Oh, always killin’ it

I had my dressage lesson back (and on Thursdays, what the heck? Thursdays are usually jump lessons) and it was REALLY good. After COVID-19, all of our schedules got all jumbled up and mixed around. I had to move my jump lesson to Saturdays so that we could try and get our dressage trainer on 1 day, since she was not available on Fridays anymore. Couple that with my weird tension-building anxiety and I really felt like I was in need of some really basic building blocks, ridewise.

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See, this is NOT the frame I want- I want him to be ‘stretching’ down more, not so compressed with his head and neck. So, always more to do! And this is from last summer.

I wanted to be able to work with contact without getting rigid with my hands and arms. Easier said than done, haha. BUT I feel like we are really getting somewhere, a better place where I can ride and maintain contact without turning into stone, hahah.

So it felt very positive. It is a challenge, but given Oats’ advanced age, I need to start working him in a more responsible, and responsive way. I really appreciate the opportunity to modify my ride, and I have the time and headspace to make it happen. Oh, and a supportive trainer too! Can’t forget that. It’s kind of nice to not focus on horse shows right now, because I feel like this foundational work is really important and something I want to develop further for my personal riding education. šŸ™‚ Go Oats!

Except that rotten pony rolled in my saddle AGAIN!! I was raking on Wednesday and Boom!!! He went down so fast heĀ wrenched my damn arm and neck pretty hard. ARGHH he is sooo cheeky.

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 wentĀ well!Ā  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.

What more could a girl want?

That’s right, yesterday was my birthday! The big 3-1 for me~

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Celebrating at the barn with a big delicious cake! Thanks Sarah C, you’re the best!

In all honesty, things I have been focusing on overshadowed my b-day- my lesson with Jane Stone on Thursday that I was alternately looking forward to and worried about, my race on Saturday, Rock the Shores on Sunday, and oh, my big upcoming international trip.

So yeah, lots going on eh?

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More presents than I deserve!

But regardless, I had a GREAT birthday! (well, except for the having to be at work part. That part sucked). I hauled ass home from work, ran my dog out, threw on my riding clothes, wolfed down a Clif Bar and immediately got stuck in traffic for 45 minutes.Ā SIGH.

I asked to have our semi-private lesson in the big field when I learned that the girls had so nicely put the jumps out there. A chance to work on my weaker skills at home? Even though I had previously fallen off at the Derby jumping in the field? SURE! Let’s do it. I knew it would be a challenge for me, because of my anxieties.

As it turns out, all my worries and fears were…for naught! Poof!

Jane was very understanding about what I have going on, and we worked it, man! I was really enjoying the lesson, we tried jumping a cavaletti to warm up, normal at first, and then some terrain-work, and then set to land flat and head slightly downhill. Success!

And then we started working on a small course, and it went super fantastic. Oats was so keen, I was loving it. We had a few bobbles- getting straight to a fence and him getting disunited, but it was fine and we worked with it.

I got a lot of confidence out of the lesson and felt so positive about it. Go us! Jane was very complimentary about our horses (who were perfect) and my position~ yay!!

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My second birthday cake- made by my husband! Menagerie on top provided by my sister.

And the cherry on top? A birthday cake at the barn accompanied by good friends and a Palm Bay. Yum!!! I even had more cake at home baked by my husband, who make an amazing cake that I immediately wanted to eat more of, even though I knew it would make me sick….

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It was a good night.

Yep I had cake and more cake with wine instead of dinner last night. So sue me, it’s my birthday!!! šŸ™‚

30

That’s right- today is my 30th birthday~

Let the good times roll!

Let the good times roll!

I still feel like I’m 21, so it feels weird to be almost a decade older. They are right- the years do go by MUCH faster once you’re past 20 years old.

What have I learned, now that I’m 30? Some good things and some bad.

  • Hangovers are practically nuclear now. Sorry body and brain!
  • No relationship is a guarantee. Not your boyfriend, your horse, your friends or even your parents marriage.
  • Education is overrated, but still something you have to check off the box for. Do it.
  • Jobs are not a guarantee of happiness or success, and jobs are also VERY hard to get. Good ones even more so.
  • Nobody has the right to treat you poorly. Don’t stand for it, and don’t stand by for it.
  • Kindness gives back more than anything. Weirdly, the more you spend, the better off you will be for it, if it’s for the right reasons.
  • Save well. Don’t be an idiot.
  • Cars don’t last forever.
  • Travel is always worth the money. You don’t get time back, you can always make money back.
  • Always have pets. The money, sadness, heartbreak, angst and worry are worth it.

So, what am I doing now that I’m 30? Ha, nothing. Work today and my dressage lesson tonight.

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This past weekend though, I spent with some good friends camping on the beach in Port Renfrew. We had a blast, it was smoking hot, and it reminded me of all the good times I’ve had over the years with them. Made me feel a bit nostalgic, actually!

A no-pants kind of weekend

A no-pants kind of weekend

And then I rode Oats on Sunday and it was HOT HOT HOT! We rode in the indoor- and I had to chase a deer out who was cooling his heels in the hog fuel, and then cooled out outdoors to escape the choking dust. Small victory: Got Oats to go through the gate to the outdoor while I was on his back! He can be weird about gates and is quite gate-sour, so it took a bit of trying, but I held my ‘zen’ and we got through fine.

The ocean is still cold!

The ocean is still cold!

Monday I rode him out in the field (small field, not gallop field) and worked on finding my distance from a very relaxed canter/two point position. Bad habits still abound: Sitting the last stride, hinging off my knee instead of pushing my foot forward, and elbows out. Still, it was really fun and he was very cooperative!

Cathartic

I’m not sure if it’s SAD or what (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but I sometimes feel like I was riding a real summer ‘high’ and now I’m falling into a fall ‘low’…

I’m riding through the tough stuff, but I find myself over sensitive to even the most basic things- small corrections at work? Stew and steam for awhile, longer than you should even be thinking about it… Had a shitty ride? Obsess over it. Plot, plan, scheme, whatever. I don’t think I should be necessarily feeling this way, but I am.

SAD-lights necessary? Quite possibly!

I had a good lesson yesterday actually. I was feeling a bit crabby (see above unreasonable responses to normal work situations) but I felt so hyper-focused in my lesson that it all kind of just…melted away… That’s not to say it was easy- it wasn’t- Oats tried to intimidate me out of asking what I was asking, but I didn’t let him, and we achieved some mini-breakthroughs. Phew!

I found this on the Chronicle of the Horse web forum, and it really resonated with me. I love jumping, riding, showing, etc. but it really takes it out of me. Sometimes it’s all I can do to show up! And this is something I LOVE!

A lot of amateurs spend a great deal of their riding time pushed to their limits. It is a great privilege and stroke of luck (which could be taken away by a bad fall) if you are able to canter around serenely well within your own comfort zone. Many more people spend a lot of timeĀ perseveringĀ and continuing to show up to the barn despite the fact that, a lot of time when they are on a horse, they are afraid. Sure, I get to come to the barn and not spend 90% of my lessons battling fear or anxiety, but this is not true for everyone. They are scared but they are DOING IT ANYWAY.

Half the time they would NEVER be doing what you are asking them to do of their own accord or without you there, but because they want to learn to ride worse than they are afraid they put essentially blind faith in you, rustle their brass ones together, and still try to do everything their brain is screaming at them to for the love of God not do. I feel the same way when one of my trainers put the jumps up two more and wider for the nth time, but because he is expert at pushing people to the limit but never over, the scope of my limits expand in his presence.

(Meanwhile, I feel the same way rarely, when the jumps have exceeded a certain size, and those moments serve to really reinforce my respect for people who feel that way most of the time, about stuff like ‘cantering’, and still want to ride worse than they are afraid. That takes BALLS and tremendous determination, and I am not sure I would continue with the sport if I had to always ride at my limit. So I really respect those who do. You cannot be brave if you are not afraid in the first place.)

It’s crazy. So why do we do it in the first place? Because when I’m feeling blah, having a blah day, feeling crabby and out of sorts…Going to the barn and having a super-focused ride that leaves me feeling cathartic is what I need the most. Even if I am on the edge of comfort (and over that edge) for most of it. I deal with fear a lot, and extreme performance anxiety- to the point where I let it take over for me and I’m drifting around on-course, or tuning out in a dressage ride.

I hope to be ‘more present’ jumping and riding. That’s all I can hope for sometimes!