Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

With a busy few weeks, you’d think that my riding has taken a hit, but it hasn’t! I am happy to say I have had some great jump lessons lately, taking advantage of the outdoor arena while it is still open for the season. AND I had a dressage lesson this past Friday with a new trainer! Yeah! I have been dressage-trainerless for quite some time since our previous trainer Karen Brain moved to Vancouver.

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Doesn’t this look just like Oats? An artist in our community does animal portraits, and while this isn’t mine, I love it! 

Cue sad face, arghhh now what?

I worked with another trainer who was just lovely, but she too moved! Man!

So on Friday I rode with Samantha, who owns a really amazing facility in the Saanich Peninsula. It’s gorgeous! I was a bit nervous, I had a stressful day at work, was planning to go to my family’s place for dinner (stressful on its own right), and a new trainer? Plus was feeling anxious about the level (First Level test 3) that I signed up for next, and quite frankly a bit overwhelmed?

Yeah…Not the recipe for success. At this point, I wanted to cancel all of my plans and toss it up and go for a glass of wine at happy hour after work!

But, I sucked it up, and you know what? Things went well. The lesson went super, I was happy with the techniques and tips offered to us, the trainer listened nicely and was very encouraging and positive about Oats and I and our partnership. It felt really cool, and the exercise (a movement in the test I was freaking out about) turned out to work really well! No problems! And the dinner meet-up didn’t have drama, thank god.

Now, I just have to replicate it on the day. But if I don’t? There’s always another show, another day and another ride.

I was fussing about time last night (had a chiropractic appointment, my first ever) and was running late to get to the barn, and trying to figure out when I’d be home, when my husband said to me, instead of my fussing about time: How about you just go and have fun?

He was right. Early, late, middle ground= all that matters is fun. And so, I had my relaxing walk-trot ride around the field last night, in the fading light. The long shadows took over the grass, and for 30 minutes, I didn’t think about anything at all.

And that, friends, is true luxury.

Be the one you love: A good lesson update

Last jumping lesson, I was kind of bemoaning the fact that Oats just didn’t have any ‘oomph’ and consequently was grinding slowly to a halt at some pretty easy fences. I just didn’t have it in me to make a change in those last few strides, even though I knew I had to. So how do I manage this? What can I do to help?

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Nancy took this photo of Oats sharing a moment with her daughter’s pony and Oats’ twin. So cute! 

A few things actually- I had an equine counseling session to determine why my anxiety was stopping me from being more proactive on Monday.

And in my riding lesson last night, I came armed with something a little more – a pair of my ‘motivator’ spurs (they are pretty long). Now a note about Oats and spurs: I could NOT use them on him for years. He would basically send me to the freaking moon. He had a very hard buck and was not afraid to use it! So, I couldn’t use my ‘motivators’ on him, heck I couldn’t even use my regular small spurs on him.

But now, he is at the ripe old age of 17 and more mature. It was time.

So I came into the ride with some backup to my leg – the long spurs. We warmed up in the arena, and I kind of wanted to have a freakout when he got silly about going through the gate to the outdoor field (where we spent time on Wednesday setting up x-c style jumps…so fun!!) but Oats gets weird about the gate, so he was rearing/hopping up, etc.

With that, I wanted to spiral. Shit!!

But Nicole talked me through it, haha and soon we were happily walking and trotting in and out of the arena to the field with no drama. Phew!! Now on to jumping. We warmed up in canter over a small x-rail to a 6-or 7- stride line. The normal Oats would get 7…and that would be a stretch. The new and improved motivated Oats? 6 bang on. Wow!!

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Our ‘x-c’ jumps in the field.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the spurs would have on our ‘forward to the jump’ at all. It was crazy- my legs got tired because instead of squeezing or kicking, I was having to steer with them, and hold them still! They were burning? Oats also had a few ‘squeal!!’ moments when he realized I was using my spurs to get some forward- a few sassy kick outs but nothing bad.

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This one looked weird but rode fine!

And I realized that I was definitely going to have to get used to this ‘new Oats’…He was very forward, but when I was not careful and kicked or squeezed with my spurs too much, he ‘spurted’ forward and would get flat over the fence= rails down. I had to be more careful about maintaining the pace, rather than trying to get ‘more’ pace as I am used to.

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We jumped the other hay bales, not these ones.

All in all, it felt crazy, exciting and kind of thrilling. Who is this new thoroughbred I am riding? It’s Oats! We also went into the field and schooled some of the small x-c jumps and he was awesome, but we also faced the forward =/ flat jump issue and he hardcore ignored some half halts and just slammed a rail. SIGH! Oh well. He was very responsive and I was very impressed. Wow.

As with any new power, comes responsibility. I will only use these for jump lessons under supervision.

Less is more? More is more?

So this week I have felt like a bit of a slacker. Haven’t been riding as much as I wanted to, and haven’t really been running either (weather was horrendous, it’s DARK!, work/social engagements).

But the funny thing, even though I rode Oats less this week- only in my lessons- dressage with Karen Brain on Tuesday, and jumping with Nicole Gibby on Thursday- Oats has been going nicer than ever!

Enough caramel apples?

Enough caramel apples?

True, he still had a minor hissy fit on Tuesday, but compared with how he was last week…Well, way better.

I had planned to ride Monday but was feeling terrible, and kind of wrenched my neck/shoulder on the weekend moving jumps around.

Tuesday was the lesson, and we certainly worked hard!

Wednesday I ended up going out for drinks with a colleague who was visiting from out of town (he works in a different city in Northern BC) and was out until about 8pm. Yes my brain felt fuzzy, similar to having too many Caramel Apple Ciders at Halloween!

Thursday, jumping lesson with Nicole, and he was good! We got a way better flow, he was nicer to me and not such a grouch, and he was playing along really well. We even got our strides in a trot-in gymnastic, similar to the disaster one we were trying last week- with no issues at all! So smooth!

Funny eh? Maybe I ride him too much then! He seemed to get along well with a schedule of 1 on, 1 off days. Something to think about when we come up to horse shows, maybe I would be better off not riding on an intense schedule the days before?

I’m thinking I should play around with his schedule a bit this winter, see if he works better with that sort of schedule.

And for me? Honestly I need the practice, but I need it more in my own head. So, I am going to try to practice ‘mental strength’ and when I am not riding Oats in the evening, I will try to dedicate a few minutes to mental practice. I have to.

Even though it feels awkward and I don’t like it. I’m wondering how to get better at envisioning how I want things to go…Maybe I should watch a video of a jump round of us at a show, and use that to ‘imagine practice’?

"Art"

“Art”

It feels boring and uncomfortable, like my knee exercises. Ha. Oh and like this weirdo sign I saw painted on a wall in Brooklyn, Williamsburg. So weird!~