Part-Time Friends (Jump lesson!)

We have been working on some really interesting jump exercises recently. Every lesson I come in with anticipation and sometimes dread, ha, to see how much Nicole will challenge both Oats and I.

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I am ready to accept the challenge!

This week we worked over 3 bounce x-rails (bounce-bounce-bounce), and then eventually into a course that had some interesting technicalities. Boy did we struggle with the bounces- I almost ATE it when I got left behind, and then bounced in the butt with the saddle and ended up on Oats’ neck. Whoops! Yikes!

Anyways, we also incorporated jumping a small jump, like a rail on the ground basically, on a 10-metre circle. Oats was really good at it, and did it three times in a row even.

Course time: Start on the left rein to the three bounce jumps. Left turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continue left and go across the diagonal, jumping the skinny on an angle. Going right now, jump over three bounce jumps. Right turn at E in a 10-metre circle over the small jump. Continuing right, go over the diagonal jumping the skinny. Continue right over the oxer, landing at ‘H’ and cantering into a ‘tear drop’ shape, jumping the single fence along the long side. Canter left lead into a 20-metre circle, ending the circle by turning in to ‘X’ and jumping straight down the middle, ending at ‘C’.

We aced it!

sort of- ha. But it was a great workout and an excellent challenge for the both of us. Whoop.

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Dressage lesson on Tuesday (my last one for two weeks, as my lesson partner is away and I have other priorities for the next few Tuesdays as well). And we re-visited the ‘diamond of doom’ ha exercise from last week.

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It’s a particularly revealing exercise, because the horses both have absolute meltdowns at some point during it- revealing without mercy the holes in our training…Yikes.

We did it first at walk-trot-walk w/o stirrups, and then I did a few w/o stirrups walk-canter (but then had to take them back) and we did it both reins, in both gaits, and the second time we went to do it off the right rein- you guessed it- HISSY FIT city for both horses.

Oats was like, no. Just no. I am done. I have done this now TWICE and I am OVER IT.

I had to walk, cajole him ‘nicely’ into the exercise while he gnashed his teeth, huffed and puffed, ran backwards and swished his tail and threw his head down. He was pissed! Nevertheless….we persevered. It was ok, I can be calm and just.keep.asking. And wouldn’t you know, he let go of his pissy attitude and started coming around.

The trick here…Is to not buy into drama. And it is soooo tempting, the drama part. He gets all fussy and huffy and I want to get into it too! But, no. Calm, quiet, walking, boring. And eventually the drama goes away by itself, ha.

Karen reminded us that the exercise isn’t always ‘nice’ or perfect but the point of it is to keep doing it, and let it expose your weaknesses. And then don’t overreact when it does- that’s the point! Let it work, and the horses will figure it out- don’t worry about them huffing and fluffing around- they are confused and having a hard time with it. You don’t need to get into it with them.

We ended on a nice canter, and Oats was forgiving by that point, ha. Good pony.

Frozen, freezing, froze

UGH. Mostly just a rant about how terrible the weather was this weekend, AND last night. FREEZING.

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Last week.

I don’t really want to ride, or run, at all in the deep-freeze. Plus we live on the island and it’s never supposed to get this cold?!! What gives. I rode grudgingly on Saturday and it was pretty miserable. Oats was good but I was just…stiff and cold. Went for a run on Saturday after riding and almost died. It was HORRIBLE. I was almost crying it was so miserable. Freezing, rain, toes frozen, face windburned and chapped…UGH.

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Practically this week. wow. 

Sunday was marginally better and I had a fun ride where I got to jump some small jumps with a ground crew (my friend Sarah’s friend Christi was visiting and set for us very nicely) and then she rode Sarah’s horse too! A fun day all around. And I wasn’t bitterly frozen.

I then hoofed it to some hills and ran a decent hill loop (and then wondered why my legs feel so tired today…) and called it quits on exercise. Husband and I ended the evening with a footbath each, with foot soak and peppermint foot lotion. Ha, the things that make you happy in the winter.

Monday I had an equine counselling session, and I rode briefly beforehand. It was FREEZING. I caught my breath going down to the indoor it was so awful. My eyes were watering just walking around. Terrible. I toughed it out for a bit, but just couldn’t warm up. Probably the coldest night I have felt of all the deep freeze nights last week. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

And today? Ran to work and it was pleasantly chilly but I was overdressed (afraid of freezing like Saturday/yesterday) and had to take my hat off I was sweating so much. Harumph.

Tuesday dressage, and no Thur jump lesson this week.

Tell the right story

This week for riding, I have been (lackluster? lacking motivation? ok?) well, all right.

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha). Miss field riding already!

No dressage lesson on Tuesday as I did an equine counseling session instead, and that was actually really good and emotionally helpful. Monday was a good ride, though I am having trouble translating my practice into my lessons! More on that on Thursday…

Thursday, small jumps and a general troubling lack of forward (in the beginning). Also my bad diagonal straightness-to-bend came roaring back and it was like I hadn’t done any practice at all! (I know it takes more than a week but jeesh cut me some slack here, horse!).

Good: Jumps felt and were small. My urge to sit up and pull back to a ‘distance’ I mostly quashed! Oats jumped nicely when we were straighter. I had the strange desire to go again! And again! Who is this person? Haha. I left myself wanting *more*.

Bad: Straightness and bend. EEEK. Forward was kind of a non-thing at first, and Oats was distinctly sassy. One big crop led to one big BUCK! (My trainer was like, great!! Use that energy!!). Stop kicking and flapping with the leg- use the crop instead, every time. This only backfired once when we drifted instead of oh, going straight over the jump and almost ran into a standard. Whoops!

So…I am seeing more bad than good here, but you know? It wasn’t all bad, just like it isn’t always all good.

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.

Labour Day Blues

A great weekend, followed by some intense strangeness and disquiet.

A death, crazy smoke covering the sky, blocking out the sun and raining ash on us, crimes, big and small.

It’s strange! I feel strange and smothered.

But anyways, let’s focus on the things that went right:

  • Rode this weekend (no polo though, was up-Island) and Oats was good! We even jumped the scary ‘skinny brush jump’ out in the field in a blazing hot day.
  • We canoed, probably for the first time in a hundred years for me- and took Gidget! She actually really enjoyed it. 🙂
  • I enjoyed many beers, cocktails and wine- always a good time.
  • We picked plums! Carrots! Beets! Chard!
  • Had happy hour with a good buddy on Friday AND got off work early.
  • Went swimming (floating) at Thetis Lake and hurt my neck paddling. Turns out I am older than I thought. Ha. It still hurts today though, which is not so funny…two days and counting.
  • Rode in a pretty intense dressage lesson last night, despite my sore neck. Not technical, but more like focusing on the elements of ‘lengthen’ strides. It was pretty good!
  • I ran! Lots of running and am happy with how my legs are feeling on the weekends- not so much during the week, they suck then, but hey weekends are awesome!

Here’s to more fun and adventure, despite the oppressive feelings that are threatening to crush us these days. It seriously feels like the apocalypse with this eerie red-grey sky!

Everything is starting to make sense

Had a BUSY weekend. But a good one!

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So, what did I, Oats, Ian and Gidget get up to?

Saturday I had rescheduled my lesson for this week so I rode two jump lessons last week instead- Thur/Sat. Saturday I was out in the field for my ‘brave girl’ jump lessons! And it went really well- though most certainly not perfect, ha.

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Oats was on fire! He was charging off and it surprised the heck out of me. Who replaced my lazy as sin pony with Mr. Hot Pants? Wow. We had to work through some stuff (a few silly stops when I pulled my hands up before the jump, one attempt through the barrel jump that was basically a runout-stop-climb over it, I think he was feeling tired by that point, and one jump we crashed straight through in a -go-no-stop-no-go disagreement…Whoops! We circled around and jumped it fine the next time, so no hard feelings on that one.

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We jumped a lot, ha. It was quite a warm day, so my husband and I then headed straight to Thetis Lake for some good trail running (9km slow) and then we picked up our swimsuits, got changed and went swimming in the lake! How perfect is that?

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In the evening, we went to see a film- The Big Sick and it was pretty good actually.

Sunday I was on the go again- I volunteered as a flagger at the polo tournament (Victoria’s Lt Governor Cup) and it was a scorching day in the sun! I wanted to ride in the slow chukkar but didn’t get added to the tournament, so spent the day volunteering instead. Bummer! But oh well, there will be plenty of opportunities to play coming up.

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It was VERY exciting, and I saw some really crazy plays- full bore gallop ride-offs, some neat backhand goals and some really intense gallop leads. WOW!

Then I hopped back in my car and went to ride Oats (dressage in the indoor, I was feeling completely fried by the sun. Ouch!! Even the next day my face felt tight and hot.). Silly me, too much sun exposure and no hat. I know better than that!

All in all, a good and busy weekend. 🙂