How can you make a horse believe in you, if you don’t believe in you?

Oats and I had a tricky FREEZING jump lesson last night. Temperatures plummeted and it was threatening snow all afternoon (on Vancouver Island. Snow?!!). Definitely unusual and cruel for all of us, I was just lounging at the beach last weekend – true story! It did end up snowing all night too. Crazy.

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This was Sunday. Today it is freezing and it snowed. WTF?

Anyways, it was a shock to the system for both of us.

The lesson? 3-jump one stride line, a bounce on the diagonal – the evil diagonal that keeps haunting my dreams…, the panel jump and another flower x-rail on the diagonal, that was simple.

What was not simple? Managing to ‘keep riding’ through the bounce and managing my pace through the one-stride  line. I keep wanting to blast through it, OR when we come in deep, -stall- out through it instead of riding more strongly.

There were no huge mistakes, well except for the bounce jumps, ha those were definitely iffy, but  I was pretty pleased with how reasonable Oats was and how quickly the bounce and one-stride exercise was making us think! This is not my forte, at all. I like to think about jumping, oh…four strides after the jump, or 10 strides before it. Not AS it’s happening. Whoops!

Overall a good and fairly technical ride. Hm, much like my dressage lesson on Tuesday. Sensing a theme here…

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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.

Foxstone winter series: Recap of the final show!

 

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Our loot- the 4th place is for our single 2’3” round!

 

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It wasn’t really sunny for a single moment yesterday! Shoot!

I’ll preface this by saying I had a really great jump lesson on Thursday (even did a small grid w/o hands) so anything at the show was basically a cherry on top! That said, my recap is tinged with a bit of bitterness–I was standing in reserve champ in my division standings by the third show and I did NOT manage to hang on to it. Shoooooot! I so wanted it this  year and felt like I really worked hard to keep it!

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Lacking any new media- from last year’s show.

Instead, I dropped down to third, and honestly–it was nice to keep it there, as the final show was quite competitive in my division, with up to 14 riders per class! Crazy eh?!

Still, my goals aren’t ribbons–they’re good experiences. Sometimes I do lose sight of that.

Oats warmed up nicely in the outdoor arena and it was so wet! Wet footing splashed up all over us when we landed from a jump. I had sand on my face even! Oats had it on his bit, on his nose, everywhere. It was a very rainy day, and I was feeling supremely grouchy because of it…

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Then we went to do our brief warmup they offer in the ring, and that’s when the wheels kind of fell off…Oats was a bit crow-hoppy in the outdoor, but I brushed it off, until he was VERY humpy and crowhopping in the corners of the indoor. I immediately felt panicked…This is it, he’s going for a launch again..Just like what happened in the past. I was worried.

We pulled it together and worked over the two warmup fences twice, just to clear any residual concerns about his silly behaviour in the corners. Nicole counseled me to sit tall, and work to mitigate his silliness in the corners before he had a chance to act out. Easier said than done? Years of shows past where he completely launched me echoed in my head…

I’m not gonna lie, I was GRAY going in to my first round.

It was not a fabulous round. I rode extremely conservatively, and rather tensely as well. I didn’t give Oats as much freedom and leg as I should have (and could have). I rode deliberately for the short distance and he didn’t get a chance to act up.

Coming out, Nicole and Sarah said I looked better, and I said I felt a “bit” better but I was still riding very backwards, and constrained. Went in for round two and I couldn’t shake it! Still holding back, and very management-style riding. Oats was fine, and he was managing my silliness now…

Third round and I felt slightly better- it was my equitation round and I started coming out of it more and actually riding, instead of acting like a manikin. We even aced the trot fence that last show we completely bungled. Go us!

A LOOOONGG wait for the flat class and we kind bombed it. I’m not sure what the secret is for a great one (all the stars align?) but Oats was chargey and rude and kind of wanted to get crazy in the canter, but I held him firmly under wraps. Gak!

I started backpedaling like crazy after my flat class. Ambitiously (ok, ambitious for me, the wimp!) I had signed up for a single 2’3” class to round out my day. And then I immediately didn’t want to ride it…

I was cold, wet and it took forever for the 2” division to be over, due to the large number of entries. Still, Nicole was NOT. HEARING. IT. and basically forced me into the warm up ring for the 2’3” warm up. And you know what? Oats was GREAT in it!

I went in to the 2’3” class telling myself–this one I don’t give a shit. Go, finish your class and you’re done for the day. Who cares?!! And it was the BEST CLASS OF THE DAY!

True we had a moment of disunited canter when I thought – mistakenly- that we could get the change behind and boyyyy we sure didn’t. Ooops! But other than that I finally- finally, felt connected to Oats, and we were rockin’ it!

No silly humping or being a twit from Oats, no backwards riding from me. Just good, forward, getting it done!

I came out of the ring smiling. Smiling!! Me?! 

That, despite the ribbons for the day being kind of a wash (two 6th places, two 5th places, and a fourth), made me the happiest of the day. Heck, we did place even out of 14 riders in every one of our classes, so I’m not too sorry about the low-number ribbons. The fact that I didn’t want to, and then I did ride my best in my last class of the day, made all the difference to me.

I went the whole day waiting for that moment to happen. And then it did!

A moderate change of plans

Jump lesson got cancelled last night, last minute, because my trainer got hurt in a pretty serious fall. I’m in touch with her and she managed to escape with a concussion and some bruising, which is great, but still scary as anything!

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Jumping last year- photo courtesy of Christi. Wish we were outdoors now!

I knew something was up when I was tacking up Oats and the girl that rides before me didn’t come back up to the barn. So, I checked my phone and found out why…The accident happened at the stable that my trainer teaches at before she comes to our barn.

So, Oats and I were 100% alone for the evening. I was feeling a bit leery (Nicole’s accident was VERY fresh in my mind), it was nighttime, dark, and nobody else was riding with me or even at the barn.

But…

I was also aware that Nicole is not me, Oats is a very dependable fellow, and I could certainly lower some jumps and do a very non-threatening jump school, safely. So, I did! And it felt pretty darn good actually.

We cruised over the three small fences that I had lowered, and Oats was great. I had a fun time, and we got pretty sweaty doing the little jumps. It was just plain fun!

The footing is still a big issue though- clay continues to pull up from the boggy/mushy part of the arena, and it’s tough to avoid those sections as they take up a bit part of the ring. Man…I wish we could ride outside too. 😦

I finished up with some no-stirrups sitting trot, focusing on some more deep inner bend from our dressage lesson on Tuesday. Oats, while a bit confused about why we weren’t jumping, was fairly amenable to this. I do want to make sure he doesn’t completley ignore my aids when we are jumping–he has to remain flexible and listening at all points, not just when it’s ”dressage” time.

We have rescheduled my jump lesson to 2 p.m. on Saturday, and I’m interested to see what Oats brings to the table. And also I hope my trainer recovers well from her accident and takes it easy the next few days!

Burn your fires for no witness

Jump lesson update!

I didn’t update after my schooling hack on Tuesday because it was non-remarkable–Oats was being a good pony, we did some lateral work to limited success, and well, it was fine. Yesterday I had my jump lesson and something interesting is starting to dawn on me…

As I get better about my anxiety, and am learning to manage it and appropriately stretch my boundaries, I’m coming up against something my equine counselor warned me about: frustration. She said with learning comes frustration or being mad about something and that is just the way it is expressed, as part of the process.

I’m coming in to my lesson with Oats, not being frustrated at him, but being frustrated by our ‘pace’?!! And it never really bothered me before, and I think it is close to 100% in my head? For example…

We worked over a small gymnastic and then moved on to a little course. The gymnastic was a two-stride x-rail to vertical. Nicole moved it in because quite often Oats is backed off and not super forward through the lines, and if horses were jumping it before us, then it’s set too long.

Well! We worked through it, I complained that he felt too slow and she said he was eating up the lines, and she had to move the jumps back??? He was making the horse strides through the gymnastic, which pretty much never happens, and I was complaining that he felt too slow? What is going on in my brain??

Very interesting. The course itself went well and funny enough so did the gymnastic. Oats did have a few moments of extreme befuddlement over green box (which he has jumped a million times before) but now it was on a circle, in a shadowy part of the arena…So he jumped it like it was 3ft high and 4ft wide? WOAH! He did that every time too! I think he was having trouble ‘seeing’ what he was jumping, so figured that overjumping was the best/safest policy…Poor pony, it was kind of hilarious how confused he was by the box?

Proof Oats has jumped the green box with no drama.

Proof Oats has jumped the green box with no drama.

I did have moments where I was very close to my comfort zone and I let Nicole know, but I think it’s just a phase in my learning process right now. I never felt scared or super worried, just kind of…oomph, let’s GO Oats!

Also- Oats would like to wish everyone a happy Halloween! I think he looks better as a bunny than as the devil, don’t you think?

Oats as 'himself' last year...

Oats as ‘himself’ last year…

Bunny Oats

Bunny Oats

Gymnastics revisited- with a twist! (hint- it’s canter!)

After Tuesday, apparently Oats wasn’t feeling well because he seemed quieter than usual and didn’t have too many poops- I was concerned, but he seemed ok but very quiet in my lesson on Thursday.

We’re back in the indoor, which is kind of Oats’ kryptonite for ‘going forward’ business…

Photo from 2012. Have we improved?

Photo from 2012. Have we improved?

He feels very slow, very quiet and kind of like yeah yeah whatever…Just not super excited to do his job, like he sometimes feels in the outdoor. Nevertheless, we warmed up over poles and then moved into our job- canter poles. I sometimes don’t like them because *gasp* they expose our canter weaknesses– him falling behind my leg, not balancing well, or me grabbing back or trying to ‘lift’ him over the poles.

Another oldie

Another oldie

The poles went well, and then they were eventually turned into x-rails- 2, with the poles inbetween the rails, so it went pole-x-rail-pole-xrail-pole. And Oats was actually pretty close to nailing the exercise, we definitely screwed up a few times but nothing that scared me or made me particularly worried.

Then, it was time to string together a small course. The canter gymnastics, to the green brush box on the diagonal, and then to the small x-rail (in a part of the arena that was soooo dark, so the x-rail was small!).

We schooled that a few times and he was quite good! He did suck back though to the green box, gave it a pretty hard look too, haha. His energy level just wasn’t as high as it is when he’s galloping forward in the outdoor, and this is something we have to adjust for, I suppose…

We then strung together the small fences and the gymnastic into a longer course- 9 fences with 1 cutaway line to see how I could influence his lead…And I did! He then flopped over the green box on the diagonal line, was getting tired and sucking back, hence the clumsy effort.

We ended on that note- it was very tempting to take a break and then keeping going, but I didn’t want to stress Oats out by pushing too much yesterday. We ended well, and I was happy with his mostly cooperative efforts. A fun exercise, and a good one for us. Not too anxiety-inducing at all, which is strange for me–usually I’m like, worried when it comes to gymnastics. I guess the heights were so low it kind of felt like eh, yeah sure…

Progress?!

Flasback Friday: Burnaby edition!

Time for some flashbacks! Enjoy these blasts from the past, from my time at Burnaby Horsemen’s Association.

Ardie 'The old man'

Ardie ‘The old man’

I know I usually do these on Thursdays, but I did get a bit distracted writing about my husband so today will have to do!

Ardie 'Last Round'

Ardie ‘Last Round’

I know I’ve mentioned before that I rode for awhile in Burnaby- Burnaby Lake to be specific. They run the Burnaby Horsemen’s Association out of the park, and it’s a fantastic place. Close to the city, reasonably well-run, nice people (I stayed the heck out of any drama) and good horses. A small riding program is run there by through a small satellite program from another stable.

Before I leased Ardie...Mickey

Before I leased Ardie…Mickey

There is a BIG indoor arena (the only downside is that you can’t keep jumps up in it, so lots of putting up/taking down) and two riding rings and trails. We rode a ton outdoors, even in the winter wet sloppy weather because it was pretty decent! We even did some night trails, which were pretty cool. I saw an owl one time, near the swampy area by the small bridge.

Riding Mickey in the winter

Riding Mickey in the winter

They even hosted some horse shows! I rode in one- the ‘spring fling’ and took both Ardie and Starr. They were super cheap and super fun. I think I did like 10 classes total, I was totally exhausted by the end of the day, haha but did win a hack high point for that!

I really enjoyed my time riding at Burnaby, and wouldn’t hesitate to ride there again if I ended up back on the mainland (NOT planning to, by any stretch~).

Pony jumpers with Starr

Pony jumpers with Starr- I think we even placed in this class??

It was a far sight better than the first lease situation I ended up in, during my stay in Vancouver. A kind of pathetic Standardbred mare (she was nice, but clueless…Her owner, well-meaning but afraid of the horse and kind of ditzy) at a stable pretty far out that other horse owners dubbed ‘Creepy Hollow’ hahah…Concrete flooring for the indoor arena, so it wasn’t the best situation and I got really tired of the kind of clueless horse, even more clueless owner, and showing up to ride only to see someone’s kid riding the horse that *I* had paid to lease? Yeah, NO. Oh and no real photos of that one either, haha.

Ardie at the show

Ardie at the show

I dropped that lease like a hot potato, after I think 2 months.

And promptly moved on to better at Burnaby! At first I leased that cute pinto, Mickey- but his owner moved him, so I moved on to Ardie pretty quickly, I think within a month?

Whee! Pony jumpers with Starr

Whee! Pony jumpers with Starr