Don’t Disconnect (Mr. Oats is a saint)

Had my first jump lesson in the outdoor yesterday, and the weather was GORGEOUS! I was feeling weirdly anxious, I guess because there is always a bit of a learning curve for me to jump in the outdoor?

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This is from last year, almost to the date actually! I remember feeling like I didn’t know how to ride then again either, haha. Oh and this felt like a ‘big’ jump.Hah! 

I start of complaining that I don’t know how to ride, and yesterday I still kind of …didn’t. Ha. Oats was a freaking saint though, somebody nominate this pony! We worked over a course of small jumps and had some good jumps, and some really…ick jumps. I just couldn’t seem to get my eye to synch up with my body? I was feeling backed off and tentative, while Oats was like yeah no, I got this mom! And he’d jump, and I’d get left behind! Shit!

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From last May. 

I think I need to get better about riding more boldly, as he clearly isn’t having the problems that I am! Next lesson I am going to focus more on feeling my ride through my body, and learning to really commit, instead of being backed off.

Makes me feel very humble, haha. I am not great, while my pony is like, yeah sure no problem mom, I got this! What a saint!

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Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

Time owes you nothing

And enough with the running, how is the riding? Pretty darn good! I know my dressage these days is…Not great (that’s what happens when I do it unsupervised, it kind of sucks, ha) but each ride I come off my pony thinking, I’m so lucky to have such a great schoolmaster! 

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Oats in his other job- carting my husband back to the barn. 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being happy with what you have, the horse you have in this moment of time? Even when it is distinctly non-glamorous work (walk- canter departs yesterday, I have to limit how many I do because it is tiring for Oats).

Yesterday Oats even had a chance to play school pony, for my friend’s adult niece. The young lady had a ride on my friend’s horse and he acted kind of out of character and freaked the niece right out! I was very surprised, this is a horse that I have literally gotten on and like, whaled on him to get him to go! And he’s spooky and acting silly with a beginner rider? Wha?

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Such a good boy 🙂

So I offered up good old Mr. Oats for a pony ride! We felt it was important that she have a good experience with a horse, and I offered that Oats is smaller, closer to the ground too 😉 Ian said why would you say that (hahhh) but it makes people feel safer!

So we got her up on Oats, and I just held him still. She teared up! But I said look, it’s ok. He’s not going anywhere. He stood still for a bit, and then we walked around and everything went totally fine 🙂 I said- you’re in charge of the ride, you tell me when you want me to stop. And everything went fine, and no fuss or drama. Yay! What a good boy.

It just gladdens my heart to see him being such a solid little guy. Not only am I enjoying my rides, but others can too.

And on Saturday I worked on the most boring of things, but it seemed to be a little rusty…halt-trot transitions. Yay?? Ha. Oh well! Such is the tedium of the day-to-day eh?

You can have what you want

Another jump lesson (finally!! I missed it last week when our schedules were thrown out of whack!) and another good ride to report on. This week we focused on some cavaletti work (3 cavaletti, 2 strides in between each). We did it in two ‘bigger’ strides, and I did a compressed stride of 3 strides in between and it was wayyy too easy for Oats. He is a fan of the ‘slug’ stride, apparently!

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Here’s my schoolmaster! 

So we decided to keep him at 2 strides, because clearly the bigger stride was more challenging for him than compressing the stride!

And then we moved on to a small course, incorporating the cavaletti work into the course. I was actually kind of tired doing the cavaletti work, it feels more ‘physical’ than just jumping jumps, weirdly. Nicole says it’s because you have to keep riding through it, rather than kind of like, ‘jump’..coast… ‘jump’! Oats was also having to work hard, and he was getting tired through the end of the last course, haha.

In the course we had a small 1-stride, and I bungled it a few times before figuring it out. He was going in boldly, and I was getting left behind and kind of jostled. Not to my liking! So I came in quiet, and asked for a closer takeoff and it worked out great! Until…I took too much back and we bungled it, haha. So, I needed to be conservative, but then ‘LET GO’ in the 1-stride. Easier said than done? But we did it well after!

I did feel vulnerable really releasing over the second element of the 1-stride. It feels weird!! But Oats was jumping great, so I had to, hahaha. Good boy 🙂

And I also feel weirdly proud that his Tuesday rider is having such good rides on him- almost prouder than what I have been able to achieve on him myself. Yay Oats for being a good boy and a schoolmaster. It makes my heart feel so happy!

Love, appreciate, joy,

I’m just feeling really good about my pony these days. Had a jump lesson last night that sure wasn’t ”perfect” but man, it made me just feel so glad to have him, my Oats, with me. I rode on Monday and wanted to cry I was so cold, it was horrible. Oats was perfect, but I could tell that the chill was tough on him too.

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I heard he was a total gentleman for his rider on Tuesday (they have been having some great rides, yes!!) and hearing that just makes my heart sing. You know when you have a horse that other people like?  And more importantly, like riding? It’s a good feeling! So going into my Thursday jump lesson I had warm fuzzies in my heart. 🙂

We warmed up a tad lackluster- he was coughing a bit, and inattentive. I was like, c’mon get with the program! And bit by bit, we did. We didn’t work on anything very complicated, but there was one particular turn that made me feel a bit nervous- come around in a circle, jump the rock jump and cut left immediately (2-3? strides) to an oxer on the long side.

Now, this oxer was the friendliest oxer you could possible want. A x-rail in front of a vertical, which really draws in horses and makes it easier to jump. It was also the highest fence on the course! Two things in one! Hahahh.

The first time we did the cut away jump to the oxer, it went perfectly! The second time…I didn’t lock on to the second jump, landed and got pulled wayyyy wide to the oxer. Whoops!!! Oats had basically veered way right, and it was a judgement call: go around (would be easy!!) or right the course in 1-stride and go jump! We jumped!! It was NOT pretty, given it was at this point a 2’9” oxer, but Oats was game and away we went!

Whee!!!! Man that was funny. But we dug deep and pulled it out, hahah.

He definitely goes better when I don’t forget what I’m doing/lock on to the correct jump, but he’s such a good and honest pony that it doesn’t really matter to him anyways! So game! I think I was having a bit of a hard time seeing last night, as my eyes were watering constantly throughout the course due to the chill. (And yesterday was the warmest it’s been all week, yiiiikes!).

Anyways, things that I always have to work on: Release with my arms instead of chicken wings… Go with the horse, instead of getting caught in the back seat! This happened a few times last night, my body wasn’t clicking with it for some reason. Land on my knee/upper thigh. Hips back, consider a sitting seat to the fences to achieve this. Look where the fences are!! And stay there! I had a lot of trouble with this last night too- I’m going to partially blame the cold/tears in my eyes.

But overall, we jumped the highest we’ve jumped a single fence and it was the one on course that we jumped a few times, and even after a tricky attempt, and it was not a problem. Good to know, and I felt so appreciative and happy with my pony. Go Oats!

Forever is a word

So this week I finally had a jump lesson where I felt pretty darn good! No horrible cough/cold, no rib injury (that is healing very well, phew) and I just could focus on riding, rather than feeling miserable.

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He is also a good husband babysitter! 

And my jump lesson went really nicely- quite simple but focused, work over a few short courses and then strung together into a 9-jump course. I was able to work on holding my shoulders, even into a deeper spot. Success! This in turn helps Oats with his jump style in deeper spots as well. Plus we had the rocks back as fillers, in a circle jump. Oats was a bit surprised by it but he is such a good boy, he jumped it fine. 🙂 Love him.

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Oats: Okay guys, let’s get this show on the road. 

Even when we set the jumps up higher, he was surprised but just gave it a LOOK and jumped very willingly – ok he clanged it pretty darn hard with his hooves- but it stayed up and he was so good about it. My trainer laughed and said it’s the same with him and his giant doppelganger Donato- they just have exactly the same attitude, OH this got bigger! Well ok!

Love love love riding him. He’s just so willing these days, and well behaved and I feel like my riding/jumping position is getting much stronger. I do think the two weeks in a row focusing heavily on my release paid huge dividends, and it’s something I really should do more often!

Plus Oats now gets ridden on Tuesdays by a fellow adult amateur who has a horse recovering from an injury and I hear from her that he is such a good boy for her lessons too! Yay!