Can’t get enough of myself- dressage update

So I signed up for a dressage show (yes it’s been a few years, yiikes) so I figured in my lesson last night, we should work on some elements of the tests. HUMBLING. Wow.

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What Oats would rather be doing. Also, why isn’t it summer anymore here? Godammit!

It was a tough, tough ride and I had to get ‘real’ with Oats, who thought he could outlast me. He was wrong! But I got tired, bigtime haha. He fussed, he fought, he threw a small hissy fit, we had to go back to the walk to confirm him, and then back to trot, then back to walk when he started fussing too much and protesting, then back to trot…rinse, repeat.

It was pretty exhausting, and my hip started to cramp up. I’m noticing more charley-horse leg episodes in my dressage days on Tuesday, likely due to the amount of work I am putting in on my legs from the running/longer run days on the weekend. It shows me that with the increasing amount of physical exertion, I need to adapt and get better about using electrolytes instead of just forgetting and then getting a major charley horse in the middle of my ride, AGAIN.

The last one I had really hurt, and it damaged my leg muscle for over a week! WTF?

Anyways, so the lesson was long, and tough and kind of an ego-killer. But you know, Karen said it was one of the first lessons where I was able to get firm, and fairly tough with Oats, and KEEP doing it. I didn’t give in, get upset (though it was certainly frustrating) I just kept.at.it.

So, yeah to sum up dressage= very hard and tiring and now what am I doing signing up for a dressage show? So I can show off my mediocre work and lack of progress?

Well, I do want to show off my fancy new dressage boots. So, there’s that!

Oats did get an apple as a treat from my barn friend, which was very nice of her. Also he was offered some really lovely fresh-cut long grass from my other barn friend. Greedy pony gobbled it right up!

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! 🙂

Can’t get enough of myself

Dressage semi-private on Tuesday, and my willpower/enthusiasm was greatly waning. I had a really bad stomach ache with stabbing pains at work, and it didn’t go away all night. I just wasn’t feeling great, at all.

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Also, Oats’ friend moved away on Tuesday. I bet he misses him!

It got cold here again, after a blissful period of 9-10 degrees it plummeted back down to -1 or so. GOD.

Despite my stomach trouble, I was able to mostly ride it out. I only lurched sickeningly a few times at the canter and our ride was actually pretty good though- Oats was amenable to most of my suggestions, and we worked on transitions: walk/quick steps/trot/medium trot/canter. All while asking the horses to ‘stretch’ and reach down while still engaging their back. We did get some nice steps in the trot/quick steps, but in the canter it mostly turned into Oats flying around with his head down instead of being, well, engaged.

Oh well, at least he was trying! His attitude has been quite good about dressage so maybe we have turned a corner with less hissy-fits in our future. One can hope!

As I rode Oats 4 x days in a row, I took yesterday off and went for a jog instead. I am glad I did it, but my face was frozen after and it kiiiind of felt like a mistake, as it was BLASTING wind and absolutely freezing. My legs felt like blocks of concrete. My foot started hurting again (oh joy) and I was kind of feeling grouchy about how slowly I am running right now.

I do not have high hopes or expectations for my upcoming race- the weather is supposed to be incredibly shitty AGAIN (every race this season has had just terrible weather) freezing, raining/snowing. Lovely.

And in case you can’t remember, here is a recap of what the weather was like at each race:

  • Prairie Inn Harriers 8k: Freezing cold, with a blizzard starting once the race ended
  • MEC Rust Buster 10k: Freezing, about 0 deg the entire race.
  • Cobble Hill 10k: Cold, pouring rain the entire race.
  • Sooke 10k: My prediction? Everything at once! Freezing cold, rain mixed with snow, wind? We shall see 🙂

And to top it off, I burned my hand last night, and jacked up my wrist somehow (still not sure how?). Add that to my ever-present chronic and horrible allergies, and my bum foot, and I feel like a falling-apart robot right now! At least I am sleeping pretty well?? Love that.

Jump lesson tonight, and I hope it’s not completely freezing. Though, it will be.

Here’s to being here

Dressage lesson on Tuesday and it went quite well actually. I have noticing Oats being a bit more stiff in recent months, with no real turnout, so we discussed that and a few approaches to it. That also led to our lesson being focused on teaching the horses to go to ‘long and low’ while still moving out into the bridle.

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Oats did struggle with that, he shifts between wanting to snatch at the bridle and root, or raising his head up. We definitely had a few things to work out, that’s for sure! He was quite sweaty after, with white foam on his neck–we had a GREAT warmup this week, with temperatures reaching 12 deg?! And remember last week at -9? I was frozen? Yes it feels like another country right now 🙂

Wednesday I took off for both of us, as our jump lesson has now moved to…Thursday!

I used to always ride on Thursday, so it felt more normal to join the Thursday night jump crew. We worked on another grid (where I knew what I was supposed to be doing and yet couldn’t seem to make my body, you know, DO it..) My hands pulled up, instead of releasing down -shoot- and my traitor legs shot backwards. We also had one totally blasted turn that I made that Oats slipped, his legs went out from under him and he scrambled to recover. SHIT!

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2 steps forward, 1 step back.

I definitely was feeling it, this weird rusty, ‘out of practice’ feeling when I was jumping. Which is odd, since I haven’t really taken a lot of time off from it? Maybe from coursework? Or maybe the bitter cold took more out of me than I thought.

We worked on the grid, and then to a small course w/tiny little jumps. It was funny, I felt anxious again and declared I was NOT going to do it again! (not sure why I do this, it’s definitely anxiety-related and it happens when I feel a bit shakier or tired), but Nicole just laughed, let me walk it off for a few minutes, and then I was ready to go again! Hahahah.

So yes, I squashed that ‘fear’ part of me, breathed, calmed down, and went and rode the entire course w/the grid again. And you know what? It wasn’t perfect but it went perfectly fine. Sure, I was feeling wobbly and a bit unbalanced but you know what? I did it anyways! Go me!

So to sum up- Oats was great, very forgiving. It wasn’t perfect and sure didn’t ride lovely, but I conquered by fear and decided to do it again and it was totally ok. Baby steps.

Ugly doesn’t always mean bad.

Had my jump lesson last night, and I was in a touch better mood for it- I still went home and ate too much chocolate and junk food (UGH this is a habit that HAS to go) but I managed to pry myself out of the house at a reasonable hour and there was very minimal traffic heading out, so that already put me in a better mindset.

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Last year- a very eager Oats.

Oats was kind of lazy, but not super behind my leg. He is handling the cold better this week than last week. Maybe he was surprised by it last week, and found it really tough on his joints?

This week our exercise was a grid- and it went fine, nothing exciting, to a canter raised-pole/cavaletti exercise that we bombed quite spectacularly. I think I was feeling quite smug with our previous attempts at this type of exercise, because it really took me by surprise how lousy our yard-sale attempts were!

It was pretty ugly- breaking to trot, flying through, coming in long, coming in short, you name it, we did it. Yikes!

Compared with the grid, this was technical stuff. I really enjoyed learning, and though it was quite hideous and we looked like complete amateurs, I felt like we were working through some stuff and it got me out of the funk I’ve been feeling lately. Oats, as usual, was a good pony who is trying! We even went through the raised-pole exercise with reins flapping in the breeze to try and make him ‘figure it out’ and he did start getting it. I started getting tired, haha, and was told to stop – helping- him so much.

I am getting a lot out of this type of work, and look forward to trying it even more in the future. Good pony. 🙂

The life pursuit

Yep, listening to Belle and Sebastian again!

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Want this again…

I worked on a very challenging exercise with my jump trainer Nicole yesterday. It was my fault- I suggested it in an online post on Facebook and bingo- we are doing it! We…failed kind of hardcore.

It was this: a zig-zag with looped circles that we desperately could NOT maintain for the life of us in the canter. I got lost sooo many times. Ha. I had fun though! Oats found it fairly challenging, and then got jumping super ‘blahhhh’ and almost killed us by rapping the back rail of an oxer really hard and tripping because of it. YIKES!

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This is more our reality…ha.

It was pretty crazy! I enjoyed the challenge though, and felt like I was really working on ‘letting go’ my anxiety-brain when I jump. When the jumps come up this fast (and you get lost this often) it’s impossible to think too hard about what you’re jumping, hahah. Plus we kept the jumps teeny-tiny anyways, so no biggie.

Oats did start getting tired and sloppy with his feet, so having the close call with the oxer really woke him up a bit! Scared the bejesus out of me though.

I feel like we did a zillion turns and jumped 10’s of jumps, hahah.

A fun exercise and a real challenge that showed us we have significant weaknesses…It’s easy to get cocky when things are going well (as they were last week) and then have this week take you down a peg or three. Ha.

 

Inch for inch, pound for pound?

Who needs boys when there’s booze around?! 😉

Here is a recap of my dressage semi-private on Tuesday- lateral work, more lateral work, and yes, more lateral work.

Old barn with Oats.

Old barn with Oats. Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

It was hard. It wasn’t that thrilling or much fun? But, as Karen reminded me, we were working it in the trot and not that long ago, Oats would rather DIE TRYING to do lateral work in the walk. Like, hissy-fit city. A total no-go. So, progress is happening, it is just hard and not that joyful.

The work we were doing was bend the horse in a ‘c’ shape- inside bend, with haunches off the track, moving to both directions starting at the walk, then quickening the walk, then trotting.

Oats had a few things to say about this, mainly he didn’t like it. If I didn’t release fast enough from the bend, he’d bottle up and hop up and down. If I let him have too much head, he’d charge off in the counter-bend, instead of bend. Sigh.

Dressage days

Dressage days- looks better than it was!

We then worked to do a leg-yield along the short side, and then the ‘c’ shape bend along the long side. It was…interesting. Not particularly successful, but we were trying? And I had to reward that try!

When we finished, Oats was charging off at the trot at Mach 10. He had some energy to burn off and I let him charge around for a bit, snorting and letting it alllllll out. Karen said that was very typical of extensive lateral schooling- they feel very contained, and when you let them go, they go WAY out. So, go for it buddy!

A good learning lesson, but it was definitely a challenge.