Honey Bunches of Oats does dressage!

19059340_10154798159558175_8409420220892993734_n

Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

I saw this quote in another blog (Medal Slut), and I loved it so much I had to use it~

“Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski

And here’s the shocker-for a reluctant dressage-er, we did REALLY WELL!! Got our personal best scores of all time?! 68.47% in Training Level 1, and 69% in Training Level 2~ can you believe it! I can’t!

19093012_10158823802515191_5384198401653107968_o

The whole gang with their ribbons!!

Rewinding a bit, I had originally wanted to go to the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper show on the Saturday, when everyone was going but as I mentioned yesterday we had a packed schedule and no hauler to go up with, soooooo dressage it was!

19149150_10154798159498175_1065007598500670367_n

Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

I had avoided the dressage ring for a few years, because it was hard, we were’t good at it, and it tripped all of my high-anxiety issues for showing and Oats did not respond well to my nerves, at all. So, jumping it was. But then, my husband got me some fancy white dressage boots for Christmas, so I wanted to show them off…and well, I had a ride to the showgrounds with my friend and her horse, sooooo…

19059994_10154798159623175_4863484652932653702_n

Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

It was fated! We were doing dressage for the first time in like 3 years!

As you will note, we practiced a LOT in the two weeks leading up the show. Four dressage lessons, even? I was ready. I was still very nervous, but luckily we didn’t have a lot of time to fuss around at the show, as we were running kind of late, haha. I hopped on, did a pretty perfunctory warm-up (Oats was ok, but swapping his left lead for his right CONSTANTLY in the warm up and it as driving me nuts). Anyway, off we went for Training Level 1 and you know what? It went fine. I felt pretty ok about it, despite him spooking a bit in the warm up and getting a little silly.

19148945_10154798159493175_8663459613689102970_n

Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Funny enough usually at horse shows, I can’t wait to BE DONE and get off. This time? I finished my test 1, and said I want to get back in their and have more opportunities to ride the test! Who is this girl? I was still anxious, but I felt like I could have more time in the ring and really focus on riding.

Cue super long hiatus where Oats got loose and ran over one of the girl’s finance’s foot. Whoops!! He did catch Oats for me though, with Oats pinning his foot into the ground. Yikes! Oats and I hung out for ages..My first test was at 9:50am, and my second one was at 1:50pm!!

I got ready at around 1:10pm and warmed Oats up for the second time. He was TERRIBLE in the warm up. Thundering around, swapping leads like crazy, kind of acting nuts. I had this awful sinking feeling in my stomach.

Nicole was like, hey leave it in the warm- up, and just go and ride your test!

Easier said than done…

But, we entered the ring, started the first half of the test, got whistled out (judge thought we were doing Training 3 mistakenly, so I got to go back out, re-enter and start the test over.) Despite the miserable warm-up, the whistling out, we DID IT. We entered the groove, where I was focused on my test, on my horse, and on my body.

Each moment was there for me, and I wasn’t thinking too far ahead. (I did worry about the canter, ha).

When we came up to the final halt, I just KNEW we had a rocking test. We aced it!! The judge called me over and asked what breed Oats was (a mutt, I said. haha) and she said she really liked him and he was a good size and a very nice mover! WOW!!!!! 🙂

That test? Highest score ever for me- 69%. Good enough for second place for us! YESSS. A great end to a good day. I was very proud of how we pulled it together, and you should have seen how great everyone else was riding yesterday- I wasn’t the only one coming away with some good scores!!

Kudos to my friends for their great efforts, and to the Cowichan District Riding Club for a friendly, welcoming and fun atmosphere.

19029641_10154798159643175_6586725092620216044_n

Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Advertisements

Back in the show ring

I sort of on a whim entered the local schooling show series hosted by Cedar Vista with Oats on Sunday. I had a lot of reasons: read excuses- about why I shouldn’t, and only one why should- because I want to!

18447092_10158706807900603_6090036343812198194_n

Thanks to the Cedar Vista stables hosting a friendly show series. It was also freezing yesterday!

I missed the season opener in April because I was in Mexico *SO WORTH IT so this one was my first show in many months- since July of last year, actually. I down-scaled what I entered (from 2’3” to 2’0) to minimize my horrible show nerves. Funny enough, when I made that decision I instantly felt a weight (nerves) lift off my shoulders. Phew! It felt a bit strange to be entering that height when I just jumped some really decent 2’6” oxers in my lesson on Thursday, but I have a very challenging time managing both my show nerves and Mr. Oats himself that this was truly the best idea.

And Sunday dawned wayyyyy too early (ughh) and I was up and at’em with Oats at 6:30 a.m.  We loaded up at 6:45 and were at the show grounds to start warming up, get our numbers and registration, learn our courses and start the show at 8 a.m.

Oats was a bit strange- tender footed, not very forward, quite ‘sticky’ and rude/balky. When I sharply reminded him about forward, he threw a big buck! And when we worked over the warm-up course, he was balky, head-tossing and ready to start fussing and bucking! Uh oh, first show back issues? I SO didn’t want to get bucked off!

But..the silver lining? Because the jump height is only 2’0”, I was able to school Oats without having a care in the world about the jumps. They were just ‘there’ and I could do what I needed with his drama-rama and it wasn’t a biggie.

He also didn’t look at a single thing, and wasn’t spooky the whole day! Just sticky, balky and throwing some sassy bucks here and there. HA, good thing it was a jumper day and not hunters…

We rode our classes, some jumps better than others, I had to work SO HARD to get him ‘going’ and he was sluggy, slow and sticky. But, jumped all the jumps, and didn’t buck me off, haha. That meant our time sucked (for match the clock) but others went off course, had horses that stopped or ran out, or had a few rails. That meant we still placed in all of our three classes- and not too bad either actually.

Finished the division with a 2nd, 3rd and 5th place. And Oats is getting shoes for the next show. A good season opener for us, as I have a devil of a time managing nerves typically and stop riding. Yesterday (longest day ever) I could’t stop riding!

Kudos to my fellow riders, who all came home with championships and reserve championships- I was practically the odd man out without one!

Being appreciative

Rode Oats a lot this past week/weekend (Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun/Tues) and while I can’t even really remember how my rides went, with the exception of a fun jump lesson and some small jumps/polework on Saturday, I remember one thing:

I love riding him! I feel very appreciative to have him in my life, eating $$ and all.

12932986_10156765702130191_8321402896110597130_n

Photo courtesy of Nicole G. I love it so much! Big D and his mini-me.

I saw a photo my trainer took of Oats and his buddy Donato (Big D) being reuinted in the field and it made my heart sing with joy. He was so happy! The photo was sooo cute! I don’t always have these feelings and to be honest mostly take old Oats for granted (it’s like I’m afraid to acknowledge how much of an influence he is in my life, just in case). But, I heard some tragic news this past week about one of my trainer’s horses passing suddenly with a twisted-gut colic, and wow…I would be heartbroken if that happened to Oats.

So, my rides were unremarkable but you know, unremarkable is a good thing these days. I didn’t have my lesson yesterday b/c I skip every other week now for $$$-saving purposes (HA yeah right), and I will have it next week. But, we had a very solid ride focused on circles and straightness down the quarter-line. Easier said than done!

IMG_0618

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

Also, with more daylight and warmer temps, I’m wanting to actually BE at the barn more now, and my barn friends have moved back so it’s a win-win for all of us here.

IMG_0617

More screenshots- jumping the weird jump!

 

Stay gone

So, after my spectacularly grouchy rage-flounce on Friday, how did the weekend go?

Well, fine I guess.

I spent Friday in a determined angry funk. Saturday was ok, nothing amazing happened and all of the events that got cancelled on Friday stayed cancelled, so I didn’t really do too much anyways.

I did go on a short run with my husband in the late afternoon Saturday- we did some hill work, which was pretty good, cold but good. Oats was fun to ride, though my shin took a beating when we misjudged a turn and took out a jump with my leg…Ouch! Have a bruise on there now, hahah.

Some light jumping, nothing too fancy, also some no-stirrup work which has me feeling pretty righteous actually!

Missing tail!

Missing tail!

Sunday- I came to the barn and to my ultimate dismay…Oats IS MISSING half his tail??!! ARGH. His neighbour horse-friend, Jim, is eating his freaking tail. ARGHHHHHHHH. It looks so goofy now. I talked it over with Jim’s owner and we will be addressing this with fencing when she has the $$ to put into more fencing. In the meantime…She braided his tail to keep it away from hungry hungry Jim, and I had my friend Emma braid it last night when I saw it had come loose again. Maybe move to keep it in a tail bag next? SIGH.

Close up of tail.

Close up of tail.

Oats also got a bit of jump torture on Sunday as well. I had a wild desire to jump the mounting block, so I set it up like a big arrow, and jumped him both ways–with the arrow, and against the arrow-head. He was quite amenable to jumping it with the arrow, but against it? WELL. He was very perplexed! He wiggled, wobbled, stopped. Was quite sure that this was wrong! This is not a jump!

Jump the mounting block? Sure!

Jump the mounting block? Sure!

I coaxed him over the arrow-head at a trot twice, and let him canter it in the direction he was most comfortable with–I wanted to leave it on a good note for a good pony. He did try hard, even though he was very confused with what I was asking him, haha.

Um, no.

Um, no.

Last night I had another session with my equine counselor, and we confirmed that I am on the right track. She said I’m at maybe 50% right now, and with time will gain my confidence back, slowly. I am developing a level of body awareness that feels really cool though, and I’m giving myself chances to make the right choice for me. Sometimes that means bowing out of jumping the course a second time, or maybe I do it, but I acknowledge how it makes me feel.

More and more, I feel like I can make things happen when I am riding, I have agency. They do not just ‘happen’ to me anymore. The great distances I’ve been getting? Making that happen by allowing Oats to move forward more freely. Basically, managing will be the name of the game and I will have to work on maintenance with this issue.

I love it, weirdly. I am creating my reality, rather than letting it steamroll over me as a victim.

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!

Oats is afraid (this happens every year at this time. Shoot!!)

…Every year the same struggle for old Mr. Oats. Him, versus the haying machines!

ARGH.

It started Saturday, innocently enough. Haying out in the field, and he was eagle-eyed watching the process (and all the horses were running like insane lunatics and I had to get help from Nicole to get Oats out of the field so I didn’t get stomped in the process. Fun fun…).

He was fine to ride in the indoor, and I took Sunday off to run the half marathon.

Monday, and the haying/baling was out in full force. Greeeaaat….I get Oats and notice he is absolutely COVERED in dried sweat. Everywhere. He has a ton of messy poops, and seems unsettled and very salty/sweaty.

We head out to the arena, and it’s a beautiful day. Hot, sunny, gorgeous. I am 100% alone at the barn, not a soul around- which I was not thrilled with. Oats walked around well and was responding nicely and seemed fairly relaxed. Until…

WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP

Hay baler starts up behind the indoor arena, out of eyesight but definitely not out of pony earshot…

Oats starts thinking about losing his shit. He’s in between meltdown stages…

I jumped off before he tried to exit the scene stage right. We walked around and around, and he didn’t chill out really at all. I let him graze and he is definitely a nervous eater. When the sounds seemed to abate a bit, I got back on and walked/trotted in the ‘safe zone’ away from the baler. He was okay, but certainly very on-edge. The baler stopped for a bit, and we were able to canter at the top of the arena, which was nice.

He spooked HARD a few times, and was scaring himself, but we were able to end on a decent note of walking large around the arena out of the ‘safe zones’ once each way.

So, that was ok but kind of more than I really wanted -or- bargained for the day after running the half marathon…It was hot, I was tired, and not really looking forward to dealing with Oats in alarm mode…

He was very sweaty, he is an anxious sweater. So, I hosed him off and he was edgy and quite alarmed, looking and looking for the scary hay baler. Sighhhhh….

I let him sit for a bit when I was putting away my tack and he was scraped off and cooled out, and when I came back he was like OH THANK GOD YOU’RE HERE and was licking my arm?! He was definitely looking to me for reassurance.

So…yeah.

I texted a friend about it and she said he was better today when he got turned out, wasn’t racing blindly around like a maniac and wasn’t frothing into a lather…

And I am taking today off to finally take it easy after the run. It’s harder than you think!

No one is lost: Progress is a ever-changing target?

So I had my jumping lesson last night and I’m not going to lie. I was worried! I’ve been struggling with feelings of guilt, of fear and having this need to ‘prove something’ to myself. Newsflash: Proving something to yourself usually goes very poorly!

Yes, we even jumped this one without a second look!

Yes, we even jumped this one without a second look!

I even had the opportunity to back out…My friends were visiting from Vancouver and asked if I wanted to go out for dinner last-minute, and my trainer texted asking if this week was the week I had to take off? Argh! The struggle! I was *this close* to having a legitimate reason to wimp out…

1525778_10152231355681264_1650788470_n

But I manned up, swallowed my fear and texted my friends back that I had a jumping lesson, and texted my coach that it was next week I had to take off.

There. One small step.

The next step was actually getting there, warming up on my own for 15 minutes in the outdoor full of -gulp- scary jumps and dealing with whatever happened.

And you know what? Oats was golden! He didn’t put a hoof wrong. I still felt wimpy, weak and lacking enthusiasm when Nicole came out for the lesson. I wanted to wimp out, I wanted to wallow in my feelings of inadequacy…Of fear.

But, Oats was too good to let me do that, and so was Nicole haha. We started slow- trot poles to a tiny gymnastic grid. We even had to put the last fence up to a vertical because Oats wasn’t really jumping them, he was kind of just flopping over them. That was ok.

Then, we moved on to a course and I started holding my breath…

But the jumps were small, I was actually RIDING Oats and things were just clicking nicely along! I didn’t have time to back off. My brain even kind of started drifting after the 8th fence and I kind of biffed the 9th (across the diagonal) but Oats is a forgiving pony and just kept trucking.

We did the course twice (11 jumps X 2!) 22 whole fences! And it was very good. We were not perfect, but like the scales of justice that tip one way or the other, my confidence scales are slowly tipping the other way- back to being in balance.

I have a hard time acknowledging that last week I was rocking a bigger course with the dreaded gymnastics up to 2’6” and this week am feeling faint over x-rails, but you know, who carresssss. Only me! Not Oats! Hahah. He was great, and I need more “great times” to build up my happy memory bank again.

Accidents, like what happened with my mom, deplete the happy memories in your memory bank, and confidence bank. Only good experiences (pretty much double the good to bad) can work to rebuild those banks.