Hey my man

Not much of a weekend update for me- sick, coughing a lot and a friends night out where we were ALL coughing a lot! Yes, we were the ‘plague table’ out, that’s for sure. I did go on a pretty fun run where I mercifully wasn’t coughing my lungs out or having my nose running down my face, but then the other part of the weekend involved mostly feeling exhausted, coughing, having my nose run incessantly… Yeah, you get the idea. Blah.

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With the Phyllis ‘driving’ rein.

Oats also was good on Saturday but strong on the left and draggy- not wanting to bring himself ‘up’ on the left canter lead. And on Sunday he could tell my energy wasn’t good, so he was a bit of a dingus (my fault- I was exhausted and thought I could fake it. Newsflash- you can’t ever fake it with horses!!!). We still hopped over a pole and a small cavaletti I had set up to practice different release types, and I noticed that with the Phyllis (driving) rein my chicken-wing elbows weren’t so bad, but when I went to trot them without stirrups, the ‘chicken-wings’ came back with a vengeance.

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And with the non-driving rein release… I like being able to do these comparisons, actually! 

Clearly, my chicken wing release (or non-release, let’s face it) comes from a place of feeling vulnerable. Hm… Food for thought.

This week I am just hoping to not feel like warmed-over death. Spent 10 minutes coughing up stuff this AM, soooo not feeling ready for today. Ugh!!

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You’ll never get to heaven: Jump lesson recap!

Had my regular jump lesson last night, and not gonna lie, I was dragging ass all day. Turns out I’m probably getting sick, dammit! Had crushing waves of exhaustion in the afternoon and just felt super blahh. I wasn’t really looking forward to my lesson, which bummed me out because I was looking forward to riding Oats on a regular schedule so badly!

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Oats says oxers are no biggie! Wish it was summer…

But, I sucked it up and went anyways. And I am so glad that I did. Oats, while not perfect, was a great ‘trier’ and showed me that we can indeed be competent jumpers together even after he has a week off from riding and lessons. Yes!!! And with an audience too! We worked over a circle jump exercise with a x-rail and Oats wasn’t really respecting it…He was making big ‘bids’ at it, to my great annoyance. My legs felt weak and tired, so I was relying more strongly on my heel to anchor, rather than my thigh. Whoops!

We worked on more of a half-halt after kind of a disastrous long spot to a small vertical that almost ended up with Oats’ nose in the dirt. Yikes! And I asked for it! He jumped really flat, and almost bailed. Sheesh.

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Jumping a fan jump in the summer- so fun! We literally never got the right spot to it, haha. 

So, I smartened up and rode a better, more ‘bouncy’ canter to the fences rather than asking him for a dumb flat long spot. We then moved to a small course that ended up being quite ‘loopy’ with lots of changing directions and…dun dun dun…OXERS! All the jumps (3) out of 5 were oxers. Gulp?! We started small and then rode the course at 2’6”.

But you know what? We dug deep and just …did it! I felt slightly anxious but more tired, and so I was just ok with riding and not thinking that much, hahah. Oats did get fairly surprised by one jump that went up a bigger oxer, and was like, whaa??? But he figured it out and was a good boy! We did get some awkward spots, nobody’s perfect and I was getting tired, as was Oats. However there were no big crash-and-burns, we didn’t give up, and I just felt so glad with how my pony was, and grateful to have him on my side.

I missed him soooo much, and I just love riding him, being around him. I’m so lucky with my Oats!

Awake and pretty much sober

Funny song title, I loved it.

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Sometimes I look competent?

This week was luckily quite short, and I didn’t ride Monday (did an equine counselling session for the aforementioend family drama, Oats got to cruise around on his own), rode Tuesday (he was ok? Now I can’t remember what we did!) and had a jumping lesson last night.

The lesson went well but had some disappointments for me- I can’t seem to let.go.no.matter.what?!! Argh. Oats is not a pony that needs me on his face all the time, or ever pretty much. He’s push-button, not strong, not fast (hah) and not anything requiring a death grip on the reins. So, why?

Why indeed!

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Miss this show, he was so good! 

We worked over a trot grid (3 X trot bounce jumps, two strides to a small oxer) and damn if I didn’t find it hard to let go of his face for the two strides to the oxer. Whyyyy? He jumped it perfectly fine, and I was surprised every time.

We then worked over a small course with a circle jump, a 4-stride line (rode well each time actually, some bobbles coming in but overall quite nice) and the grid.

I was a tad anxious (see- feeling vulnerable about letting go of his face…) but he was jumping quite nicely and very reasonably, so what is my deal? The jumps went up, not high but the outside line was definitely a bit higher than previous and Oats had zero issues with it.

I did sort of improve on the ‘let go of his face’ but let’s be honest- I struggle with feeling vulnerable doing that! It’s a battle to let my body go and be ok with it, I am that strong of a rider and it’s not hard for me to do, soooo why the resistance??

Oh well, overall I was very pleased with Oats’ ‘can-do’ attitude. Good pony 🙂

 

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.

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!