Working Equitation Horse Show

And the fun keeps rolling! We did the Working Equitation horse show in Glenora a few weeks ago, in mid-August. I personally think that is the best time…even though it was extremely hot. Like, very hot for us. Last year Oats was high as a kite and a bit difficult to manage, so I was more prepared this year to work on his energy levels (though I may have overestimated them and worked him into tiredness a little early?!) guess that’s better than a nutty horse on-course.

It really is beautiful eh? too bad the grass is so dead! This is for our Ease of Handling/Speed Round course.

I took Friday off work (I have a few days to use up and MAN I am really enjoying it!!) and my working equitation trainer Shelly and I loaded the horses/gear up and set out. The Malahat is pretty much terrible any time of day, but it was particularly nasty on a Friday afternoon so it took us ages to get there (and then about 2+++ hours to get home on Sunday…eff this for a 45 minute journey…).

It was a muggy day, I had already longed and bathed Oats at home so I didn’t stress him by working him further on Friday. Instead, we got the ponies comfortable in the stables, which Oats HATED and was pissed about all weekend, feeling like he was stuck in a cage… And then we went for a swim!

The next morning came really early, it was so hot out that I was slowly roasting in my tent. I went to warm up Oats after his breakfast/cleaning his stall and he was hot hot hot hot to trot! Sooo I hopped off and longed the little turd to get his yahoos out. He did have some! THEN I hopped back on and he was a gentleman.

And then, the waiting game…

And waiting…

And by the time my dressage time was up, I was pretty over it. Hot, tired, Oats was hot and pissy, and some flies were really bothering his eyes. We warmed up fairly nicely but it was very hot and stuffy in the arena, and the minute we trotted down centreline…Oats was freaked riiiight out. His head was on a swivel, he was spooking and flinging his head wildly. I got so distracted by his wacked-out behaviours that I forgot where I was going!! I had to pull up and ask the judge (who is SUPER nice). YEEEEK. I was in such a bad mood after that piss-poor showing. ARGH.

And then I noticed that everyone was crabby after dressage. HAHAH. So true.

After, to put the bad taste of the bad test out of my head, I asked Shelly to come with us on a trail ride. She did and with a few minor Oats moments (where he runs backwards and is an ass every time we stop on the trail..) they did really nicely 🙂

And then I got to go swimming again, and start perseverating about the Ease of Handling Round and Speed Round the next day… No banks this time, thank god (our real nemesis last time!).

…To be continued!

Letting the dust settle

Ah, opportune as it is SO dusty in the indoor arena right now! As a follow-up to my extreme ambivalence this week…I did have my jump lesson! And I am not switching lesson days! Even better 🙂

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From two weeks ago. Oats not even really bothering with his feet… Low I guess? 

This week has it’s fair share of challenges (see- people freaking out about COVID-19 and trying to tell me it is literally the end of the world, worse than the Spanish Flu as per Wikipedia…) It’s not, and I work in the HEALTH SYSTEM on THIS VERY TOPIC so…yeah. I don’t recommend trying to scare me, this is what I am doing each day, every day. Cite BCCDC or CDC or gtfo.

I of course, struggled mightily with allergies and boom! Horrible sore throat on Wed, so swollen I could not swallow anymore. I felt miserable. Didn’t ride (though I wanted to..) and went home and took meds and lay on the couch.

Thursday felt better actually! Rode, and while my warm up was not good- Oats was really pissy and balky, and off my leg. I had to tune him up under the watchful eye of my trainer, as I want to get really pully and pushy with him when he is like this. But on course, he was great! I think this is a symptom of me not riding much this week (sick..) and his beginner lesson on Tues= No, I don’t WANNA!!

My throat hurt again today (so like, one day on, one day off???). UGH. Work is bananas (See COVID-19), the weather has been absolutely bone-chilling and just wet and windy and really raw, and I’m just over it all this week. I have engaged in the pettiest, most irritating little bunfights even.

Riding tonight though! Easy day for us both 🙂 I do love my boy.

VIRA Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap feat. NEW COURSE!

For the first time in oh, 38 years the 8k was at a new venue.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri. Also why do I look like I am going in slow motion? Jeesh.

I was kind of grouchy about this…I really liked the Saanich Fairgrounds venue, it had lots of parking, wasn’t too far to get to, and the start/finish line was – right- there. The new venue had some logistical nightmares as per me. It was just like…arghhhh.

First off, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Pounding rain, blasting wind. Like, the entire time.

Parking was also kind of a nightmare…Busy race with 500 registrants and not a lot of parking available.

The bathroom situation looked crazy but turned out fine.

The jog to the start line was far. Very far. You had to go up over an overpass, and go close to 1km from the clothing dropoff at the school to the start, in absolutely nightmarish weather. Lovely. This also meant that you had to jog 1km back from the finish, which was ok but mannn I was soaked.

I know a few people that showed up late to the race because they came to the school, only to realize that it was quite a hike to the start! Whoops! Luckily we clued in that there would be some hoofing it, so we were fine, albeit very cold and wet.

The start was kind of tough, very narrow road and we were all crammed in. I didn’t seed well (I am not fast enough to start too close to the start, but I am faster than where I ended up) and we were all sardine-like at the start…Very slow. I wasted some time/energy and my gun/chip time took a big hit due to it.

My loose goal was to try for my reg. 10k pace and see how it felt. I wasn’t feeling spectacular so I was kind of like ehhhh…I’m freezing, soaked and just want this to be done with! My goal was then 4:30 or what I could cling to.

My first KM was quite fast- like 4:12. I was like, oh ok..well, let’s see. I immediately plummeted to 4:26 and was like, hmm…Hope I can cling to this.

My next few KM’s bounced a bit between 4:30 on the money, and then slowed to 4:33, making me feel a tad concerned. The scenery on-route would be beautiful (all farms! Horse farms! One I even recognized!) if it weren’t so god-awful. The left turn to the airport and eventually the turnaround was just soul-destroying…Blasting wind, rain scouring your face/ears…Wow.

But there was a sliver lining. That miserable rain/wind combo was at our backs, with a gentle assist on the way home. I picked up, splashing my way through the puddles with wet soaked feet and shoes, and I felt GOOD. My times improved, with mid-KM’s at 4:10 and 4:17. Who is this girl?

I wasn’t dying (though the last KM was hard) I was doing it!! 

My thanks to the volunteers who must have been totally miserable. You guys are the real troopers! The food was great after too- chocolate milk,  pizza! Brownies with salt on them, bananas and yogurt. Yum yum!

I finished my 8k with a time of 34:41 (chip) and 34:53 (gun) for a respectable 8th place in my age category. 🙂

Busy week & bad weather = bad

Got some kind of bad news, although it was not unexpected, it did greatly annoy me and it looks like I will have to start seriously look at making some changes in my life. SIGHHH…Well, to be fair I did kind of start wanting a change this year, but I didn’t expect to be forced into it!

That’s life, I guess?

I was also reminded that that, indeed, is life by this quote (from a poem by D.H. Lawrence)

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

 

Anyways, despite my title, the gloomy-ass weather today (pouring rain, grey skies, 12 degrees?!) things are generally ‘ok’ this week. Been practicing hard at dressage with my two lessons this week, and my run-throughs of the tests last night in my usual jump lesson went better than expected! Ok, our overbending was an issue and Oats wanted to goggle mightily at ‘stuff’ outside the outdoor arena, but kept his shirt on and we made it work out pretty well! Also, picking up left lead canter going downhill in the outdoor= not happening. Ha.

I was in kind of a grouchy mood about the aforementioned life change, so I was extra glad my lesson went smoothly.

And for the busy week? I have something every single day this week- Mon- ride, Tues- dressage lesson, Wed, dressage lesson (a theme eh? ha), Thur- track meet! Fri, work drinks, Sat- Hopoxia (a beer fest), Sun- the dressage show!

Crazy eh?

Oh well, life is for the living and I’m gonna damn well live EVERY SECOND OF IT!!!

(I say that sitting my butt on my chair, doing nothing at the moment, oh well).

Things happen. That’s all they ever do.

Enjoying this song by Dawes recently.

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

It feels lately like all I am doing is ranting about the weather (terrible), work (more terrible) and just feeling draggy, grouchy, griping, unhappy, burned out, fried, stressed, sleepless, exhausted, etc etc etc.

I’m happy to report that today, unlike every single day this week, the sun is shining, it is slightly warmer out, and I do not feel completely fried, though it is a Friday and those days are notoriously nightmarish at work, sooooo yeah. But hey, I’ll take it right now.

Last night though was a different story, ha. I walked home in the longest, bitterest, saddest walk ever. It was FREEZING, rain/frozen rain/hail/snow and blasting wind. It was quite epic in a really bad way. I was soaked, even with an umbrella, and had to take my dog out, and then get dressed and go ride in my Thursday jump lesson.

To say I wasn’t really feeling it is the understatement of the century, ha.

But, I did.

…And I didn’t regret it. I never do.

We had a fine warmup, it was a long warmup b/c I was FROZEN. I needed to warm up longer than Oats, who was feeling pretty fine. We worked over a really crazy exercise- two outside lines, and then a gymnastic in the middle of the ring.

It was pretty nuts! Small jumps-only x-rails, and we really enjoyed it. I was able to really ‘ride’ my ride. Sit tall, make decisions, ride forward, and go with it!

We’d jump the first outside line, and the slice the three fences on a diagonal- then jump the next outside line, and slice the fences on the diagonal going the other way. Then over small flowerboxes as skinnies (we failed at this EVERY TIME. Oats deked out, hahahhahah) and the over the gymnastic in the middle.

I like it! A good challenge, even if I was a grumpy Gus about the entire day.

Really enjoying the creativity. Go pony go! Loving what my trainer has for me each lesson.

Can’t get enough of myself

Dressage semi-private on Tuesday, and my willpower/enthusiasm was greatly waning. I had a really bad stomach ache with stabbing pains at work, and it didn’t go away all night. I just wasn’t feeling great, at all.

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Also, Oats’ friend moved away on Tuesday. I bet he misses him!

It got cold here again, after a blissful period of 9-10 degrees it plummeted back down to -1 or so. GOD.

Despite my stomach trouble, I was able to mostly ride it out. I only lurched sickeningly a few times at the canter and our ride was actually pretty good though- Oats was amenable to most of my suggestions, and we worked on transitions: walk/quick steps/trot/medium trot/canter. All while asking the horses to ‘stretch’ and reach down while still engaging their back. We did get some nice steps in the trot/quick steps, but in the canter it mostly turned into Oats flying around with his head down instead of being, well, engaged.

Oh well, at least he was trying! His attitude has been quite good about dressage so maybe we have turned a corner with less hissy-fits in our future. One can hope!

As I rode Oats 4 x days in a row, I took yesterday off and went for a jog instead. I am glad I did it, but my face was frozen after and it kiiiind of felt like a mistake, as it was BLASTING wind and absolutely freezing. My legs felt like blocks of concrete. My foot started hurting again (oh joy) and I was kind of feeling grouchy about how slowly I am running right now.

I do not have high hopes or expectations for my upcoming race- the weather is supposed to be incredibly shitty AGAIN (every race this season has had just terrible weather) freezing, raining/snowing. Lovely.

And in case you can’t remember, here is a recap of what the weather was like at each race:

  • Prairie Inn Harriers 8k: Freezing cold, with a blizzard starting once the race ended
  • MEC Rust Buster 10k: Freezing, about 0 deg the entire race.
  • Cobble Hill 10k: Cold, pouring rain the entire race.
  • Sooke 10k: My prediction? Everything at once! Freezing cold, rain mixed with snow, wind? We shall see 🙂

And to top it off, I burned my hand last night, and jacked up my wrist somehow (still not sure how?). Add that to my ever-present chronic and horrible allergies, and my bum foot, and I feel like a falling-apart robot right now! At least I am sleeping pretty well?? Love that.

Jump lesson tonight, and I hope it’s not completely freezing. Though, it will be.

Scary but good?

After coming home yesterday, freezing my butt off and roosting on the couch after a mini-intense junk food binge (seriously, I am good like 85% of the time and then eat chocolate/chips/whatever I can grab my hands on like an insane madwoman…) I did NOT want to go to my dressage lesson.

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Oats working on his buddy Rylin’s nose.

Ian reminded me how I didn’t want to lesson last week either, but when I went I was happy I had gone. I still didn’t want to go.

It was dark, I was cold, stuffed to the gills on cheap chocolate and food shame.

I grudgingly dragged myself off the couch, discarded the blanket I was huddled under, and began the arduous task of piling on the layers to go to my lesson. I resented every step of the way, from boiling water to drink tea during my lesson, to putting on my shabby, falling apart UGG boots to go to the barn. Traffic was bad, and it made me even grouchier.

I got to the barn and it was freezing. All the cross-ties were taken up, which is fine, but it’s so DARK in the stalls if I have to tack up there, so I was crabby about that too. Can’t you play ponies after school or something? Not during a time I have to tack up at night, in the freezing cold, in a big rush because I am SUPER LATE from horrendous traffic? SHEESUSH.

[I am now combining sheesh with jeezus]

Oh well, we tacked up, and my trainer was super late too, hahah.

It seemed breathtakingly cold to me- my eyes were watering, my nose running, my face freezing. My lesson-mate was riding in a vest and a t-shirt? She is totally insane!?

Oats warmed up really well actually. Moving out a lot better than I thought he would, even with the bitter cold. Hm…Our trainer recommended a lot of walk work for our lesson, to avoid stressing the horses in the cold and reducing our cool-out time. We didn’t want the horses getting too worked up and sweaty. Lateral work it is! YAy….

Oh wait, last time I did that it sucked.

Except yesterday’s lesson was different. We were very proactive, and Oats was totally on-board, despite my grouchy and miserable nature. He was super with me, and focused. We worked on developing a forward walk, to ‘quick steps’ to keeping their heads high and ‘engaged’. We then worked on haunches-in at the walk, to straighten them up, to walk-canter transitions. We took that ‘up’ canter to a haunches-in at the canter on the longside. The canter felt WEIRD?! So ..up? And leapy? Oats was all confuzzled for awhile, not sure what I wanted- lead changes?

And the leaping and confusion scared the bejesus out of both of us. We are not used to animation in the canter, and all of a sudden we had so much power we didn’t know what to do with it. Funny eh?

Oats slowly started figuring out what I wanted, and wonder of wonders, we did even end up getting some haunches-in at the canter, it was easier to the left, and not quite there on the right. But hey, it was a really neat feeling and left me wanting more more more! Good pony.

Ian was right- I did have a good ride and it was super cool to experience.

It is easier to fool someone, than to convince them they have been fooled.

Pithy quote by our friend Mark Twain.

This is my week right now:

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Holiday spirit? Bah humbug!

By Tuesday- my dad’s birthday- I was saying it felt like a long week. Wow, little did I know…By Wednesday I was in full grouch-mode. Move over Grinch, there is a new Grinch in town! (It’s still Thursday today unfortunately.)

I blame a few things- it has gotten really cold here, very unusual for us. Windchill of -9? Usually it’s like 9 degrees. I am FREEZING. Work went completely off the rails and is starting to ruin my sleep with insane stress dreams. Greeeeat…Family engagements= more pressure. Lovely, lovely.

At least my horse life is ok?

Had my jump lesson last night, after an entire day of grumbling, stress, crankiness and more stress at work. I soooo did NOT want to go to my lesson, which is weird because I always want to ride and you pretty much have to drag me away from it! I was dragging my feet, in a bad mood, cold, tired, cranky. UGH. Jumping was the last thing I wanted to do.

But you know what? I gathered up the last tiny shreds of my shabby resolve and went, and rode in my lesson. I even warmed up a bit from the everlasting chill in my bones I had all day! Oats does struggle more in the cold- he warmed up stiffly again, and his canter was very short-strided. We made sure the jump efforts were not onerous, as pushing too much on a horse that is taking a long time to warm up just isn’t fair.

So the jumps were small, but the course was fairly twisty with a good bending line, and a trot-in line that rode really well, once Oats woke up and actually jumped it! No big fences, nothing too exciting, just some good old fashioned riding. And weirdly, I’m always the one that’s like, ok let’s stop here…I’m done…And I backpedal and wimp out. This time, after my third go-around on a course, my trainer suggested we end on that- not me, which is highly out of character for me. Who is this person?! Me? Keeping going, wow.

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This was last December!

Oats was in snoozeland in the cross-ties after. Poor guy, the chill is hard for him.

Typical Monday blues

Even took me by surprise, given how nice my weekend was and then BLAM! Shittiest Monday to kick the week off. Nothing really terrible or devastating, just a series of real annoyances that are getting under my freaking skin…All morning.

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I really enjoyed this series…

Drove to work, paid for parking because I have a vet appointment that I mentioned for Oats this afternoon, so I needed my car. It was hammering down rain, lovely…And when I get to work, my phone rings- vet moves my appt to Friday, as there was an emergency. Fair enough, but !@(#% I have to take the car in again on Friday, and pay for more parking. SHit.

I was drinking coffee out of my travel mug, and while I was drinking it, it was dripping down the front of my effing WHITE blazer. Yeah…covered in coffee stains. I am now wearing my flimsy camisole (so, not a shirt) with a scarf strategically planned as my cover up. FML.

My work email blew up today and is going freaking bananas. I can’t keep track of the eleventy-billion emails I am getting and the zillions of work pieces I can’t seem to address all of them. Something that has to go out at 10am…doesn’t. JEESH.

I am waiting on some stuff for work and it just doesn’t. seem. to. be. happening. I may have some later nights this week because of it.

My car is going in again on Wednesday for more work.

I’m not really looking forward to my jump lesson (which I had hoped to have the vet appt before it, so I could figure out a strategy for Oats by the next lesson)…Because I don’t know how he is going to be, and I feel unsure about what I am asking of him. ARGHHH.

I am not really excited about jumping, because of this. And let’s face it, I LOVE jumping! And the new program for the horse show series that we go to just came out, and I feel really on the fence about it. The format has changed to a two-day, hunters and then jumpers, and there are now 4 shows, instead of 3. Just..ugh. I’m not interested in jumpers…and I know others in my barn are, if anyone goes with me at all this year…

I just can’t get excited about it. About anything horsey right now. The weirdness is just too prevalent, jumping isn’t fun, and I don’t want to do jumpers, I want to do hunters. GAH! SO whiny right now.

Wah wah wah.

 

When your day feels like a really long night

It’s so dark these days, and I can’t help but hate the ‘leaving for work in the morning at “night” and then coming home from work (late, ugh) in the pitch black, driving to the barn for my lesson in the dark, riding under lights, walking my dog at what feels like midnight’…

Me right now

Me right now. Funny, I use this every Christmas, and every Christmas feel incredibly grouchy. Hm..

It feels like my whole day is just one long night.

I was also spectacularly grouchy, work stuff in general, the countdown is on for my holidays and man, they can’t be here soon enough! I also feel like the lack of daylight on my skin is affecting my energy levels.

Went into my lesson with Karen with mixed feelings- I barely had enough time to take my dog out, get changed and zip out to the barn (see work thing) so I was feeling stressed and kind of irritated in general. I was also curious how the vibe of the lesson would be, as my fellow rider has been having several issues with her horse – issues that I am intimately familiar with as I’ve gone through the same training problems- and things escalated very poorly last week.

I admit, I was starving and kind of like, can we cut to the chase? When my lesson partner was having an in-depth conversation with Karen and I was getting antsy and tired- hell-o, long day here! Let’s get this show on the road!!! I wasn’t too rude, but when she started talking about her second horse, I was like, um hey let’s GO!

So we worked on some things in the lesson and as I mentioned to my husband before I left, that I was on a repeated cycle loop yesterday and was doomed to repeat myself, not knowing I was doing so…And yeah, that theme presented itself handily in my lesson.

Cue Oats ‘hopping’ into the canter instead of oh, coming off my leg in the trot nicely. So, we cantered. And cantered. And cantered. I was tired. This is a training thing with him that I am used to, but it still bugs me.

Meanwhile, my lesson partner had to dismount and work her horse from the ground, as the training issue came up again and was frightening her. Fair enough, that’s what I would do – when I was in that situation in the past.

So, I worked Oats through his ‘hopping’ and we finally got a nice engaged/straight trot (finally!) and I was a little annoyed that this issue came up and we had to spend the whole lesson on it,  again,  hello groundhog day here? But Karen reminded me that consistency is KEY, and it’s simply a matter of repeating your request until the pony gets it.

He finally got it, haha.

Overall, his work is fine, but yesterday I was not in a super productive mood, so I’m glad we were able to work through his training holes without drama at least, haha.

Good pony.