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! 

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! 

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.

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Never let go: Jump lesson recap

Jump lesson recap. Maybe I am getting my personal life mojo back?

It was good too actually! I finally got the ‘win’ I’ve been searching for. I started off feeling a blah (I am having a lot of trouble with pressure in my ears, so right now when I breathe it feels like it goes straight through my freaking ears!). Lovely.

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I am learning how to take screenshots! Still in the indoor though. Proof that we jump oxers, haha.

I was also feeling a bit jealous- the girls at the barn are all braver than me and jumping 2’9-3′ courses and here I am, wimping out at 2’3” oxers? Wah Wah WAH.

But that’s just me- I’m proud of where I am, and proud of how far the girls have come. I am doing the best I can 🙂

I felt ready to be challenged – a bit- ha, not too much. We fumbled our way through a grid, where I learned I need to sit up or we’d eat it through the last fence, with Oats not being particularly interested in oh, ‘jumping’ through the grid. I manned up and really RODE his butt through it, but the nice hands I had been slowly developing kind of went by the wayside last night in the grid. Oh well, two steps forward, one step back type of gig. Grids have always been our nemesis…

On to the course, which I am proud to say was NOT my nemesis!

We started with the grid, and then cantered over a simple single, and then over the ‘road closed’ oxer (ooh, big scary one) ha yeah, and then over a skinny bridge in an ‘s’ turn that I kind of bungled every time, to another oxer (who is this girl?) to a skinny one-stride that rode pretty much perfectly every time. Wow!

Funny enough, we had trouble with the grid, and the other girls had trouble with the oxers, where we aced the oxers (with only one stop, I just didn’t have the right striding and Oats declined, fair enough).

It was a good ride, and the course rode great. I was tempted to do it again and Nicole was egging me on to, but I decided not to. I just couldn’t chance taking a big step back when I’m kind of feeling really fragile- two go-arounds that felt PRETTY darn good was fine for me, and a big win!

Yeeha!!

A good ride and a not-so-good ride

Had my jump lesson on Wednesday and Oats and I were fresh and ready to go! I had taken Tuesday off to attend the lousy Hudson’s Bay event with my mom.

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He was jumping better than this over the skinny!

I think that day off really lets Oats shine- I was SO pleased with his attitude jumping, and it just felt so smooth and perfect. How often do I get to say that? Haha. We worked on a bounce gymnastic, canter-in slightly collected. It scaled up to three bounce jumps (tiny), to a 1-stride jump. We then worked in the gymnastic, to a small course that included a single box ‘skinny’ fence. I was a bit concerned about the box- no wings, no guide rails…What was the likelihood of a run-out??

We started the course and he was bang on! It was great. We then approached the skinny box and Oats did have a good firm look at it, and up and over, perfectly. Wow! I was caught up celebrating and forgot to ride my last fence in the course- oops, haha.

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Last year- a very eager Oats.

Time for a second go-around: And it rode just as perfectly as the first. How often do I get that? How about never, hahah. I was so pleased with Oats, a fairly technical gymnastic, he was working hard and huffing and puffing, but he was focused, rhythmic and never wavered. Good boy Oats, I love your efforts.

My trainer said she could tell how good our rhythm was due to Oats’ snorting- he was snorting so rhythmically it was funny- “snort, snort snort- jump- snort snort snort snort-jump,” haha.

But I have to say, I was thrilled with how smooth and focused it felt.

And then there was yesterday…Ugh. I got on and Oats felt weird. We walked for a long time, because he just felt ‘lateral’ and not forward. I went up to trot, and then canter, and his canter sucked. He was short striding, and backed way off my leg. He was soooo stiff. Ahh, poor Oats.

Clearly the work the night before, probably combined with standing around all day in the rain doing nothing= stiff as anything pony. Probably a bit sore too. So, I went down to more walk, some trot and just did some light bending, serpentines, circles and called it a day.

He is getting today off, and I hope he moves around a little more- I hate when he is feeling this way.

As above, so below

Saw this movie the other night and it was pretty good, creepy, suspenseful and scary at times. It’s also a thought-provoker, as it brought up a lot of ‘hidden demons’ that people carry with them and force them to face as they move throughout the film. Interesting.

But anyways, I skipped my dressage lesson on Tuesday, had an ‘ok’ ride on Monday  (honestly can’t really remember what I did, but it was fine?) and did my jump lesson last night. My dad came to watch! That was nice 🙂

Since I noticed last week that Oats’ canter was kind of strange last week (weak on the left lead, unbalanced, got flat when coming into fences and he just clobbered a fence…) I requested we do some work on strengthening his canter quality.

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I found a bunch of photos I had missed from the summer derby. Love it!

So we did! A bunch of raised poles, starting at a distance of 9ft, and going through the exercise on the left, and right lead, slowing bringing the distance in to 8ft, 7ft, and finally collecting in to 6ft. Oats was great! He started off pretty badly, absolutely clobbbering the rails. It was like a yard sale! Horse by braille?? He was clunking them and just not.caring.

Then, he slowly figured it out. He stopped clunking the rails, and started picking up his hoofies.

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Go Oats go!

Then I got even braver and bolder- I suggested to Nicole that we put up a jump on the other side of the arena, so that when I finished the collected poles, we’d turn and go over a jump, and then collect for the poles, and so forth. Like a big circle.

She said ok, but that if she put up a jump, it was going to have to be an oxer!

Gulp!

But that was fine, and you know what? That was why I asked for it. Ha, look at me, asking to jump an oxer…I said sure, as long as it was small. And it did start small, and then we worked up to maybe 2’6”. By the end of the exercise, the poles were set at 6ft, and the oxer was up to soft 2’6”, and we were doing GREAT.

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I am ordering this one too!

What a good day, and what a cool exercise. I was out of breath, sweating like crazy. Oats was sweaty and huffing and puffing. A tough workout for the two of us!

Then my dad and I went out for dinner to the Crooked Goose, and I had my favourite there- the barley mac and cheese with bacon and scallops. SO good and so decadent. Yummmm….

Golden State

Second dressage lesson in a two week period for us–I had scheduled it that way because I think my week coming up might be too busy to try to squeeze in another dressage lesson.

And Oats was really good! We had some moments of great ‘try’ and some of awkwardness (his head-tossing feeling blocked at the trot). We even worked on some no-stirrups canter, upon which Oats immediately went down to trot when I kicked off my stirrups. Apparently the change in seat pressure is a big trigger for him–he thinks I’m at risk of falling off, so he slows right down? Hahaha! He takes care of me (sometimes).

We worked on no-stirrup canter, to sitting trot, to walk transitions. It was a good, wholesome and very thorough ride. In the walk work, we threw in a few straight lines, working with the mirrors to determine if we were actually straight or if he was moving his butt around too much–a lot of that actually…Also something interesting- instead of wanting to come down and through his body in the canter, Oats tossed in a few swaps to right lead from the left. WTF Oats? And you say flying lead changes are too hard, and you’re putting them out right left and centre to avoid giving to the bridle? Gak! To fix this, Karen had me make sure he didn’t have the opportunity to bring his nose outside on the left rein and it mostly fixed it, though I could feel him wanting to swap instead of come down.

The trot work that got kind of wonky was when we did a fair amount of canter, and then in the trot Oats got SO balky and head-tossy…And like was hopping up/down instead of striding forward. To fix that, Karen suggested I move my elbows forward to ‘give’ to him a bit, and kick kick kick him on! He was just feeling ‘blocked’.

It took a little bit, and I had to release my defensive position to enable some success here. Interestingly, my defensive position comes into play when stuff like this happens, probably because a tiny part of me doesn’t ‘trust’ Oats to make the right decision, ie- forward.

Despite my non-trusting, he worked out of it and we got some FAB trot.

Then, hilariously, we worked on this weird exercise called ‘make the horse crazy’ haha. The idea is to use your seat – VERY firmly- to PUSH the horse forward, as much as you can. It’s great for using a driving seat and for re-training riders like me who get defensive and tend to perch forward when they are unsure. Oats didn’t respond like crazy – ha, him? Nope…But we did eventually get enough forward to canter from that one seat direction. Cool eh? Karen did caution us to not practice this at home. It has to be done under direction, because it can backfire if you do it incorrectly. Noted!

 

 

Mr. Oats has an angry day

Oats was just…bizarre last week. I haven’t ridden yet this week (took Monday off because I was in a terrible mood and tired, felt I really shouldn’t bring that negative energy to the barn) so we shall see for my lesson today..

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Pretty much how Oats feels about life.

But yes, for Saturday, he was just…awful. Thursday he was cranky and grouchy, tired and phoning it in. Saturday he was SO ANGRY. Fine in the cross-ties, and then a nippy dragon in the ring! I went to tighten his girth and he tried to bite me, repeatedly. He swished his tail in the angriest horse way. He refused to let me get on. He wouldn’t walk forward, and when I asked, kicked out>??

Yeah, your guess is as good as mine? He wouldn’t trot, only hop angrily and pissily.

I gave up on the trot, and we went for a good, very forward, sitting & working canter. He was lovely during it! And then our trot work was pretty nice after too? So wtf Oats? Why the attitude? He dropped it once we had our good canter warmup but wow, he came out ready for a fight. This is definitely unlike him, easy-going Oats.

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Oats harasses his buddy Jim.

He is very perplexing this month. Last week was kind of an ugly week. Is he just feeling stiff, or is it something else, since he seems to work out of it ok?

Sunday, I decided to warm him up a bit before I got on by walking/trotting, turning circles, stopping and backing up in-hand, just to sort of see how he was feeling. I then tightened the girth very carefully, respectful of his feelings, haha. And he didn’t show any of the crazy snarkiness and anger of Saturday. So far so good.

I hopped on and he was a bit slow in the walk, but listened well enough to my leg with not so much tail swishing and I’m pleased to report- NO angry kicking out. He trotted nicely straight off the bat, no real hopping…And when he went to hop, it wasn’t as dramatic and pissy as before. Hm..

We cruised over a few x-rails, but mostly focused on the one thing I am struggling with: Straightness over the diagonal. His canter was fine, I actually didn’t do any ‘dressage’ canter with him (the super forward upright sitting canter) because he didn’t seem to need it like he did the other day.

It was a good and calm ride. Now, where is this horse all last week? I could use him back!

Good ride, Bad ride, Ok ride?

So, I was expecting a good ride on Sunday- after all, I had a fairly decent jump lesson on Friday (I wasn’t expecting to, I was feeling tired and put-upon by life, basically…) and I had cancelled the show I was riding in on Saturday. Wasn’t feeling 100% after getting rear-ended on Wednesday, and then the person I was going to haul with bailed, soo…Yeah.

Wish it was summer!

So, at least he is cute?!

But anyways, I took Saturday off after originally planning to show in a small jumper show. Spectated at the show instead, and helped my husband out at his first Gut Buster run.

So when Sunday rolled around, I was actually expecting some decent things from Oats! I was planning on doing some of the same course I worked over on Friday, from the gymnastic to a few other jumps. Oats…had other ideas.

He was A TWIT!

He was stopping constantly when we were going large, slamming on the brakes and trying to backpedal. Snorting and anxious. Head in the air, ears on a swivel. Could NOT get him to go around the ring like a normal horse at all. I was like WTF IS GOING ON?

It was ridiculous, I was pissed.

It was hot, and I was just hoping for a break. Just one freaking break.

We worked, and worked, and worked, and then worked some more. We took breaks so he could investigate the ‘spooky areas’ that immediately became even MORE spooky the next time we went past them, despite him grazing calmly in them. We went around and around, fought, and it was just so …frustrating.

We did end up doing the small gymnastic and a few jumps, and he was very good over the gymnastic, funny enough, being spooky and on fire for the entire ride led to us getting the exact number of strides each time! Didn’t even have to push for then?! Go us?

We ended on a pretty ok canter to the right, where I didn’t fight him about his head in the air and tilted left..I was like, let’s just do this.

I rode him back up to the barn and he spooked. Hosed him off, led him down to the field and he spooked. ARGH.

Who replaced my horse with a blithering idiot?

I decided that because my week previously was not super consistent with riding- maybe this had something to do with Oats being a total moron to ride? So, I went out yesterday (Monday) to sort some of our issues out.

I went in with a different schedule- no jumps, no nothing I *had* to do…Just feel him out, see how it goes. No real agenda.

And the ride ended up being a real no-agenda ride. We walked large for loops and loops. I let his walk mesmerize me a bit. He did want to spook and stop and backpedal at first, but I let the reins loop, sat steady, and just walked. And walked. And walked.

Once that was not exciting, or scary, or spooky, we trotted. And then spent the entire ride, probably like 45 minutes, at the trot. Strong trot, slow trot, sitting trot, hunter-hack trot, easy trot, circles at the trot. Anytime I felt like he was starting to blow past my hands, throw his head in the air and try to fly around, we circled calmly as a reminder. And then circled again, and then circled again.

He required a lot of these reminders, but that was ok. I could wait it out.

And that was our entire ride.