The heart of a dark star: Jump lesson update

Ok, you know how I was saying how amazing my dressage lesson was, and how we were killing it? Picture that, but like..the total opposite in my jump lessons. ARGH. My release was all over the place, wicked right drift, you name it, we were doing it.

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Miss this- the sun, having this outdoor, jumps, everything. This year is turning out to be the worst yet! 

Oats tripped over the grid we were working on and almost face-planted through it. He couldn’t trot or canter a single pole without hitting it, HARD.

It didn’t feel that harmonious and I wanted to fix it, but you know what? It also didn’t feel scary or intimidating, just kind of frustrating. I want to be back where I was, you know? Confidently cantering 2’6-2’9” courses, instead of…face-planting through a tiny grid. HAH.

Oh well, I guess by lesson 3 back, I have not yet gotten it all figured out, that’s for darned sure. SO humbling and painful, ha.

Lessons we learn…not always the ones we intend on.

Also another gripe about the weather: It sucks. It always sucks here. We don’t get summer, apparently…Just wind, rain, sun, wind, rain and more wind. I’m freezing!!

Oh and I had the farrier out (love his new farrier) and Oats was TERRIBLE for her. Sheesh. What a jerkface. AND he tried to run over one of the girls at the barn in a bid to escape his paddock. He can be the biggest brat ever!

Another one bites the dust! (Almost!)

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Clobbered the jump. Lesson to all- don’t jump ahead! 

Had a VERY close call with falling off in my jump lesson yesterday, but you know what? I was proudest of the fact that even though my ass ended up above the saddle on his neck, barely clinging on, I regrouped, got my head straight, and went out and RODE it. Competently and quietly.

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Now that’s more like it! 

Ok it was a little bit ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ but hey, we did it! It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, for both Oats and myself. Maxed out height for us, a triple combination, going downhill into the setting sun. Not easy for us, likely easy for others! Though don’t ask me to ride a whole course after that, ha. I was spent!

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It felt easy when we did it with small jumps,and then sure, put ’em up. GULP! 

The course itself rode really well, I was feeling really glad about it, but I know that I was in my mind starting to get amped about heading to the combination, as it was the final few fences on course.

As we rounded the corner, I started gunning Oats and went to jump up his neck, and he went NOPE! Guess again!

And I had to cling on, haha.

Luckily he is as honest as a summer day, so we gathered ourselves, and headed back out. I’m just really enjoying my horse. I learned the other day that my sister’s rabbit died (peacefully, in her sleep enjoying a snooze in the backyard) and I was surprised about how I almost cried when I read about it. I just can’t imagine losing another animal, and part of me grieves in advance for when I have to make that heartbreaking decision, or see it happen to one of my darling critters.

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I remember when I almost lost Oats to a serious choking accident.

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Even at his worst after that, every day is golden. Lucky to be here. Horse shows, jumps, dressage shows, they’re all bonuses. My chances to ride him, and enjoy him, are what really matter.

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go Oats go!! 

I do still want to work on my bravery, challenge, keeping my butt out of the saddle, improved straightness and leads. So many things! But I feel good and confident that we can do it. He’s my boy.

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So majestic! 

 

Don’t Disconnect (Mr. Oats is a saint)

Had my first jump lesson in the outdoor yesterday, and the weather was GORGEOUS! I was feeling weirdly anxious, I guess because there is always a bit of a learning curve for me to jump in the outdoor?

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This is from last year, almost to the date actually! I remember feeling like I didn’t know how to ride then again either, haha. Oh and this felt like a ‘big’ jump.Hah! 

I start of complaining that I don’t know how to ride, and yesterday I still kind of …didn’t. Ha. Oats was a freaking saint though, somebody nominate this pony! We worked over a course of small jumps and had some good jumps, and some really…ick jumps. I just couldn’t seem to get my eye to synch up with my body? I was feeling backed off and tentative, while Oats was like yeah no, I got this mom! And he’d jump, and I’d get left behind! Shit!

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From last May. 

I think I need to get better about riding more boldly, as he clearly isn’t having the problems that I am! Next lesson I am going to focus more on feeling my ride through my body, and learning to really commit, instead of being backed off.

Makes me feel very humble, haha. I am not great, while my pony is like, yeah sure no problem mom, I got this! What a saint!

Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

Trophy Daughter

Jump lesson update! Again, I wasn’t really sure how things were going to go- I haven’t been doing that well this week, due to a lot of pain from my pulled rib muscle. I went to bed super early on Wednesday, feeling flu-ish and in pain and just generally really crappy.

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It was a very painful week.

Luckily my ribs started feeling much better on Thursday, so my jump lesson was a go! Small motions like trying to pick up barbells/hand weights were painful, but on the whole breathing/sitting/standing and walking things were much better.

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From when we were first back in the indoor…Now my life. Ah well! 

I was tentative in my lesson though- I wanted to jump (obviously!) but was wary about straining my injury. I shouldn’t have worried though, things were fine! Some aches and my ankle  now hurts for no reason, but overall pretty darn good! 🙂

We worked on a very simple course- a line of two jumps (3 strides), oxer on the diagonal, a vertical on the diagonal, and a line of jumps (4 strides, vertical to oxer). It was actually really good! I am LOVING how Oats is moving these days…So nice. I did get an awkward spot to one oxer after I kind of spurred him hard, and he protested, whoops! He was pissy, like hey, I said I AM GOING you jerk!! Ah, sorry Oats!

Bonus- our work on isolating his neck/shoulders in dressage might be paying off! He came the closest to a clean flying lead change in my warm-up than I have *ever* gotten from him. YES!!

Bad note though- he still has his back lumps and one on his butt too. WTF are these?

Always Forever: Jump/ride/life

Man, things got busy and I got into a few solid days of coughing my lungs out and feeling exhausted. I’m seeing the other side now but it was a few very unpleasant days.

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Plus it was GORGEOUS this weekend. What’s not to like??

Thursday was my jump lesson and I was interested in continuing the work on the automatic release that we had started the previous week. So we developed my automatic release by setting up a grid of tiny (like step-poles and 6′ x-rails) bounces, so Oats had go canter-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-out and I had no choice but to close my hip angle and have my hands low, following in the driving rein position.

It was really neat! It took a LOT of repetitions to develop the feel (for my hands and hips), so we went up and down, off the right, off the left, over and over. It did end up being quite aerobic work for Oats, who was huffing and puffing after. Poor guy! Hahha. We then set it up as part of a mini course. Go over the grid, across the diagonal over a small vertical (focusing on maintaining the auto release over it), over a small oxer (ditto) and then back over the grid the other direction.

I was pretty impressed and really felt like I was learning something! Cool hey?
Oats has been really good these past few days. I rode Saturday/Sunday and noticed he had a big lump on his spine though, ugggh. What now?! Horses!! Fortunately he doesn’t seem bothered by it. Hmm. He does have a chiropractic session in a few weeks, see if we can get to the bottom of it…

Anyways, he’s been moving fantastic and just so so good these days. Yes!!

No Stranger: Ride/jump/life

As we wrap up November (tomorrow is Dec 1? Wha??) I’m happy to say this has been a pretty good week! I rode tons which I’m sure Oats didn’t really appreciate, but he did get a lot of good, consistent work. Did poles on Sunday, flatwork on Monday/Tuesday and a jump lesson last night (Thursday). He was so good on Thursday! We even had the oxers go up to 2’6”, and I guess the full course was somewhere around that too? Except for a x-rail on the circle. He was excellent! What a great boy!

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Oats was jumping even better than this (from a few years ago).

I’ve been learning to let go jumping, and I think he is really responding well to it. As well, I’ve been slowly healing my ligament injury that I received back in Oct., and as I build my fitness back up, I think I am better able to respond as a rider, as the rider that Oats needs. It helps that I am not in pain when I ride, and I feel ‘stronger’ and more capable and less awkward and vulnerable.

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Someone is SO getting this for Christmas…

And on the injury front, I went to another rehab session on Thursday and I am very happy to say that I’m almost completely healed! It went well, was less painful that in the past (though I am apparently a huge wimp, because damn, it is still kind of painful?!!) and I’m hearing that now I need one re-check on the shockwave treatment in a month, and other than that, just monitor as needed. 🙂 YESSSS!!!!

So I’m going forward on a maintenance-only schedule, and I will go back if I end up in pain again, but otherwise…It’s all good news. Thank god! And he said I was probably fine to ramp up my activity (though he added in that it sounded like I was probably doing that anyways…Hah, right I was. I have to try!).

So, some good news this week for sure. Feeling good and happy with it! And very pleased with my Oats. What a good pony.

Get your burdens lifted

And the trend of a very ‘meh to bad’ week continues! This morning I found out that my breakfast got thrown out of the work fridge, fuckers. ARGH. At least I have lots of Halloween candy, and yummy pistachio Oreos (and ok, some healthy things like fruit..) to console myself with/eat for breakfast.

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Had a jump lesson last night, and again continuing on the ‘shit week that can’t give me a break’ I was VERY late for it, due to the road I usually take being shut down/alternating 1-way traffic. I had no idea that this was happening, all I knew was that traffic was NOT moving at all and it took me over an hour to get to the barn, arriving just when my lesson was supposed to start. Greeeattt…

Luckily a friend was still there, and she helped rush me through a tack-up job that would make any pit crew proud. ‘Ok go- you get the horse, I’ll get your tack, you pick feet, I’ll brush, you put boots on, I’ll put his saddle on and GO!’ Poor Oats didn’t know what hit him? He was befuddled for sure.

I put my spurs on and headed down to the arena as fast as I could. And my jump lesson, welllll…For the auspicious beginning, it went okay but not great. The first round was actually really lovely! But then we put the jumps up and Oats was so very not pleased. He did one huge buck when I spurred him in front of the first jump, so we had to re-approach. I bungled approaches, wasn’t straight, didn’t release properly, got stuck in the backseat but you know what? I still did it. I wasn’t particularly proud of my ride, but ehhhh given the week I have been having, I’m honestly not surprised.

I had one nice jump at the end, and that’s what I can take away from that ride, ha. Oh and I noticed when I got off Oats that I was using 1 small spur and 1 big spur. No wonder he was nasty and full of attitude when I spurred him, it was the big spur? Hahaha whoops! I was sure in a hurry.

So all in all, he is a good pony 🙂 He got some more caramel corn as a treat! He loves his caramel corn.

My hip still has a bit of lingering pain but it’s improved greatly from where I was on Wednesday (in excruciating pain). I have taken a few days off from running and am sticking to lower-impact training for a few days to help heal wtf is going on in my hip/pelvis. I had x-rays on Wednesday, and am going for a blood test today to rule stuff out (though given how things have improved, I feel like it was muscle-based mostly?).

Ok Friday, this week has been…something interesting…all right. Let’s just end it here, shall we?

Cowichan District Riding Club: Jumper day!

Saturday was jumper day (my classes were all Match the Clock) and boy did we have to get up early! The show started at 8:30 a.m. with cross poles, and I was registered for the 2′ division (wanted to have a warm up) and the 2’3” division, two classes each for a total of four. I figured that was plenty for us, and as it turns out I was right–likely maybe even a bit too much for Oats!

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We got up at around 5:40 a.m. to get to the barn and…Drama. Donato caught his eyelid on something, and injured it. It was purple and swollen and just..NO. Crumbs! We have had some bad luck with this horse show in the fall- last year Oats almost died and I had to cancel our attendance the week before. 😦

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But this year was OUR year, I am proud to say! So we brought Donato with us, even with his bad eyelid, to see if he would improve and my friend hacked him quietly around the warm-up ring. He was a good boy. I was riding in the show solo, as my trainer teaches lessons on Saturdays and couldn’t leave the lessons to come and coach us. No biggie, as the heights are well within my comfort zone and I can’t even remember the last time I rode with a trainer for a dressage show?!

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This jump always rode well, even if I rode it on an angle every time.

We warmed up for the 2′ and Oats was pretty good, a little sluggy but my spurs helped him in the right direction. We went into the 2′ and had some very sloppy jumps where I hesitated and should have made a better decisions over the small jumps, but overall it was fine. Then they announced the ribbons and I was 6th? WTF? Ok, we were going too fast?!! Wha? Since when is Oats too fast? The horse that won trotted the entire course. Wth?

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Anyways, I was pretty flabbergasted by that, ha. My next round at 2′ I vowed to make better decisions and go slower. Kind of 50% of that actually happened, hahaha. My ride was better but again, too fast. ???? 6th for us.

Ok now I was on fire! I was going to fix that time thing, this time for good in the 2’3”. We went in, and were a tad quick but overall a really super round. Again a bit quick, but sooooo close. We had nice big loopy turns, a quiet round. I watched a few others go and they had some troubles- rails (they came down SO EASILY) and some refusals.

We were in 1st! Yeah!!! Lindsay said she knew it was going to happen, haha.

And then for our last round, we BLEW the first jump. Like, Oats stopped, and crawled slowly over it. Just not awake! Ha. It was a very sloppy round and I was tired, he was tired and we should have gone over a few more warm up jumps to wake up before the round. I fully own that, haha. But anyways, our time was much slower and we still placed 2nd?! YAH!

A great day, with my buddies and husband helping me out. Oats was such a good pony!

 

I need what you need: Lesson/ride recaps!

Rode this weekend (it was a long weekend for us, so I took Sunday off go to swimming in the river in Cowichan) and had a BLAST!

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Horse friends at the horse show from the other weekend. Summer is flying by! 

Saturday my friend and I rode in all of the fields – literally went from field to field jumping everything. It was so fun! Even the scarier fences that backed me off recently and last year (I’m looking at you, coop) we jumped. True Oats did stop at the coop once, but he figured it out and I figured out how to ride over the fence, not just to it..HA.

He was a bit silly at the gate again (a theme to be repeated in my lesson on Monday..) but no matter. We jumped a few fences in the other x-c field,including a fan jump that I at first didn’t want to jump (too high!) but then when Brenda set it up to it’s original height, I said sure no problem- and sure enough it went great!

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I have now jumped almost all of the jumps in the fields! 

From there, my friend and I rode over to yet another field and jumped a small bank going upwards. At first Oats spooked at it- WHA? What is THAT! And then he followed big brother Donato up the bank and then we did it again without Donato. Good boy Oats! 🙂

We then went into the big hay field and cantered up the hill. Oats took this to mean he can bulge his right shoulder and drag me to the gate, so we then had the opportunity to do a bit more schooling, you little jerk…

All in all, a really fun and encouraging ride. I tried things I probably never would have done without my friend there riding with me. Yes!

Sunday we took off from riding to go swimming up-Island, and then I had a dressage lesson on Sunday. The theme? Back to basics, equitation-science style. It was pretty eye opening and I came away with some things to practice (transitions using split-rein, spiraling in and out using on my hands, and turns w/o using leg, just hands). Oats was pretty good until we cooled out, and then he immediately got sticky about the gate and started threatening to rear.

I, having dealt with this, oh every single week or so? Tossed down my water bottle and started getting ready for battle. BUT here’s the switch- no battle needed. Annika asked what the problem was (Oats threatening to rear at the gate, up to the left and won’t go right) and so she said move his shoulder right then. No panic, kicking frantically, nothing. Just…right. He pops up again? No big. Go right. Up again? Easy- go right. Up again? Go right.

By taking the fuss and frantic-ness out of the behaviour, Oats gave up and went right, ha. But he is a persistent little bugger, and when I decided I was going to cool out in the arena, he immediately started trying to rear and go left again. Ah, this again. Ok. Pop up? Go right. Then forward. Stop and pop up? Go right, and then forward.

We must have done this for oh, 15 minutes or so. But guess what? I won! We then proceeded to walk calmly, and coolly, around the arena for as long as I wanted and for as long as I asked for. I went back to the gate, ‘tempted’ him to misbehave there a few times and he was fine. Darn this habit though, it is annoying!

Horses- always simple, never easy.