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.

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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.

In trouble for good: Horse show recap!

It’s been a funny time- I have shown more dressage this past year than in my entire life, and you know what? I have been feeling VERY competent in it (mostly, ha). So when I had my first jumping show in a year, I kind of expected it to go, well? We attended the Cedar Vista Schooling Series jumper show, in the 2’3” match the clock jumper division.

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From a million years ago (2014 actually!). At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Well, it went, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t the consistent, competent and thoughtfully-ridden show of my dressage shows past. I still felt very nervous and anxious, and I found it quite difficult to ‘connect’ in with my dear horse. That led to me ‘checking out’ for the first, oh, three jumps on course until we got to jump 4, and I was able to connect back and actually RIDE my pony. That led to some truly sloppy rails. SIGH! And some very backed-off fences.

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At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Would I have preferred to click in for jump 1? YES! But was I at least glad I noticed I wasn’t checked in, and was able to do it for jump 4? Also YES! So, win some, lose some.

I’m going through a process here, and it is not as easy as I thought it would be.

Funny I don’t have this in dressage- jumping just has some ‘extra’ in it that leads to my brain hamsters falling off their wheels! I will have to work hard to manage it. I have some ideas to practice tomorrow in my jump lesson, so I am glad that I have a plan that I trust, to work towards.

Also, I had a really fantastic ride in the field the day before the show (Saturday) when I had my husband come and take a video of a small course of 9 fences I strung together. It was just so awesome, flowing, smooth, happy and positive. I wish all my rides could feel that nice! 🙂

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.

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Don’t you know what regret looks like?

It looks like the road not taken- but actually, things have been going fairly swimmingly on my end!

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Photo courtesy of Bonita Stables- this is at Fairlawn at the awards lunch last weekend. Beauty day eh?

Monday I had an equine counseling session, and it was kind of challenging in an emotional way, you know? But, something was coming up, and I knew I needed it.

Tuesday I had a casual hack with a friend and it was exactly what I needed. Oats and I were chill, things were just flowing- although I was noticing more in the outdoor arena that he seemed quite ouchy and footsore- particularly when we moved up to canter. I didn’t ride for that long due to that. Fortunately, he was getting front shoes on Wednesday, just in time for my jumping lesson on Thursday!

Thursday we warmed up and his canter felt…strange. Like he was coming up more, and pounding on the sand with his hooves? He felt unsure about his new kicks, and his canter reflected this- he lost impulsion throughout the corners and broke pretty much EVERY time in the top-left hand corner. He was also quite looky and had some spooks in the ‘scary corner’ where we had a gymnastic grid set up. Goof!!

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We had a grid (canter-in bounce grid, two bounces to two-two-strides. Ha, try saying that twice!!). We MAJORLY fumbled the grid more than a few times, like whoa. I don’t know how to ride kind of fumbles. Ahhhh…. Anyways. We schooled a faux-ditch with barrels and it went pretty well. Ditches and weird-looking jumps are no big for Oats.

Course time! Lots of jumps and some interesting features- a ‘rock’ skinny *(ooh) and the gymnastic, the faux-ditch, barrels, some natural planks, and a few oxers. I was like kind of wanting to freak out, but also felt like…Ok. We got this.

And we cantered it, and it went pretty well. Not fabulous- my eye was majorly off and I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, hahah. Oh well.

Then a few jumps went up, and we did it again! First jump, good, second, ok too and then the grid…Yikes. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to collect Oats for the grid while we were IN the grid. Newsflash- bad idea!! He crashed through the x-rail, and then stopped for a poop, ha.

We regrouped and I approached it with a better idea of wtf I was doing. Whoops, sorry pony!

Rest of the course was ok, I was still plagued with a pretty lousy ‘eye’ for any and all jumps, but Oats was cool with it so on we went! I am, however, having trouble making decisions in a line- for example, collecting his canter for the grid BEFORE the grid (???), riding a quieter 6 instead of kind of just riding 5+? and trying to collect or take back the last two strides before the jump in the line. I need to be making these decisions much sooner in my ride.

Argh, get with the program, me!

Ah, well. At least my position was better this week, with me ‘going with it’ for my terrible eye and lack of decisions.

 

Trap for young players: Jump lesson update!

Another jump lesson in the outdoor arena for me yesterday! I started off in a MUCH better mood than last week (though I have one lingering concern that has been eating my sleep this week, unfortunately).

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Then I kind of felt cranky at our lousy canter- shuffle and was like, ‘I can’t ride out here! Why do I constantly feel like a beginner?’ Crabbing…and Nicole laughed and was like, of course you can ride. Deal with it!

And you know what? We had some ugly spots, and some ‘blah’ moments and I dealt with each and every one of them. We worked over a small grid (bounce to 1-stride to a 2-stride) and he was sluggy, and I had to ‘woman up’ to get the strides I wanted. And I did. And he got it!

Then we moved on to a small course. None of the jumps were intimidating, but we were jumping several small oxers…So…yeah. This is where trusting my body needed to come in. No matter what, my body is strong, capable and extremely fit. So what is the big deal? Oats is a safe horse and my body will protect me, it knows exactly what to do. One thing I am fairly proud of- we had a line of jumps with seven ‘quiet’ strides in between. The striding would be perfect if I left Oats alone to do the quiet strides, not pushing, nagging, pumping, etc. It’s harder to do for me than you think! But, both times the 7 rode great, very quiet and met the oxer at the end with no issues.

I need to trust my physical ability more.

With that in mind, we raised a few jumps (not many, ha) and I went in and immediately flubbed the first fence. Whoops! I regrouped and came back to it, and things went well!  We had 1 kind of ugly jump to the bigger oxer (2’6” I guess?) and finished the course, and I pointed to it and said that one kind of freaked me out! And Nicole was like, ok sure pick up canter and go jump it right now, one-handed.

WTF?

And I did it! And it went perfectly. Rode it out with my right hand on the reins and my left hand free-wheeling, hahah.

I trusted my body to do the right thing, and it went totally fine. Now, I just need to do that a million times. Deal with the ugly, awkward, discombobulated and know I will be fine, because I know how to do it.

Easy eh? Ha.