No one does it like you

Wow, so like a week of silence… Life got too busy, work kind of blew up in my face and I couldn’t deal with 1 more thing, at all for the past two weeks. I am hopefully coming out the other end of it, but yeahhh… Not fun. At all.

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Love my boy

Also my allergies went completely off the rails and friends, I am suffering. Congested, incredible sinus pain, itchy upper palate, allergic coughing, eyes swelling shut and so itchy that I can’t even deal…Oh boy, I love it. Add this to work and I spent most of the week absolutely miserable.

But there is also the good: Weather! We had a crazy turnaround and had highs of 19-20 degrees this week. It felt incredible and sadly we are back to seasonal (still pretty decent) but on Wednesday it was downright HOT! Woah! I loved it. 🙂

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I went to the beach- 20 degrees, can you believe it? 

Horses! Oats has been a total superstar!! Love my boy. We had a gymnastics jump lesson last Thursday (I hate gymnastics, so it was …Not that inspired, ha.) and then we had a really fun jump course on Saturday, with all sorts of crazy jumps! Not high, but definitely getting more consistent at the 2’6” -ish level heights. We also had a cavaletti jump at ‘A’ that really caught us out a few times, as well as a 1-ft circle jump that I biffed HARD by staring at it, hahaha. It was fun though!!

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Got myself a latte at a new coffee shop nearby: Pretty eh?

Sunday I went on a run with a work friend, and then went riding later. Oats has been really good, although I’m noticing his ‘halt’ has turned back into ‘halt and then start flying backwards…’ so we’re working through that this week. Lovely…It’s not a new issue for us, it crops up about once or twice a year, but kind of always bugs me. Oh horses!

This week was totally psycho with work, and by Thursday I was Over.IT. and tired. So tired. I didn’t really want to go have a jump lesson, but I know that when I go, I’m happier. More ‘me’ if that makes sense? So off I went! My allergies were a bit better yesterday, I still can’t wear eye makeup but yeah anyways. My jump lesson was really good! We worked over a small course, with the rocks as a single jump down the centre-line. Hahahha it was hilarious, Oats deked out and went around it the first time, crushing the traffic cone that was designed to guide us. HAHAH silly pony!

We had a blast! He was jumping really well by the end (he did get a bit flat at first, and kind of ‘blahhhhed’ over the first jump) but we had fun and it felt good later! He also kind of tried to half-jump over the rocks and jump off to the side. Oh pony. He’s such a good boy though, and it was a cool and fun lesson. See? I always do feel glad that I went and jumped, even though I spent my week feeling itchy, miserable, tired and stressed out.

My boy is always there for me. 🙂

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The Dream is Over

Of jumping lessons in the outdoors at night for me, sadly. We attempted to finish up my last lesson in the outdoor last night, and it got too dark, plus the footing was quite deep and Oats was struggling a bit in it. He had his shoes removed, and his trot was good but his canter felt ‘mushy’ like I just didn’t have enough horse there for jumping.

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Back to blurry screengrabs instead of nice crisp shots. Ah well…Video thanks to Nicole.

Compared with our fab jump lesson last night, it was…disappointing. But, jumping can’t be fantastic every time, can it? And we still had a good focused warm-up, and went straight into a fairly decent course outdoors, where I was quite pleased with Oats’ effort. Jumps stayed small.

It got dark, and we zipped into the indoor to wrap up our jumps. We worked over a few small jumps, and then over a course. I even demanded Nicole raise the jumps! (ok, demanded is a strong word. I suggested it! Go me!). And it was…very sloppy. Ha. Yikes my eq was definitely sucking. My leg (right leg) was a windshield wiper. My upper body? Throw at the horse! Eeeghhh.

In my defense, I have been feeling like crap over past few weeks (on and off since last week). I felt terrible yesterday, grinding fatigue, out of breath, sore throat, and my stomach was killing me with zero appetite. I literally had this feeling like if I stopped moving I would probably collapse and not be able to get back up again. So I kept running, moving, doing chores, getting dressed, going to riding and anytime I stopped moving, I was literally wavering on my feet. Lovely. Anyways, it sucked.

Add on to that my crushing insomnia and you have a recipe for a fabulous week…

But I rallied for my jump lesson! I had this sense that Oats was feeling similarly to me, ha. He was asleep on his feet in his shelter when I came to get him to tack up. Anyways, I am really hoping for some sleep tonight, and Oats is also getting the night off in preparation for my next dressage lesson on Friday. Fingers crossed we are all feeling better by then!!

So far no sore throat today, but stomach ache remains and my eyes are so watery from fatigue it looks like I have been crying. Ahhh.

Back on track and back to the grind.

Christmas holidays came and went and I was blissfully away for TWO whole weeks of it!! It was very worth it, and I had a great holiday. Highlights include…

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Barn Christmas party featuring the best Secret Santa ever!!

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Taking the horses up island to Hi Point to take part in the Christmas by donation Jump Day for Cowichan Therapy horses, and the Hoof ‘n’ Woof that I had a BLAST at!

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Going to Ucluelet for a little downtime with my husband and dog, and we enjoyed a cool wood cabin, wood-fired pizza, wine, a hike and some running trails.

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A massage at Bear Mountain’s Sante Spa. Worth it!!

A movie- we had free tickets to go see Molly’s Game. Recommend, even if it was a bit long for my liking. All movies are though, ha.

Christmas eve at my in-laws farm in Cobble Hill featuring- SNOW! That’s right, a white Christmas on the island. We never get that!

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Christmas day party at my parents, where I was the designated driver- went well, better than I thought it would actually.

Jump lesson with Oats- pretty fun!

Dressage lesson with Oats- toughhhh workout!

Working equitation- ease of handling- clinic with Oats. We had a great time and Oats was really good at it! I want to do more of this!! Everyone was really interested in the Working Equitation after we posted a video of it to my Facebook.

Hiking at East Sooke Park- New Years day, and a fun activity to do with the husband and dog.

Seafood for New Years Eve- a classic!!

And I loved all of my presents, I got some great ones even if my husband went wayy overboard on my gifts this year (Blundstone Boots, cool horsey socks, Back On Track knee brace, winter gloves, a neat book) I got everything I could have possibly wanted. I even have my SAD lamp plugged in at work now.

 

Here’s to being here

Dressage lesson on Tuesday and it went quite well actually. I have noticing Oats being a bit more stiff in recent months, with no real turnout, so we discussed that and a few approaches to it. That also led to our lesson being focused on teaching the horses to go to ‘long and low’ while still moving out into the bridle.

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Oats did struggle with that, he shifts between wanting to snatch at the bridle and root, or raising his head up. We definitely had a few things to work out, that’s for sure! He was quite sweaty after, with white foam on his neck–we had a GREAT warmup this week, with temperatures reaching 12 deg?! And remember last week at -9? I was frozen? Yes it feels like another country right now 🙂

Wednesday I took off for both of us, as our jump lesson has now moved to…Thursday!

I used to always ride on Thursday, so it felt more normal to join the Thursday night jump crew. We worked on another grid (where I knew what I was supposed to be doing and yet couldn’t seem to make my body, you know, DO it..) My hands pulled up, instead of releasing down -shoot- and my traitor legs shot backwards. We also had one totally blasted turn that I made that Oats slipped, his legs went out from under him and he scrambled to recover. SHIT!

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2 steps forward, 1 step back.

I definitely was feeling it, this weird rusty, ‘out of practice’ feeling when I was jumping. Which is odd, since I haven’t really taken a lot of time off from it? Maybe from coursework? Or maybe the bitter cold took more out of me than I thought.

We worked on the grid, and then to a small course w/tiny little jumps. It was funny, I felt anxious again and declared I was NOT going to do it again! (not sure why I do this, it’s definitely anxiety-related and it happens when I feel a bit shakier or tired), but Nicole just laughed, let me walk it off for a few minutes, and then I was ready to go again! Hahahah.

So yes, I squashed that ‘fear’ part of me, breathed, calmed down, and went and rode the entire course w/the grid again. And you know what? It wasn’t perfect but it went perfectly fine. Sure, I was feeling wobbly and a bit unbalanced but you know what? I did it anyways! Go me!

So to sum up- Oats was great, very forgiving. It wasn’t perfect and sure didn’t ride lovely, but I conquered by fear and decided to do it again and it was totally ok. Baby steps.

May all your war stories be old stories

I was saying last night that whenever people ask me these days how Oats is, I don’t really have anything to say! He’s…fine? Good? Good ol’ Oats?

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This was three years ago! I miss summer- even if I was wearing a sweater during July…

It was kind of a funny lament, because really, he’s been so good, drama-free for ages now. I’m happy with how our jumping is coming along, our two horse shows in the fall went fine, and so?

So, I have to share my old war stories instead! I say well, this pony you see me riding with no reins? WELL he used to….hahah. And my trainer and friend laughed, and said be glad your war stories are OLD war stories and still not happening! It’s true! 🙂

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Another blast from the past.

We had a good lesson last night, and it was a very interesting exercise. Two diagonal lines, an x-rail then 3 strides to a small vertical. Then on the other diagonal, a bounce to three strides to a bounce.

The trick was getting Oats FORWARD during the first 3-stride line, and then maintaining that through the corner to the first bounce, and then GO! to the second bounce. I was kind of concerned how it was going to go- was I going to eat it through the bounce? Wibble-wobble through the first line?

It sure wasn’t perfect, and wow I lost my reins more than once through the two bounces set three strides apart, but Oats was golden!! He started getting more engaged through the exercise, and was powering himself through the bounce line really nicely. He just took care of me through it, I didn’t even have to steer, or really have reins at all.

Good pony!

It was quite a tiring exercise for me, but I was quite proud of how Oats was handling it. He was eating up those strides (for him this will always be a challenge).

The jumps were teeny-tiny but it’s more how the exercise really made us focus on a few things- forward, not pulling to a spot, no chipping in, straightness, going through a corner straight/forward. Yes!

People with nothing to hide don’t hide.

So, I’m pleased to say this week (and I can say this confidently, being Friday now) didn’t suck like last week.

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Mr. Oats as ‘himself’ gearing up for Halloween! 

Though, probably due to the stress, tension and injuries of last week, I have been battling an irritating on-again-off-again mild sickness? I feel tired, have trouble sleeping, sore/swollen throat and muscle/joint aches, my knee in particular giving me a hard time this week, swollen and aching.

And then the next day, I’ll feel pretty good! Just a bit tired? And then the day after I’ll feel lousy again…What gives, body?

Anyways, had a jump lesson with Oats yesterday and started off with my usual complaint: Not enough GO! Oats took this criticism under consideration though, and responded well to me by counter-offering a big gallop to the fences. We actually screwed up the striding in the tight indoor because I was wobbling between too much GO and not managing the distances well? What, when did this start happening? I had to balance and bring him back a little bit to get a softer, kinder canter and take-off spot. Now that is unusual.

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We had a surprisingly nice trot warm-up fence (something I practiced with Vicki on Monday, after complaining heartily about how much I hate trot fences haha) and then moved on from the trot fence to a small course of x-rails, then a course of 2′ twice I think, and then a course that consisted mostly of 2’3”!!

And the weirdest thing? They ALL looked small. Like, tiny. Nicole was saying our last course was at 2’3” and I kind of…didn’t believe her. My brain was like, no these are tiny, my body was like, you’re still “jumping a course” so start freaking out a bit more, person! This is what you’re good at, freaking out!! Even though, in reality, I was like yawnn…These are no big deal. (I was yawning a lot last night- see weird random sickness days).

So, I’m struggling a little bit to get both my brain/body connected and on the same page. It’s funny to me that the jumps are starting to look small, and ride like no biggie–but I find I am still very tempted to get anxious and start worrying, physically.

We did have 1 stop at a small fence, but that was 100% pilot error on my part–I just couldn’t seem to figure out what I was doing, haha. We re-approached with a more organized, smaller and softer canter rather than pushing for the gallop, and Oats hopped over no problem. I think he just wanted me to get with the program?

Overall, I have to assume that watching my rounds would look sooo boring to the average horseperson, and I’m glad for it.

Keeping in a comfort zone?

As I wrapped up my jumping lesson with Oats yesterday, I remarked about how much more relaxed I was feeling about jumping. I still get nervous and anticipatory, but it’s a lot more fun for me now, I can focus without feeling extremely fearful, and I’m able to get more done- ie. Oats straighter to the jump, better simple lead changes, bending (still kind of working on this one..).

Firefighters working on the blaze at the Equitable Life Insurance Building in below-freezing weather, January 9, 1912.

Firefighters working on the blaze at the Equitable Life Insurance Building in below-freezing weather, January 9, 1912. Loved this pic.

I think it’s because, funny enough, I’ve been staying very firmly at a height, jump-wise, that is laughably small. Yeah, like I am still the x-rail queen. But you know what? That heart-pounding, gasping and freezing and ‘out of body’ feeling is slowly going away. I feel more confident, my distances are ALL working out, and I feel like every Thursday, I AM doing a jump lesson, instead of wanting to wimp out instead.

It’s a good feeling. It does make me feel strange that even after all this time, I am jumping Oats over fences small enough to walk over, but you know what? Once I took the pressure of forcing myself to jump higher off, I enjoyed myself WAY MORE.

Jumping, any height, is still challenging. But it’s a challenge that I am happy to do, not one that makes me sweaty with fear.

My next goal is to do a spring show at two feet and not lose my mind completely. I think I can do it!

Oh and if I’m saying jumping is all rainbows and butterflies, I still hate doing gymnastics. UGH hate them. So, we are running through a gymnastic line in every lesson. *love it*….ha.

AND I have been revisiting my mental imagery while I walk to work. I have had all really solid, good jumping lessons this winter season. I want to continue this positive flow, and if I can really focus on it while I let my mind otherwise wander, it’s a good thing!