked haybales again, which Oats seems to regard as a type of brush jump that he can like, skim his legs barely over??? Ha silly pony. He did the two-stride (set at 2’3” thank god) lovely every time. He is  excellent at combinations, goes on total autopilot and just motors through them. I even got a really interesting feeling of ‘kickback’ from him when he was powering through. It felt great!

The rest of the course- not so great. I keep trying though, and I know I can do it.

The difference between the past and now? I make mistakes. I’m allowed to make them. I learn from them, and I move on.