You Won’t: Jump lesson update!

I’ve had kind of a mixed week- some personal-life drama (ughh) but in other news, my ligament injury seems to be making a real turnaround with treatment, so I am VERY pleased with that!! Man, it hopped on the healing train once I started treatment. Part of me is kicking myself for not doing this sooner, but hey you learn the hard way sometimes?!

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Cuddlebugs. Photo courtesy of Katie H. 

Jump lesson last night and we were in a real cold snap. Oats warmed up very stiffly, like he was running with a flat tire, ughh. Kind of like how I begin any race, as my husband said 😉

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Photo courtesy of Katie H.

So, we had to manage his stiffness in the cold, and kind of ‘work up’ to the level we needed. Luckily, after cantering and then going over some x-rails, he was moving much more smoothly. Yes! We then worked on a very basic, looping hunter-style course with 1 3-stride line in it, focusing on letting my hands go forward instead of taking back (god, this was harder than it sounds…very vulnerable position for me) no matter the distance. The problem being: When I see a distance, things are awesome! When I don’t, things get distinctly…less awesome. Meaning, they suck, I pull back or try to manage him with my hands and/or upper body. Not great.

So, I just had to ‘let go’ a little more. Mixed success on that, but overall I was fairly pleased with Oats’ effort and my effort to be a little more vulnerable and willing to get go, and also to work through the ‘push hands forward’ and take them back when I need to steer, and let them go again on my way to the jump. Riding- always simple, never easy.

Also having to rely more on my legs vs hands as a support for the jump. Hahahha yeah, this remains a work in progress… All in all, a good lesson and a good ride.

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Soon to be: Jump lesson recap~

I was on a pretty decent roll jumping in my lessons, until yesterday I suddenly wasn’t.

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Rocking it at CDRC! 

I have been managing muscle pain (pulled something in my abdomen/hip area, and trying to deal with the pain for 2 weeks now…) and was taking muscle relaxers on doctor’s orders and I just felt fuzzy, tired and kind of ‘eh’ last night. My lesson started well, we worked through a small grid, took a break and went back to it, until BOOM! Oats jumped the oxer of the grid really nicely, and took 1 canter stride, and fell to his knees!

Yikes!

I luckily was upright already, and landed well on my feet in the stirrups so I was able to stay balanced and pull Oats’ head up. He was able to regain his footing and get up again, none the worse for wear. Scared the shit out of me though, he’s never done that before, poor guy!

It really rattled me, no joke. We continued to ride the gymnastic fine after that (well, until I decided I was done tuning in and kind of lost focus…leading Oats to crawl over the last jump). But the damage was done- Oats can take a jump, but I was just having a lot of trouble staying focused and never felt like we really ‘clicked in’ last night, you know? That led to a lot of ‘stop and climb’ jumps, ughhhhh…So awkward.

I wanted to fuss and sulk about my shitty ride, but a friend who was watching came up to me after the lesson and was like, ‘hey you guys are a great team!’ And I was incredulous. You’re saying that after watching us today? Wha? It sucked!

And she said, yeah it wasn’t perfect, but you get going and kept trying, and that was pretty good! So, in perspective it wasn’t 100% shitty, it was just a non-clicking day. We have them, I guess, and so do horses! Like the sports psychologist says: You had a fantastic ride, won everything, great job- move on. You had a bad ride, things sucked and went hell, too bad. Move on.

It doesn’t matter, because it’s already in the past.

Heartstruck: Riding/jump updates!

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My Halloween wreath went up. I love it!!

This week hasn’t been overly busy with rides, on Monday I had an equine counselling session, in which we recapped life events (great!!) and worked a bit on my increasingly iffy two-point. Why the windmill leg? Tipping forward? And why does it get highlighted so much in the indoor? All good questions…So I lengthened my stirrups 1 hole (gasp!) and am going to proceed with that for awhile.

Tuesday I just hacked Oats around, playing with counter-canter positioning. Bad- me leaning forward to get it. Good- him actually trying!

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Poor Gidget waiting wistfully for us to get back to the car at the barn.

Thursday was our jump lesson and man, I miss jumping in the outdoor! Oats was a bit balky/stuck behind my leg, so I had a few ‘reminders’ via my crop behind my leg. I found that when he sucks back around the corners- and there are a lot of them in the indoor- I want to tip forward, sending my leg swinging back. Interesting. This was also highlighted in the video my trainer took last week too.

So, all good things to work on. We focused primarily on small jumps, with related distances (forward -3 or quieter 4, I obviously went for the 4 each time, b/c Oats was Not. Having. It. for forward yesterday). I was actually pretty happy, even though we definitely biffed a few lines/jumps. Ha.

We did have to go re-do a line b/c he should have been picking up the right lead (he was doing it correctly ALL lesson, he never ever used to voluntarily pick up the right lead, even if we were circling a jump on the right. Yeah!! And so when we re-did the bending line, I focused harder on trying to land right (didn’t happen) but he did try to get a flying lead in 3 strides (didn’t- was disunited) but we landed and he DID pick up the right lead. Progress!

So, not better than ever but butter than we used to be. And that is ok! The weather has been fabulous, and I am feeling better this week for sure. 🙂

Know Better Learn Faster: Jump Lesson!

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All my swag from the past weekend! 

I was both looking forward to and feeling anxious about my jump lesson on Thursday. I was really happy with how the horse show went, (coachless! but with some hand-holding) and wondering how I could keep the good vibes rolling!

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Remember this from a few weeks ago? Make it almost completely dark out..and then do it. Coop set in the middle of the arena, rail at same height!

Sometimes this means I shut down, because I would rather not mess up a good thing than try and have it kind of blow up in my face. Not a good impulse and not one I am proud of. (see- why I can never play darts again…).

BUT I am learning – year by year- that I can try, and fail, and still have a lot of fun and learn tons. It’s not a one-and-done thing! I can keep going! 🙂 We were back in the outdoor to grasp the last bit of remaining daylight, and it was the last semi-private I will have (gonna miss those!).

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Oxer on diagonal, so festive! (Photo by Nicole).

We worked over a small x-rail, and then the x-rail to a small vertical both working off the diagonal. Oats was…unenthusiastic. I felt like the jumps needed to be higher to get his focus!!  Mine too maybe? He blahhhhed over the jumps. I was kind of annoyed, but like, with some fire in my belly.

Let’s DO THIS

Coursetime: Not complicated, but would require me to sit up (after a stop going into the one outside line, hahahah I decided I would jump first and Oats was like yeah, no.). And key? LEG LEG LEG even on the slow fade 3-strides to the jump. Not just sitting there like a stuffed dummy.

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This ‘Halloween’ line ended up being an oxer set further back. So fun! (Photo by Nicole).

And how did the course ride? Pretty well! The bending line gave me some trouble both times, but overall quite nicely. I got some good distances, not too much ‘stop and crawl’ over the fences, remembered to use my legs in the last 3 strides even! There were a lot of oxers, traditionally something that wigs me out, but I felt pretty good last night.

Course was: vertical on diagonal, oxer on diagonal, ride the outside line in 7, back to the first vertical on the diagonal bending line to 1st fence in outside line, oxer on second outside line to oxer on diagonal (rode well!), ride along and then turn right across the arena to jump the coop, turn left and ride the outside line of 2X oxers (7 the first time, 6 the second. Oats was on FIRE!).

We had 1 more stop the second time we rode the course, honestly it felt like Oats didn’t see the second rail set up in the oxer until the last minute- we bumped the fences up 1 hole and added an oxer. It was really dark out by this point. Re-approached and he was a-ok. In fact, the was golden.

What a great, kickass ride!

 

Hard but worth it

I had a sports psychologist session with the great Dave Freeze yesterday, right before my riding lesson and it was really insightful. Weirdly I cried on and off the entire time, but I didn’t feel sad- I felt pretty good. And my face didn’t get all red and hot like real tears, I felt fine, no puffy swollen eyes, nothing. It was just emotion, coming out like how it wanted to!

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Whee! Jump jump. From a lesson a few weeks ago.

(As a non-crier, it felt weird).

Anyways, it was a lot to go through and I felt kind of wrung out by the end, but I have some valuable tools to work with and the best part- I was able to head straight over to my lesson after and put it into practice!

Basically to sum it up all I have to do for riding:

  1. Show up
  2. Give it my best
  3. Manage my mistakes
  4. Learn
  5. Look for high powered FUN!

Easy right? Ha! But yes some good things to work on.

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Go Oats go!

I went into my lesson feeling pretty good! Almost immediately I had some ‘external bubble’ things to deal with- it was freezing, so I was shivering and had to grab my gross old barn jacket to wear. No problem, addressed.

Then, Oats was really draggy and non-interested in my warmup. High headed, kind of frustrating, slow off the leg, reins not there, spooky and generally not paying attention. Spooks? Over and done with. Letting it go.

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Funny thing, this was a very awkward jump. Looks fine in a still eh?

Lazy? Deal, don’t dwell.

I was actually pretty good at managing my emotions well in the warm-up, whereas I know I wanted to get frustrated. But you know what? Regardless of how he warms up, I can manage MY emotions- I can’t manage his. So, I will do that!

Anyways, the warm up for the course was good for the first half, and then the second half I got left behind a few times, Oats was hesitant and backed off. No problem. I will go around and try it again! See how that goes. (better).

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Jumping the coop. It is so pretty!

Course time- I was a bit nervous- see the backed-off part…But I thought, hey let’s just see how this goes? I make a mistake, I manage it. No biggie. And you know what? It rode really nicely! Not perfect (HAH) but pretty darn good.

We did the course once, and I had some fleeting thoughts of doing it again, but decided against it. I have to minds of this. Sarah A and Sarah B.

Sarah A: You are a chicken! Why didn’t you ride it again? It went so well, what are you afraid of, screwing it up??

Sarah B: The course went well and you managed all your minor errors. Nice work. Why don’t we take that good feeling home and know that you can be kinder to yourself on a day that you already did a lot of personal work? There is always a next time to ride a good course.

See where I am going with this? It’s tough. I want to be Sarah B all the time 🙂 And if I was, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this! Moving on…ha.

Calling you from my dreams: Ride recaps!

Now where did I leave off? Oh yeah, my friend and I had another fun bomb around the x-c fields jump session, AND I even got her to take media! We jumped everything a bunch of times and it was great. Until…

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Thanks to Lindsay for the media. Not a high jump but a wider one!

We went to the small field that is super rutted and full of holes to jump the coop, and I was sitting watching her jump and BLAM! Oats spooked, and spun so fast I didn’t even have time to formulate 1 thought- and bang, I was on the ground. And damn, did it hurt! The field has had no rain, and the ground feels like freaking concrete right now.

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Jumping the coop (it looks bigger in person, I swear) right after I fell off.

I fell hard on my right hip, but the twisting motion meant my left hip/pelvis really hurt the most. I hopped back on and jumped the jumps in the field, and then we were finished with that. Walking back up the hill to the barn sucked though, I was in world of hurt and limping a bit. I thought I could maybe power through and still go running but nope…my back, pelvis, neck and shoulders were just killing me.

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We could never figure out the right distance to this. He kept stopping! Jerk! 

So I had to take the next few days off running (just walking was hard enough) and I rode on the Sunday before my holiday but very gingerly and was quite sore. Damn!

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Oh well, by the time my holidays came the pain had mostly lifted and I am back to riding (rode in the ring on Saturday and in the field Sunday) and running like normal. I do have a massage therapy appointment tomorrow afternoon to help with the pelvic/hip tightness.

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Horses!!

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Ha. So awkward.

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.