Run.Rest.Ride.Repeat

An important part of racing is rest.

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Wish it was summer and we were enjoying the good life…Oats takes his rest very seriously.

Now I just need to tattoo that to my forehead, backwards, so I can learn my lessons haha. I am on the opposite spectrum of most – taking it ‘easy’ or days off can be very psychologically challenging for me. Therefore, the week before a race is often fraught with worries about lagging, feeling heavy or slow.

I make an attempt to scale back the week before in a big way.

What does this look like this week? Well things vary, but ideally…

  • Monday- light gym workout with pushups/stretching.
  • Monday night- like, a 15 minute ride on Oats haha. I was tired!
  • Tuesday- Not running to work this week! No treadmill run at the gym and light stretching only, with my rehab exercises.
  • Tuesday night- No dressage lesson. Light ride on Oats.
  • Wed – Not running to work, and I might do some weight machine work with stretching/rehab.
  • Wed night- day off riding! Bathroom cleaning and TV watching night.
  • Thursday- Day off working out and going out for lunch. Go me! I almost never do this. As a creature of habit, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I deviate from my routines.
  • Thursday night- jump lesson!
  • Friday- Light barbells work with stretching/rehab exercises. No squats/cardio warmups. 5k total jog to Dr’s office for foot treatments in the AM.
  • Friday night- drinking wine 😉 Day off riding.
  • Saturday- Light ride on Oats, and no hills or any other runs.
  • Saturday night- no wine. Boo!

So that’s my plan and I am sticking to it!

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The World is a Loud Place: Jump lesson recap!

Thursday was just miserable here. It was hammering down rain, windy, cold and just so very blah. I walked home and was frozen by the time I got home, and just not feeling it. After a fairly mild week that began with the horrible weather at the race, I was so over it!

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I am a good boy!

But…Jump lessons are calling.

So I bucked up, grudgingly pulled on my breeches and left for my lesson. I was assuming Oats was going to feel as ‘enthusiastic’ as I was (ie- not) so yeah, good times. Rained on and off on the way to the barn, dark as anything, and I learned that most of the horses on Thursday night jump lessons were total psychos. Greeeatttt…

Needless to say, I was a tad apprehensive. My trainer even said that close to none of her lessons went according to plan that night. Lovely. However, I was on Oats- who is a very consistent pony now, and if he acted up, it would be 1000% out of character for him. He’s a laid-back dude.

(Though he was a total turd and a half for many years!)

We worked over canter poles that eventually went up to a grid-type consisting of one small vertical pole, canter poles to a small oxer. The name of the game here was to COMMIT.

Then we worked up to a small course, a vertical on the long side (kept small the whole time), to a vertical on the diagonal, to an oxer on the other diagonal, to the grid, back to the diagonal vertical, oxer, and finish up with the vertical on the long side that we began with.

We had some awkward jumps BUT we noticed that every time I kept my butt out of the saddle, Oats felt empowered to take those leaps! We finished up with some really nice efforts from him, and I was very happy with how the canter pole grid line went, each time.

Good pony. And I was SO glad he wasn’t a nutbar like the other horses last night. Winter fever???

Not cut out for this: Dressage lesson recap

Or maybe I should say ‘Oats is not cut out for this dressage nonsense?’?

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Me dealing with nonsense. Ha.

Anyways, I approached my regular semi-private with a bit of trepidation. My legs were so tired (from the race, natch!) and I was feeling draggy and blah. My SAD lamp isn’t working yet or something something..Not sure.

I figured it was going to be a challenge, and Oats did not disappoint. It WAS! We were working on (after a warm up) getting the horses to raise their shoulders up, head up but still with mild throatlatch bending with an end goal of having the horses moving uphill, rather than diving downhill. Or, ‘dumpster-diving’ as Karen so colloquially puts it!

Oats as it turns out is good at dumpster diving. We took this work over a pole, on a circle and on a straight line. It was…hard. We had a few flying leaps, and a few instances where Oats TOLD me to take a flying leap. HA.

In the canter I used my crop to ‘encourage’ Oats to move forward and he responded with a big buck! I sat it and we continued. We went on the circle again and he lagged- crop time! I applied it and BUCK! Another buck, haha.

Now, I was able to sit the bucks pretty easily because he wasn’t actively trying to get me off. Those bucks, no freaking way and he has gotten me off a few times bucking. This time, he was just irritated and trying to find a way to ‘loosen the load’ of me sitting on his back via a buck. It didn’t work, I stayed on and kept asking.

He figured it out but wasn’t super pleased about the work.

Oh well, a step in the progression of dressage for us. He did have some lovely stretch work at the end of the ride 🙂

The countdown is ON!

T-3 days and counting…Oh man am I ever counting down the hours/days.

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My Reese’s Advent Calendar. I LOVE IT.

Anyways, dressage lesson last night with Karen and my friend Lindsey joined us, as I usually do a semi-private vs private because privates are $$$$ and my other regular lesson partner is injured, so I asked Lindsey if she was interested. She was! Win win.

I think she got a lot out of the lesson, at least from what I saw!

My takeaways for my ride: Practice transitioning from posting trot to sitting trot. Wow, this was way harder than I originally anticipated. I go from smooth posting to WHAM WHAM WHAM bucket of bolts sitting trot jarring my everything. Gag. It was hard, and my abs hurt? WTF?

We worked on that for awhile, making sure I didn’t tip forward and get all bunched up holding my breath (told you it was hard). We then went up into canter, and worked on getting a ‘jump’ from Oats in the canter. We were close but my timing was off in the ‘release’ part of the ride- I wasn’t releasing fast enough or near enough. Ah, well.

I need to practice posting trot to sitting trot though. Ouch!

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I am also eating a LOT of holiday candy. Man, I love Christmas candy. Mmmmmm even grabbed some treats at the Dr’s office this morning! 🙂

Getting past the past

Man, I am tired. After a very nice and fairly relaxing weekend (we made and decorated sugar cookies!) and went to watch some live music including Christmas carols at the Breakwater Bistro, it was straight into a rather hellish Monday at work…Ugh.

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I only have 4 more days. I can do this. I find this time of year really stressful and tiring. I sometimes have a hard time getting in the ‘Christmas Spirit’ TM but I am taking it day by day and hopefully things will turn around.

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I’m not kidding. We made & decorated a LOT of cookies!! Good times with a good friend.

In the meantime, I am just tired and kind of dragging myself to the barn to ride. My rides feel kind of short and half-assed, and yet the work Oats is giving me is really GOOD?! Go figure eh? We have been focusing on transitions (transitions, transitions, transitions..) and I am really happy with how he is going.

It’s cold though. And dark. And just…blah.

I can’t go on. I’ll go on. We have a dressage lesson today, and my friend with her horse will be joining us- I’m looking forward to seeing what she learns today!

Part-Time Friends (Jump lesson!)

We have been working on some really interesting jump exercises recently. Every lesson I come in with anticipation and sometimes dread, ha, to see how much Nicole will challenge both Oats and I.

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I am ready to accept the challenge!

This week we worked over 3 bounce x-rails (bounce-bounce-bounce), and then eventually into a course that had some interesting technicalities. Boy did we struggle with the bounces- I almost ATE it when I got left behind, and then bounced in the butt with the saddle and ended up on Oats’ neck. Whoops! Yikes!

Anyways, we also incorporated jumping a small jump, like a rail on the ground basically, on a 10-metre circle. Oats was really good at it, and did it three times in a row even.

Course time: Start on the left rein to the three bounce jumps. Left turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continue left and go across the diagonal, jumping the skinny on an angle. Going right now, jump over three bounce jumps. Right turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continuing right, go over the diagonal jumping the skinny. Continue right over the oxer, landing at ‘H’ and cantering into a ‘tear drop’ shape, jumping the single fence along the long side. Canter left lead into a 20-metre circle, ending the circle by turning in to ‘X’ and jumping straight down the middle, ending at ‘C’.

We aced it!

sort of- ha. But it was a great workout and an excellent challenge for the both of us. Whoop.

Right Place Right Time: Dressage recap!

Had a semi-private dressage lesson last night, and after taking two weeks off from our lessons (but definitely not from riding) it went pretty well! We worked on developing a collected canter via lateral work, specifically leg-yielding off the wall at the trot and then trying to hold it through the canter.

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Oats gets a haircut…And it has already grown out. WTF?!!!

Oats did NOT find it easy and showed this through two ways- breaking into trot from the canter, or giving me a big flying lead change! Haha

I was very pleased with his work and his attention span. He didn’t really have any big hissy-fits, which is unusual as he kind of gets worked up with this sort of disciplined lesson. He got very sweaty, despite the fact that he IS clipped. He grew a really thick coat this year, more so than previous years, and sadly the clip is not lasting…Gah.

His attitude has been very good, he almost wins for ‘most improved horse’ in that region. I know, crazy eh? Our short leg-yields were really good (for us, ha) and I was feeling very ‘flowy’ and ‘smooth’ which can be a bit of a rarity for us.

He gets a day off today, and a day off for me too before our jump lesson on Thursday.