We’ve been had

This week felt really light, riding-wise as Oats got Sunday off after the horse show when I had my race, and I rode Monday, he had a lesson with his leasor on Tuesday, and had Wednesday off. I had my jump lesson last night and it was tough! We worked on bounces and boyyy I was out of shape for those, which surprised me.

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Oats caught standing in his neighbour Joey’s feed tub. He is such a little thief!! He waits until Joey brings it close enough, and then…MINE!

Also Oats is literally full of shit as he pooped before the lesson, and then slammed on the brakes to poop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOUNCE GRID?!! ARGH. What a little brat!!

Other than his mid-jump poop break, he was a good boy, though a bit sloppy with his front end over the single verticals we had in our small course, so we had to repeat them and I actually felt him ‘lift’ over the fence. I am struggling still with a few things- want to tip forward, instead of shifting hips ‘back’, elbows (always chicken wings..), and wanting to ‘chase’ Oats to the fence instead of sitting and waiting for the distance. Hm, that was probably why we were ticking some of the fences with his front end?

He gets today off and then back at it on Saturday! Love my boy, even if he is a little turd sometimes.

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Awake and pretty much sober

Funny song title, I loved it.

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Sometimes I look competent?

This week was luckily quite short, and I didn’t ride Monday (did an equine counselling session for the aforementioend family drama, Oats got to cruise around on his own), rode Tuesday (he was ok? Now I can’t remember what we did!) and had a jumping lesson last night.

The lesson went well but had some disappointments for me- I can’t seem to let.go.no.matter.what?!! Argh. Oats is not a pony that needs me on his face all the time, or ever pretty much. He’s push-button, not strong, not fast (hah) and not anything requiring a death grip on the reins. So, why?

Why indeed!

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Miss this show, he was so good! 

We worked over a trot grid (3 X trot bounce jumps, two strides to a small oxer) and damn if I didn’t find it hard to let go of his face for the two strides to the oxer. Whyyyy? He jumped it perfectly fine, and I was surprised every time.

We then worked over a small course with a circle jump, a 4-stride line (rode well each time actually, some bobbles coming in but overall quite nice) and the grid.

I was a tad anxious (see- feeling vulnerable about letting go of his face…) but he was jumping quite nicely and very reasonably, so what is my deal? The jumps went up, not high but the outside line was definitely a bit higher than previous and Oats had zero issues with it.

I did sort of improve on the ‘let go of his face’ but let’s be honest- I struggle with feeling vulnerable doing that! It’s a battle to let my body go and be ok with it, I am that strong of a rider and it’s not hard for me to do, soooo why the resistance??

Oh well, overall I was very pleased with Oats’ ‘can-do’ attitude. Good pony ūüôā

 

Fooled you twice

Lesson recap! (Because I didn’t actually ride much this week, due to a hay workshop on Tuesday, taking Wed off because I am so brain fried from work I can’t even deal with anything right now and feel permanently exhausted…)

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Me from literally three years ago. For reference, it was these flowers set alone in the second bounce!

I missed riding though. Two sort of days off and I’m itching to get back and get the shedding blade on Oats, who is shedding like crazy.

We had a jump lesson last night and it was¬†so interesting.¬† Kudos to my trainer for coming up with the most intricate and challenging courses in the indoor. It’s not an easy feat and it’s hard with limited space/jumps, etc.

We first worked over a gymnastic, trot-in. Here’s where I was really proud of myself. ¬†In the gymnastic, I was having trouble with my hands pulling ‘upwards’ instead of releasing downwards. I was also leaning too far with my upper body. Nicole suggested I think about releasing with a straight arm to fix this. I thought about it and asked if she was thinking of an automatic release-style? Yep she was.

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And the green boxes were the first part of the second bounce!

And I was able to go through the grid, and DO EXACTLY THAT. A modified – not true- auto release to fix my hands/upper body. Do you see that? I thought about what she was asking, tried to picture it in my head, and DID IT! This is amazing for me.

We then started working on other elements – there were a lot!

Start with one skinny on the straight away, to a 3-jump bounce that included a stand-alone skinny filler as the last bounce element  (?!??  this was tricky), back to trot and through the three-fence gymnastic, canter to a two-stride x-rail to small oxer, canter back over the 3-jump bounce going the other way (woo!), to a bounce using just fillers (green box, and flower boxes, to a 3-stride to the first element in the gymnastic, a small x-rail, and then back to the first fence- using it as the final element.

Now, we didn’t just go ahead and tackle this all at once. We had to break it down- work over the bounces as poles, then as fences (this was tough! Oats deked around the filler part of the bounce a few times…bad pony and he stopped once). Then we worked over the two-bounce fillers (also surprised the HECK out of Oats at first, then he charged through it with gusto), and then we put the first half of the course together.

I was REALLY impressed. It sure as heck wasn’t pretty but we made it work!

Go us!!!

 

We interrupt this Olympic broadcast to say…

I love my pony! We had our first real jump lesson- with tiny jumps- back since our vacay and Oats came back great, if a little half-assed haha. He could NOT be bothered with tiny jumps, so he sauntered over them the whole time.

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Me from literally three years ago.

We worked over a small gymnastic (remember our last gymnastic experience- it did not go well- and this one was great) and then over a small course a few times. He was lovely! My eye kind of sucked and I made a few ‘non choices’ when it came to distances (yes-no-yes-no…go!).

Oh well! I have work to do on that clearly. The positives include my dad watching Oats go in a lesson for the first time in forever, and he remembered when Oats was a total shithead. Now, Oats looks like the easiest pony in the world to ride, and it’s nice to have people see him go completely nonchalantly…Ah…

Also positives- the jumps were tiny, rode tiny, and didn’t excite me at all. Hmmm!

So far, so good for our days back in action. Whoop! Two great lessons in a row, I am a greedy girl (a nice but extremely tough dressage lesson with Karen on Tuesday, and then my jump lesson with Nicole on Wednesday). Oats gets a well-deserved rest day today and I get to go shopping to the Sitka sale. YAY! *after work, of course. Blah…

Hold on, hold on

So…After my exciting, energy draining weekend I was looking forward to settling down and working on some good stuff (like, not falling off jumping is a big one that I am apparently incapable of doing right now…).

And I had a great ride on Tuesday- no lesson, just cruising around in the field. Oats felt great, I was chill, everything was nice. I had some high hopes for my lesson on Wednesday, looking forward to it and feeling like generally, everything is pretty fine. I spent the day loving photos of Oats from the Derby and feeling pretty much on top of the world!

Except I wasn’t.

I came into my lesson not feeling angsty, or strange or stressed or anything…And then it became immediately clear that this was NOT my day, or Oats’. He started off spooky, looking at everything and ‘startling’ constantly. I don’t do well when he is like this- it sets me off in a really BIG way- and I started having trouble managing the situation. We warmed up okay nevertheless, and he kept startling and being spooky and looky. Sadly, this only got worse as we continued on…

It started pissing me off, more and more. We went to work over trot poles to eventually build a gymnastic (not something new in our world, pretty ho-hum) and Oats COULD NOT GET HIS SHIT TOGETHER. He trotted, fumbled, tripped, stumbled, fell and just fucked around, adding in some startles that literally set my teeth on edge.

I couldn’t manage. Like, I was riding and shouting ”I¬†HATE this horse.” UGh.

Normally, when he’s like this, we can deal and get through it. But this time? Oh, no.

We slowly worked our way to a small x- rail to another x-rail, and Oats bizarrely managed to trip on the last pole, catch it hard between his hind hoofies, almost fall and sting himself so badly with this weirdness that he was limping?!!!!

I was ready to jump off- I was worried he’d really hurt himself! But Nicole convinced me to keep walking him out and eventually he worked out of it. He was just surprised. Still, wow, WTF is going on with me/my horse? I just was crying in disbelief.

So, back to the drawing board.

He trotted out okay, and then we went back to poles. Poles are ok. Then, the small x-rail…That was ok too. Then add in another x-rail, to a small vertical. The wheels immediately fell off again- Oats stumbled, tripped into the vertical, and my whole arm went through the reins. EFFFFF!!

I lost my shit. I yanked him up,  and burst into tears.

I was in the middle of probably the biggest horse-related meltdown I’ve had since…Oh, maybe a really bad dressage lesson last year, when I got off and cried?

Weird, so weird. I just couldn’t cope, or manage the situation with Oats at all. I wanted to yell, shout, scream, cry and just freak out. We ended up walking, walking, walking and breathing. Oats seemed not fazed at all, but wow, I was. In a big way.

Finally, when I was able to calm down and manage my emotions, we cantered over a few small x-rails, which were totally fine and rode great. He was still looky as hell, but it was ok.

SIGHHH

I cried a bit later, telling my friend about the ride. And then when I dismounted and was walking Oats through the gate, I went to latch it and he spooked so hard he almost fell into the gate. WTF? He is not a spooky horse…So yeah, not sure what was going on with him yesterday, but whatever it was, it sucked out loud.

Clawing my way back

So, to close out the long stream of pouty posts- I have a better (not great but better) update. I had a jump lesson last night, and while coursework is still a bit beyond my poor frazzled brain, Oats proved to me that he can be both a packer and a pony that saves my butt!

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Want to feel bold again!

I do wish he didn’t have to, but honestly- coming off a string of falls jumping, a lesson where he stopped a lot, and a bad horse show-I just don’t have the confidence in me right now to ride the way I need to ride. I know that about myself. I will need to claw it back, and regain the lovely, forward confidence that I had as shortly as a month ago.

We worked in the outdoor and the rain held off- thank god too, because it had been rainy/drizzling while I was warming up but then surprise! It stopped! Oats was¬†spooky, he eyes were on stalks, he was looking looking looking for anything to get silly about. In hindsight, it was an excellent opportunity to manage both my nerves and his ‘looky’ behaviour in a safe, controlled environment- a lesson. Bonus for the both of us!

So, we worked on gaining his attention and not in the way I would have been forced to if I was riding alone (through anger, adrenaline and other unpleasant ways). It was a give-and-take, a PAY attention! Ok good, soften hands. PAY ATTENTION! soften hands…

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I remember when this felt high??

And it worked!

We then worked our way up to a canter-in gymnastic (which weirdly are becoming my favourite things, even though I have notoriously hated gymnastics, the canter-in ones are like, soooooo good for me).

We did that until my brain had enough- it gets easily ‘flooded’ right now with anxiety- and my trainer let me walk on a few successful ones ending in a small oxer. Oats was great!

We then worked over a teeny tiny outside line- five strides- and proceeded to bungle it SO bad. I just could NOT let go of my horse. I held held held…And chased and then held. Eeeek..

Oats, to his good nature and credit, still jumped it very gamely. He was 100% honest, I just couldn’t let go of his face. I still feel a bit bad about it. Nicole suggested I ride with one hand and surprise! I was able to ride through the line without bungling it tooooo badly. It was still not pretty and wow…Even though we got the 5-strides, I still grabbed on to his face for dear life over the second fence with my one hand gripping like grim death.

Interesting…

So to wrap up- my head game needs some work to ride boldly forward and let go of Oats’ face, but to give me some credit too- I took some hits and I can’t brush off how it had affected me.

 

And the hits keep coming?

Aka I fell off in my jumping lesson AGAIN. Hilariously, it was at the easiest fence on course…One that I was rocking last week at a higher height even?

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Jumping two years ago- photo courtesy of Christi.Funny I thought this was really high back then.

So, the good news is that my jumping ahead and falling off isn’t fence-dependent at all, or ¬†dependent on going up or down the hill either.

The bad news is…Why does it keep happening? I felt overconfident, turned for the jump, thought I saw my distance and…WENT FOR IT! Without the horse, basically. I used to have a terrible jump-ahead habit that I thought I’d cured. Turns out, I haven’t.

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More good news- my mindset seems ok with this failure. It’s ok to fail, it was even kind of funny last night because I didn’t re-injure my shoulder, I just sort of rolled off Oats and onto the ground, taking the jump down with me. Oats stepped politely over it. I got back on, and I didn’t even have a BIG adrenaline rush like last time. I just felt like,¬†whaa?? And that was silly! I was even kind of laughing?

So, yeah got back on and rode it just fine. And then we did the entire course again- I will admit to a few mild butterflies, but it was fine. We were just rockin’ the gymnastic this week too, something that gave me a hard time last week (hint: this week we got to canter in to them, and that was sooooo much better!!).

So why the falls? I don’t even feel particularly insecure!

Oats was jumping fine last night, he gave some boxes a hard look but went over them anyways, the outside line that kind of gives me trouble rode fine- if a bit crooked…as per ususal- our two-stride line that I fell off at last week first rode in 3 (eek) but then rode in two with some big clucking from Nicole. She checked the line after and saw it was set a tad long for Oats, so that may have been it. And yeah, we were rocking and rolling through the gymnastic, even with some big blue barrels set under it to give the horses something interesting to look at!

And then yeah, the easiest single fence on course and I blew it. HA?!

Oh well, this is another valley in the learning process I suppose. One day I’ll get it.