Falling into pieces

I honestly haven’t been updating much because this week has just been incredibly stressful and drama-filled and it’s been too much to deal with. I think I am coming out the other end but yowza, what a shitty week. I don’t even really want to go over it on my blog because I feel slightly traumatized by it and it’s just…no. Ugh.

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This is actually a screengrab from a few weeks ago, when I had a rib injury. 

On happier news, I have been having some lovely jump lessons on old Oats! Had a great lesson last week, and this week- while still having some bobbles, ugly jumps and such, I’m coming out of my rides just feeling OK, smooth, calmer. You know? Feeling good, totally fine and leveled out. This is in stark contrast to my other, more anxiety-filled lessons that had such highs and lows that I came out of my lessons feeling like I’d escaped?! With what, my life? Hah. The jagged peaks and valley lows aren’t really there anymore. I am learning to ride leveled-out, calmer and just…with a lot less anxiety and emotion attached to the lesson.

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Go Oats! 

Are they perfect? HAH no. Are they good? Yes. Am I having fun and learning new things, re-learning old things, working on my position, enjoying what my pony is capable of, and appreciating it? YES!

Even yesterday, after leaving work crying, sick animals and just…fraught, I wasn’t in a good mood to ride. I was grouchy, tired, upset and stressed. I complained about it to my friend at the barn and she said- I know exactly how you’re feeling, I had that this week too. But you ride, have your lesson, and you’ll be smiling before you know it! You will always be glad you did.

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And you know what? She was 100% right.

(She is also taking lessons on old Oats on Tuesdays, and I’m LOVING the glowing updates she gives me on how much of a professional he is being for her, and a gentleman. YAY!)

I rode, screwed up, fixed it, made new mistakes, and kept going. And it was good!

We worked over a small trot-in grid, x-rail to a small oxer. We then built it into a small course, where we went off course a few times, haaah. Clearly my mind wasn’t really with it last night. But was that a big deal? Nope! Just regroup and keep going. 🙂

We are now coursing 2’6” fairly confidently and feeling good about it. Now that is priceless.

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Always Forever: Jump/ride/life

Man, things got busy and I got into a few solid days of coughing my lungs out and feeling exhausted. I’m seeing the other side now but it was a few very unpleasant days.

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Plus it was GORGEOUS this weekend. What’s not to like??

Thursday was my jump lesson and I was interested in continuing the work on the automatic release that we had started the previous week. So we developed my automatic release by setting up a grid of tiny (like step-poles and 6′ x-rails) bounces, so Oats had go canter-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-out and I had no choice but to close my hip angle and have my hands low, following in the driving rein position.

It was really neat! It took a LOT of repetitions to develop the feel (for my hands and hips), so we went up and down, off the right, off the left, over and over. It did end up being quite aerobic work for Oats, who was huffing and puffing after. Poor guy! Hahha. We then set it up as part of a mini course. Go over the grid, across the diagonal over a small vertical (focusing on maintaining the auto release over it), over a small oxer (ditto) and then back over the grid the other direction.

I was pretty impressed and really felt like I was learning something! Cool hey?
Oats has been really good these past few days. I rode Saturday/Sunday and noticed he had a big lump on his spine though, ugggh. What now?! Horses!! Fortunately he doesn’t seem bothered by it. Hmm. He does have a chiropractic session in a few weeks, see if we can get to the bottom of it…

Anyways, he’s been moving fantastic and just so so good these days. Yes!!

How did I get through the day? Weekend recap!

Wow, things were busy this weekend, and yet it felt like a pretty quiet weekend because we didn’t have any races, or horse shows, or concerts or music festivals! What we did have was…

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I was moving jumps around on Saturday and Oats had to help inspect.

Dressage lesson on Friday night: Very nice lesson, quite positive and we worked over walk and trot poles, focusing on the transition canter- trot through the poles, to keep the horses from dragging us downward in the transition. I quite enjoyed that and felt like it kept Oats focused too.

Saturday: Ian had a climbing competition, so I rode in the morning, went for a run in the afternoon and we went together to watch the pros compete in the Highball bouldering competition. It was very impressive! They also had $2 beer/cider, which I appreciated very much 😉

Sunday: Had the best of intentions to get up and run before my Sea Cider outing and that…Didn’t happen. I was dragging ass all week and generally feeling run down, so I slept in and when I woke up I thought it was about 8 a.m.- NOPE! It was 9:50 a.m.! Yikes and I was meeting the girls at the barn for Sea Cider at 11 a.m. Time to hustle!

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Gidget came to work today after my dentist appointment. She’s the boss!

We had a lovely time at Sea Cider- great food, awesome company and some delicious cider samples. What’s not to like?!

Afterwards I decided that even though I was stuffed full of good food and cider, I would not let it take over my whole Sunday. Oats and I went for a ride indoors and worked on some canter- leg yields, with moderate success. I decided to also try moving from leg yield to shoulder-fore in case he wanted to get ‘clever’ and start anticipating the movements…Good ride!

Home time and a run later, gagg was feeling full!

Monday: Chiropractic appointment after work and a ride on ol’ Oaty.

This time I wanted to ride outside but it was just too wet and sloppy. Sighhh, back to the indoors. We worked on the canter transitions- big canter- little canter- in the style that our new dressage trainer showed us (by using trot transitions to train the horse to anticipate a ‘lessening’ in the canter rather than you having to make the transition happen, you let them ‘learn it’ instead. It works by cantering, 1 step trot, back to canter, 1 step trot, back to canter…And then canter, think about trot, your body makes some of the same motions, but you don’t go to trot. Just… a smaller canter, and then back to bigger canter. Thinking TROT but not cuing for it really helps!

It was great but man Oats was steaming after! Clip time already? It has been very warm this fall.

Time to come home: Crazy horse show weekend! Dressage day.

This past weekend Oats and I participated in the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper and dressage days (Sat jumpers, Sun dressage). Wow, I am tired! And I bet Oats is too, ha.

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I really like doing these shows because they are very reasonable, cost-wise and the people running them  (all volunteers) are lovely people and offer a very relaxed atmosphere. That being said, I was a bit anxious for dressage day as I was trying my hand at a level above where I normally show (Level 1 test 3, as opposed to just trying Level 1 test 1). Actually I am pretty new to Level 1 in general! Not an expert here!

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We warmed up and Oats was okay…Kind of dragging me around a bit, and getting strong and kind of downhill. My hauler and friend was really helpful in getting me to find a way to fix it, instead of just getting annoyed, haha.

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We went in for Test 1 and it went okay but it was a little rougher, above the bit than I would have liked. Our first lengthen was pretty weak too. Oh well!

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Then it was time for Test 3 and before it, when we were hanging out in the warm up ring, I watched a horse literally rear its rider off. Scared the daylights out of me! I find that kind of behaviour really triggering, and rattles me to see it. The rider was fine, but landed pretty darn hard. It was very frightening, but they rode a nice test regardless.

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Anndd overbent…

Test 3 I felt physically ‘rode’ better than Test 1, but it did not score as well, the judge was definitely tougher and expecting more from us (which we kind of didn’t have at this point, but hey it was a fun experience!).  The canter loops went went well until Oats kind of had a minor hissy fit about it and broke the second loop. Shit!

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Our geometry was off, but that’s a work in progress too, and the judge was very kind and commented that if we fix that, our scores will be MUCH higher. There is hope for us after all! 🙂

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Leg yield- a bit resistant. 

So this is how we scored (and I am happy with it, I know we have lots to work on), but I feel grateful to have this experience with Oats.

First Level test 1: 65% for first place

First Level Test 3: 63% for third place.

None too shabby!

Thanks again to my dear husband for braving an entire weekend of horse showing, my hauler and friend, and my other friend who’s horse had to cancel because he hurt his eye. Shoot! Bad luck.

Never Have Enough

Had an equine counseling session, and we did it in the field! I love riding in the field and it’s been so warm lately, ahhhhh my favourite.

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A few years ago- riding in the field is my favourite! 

Some things we identified- using coping mechanisms like teeth clenching, hands in fists, and biting my tongue are older coping mechanisms (numbing actions) that became a part of me- without me really noticing or knowing. I still use these when I am managing stress, and they have a part to play- to a point. Now, knowing I use these coping mechanisms is important and also the fact that I have them isn’t bad or anything- I just have to recognize that I am using them, and be ok with it!

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Last year- wheee! 

It was a very interesting session, and I know that I will probably have a few more while I manage some anxiety that bubbles up. It’s funny, because things are actually really good right now- which is apparently the best time to manage these little ‘blips’ that come up on the surface.

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And in the meantime? Just be ok with it, and understand that it’s a process to work though. Ah, life! Like horses, like anything- something that requires effort, haha.

We Got It Coming: Jump lesson!

Back to the indoor doesn’t have to be boring or draggy- in fact, it’s quickly becoming an opportunity to sharpen/refine our skills. Of particular importance, my bad habits of letting Oats motorbike around turns when we are jumping and kind of just ‘give up’. No longer!! This time I am GOING to fix that problem (five years in the making, but who’s counting?!).

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Man!

But yes, we worked on a particularly challenging course last night. Jump height-wise…Nothing impressive. But, we had a circle jump (hard for us), a skinny, some small barrels, a two-stride, and straightness!! to work on.

And it wasn’t easy, or very neat. But, we did improve throughout the ride, which is kind of what I’m going for. Things I am learning and hoping to work on this winter:

  • Fixing my corners, no more motorbiking/forgetting to ride/sitting up!
  • No pulling his head to the left over the jump!
  • No nagging with my leg. Let him relax, then GO for the jump, then relax.
  • Leg stays still.
  • Upper body stays still. Elbows are in shoulders are up.
  • Hands release, shoulders don’t release.
  • Adjustability in the canter.
  • No sitting back when I don’t see a distance and pulling up with my hands. Go with the flow.
  • Both reins used, with contact. This is a tough one for me, as I tend to want to only use one rein with the other flopping uselessly. I get afraid that too much contact will slow him down!

Sooo yeah, lots to work on. But, I did quite enjoy my ride 🙂

Cross-country schooling at High Point!

Sadly I have no real photos but trust me- we did it on Saturday and it went really well! The last time Oats and I were X-C schooling was oh, two years ago? The course was set up at Avalon, but I figured it was time to give it another try since Avalon has since sold their course to High Point, who are very enthusiastic about starting up their own venue. Thank god, is all I can say! I appreciate new blood in the equine field, particularly when they seem like pretty cool people 🙂

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A few girls went up last Monday and I was so jealous. Getting the day off to go up was NOT going to happen though, so I let it go…Until another girl on Thursday mentioned she was looking for a partner to head up on Saturday. A weekend? Sold!!

Ugh it was early though, yikes. Freezing out too. Nevertheless, we packed up the horses, our gear and took them up island to Duncan/Glenora, and my first time at High Point. We met with the trainer (Jane Stone) who was running the x-c lesson for us, and two other riders (all much  more competent than Oats and me, ohhh well).

We started in the smaller field that was jam-packed with jumps! So many jumps! And a big hill too. Oats was jazzed and a little frazzled, he couldn’t figure out wtf was going on. He was game for a few logs, but then when we turned to jump the small green house from the other direction, he quit – HARD. He couldn’t figure out what was going on?!

We just turned and re-approached from the direction he was comfortable with, no biggie.

Went up and down the hill and worked a small course of logs (me) big jumps (everyone else). And then it was time to tackle the big field! Oats was hot to trot on the path out to the big field, but settled really nicely and finally figured out the game- no refusals here for this guy!

Bad news- our path and precision need a TON of work. We drifted, hardcore, and it was bad. Good news- no refusals and Oats jumped really nicely! He really got the game by this point and was really game. 🙂

I was so proud of him, it made up for him being kind of a dink about going into the water (he wouldn’t, and then he did, and then when I wanted to go back in he started getting light, threatening to rear. Oh Oats!).

A great day, and a very good experience courtesy of my hauling buddy (who had a fantastic session on her horse, VERY impressive) and trainer Jane Stone, who made it very doable and approachable even for Oats when he was confuzzled.