Jump lesson turned dressage practice & camping!

So as I mentioned I had signed up for the dressage show (happening on Sunday, yeek). So instead of my regularly scheduled jump lesson on Thursday, we decided to practice run-throughs of the tests instead. I also changed my tests from Training 1 and 3 to Training 1 and 2 and run Test 2 as a ‘test of choice’ instead (it is easier!).

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

It went ok, Test 1 was kind of flubby and awkward, while Test 2 allowed us to relax more and think throughout the test, rather than jamming it forward and doing the whole thing in ‘hyper drive’ which is more my style (see- jumping every course in a show/in practice…).

I had to slow down, allow more of Oats, and relax my arms for forward motion. Easier said than done, apparently!

And then we had Friday/Saturday off because we went camping with buddies in Parksville! And what a weekend- the whole gang was there (tons of people, kids, dogs, haha) and we played SO many games- it was insane. I played more games that one weekend than I play in an entire year, I swear it!

  • Viking bowling (fun but hard)
  • Slam Ball (hard to learn, fun to do!)
  • Kick ball
  • A foot race (I didn’t partake because I ate too much, ha)
  • Werewolf
  • Antidote

I went for a run, we played on the beach, we drank and ate WAYYY too much. I actually felt kind of sick Saturday night from all the indulging and I ended up fainting at like 1:30am?! Yikes!

I was ok though, and recovered fine and went back to bed. Gidget did not enjoy camping and puked when she got home, all over floor/couch. Yuck!

It was a great weekend with fun times and hilarious company. Loved it!!

Horse show recap: Inaugural Cedar Vista hunter show!

So, the horse show season is upon us and I was kind of wondering what I was going to show in this year. In past years I have shown at the Appy shows (Vancouver Island Appaloosa Horse Club), and Westside Stables shows. There are also the higher-rated and higher-cost SSITS shows that I have NOT ventured out to yet- too much $$ and we’re not polished enough.

13015066_1282424641786879_1532583868_n

Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

All in all, I was feeling pretty blah about the show season. Like, I want to show and feel confident out there but was bored by my options: Appy or Westside. Yawn…

Enter the new show season at Cedar Vista! Close-ish, new, with great footing and some really snazzy jumps. Offering a fairly reasonable series that would be brand-new to everyone. Sign me up!

13020046_1282424711786872_1002299376_n

Pats for a good boy. Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

They had jumpers on Saturday and hunters on Sunday, we opted for hunters. Loaded good old Oats up and away we went!

I entered him in the 2’3” hunters and one 2’6” class, and the division included one equitation on the flat class. We warmed up in the ring and Oats was a tad looky, but overall very well behaved. The open schooling was set low, but we marched over everything–like a pro!

Then, we waited a little bit- entries were low- until my division. We were able to warm up over the new height and then start. I was feeling a strange combination of sort of nervous, but overall quite blasé at the same time. The jump heights were fine, but I wanted to get more nervous?

Then- in we go! Our first round was great, second was fine, and my eq was kind of terrible. Chip-city. UGH. Also we botched the right lead change to one line every.single.time. Ouch…

But in good news, Oats is getting his skip changes more consistently if you don’t count that one line, and my pace was pretty good, I didn’t feel too nervous! The wheels kind of fell off in my equitation…I got too ahead of myself, and anxious. Oh well. There was always the 2’6”… More warm-ups at this height (Oats and I did a LOT of jumping at this show). He was rolling so smoothly- it felt effortless. We called it quits and got ready to go in for good this time.

13014931_1282424448453565_1618619925_n

Yay! Good pony! Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

And we chipped the first jump and I was SOoooo not straight. Gulp! I could hear my trainer yelling at me to calm down and breath! Right–got it! The second was better, and then the course just flowed from there…What a great way to end my rounds! Go Oats.

It was a lovely one to finish on, and the increased heights didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was just 1 flat class left- and we have historically either done really well (top 3) or horribly (crowhopping, bucking, rude, rushing, excused) in our flat classes.

Oats managed to keep his hair on and only had one goofy moment when a horse passed us- he started shaking his head, ready to crowhop at the canter. We even had a few small ‘tests’ from the judge- drop stirrups at the trot, posting trot w/o stirrups, and then pick them up again. AND sitting trot! I know, crazy eh?

13059459_1282424611786882_445770001_n

Accepting ribbons. Photo courtesy of Lindsay F.

Second for us! Woop!!

Good job Cedar Vista- friendly people, niiiice prizes, good company, great footing and fancy jumps. What more can a girl ask for?! I will be back!

Foxstone show recap: November show!

On paper (well, in ribbons) this show looked pretty darn good- and to be honest, my complains and frustration comes from a place of progress not fear. So that IS a good thing.

12274697_10156264034065191_3274767242254193105_n

My new show jacket! I love it. A big thanks to my trainer for taking me this day.

Let’s break it down: I placed 2nd in the equitation over fences, two thirds in the hunter o/f classes and a fourth in the flat.Not too shabby eh? Well, I made some BIG mistakes in the jump classes, to the tune of not enough leg at all, and a big add in the the line with some chips, and then a lovely round in my second class to a huge fail at the…last fence…shit! We basically stopped, and climbed over it. Nothing but a total failure to ride the last fence on my part, which was very disappointing.

I lit a fire under my butt for the last jump class- I told myself NO MORE CHIPPING and NO MORE ADDING and oh, no more forgetting to ride the last fence and start congratulating myself too early, ha.

And you know what? It was our best round! I was moving.

Except then I didn’t know how to take that ‘BIG’ energy down enough for our flat class and I totallllllly bombed it. Oats was tense and anxious, and I was handsy and clutching, feeling afraid that he was bottled up and bucky, but not really knowing how, at the moment, to deal with it. Shoooot…

So, I kind of flopped, pulled, got anxious and failed my way through the flat class- we picked up the wrong lead on the right (TWICE! kill me now…) and generally I was kind of frustrated and miserable. Our last flat class was a dream so what in hell was going on?

Well heck, it’s all a learning experience! It is actually nice to take what I’ve consciously learned from the first show, and apply it to the second show.

We didn’t get a fabulous warmup- the outside ring was frozen solid- and so was I, by the way! So we had to just slowly walk around, freezing our asses off, until we could get into the indoor to warm up over fences. The scene there was total chaos, some riders seemed to have a warm up technique of repeatedly falling off…I felt disjointed and a bit disorganized, but Oats was a dream to warm up. The only thing I was annoyed about was his throwing his head around, but that’s just a warm up thing, I’m sure.

We then sat…and sat…and sat…freezing our butts off, while we waited for the final rotation to go- and we were last in the final rotation. Lovely.

I think the issues were clear- not enough energy for our over fences classes until the last one, when I finally mustered up enough ‘go’ for the course, and then WAY too much ‘go’ for my flat.

The sitting really killed our impulsion for sure, and then when I needed to be ‘sitting’…well, we were already in the ring for the flat class and didn’t have that necessary ‘decompression’ time Oats and I apparently need to not kill anyone in a flat class. I couldn’t moderate myself enough. It was 0-60 all the time.

Hm, interesting.

I had a dream that night that I was galloping Oats and I felt a bit out of control, but that I also liked it…It was strange. I felt like that dream was telling me that was what I needed at the show, but was blocked from achieving it.

So, last night I did my equine counseling session with Vicki, and kind of actually ended up re-enacting some gallops from my dreams? Weird eh? I guess that was what I needed to get…that big gallop, the good canter, and the ‘free, floaty, smooth’ trot that I could NOT get at the show.

It had to come up somewhere. So it did. I liked it!

I like seeing the progression, and I’m liking the process. So what if I am frustrated–at least it’s taking me places to see new things about myself and my horse.

It’s funny- when I said I was half pleased, half disappointed about the show, Vicki asked what would make me 100% happy about the show. What if I came home with all first places?

I instantly knew I what I would say–that the competition was weak, so I was the best out of the worst.

That surprised me. I need to be happy with what I am achieving right now.

Tell yourself the truth about who you really are: Foxstone horse show report!

What a crazy weekend- it was jam packed with horsey activities!

Yeah Oats! Photo courtesy of Nicole.

Yeah Oats! Photo courtesy of Nicole.

I also felt a bit run off my feet (I’m still trying to get over my weird on-again-off-again malaise that just keeps hanging on, not actively sick enough but just not feeling great either. Sigh…).

I had the Dave Freeze clinic on Saturday night, and then the Foxstone horse show on Sunday. Seamless, right? Well, I’ll be doing a separate blog post about Dave Freeze, as I took lots of notes, but today we will focus on Foxstone. I was in a big rush Saturday, trying to ride Oats, clean my tack, pack up my stuff, fill grain bags and hay nets for the show, and  not be late for the Dave Freeze clinic in the evening.

Everything got done but man…It was busy. And I was out late at the clinic, slept fairly well but intermittently before getting up at 7am for the show, and was back home that night at 7pm. EEK!~ Crazy eh?

It was…But it was also (to borrow from Dave’s Big Eight)- an opportunity to practice being calm, patient, focused, grounded, centered, positive, exert appropriate effort, and relaxed. Kind of a big deal for me.

My goal on this started way back, with my equine counselling–I wanted to sleep well the night before (I tried SO hard at this) and feel appropriately hungry the morning of- which I actually ate almost all of my breakfast w/o my stomach turning into knots! And then actually ‘feel’ my body as I was warming up, instead of this weird muscle weakness, numb out of body feeling (50% achieved on that…I did start wanting to drift, but managed to pull myself back together!).

The warm-up was ok- I got a bit distracted as one girl was having a tough time with her horse and fell off a few times…Oats was slow. Very quiet, suspiciously quiet. We bungled up a line a few times due to this sort of distraction, and then pulled ourselves together and went very quietly to the arena. There, I was almost thrown off my game when they said we didn’t have time to do any warm-up in the arena. WHAT?

I wanted to start worrying.

And then they said we could do our first jump as a warm-up if we wished, which was very gracious of them, and I decided, you know what? We were going to be fine without it. I was doing ok.

So, we set off on our rounds, and you know what? Wonder of wonders, they were fine, consistent, and boring. The jump height was ‘eh’ and the trouble spots I encountered were 100% because Oats was a bit backed off and slow off the leg, so we got a few ugly chips unfortunately. But, I did kind of feel like that was due to him perhaps being a bit ouchy, not like lame ouchy but a bit unsure on his feet due to having no front shoes…A bit sensitive  maybe not as willing to be energetically ‘forward’?

Even though the jump height was not an issue for us, the forward yesterday was. Also, I noticed I was still gasping a bit after my rounds. So, I’m making the executive decision to keep myself and Oats at the boring height of 2′ divisions for this season. Keep it boring until I’m bored to tears and begging to move up???

And my other goal was to be 100% comfortable just ‘being’ on Oats. That was definitely achieved…We cruised around, hacked all the way around the stable yard, up and down the road, everywhere. Oats was so cool he was comatose?!! This did lend him well to being SO GOOD in my flat class–I have never had him so chill in a hack class, usually he is the psycho pony who is scaring people, racing other horses, bucking or rearing.

He was like an old hunter pony pro. And was generously rewarded with a first place! Go OATS!! I  have to thank my trainer for sticking by me for all my long, panicky horse shows in the past, and maybe in the future–there is a reason Oats now has a better reputation.

One goal I’m still not there yet with is weirdly…Not super interested in watching and analyzing the videos my friend took (which was amazing of her to take them, so appreciative!!). This is one area I can improve on–I need to accept that this division is where I am right now. I am a 2′ division rider, this is my truth. I think that’s why I like having video, but am reluctant to take a deeper look at them. I almost think “this is me, jumping such low jumps?”

A brief monkey bar break...Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

A brief monkey bar break…Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

But if I am honest with myself, yes that IS me, and yes, I actually rode well, had a very enjoyable, consistent show with Oats, and I should be happy to critique myself after.

Oh and I need to spray-paint my jointed stirrups- I got non-judged/DQ’d in the equitation over fences class because of my black stirrups. Curses!!! Well I also seriously bungled the trot fence so if there was a class to blow, and also get disqualified in, well…I’m not crying over it, hahah.

Ripoff report: Horse show edition

Now, I’m typically a hard one to surprise, cost-wise with horses (newsflash: everything they do, wear, eat, train for or participate in is insanely expensive.).

But, I’ve recently come across a new one that really bugs me. The ripoff horse show.

I do a few local- emphasis on local schooling shows hosted by great organizations or stables, and am proud and happy to share their names so that others can experience them at a more or less reasonable cost. They’re not cheap, nothing in horses is, but again, fairly reasonable.

These are:

  • Vancouver Island Appaloosa Club horse shows– don’t let the name fool you, they’re open to all breeds, friendly and nice. Good way to get into showing, offer very soft jump heights (for the wimps like me!!) and hack classes. Avg. $10 a class for non-members and I think $7/class for members? Cheapest game in town.
  • Sooke Saddle Club: They offer normally two ‘Show and Tell’ dressage days that are, quite frankly, a steal at the price. For $35/test, you get to ride your test, have the judge come out and put you through the wringer in the best possible way, and then you ride it again and they judge it again. I normally do two tests, so I have 4X opportunity for learning. It’s amazing!
  • Westside–I kind of hesitate with these guys–they are kind of the only game in town sometimes for shows in the off-season, and they aren’t really very cheap- think $20/class, and a $20/admin fee, but the venue is good, the courses are designed well and they have pretty good judges, from what I remember.
  • Foxstone–They only do 3 winter series shows, $45/div and a $20 admin fee- they are very reasonable and the facilities and course design are top-notch.
  • QMS–Offer both H/J and Dressage schooling shows, quite reasonable, good course design and seem to normally run on time. No quibble with these folks.
  • CDRC– SO cheap! Love them! Jumper classes are no-frills run at $10/a class, and their dressage is similarly no-frills but mega affordable.

And now to the rant part…

Westside has decided to offer a dressage show and tell, similar in format and the same judges that Sooke Saddle Club offers. I give them kudos for recognizing a need in the off-season, as Sooke doesn’t have an indoor arena and isn’t able to offer Show and Tell in the  winter. BUT…

The prices are ludicrous. A total money grab from my view (remember, this is my personal opinion) at $50/test and the nerve to tack on a $20/ring fee. Plus, you only get to ride the test once, instead of like Sooke where you sign up, ride, get your ass handed to you by the judge in a mini lesson, and then immediately ride again. So, double the cost, minus the test. No way José.

So, there’s that. Interesting chutzpah on their end but I will not be parting with my $$$ for that. For others, fair enough, it’s their dime.

Also- I saw a poster for a Halloween jumper schooling show at a local stable – Echo Ridge, which used to be called Oak Meadows, (local, like I could walk to it with Oats…) and was VERY interested. Until, I saw how much they were charging for what amounted to:

  • No real course designer
  • Tiny indoor arena to host the course- that also appears to be the only arena, no warmup ring??
  • Who is the judge?
  • No prizes/ribbons???
  • Oh wait, it’s a jackpot style class, so first place gets $8 and it goes down from there. So you can’t even make half of what the class costs back in prize money?
  • Charging for warm-up? Westside, of the ultimate money-grabber places, doesn’t even have the balls to do that. Jeeeesh.

So, for a tiny in-house jumper show hosted at their farm they were charging $20/class or 3Xclasses for $50. That’s even more than the really fancy-pants Foxstone?? Plus, they were charging $5/3 minute warm-up in the ring. I mean, really?

And you know what the worst part is? I am super disappointed. I actually wanted to take Oats in this show because it’s local, (support local!) I could walk there, it sounded really fun and offered silly classes like Gamblers Choice and some other ones.

I kind of want to write a review to them, and be like…You are pricing yourself wayyyy out of the market here. If it’s a fun in-house show, don’t charge SSITS or A-level prices. Do they know this? How could they not? I’m honestly surprised and was super taken aback by the extreme gouging level.

I think $10/class is a very reasonable price and I would be happy to pay that for this level and type of show. I do understand that the nicer venues have higher costs and nicer decorated jumps, finery, judges and prizes, not to mention course design…But it begs the question- why are their shows cheaper, have great prizes AND offer free in-ring schooling?

Just, help me out here!

“All acts of nostalgia are expressions of longing for a past that never was”

Didn’t have my dressage lesson yesterday- as board increases are starting to eat into my regular ‘horse budget’ I’m having to cut back a bit- and so my dressage lessons are going to every other week, and I didn’t show this summer (by choice but also by $$$).

Instead, I did another horse counseling session and we focused on setting SMART goals. This was hard for me, because I can see the goal part, and I have my start, but what about the middle stuff? How does that go?

Well, it goes something like this…

I want to ride in the 2′ and 2’3” divisions at a local show series.

I want to compete in the whole series.

I want to finish each division without skipping any classes.

Easy eh?

Well, I also want to do it without having a meltdown, feeling anxious, feeling ‘out of body’ and actually enjoying feeling competent in the situation.

Not so easy.

How do I do it?

Continue with my private jump lesson once a week.

Add in separate schooling sessions over fences focusing on relaxation- now this is going to be the tough part.

Continue doing my counseling sessions once a week until my first show, and then probably moving it to once every other week.

So…That’s my action plan moving forward. I hope I can make progress this way!

Oats was a lovey to ride yesterday, I didn’t end up riding for that long as the counseling session took about an hour. We had some GREAT forward canter in the outdoor, and some fairly reasonable trot. Overall, a fun ride.

Today I am taking off, and having drinks! Yeah! Tomorrow is the jump lesson- where I get to put my money where my brain/mouth/body is…AH.

Weekend Update: The fair, a mud run, and riding!

Ha what a fun way to start a race!

Ha what a fun way to start a race!

This past weekend, my husband competed in the Mud Mulisha run in Shawnigan Lake- I’ll write more about it later (he’s going to write a review!) but I stayed on the sidelines to take pictures and watch. I’m glad I made that decision, as I wrenched my shoulder going through the jump on Thursday and by Saturday, it still hurt! Plus I couldn’t chance my bad knee going through obstacles or up and down a giant hill, so…all for the best I was benched haha.

Up a big hill

Up a big hill

Then we headed straight to the Cobble Hill fair. I love fairs! While I may not want to take Oats in one – the atmosphere is way too electric for him, and he can be a total disaster in hack classes, he much prefers jumping – I really enjoy watching the riding and looking at the agricultural exhibits.

A new Mr. Oats..Mr. Moo

A new Mr. Oats..Mr. Moo

Ian’s mom won $100 for her quilt! What a prize eh??

The hack classes were really fun to watch, one horse in particular was a real class act and did SUPER well. And there was even a pairs class, so cute. It was very well subscribed, with like 5 pairs of horses showing. Nice eh? Ian’s dad was helping with the sheepdog demonstration and the funniest bit was when they showed ducks! The ducks didn’t really want to cooperate and starting running amok…

I am also learning to drive an antique tractor!

I am also learning to drive an antique tractor!

It was a hot day, that’s for sure. I was super glad I wasn’t showing myself!

We then picked a ton of plums (damson and Italian prune plums) from Ian’s parents garden. I ate WAY too many plums. Kind of a mistake, ha. But now we have a veritable bounty of plums to eat- damnson, Italian prune plums and like 6 squashes of varying sizes.

Yum!!

Sunday I rode Oats in the field and he was GREAT! We just walked, trotted and did canter sets. He was quite sweaty after, and I let him explore the field a bit on a loose rein. He didn’t want to go back up the hill (effort!!!) so he tried to leave the field going through a farmyard. Silly pony! We also kind of chased a mother deer and larger fawn-though he is a slow pony and was in no risk of actually catching them…

Yesterday he was in a weird mood. “Look at me, pet me, let me touch you, let me grab your ponytail, let me nuzzle your butt, look at me!!” All while I was grooming and tacking him up. It was kind of driving me nuts! Whyyyy with the grabby attention-seeking, Oats?

He also was an absolute terror to poor Feline- I was brushing his tail and he lunged forward and snapped at her! She jumped to the side and like, crashed into her elderly owner…Shit. That took me by surprise?!

He was good to ride though, we rode in the indoor arena to practice some dressage and I even did some lateral work (normally hate it!) and he was pretty honest about his effort! A+ for Oats for yesterday’s work, haha.