Devil like me: Dressage lesson recap!

This has been a crazy week. Crazy. Ugh.

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Next week is looking equally nuts. Great…

Anyways, enough of my griping. Oats and I had our semi-private dressage lesson last night and it went fairly well, considering he was stiff as all hell when I was warming up. Seriously, he was so stiff and moving laterally that he almost fell over cantering a circle. Yeesh…

He is on Previcoxx right now to see if it helps with any arthritic changes/stiffness but it’s too soon to really measure. The biggest issue we have is when it is pouring rain, Oats sits in his shelter all day= not moving around and getting stiffer and more ouchy. It was HAMMERING rain yesterday, moonsoon-style for most of the day…

And boy did he feel it. So our exercises last night were focused on bending/flexing some moderate lateral work and more bending. YAY! …It was ok, Oats was moving better and better, he had one sassy buck-jump when I tapped him in the trot leg-yield. His response: NO!!

…then ok.

I am happy to say it did work to loosen up his stiff joints, poor old guy.

He was sweaty after. The countdown is on to his next clip job… C’mon c’mon!

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Is it too much to ask? Dressage recap!

So my dressage semi-private lessons with Oats have been pretty good, suspiciously good lately in fact. So it was only a matter of time before Oats had a big throw-down hissyfit ‘I don’t wanna’ lesson, and last night was kind of it!

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Oats gets a haircut…

Luckily, he is also 17 and can’t buck as hard as he used to! Phew!

We worked a fairly difficult exercise- turn off the short end, and leg-yield at the trot. This will eventually turn into leg-yield and transition within the leg yield, and back to the gait. So we did trot-walk-trot (HARD), and then trot-canter and then canter-trot. Oats was fairly amenable on one rein- left rein to right leg yield and was kind of a disaster on the other!

Oh Oats!

He was like, umm…no. Instead of our regularly scheduled transition, he would LEAP instead of moving sideways. Like, actually just jumping in the air. Greeeat….

This escalated a bit into a leap-buck, but like I said he is getting older so his bucks didn’t really unseat me, thank god. Ha.

This lesson is one that we had done last year, but without the transitions. And the leg-yield was enough of a brain-melter for both horses! We could barely even get the leg-yielding so being able to ask just a ‘little bit more’ was a stretch for Oats, and he was learning (slowly and kind of nastily) but learning.

So there is progress, albeit very slow and kind of unpleasant for me when Oats really gets going. Oh well, I can manage! And it is nice to see how the exercise develops from one year to the next. Oats is also clipped, so I didn’t have to spend forever and a day cooling him out. YESSSS!

Canter leg-yields?!

Yesss! We are back in action with our regularly scheduled dressage lesson on Tuesday. We practiced leg-yields with correct rider posture (elbows in at your side, leg yield using the LEG and not pulling/opening the rein. If the leg yield didn’t happen, that was ok. It just meant you had to sharpen up the leg aid more next time).

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And Oats was so good! I was quite pleased with him, the little goofball.

We worked our way up to canter leg yields, and while these were a tad more ‘fraught’ with challenge, it still went quite well and I was pleased with with his effort, sense of humour and ability.

The leg yield left-right was tricky and he got fairly heavy on the right rein at the canter, which made the leg yield harder to get, with less ‘jump’ at the canter and more ‘dragging freight-train’ but still, he was definitely trying. One thing we learned was that to keep the horse packaged up at the canter, you need leg and hand and some very minor bend, but you shouldn’t feel like they will fall apart if you let it go- they should carry themselves at some point. You don’t want the ‘canter canter canter SPLAT!’ feeling.

Also I learned that a slight bend is important because without it, Oats gets confused and wants to swap leads. Fair enough, horse!

The leg yield right-left at the canter went quite well! 🙂

Good boy Oats, I was so glad to have my guy back in action doing some good dressage work with minor hissy-fits.

Mr. Oats steps up his game

Had a dressage lesson yesterday, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not- my trainer was later than usual, so late that my lesson partner went up to the barn to look for her? Turns out she was stuck in the porta-potty…that had no toilet paper. Oooops!

Long story short she is now missing 1 sock. HAHAH.

Anyways, after a bit of a delayed start we moved on to our lesson- teaching the horses to come ‘over their backs’ and work on ‘self carriage’. It was a VERY physical lesson, I was sweating buckets (almost wrote- swearing-buckets, ha) and Oats really stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge.

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Not quite in the outdoor yet, but an example of Oats charging…

It was astoundingly good, for me, because Oats was trying so hard. No sass (except for at the canter on the right lead, a few sassy kick-outs) no fussing that much, no angry hopping up and down. He was amazing!! We achieved the contact, trot and pace we needed. His trot had so much loft I was getting tossed up.

I loved it! It was exhausting but soooo good. Wow, that pony really impressed me.

He came over his back, and we were able to ‘test’ it by bringing the trot down to a quiet trot, and then ramping it back up to a ‘big’ trot, and so forth. Then we went to the canter (it was not as good) and the back to the walk. At the walk, we played. Experimented with lateral work, turning without moving my hands, big walk, little walk, sideways walk, more lateral work…

Oats really got it!

What a superstar pony.

I was just overjoyed with the lesson (and completely exhausted,  Oats was covered in sweat). He is totally in the groove! 🙂

What makes a good man?

It felt like I hadn’t had a solid dressage lesson in forever! We had a break due to a change in my fellow rider’s schedule, so yesterday I was quite interested in getting back on the dressage train.

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Totally us right now. So, where are the next Olympics?

And you know what? It was a really good, solid and comprehensive lesson. We first worked on some modified quarter-turn on the haunches at each corner, focusing on getting the horse to move off your leg instead of ‘pulling’ around the turn. Then, we focused on getting the turn ‘all the way around’ instead of just a quarter. I had to expand my circle because Oats wanted to pivot off the hind end, instead of turning his shoulders more.

It was actually way harder than it looked or than I thought it was going to be. And we sucked at it on the left rein, yeesh. Oh well!

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Next we worked on positioning for Travers lateral work with actually some really solid progress at the walk. When we moved up to trot it was…interesting. Some things I learned and need to remind myself: Lower is always good, so allow Oats to reach/stretch his neck down when he feels resistant. If it seems awkward and too hard, break it down. Move off leg for one side. Then ask for the inside bend on the other side.

Make it really clear what you are asking: Bend. Move off leg. One at a time. THEN try combining the pieces, relaxing the pressure as you ask. Give-take, give-take.

We even got ‘some’ positioning at the trot (which was described to be as a banana shape, the horse forms a banana and you travel that way haha), which surprised me as it was kind of tricky for Oats to understand and I wasn’t expecting him to get it in the lesson. Go us!! He wanted to stretch hardcore after that and got fussy. To be expected, and actually his attitude towards the whole lesson was great- he wasn’t having any hissy fits, hopping up and down, or anything! WOW! I think that was the first time I’ve been able to ask for lateral work of such comprehensiveness without some squawking from Oats.

Go Oats go! Some really great efforts and grown up work from the pony. 🙂

Arctic

The weather lately has been HORRIBLE. Insane blasting winds (70km/h), freezing temps with a windchill of -8, and I am so over it. We almost never get weather like this?!

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This is where I live. Photo courtesy of the Times Colonist.

Anyways, it’s been making the trek out to the barn incredibly difficult. I know I was going through a rough patch before Xmas, and felt very unmotivated and found it hard to do anything. Run? Nope. Ride? In the dark, freezing cold? Nope. Shower? Nope. Gym? Nope. Work? Yes, but super angrily. Dinner? Nope. Breakfast? Nope…All I wanted to do was sit on the couch wrapped in a quilt and mope, for some reason. Oh and binge-eat as much shitty chocolate as I could choke down in one sitting. Yeah, a winning move.

Part of me fears that weird cold-situational depression is coming back with the freezing temperatures. UGH. So over it.

I had a good learning session with my equine counselor on Monday during the day, and I was still so frozen my ride after sucked. I couldn’t wait to get off, I was so cold my leg muscles were spasming. Fun fun! My pony was a good boy though, and with the wind blasting like a lunatic, he only had one spook.

Tuesday I had my dressage lesson and true to form, the weather was out of control bad. Blasting wind? Tree branches everywhere? Feral cats fighting in a tree? Screech owls having it out? Boy oh boy we had it all!

To be honest, the wild and wooly weather made it hard to focus on my lesson and actually hard to hear what my trainer was saying. It was SO windy. And effing freezing. It was a very intense lesson, funny enough not in the riding ‘sense’ but in the effort sense. Oats was a SAINT though. Didn’t bat an eye at all the craziness going on around him, and trust me he had ample opportunity to be a total dickhead about it. Cold, windy, lots of stuff blowing around hitting the arena= batshit horses. Luckily he was good as gold~

We worked on some lateral work at the walk, and then trot work getting them to stretch over their back in bend, and counter-bend, and then back to the bend, and counter-bend. It was a really good quality lesson, and I felt Oats get much looser by the end of it. Me on the other hand, pretty stiff!

When I got home, I was so cold I couldn’t warm up. I ended up going to sleep in a hoodie, and socks, and a third quilt on my bed (Hudson’s Bay wool blanket, so not a lightweight one either!). I took off the socks and hoodie, but the Bay blanket stayed, which is unheard of for me, I am a super hot sleeper and run warm all the time. I was FROZEN.

So over it!

 

Scary but good?

After coming home yesterday, freezing my butt off and roosting on the couch after a mini-intense junk food binge (seriously, I am good like 85% of the time and then eat chocolate/chips/whatever I can grab my hands on like an insane madwoman…) I did NOT want to go to my dressage lesson.

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Oats working on his buddy Rylin’s nose.

Ian reminded me how I didn’t want to lesson last week either, but when I went I was happy I had gone. I still didn’t want to go.

It was dark, I was cold, stuffed to the gills on cheap chocolate and food shame.

I grudgingly dragged myself off the couch, discarded the blanket I was huddled under, and began the arduous task of piling on the layers to go to my lesson. I resented every step of the way, from boiling water to drink tea during my lesson, to putting on my shabby, falling apart UGG boots to go to the barn. Traffic was bad, and it made me even grouchier.

I got to the barn and it was freezing. All the cross-ties were taken up, which is fine, but it’s so DARK in the stalls if I have to tack up there, so I was crabby about that too. Can’t you play ponies after school or something? Not during a time I have to tack up at night, in the freezing cold, in a big rush because I am SUPER LATE from horrendous traffic? SHEESUSH.

[I am now combining sheesh with jeezus]

Oh well, we tacked up, and my trainer was super late too, hahah.

It seemed breathtakingly cold to me- my eyes were watering, my nose running, my face freezing. My lesson-mate was riding in a vest and a t-shirt? She is totally insane!?

Oats warmed up really well actually. Moving out a lot better than I thought he would, even with the bitter cold. Hm…Our trainer recommended a lot of walk work for our lesson, to avoid stressing the horses in the cold and reducing our cool-out time. We didn’t want the horses getting too worked up and sweaty. Lateral work it is! YAy….

Oh wait, last time I did that it sucked.

Except yesterday’s lesson was different. We were very proactive, and Oats was totally on-board, despite my grouchy and miserable nature. He was super with me, and focused. We worked on developing a forward walk, to ‘quick steps’ to keeping their heads high and ‘engaged’. We then worked on haunches-in at the walk, to straighten them up, to walk-canter transitions. We took that ‘up’ canter to a haunches-in at the canter on the longside. The canter felt WEIRD?! So ..up? And leapy? Oats was all confuzzled for awhile, not sure what I wanted- lead changes?

And the leaping and confusion scared the bejesus out of both of us. We are not used to animation in the canter, and all of a sudden we had so much power we didn’t know what to do with it. Funny eh?

Oats slowly started figuring out what I wanted, and wonder of wonders, we did even end up getting some haunches-in at the canter, it was easier to the left, and not quite there on the right. But hey, it was a really neat feeling and left me wanting more more more! Good pony.

Ian was right- I did have a good ride and it was super cool to experience.