Field fun!

Have a crazy few weeks going down at work so have to limit the blog writing, but in the meantime we’ve been doing lots of dressage rides, zero jump lessons, and lots of working equitation lessons too!

Even Oats is embarrassed at what I am wearing!

We have also been riding around in the fields- not so much in the big field as you cannot get to it at the bottom anymore, you can only get to it from the top of the stables, so I usually just ride and then zip out to the lower fields. Today though, big field (the one he went kind of bananas in and galloped around bucking, eeek) has my name on it!!

We also rode in shorts the other day (regretfully, ouch my skin) and had some fun while Ian videotaped us jumping the small fences I put out in the field with his help. Every year, without fail, I am the only one to put jumps out- so at least this year I get to enjoy it!!!! Unlike the absolute disaster of last year, which shall not be named, ugh.

Fun in the field!!

Fun times!!

And apparently another heatwave is coming?? We have been very, very lucky to not have smoke here. I am very appreciative of that.

Buy you some time

Well it’s officially ‘Snowpocalypse’ over here on the Island! White winter for sure. We have about a foot of snow in our neighbourhood by the water. I put my big treads on – the Saucony Peregrine shoes- and jogged to work today. It kind of sucked, it’s tiring to run in snow and while I made an effort to run in the street, it’s still a tough slog. Oh well, a good cardio workout ūüôā

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Happier this year! 

I’m not sure if I will be able to make it out to the stables though- two days off and I start getting VERY itchy to go and see my dear pony! I know he is being taken care of and is safe though.

The critters are enjoying the snow- Tucker was playing in it yesterday! A marked difference from last year, when he sat angrily in the snow and it piled up on top of him, hahah.

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And I had one frightening incident (side note- why the DRAMA lately? jesus christ I am so OVER it). I was leading Oats up the hill to the stables, when the fellow rider in front of me who was leading her horse- the horse paused slightly and LASHED OUT her hind hoof in a huge kick. She kicked my coffee mug straight out of my hands and it went flying! The horse wears steel hind shoes too, so jesussss I got incredibly lucky. SO lucky that it wasn’t my hand that got broken, or my freaking face.

We both never saw it coming. That was the most chilling part. Usually you can read something happening by body language- they get spooked, antsy, angry or pissy. The horse looked chill, didn’t even raise her head and BOOM!! Kicked. I have been around horses for over 20 years and I have NEVER been kicked in my life. Until now, I guess? It scared the bejeezus out of both of us. The owner was really sorry- and it’s 100% not her fault, at all. It was just a really scary incident.

It was also a wake up call to me, to be very aware and careful with handling horses. When you are around them this much, you get complacent. Until something really serious happens, like Monday.

First the dog attack, and then getting kicked by a horse. World, please stop.

Burn you up: Mr. Oats is a great pony

Had my regular jump lesson last night, and wowza it was¬†warm at the barn, particularly in the outdoor arena. The sun was going down, but not near quick enough so it was quite hot for horses, riders and our trainer. Still, it was a lovely night and there’s no place I would rather be….Basking in the warm (sweaty) glow of working hard in partnership with my best pony, Oats.

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From last fall. When you ride it well, it goes well. 

Again I felt kind of complainy, that I didn’t know how to ride properly. I get strangely backed off and tentative/hesitant in the outdoor and get too conservative with my release with my body. It’s ok body, you know what to do! So do it! I told Nicole that I wanted to stop ‘letting the jumps happen’ and actively RIDE to each jump, and make them happen. Basically change from passive to active. Easier said than done, but heyyy it was a good ride regardless.

Oats was moving well but his -super bad and half changes- were not even a thing. I was feeling like I kind of had to really muscle him to switch leads, again, strange but I’m going to chalk it up to the harder footing and maybe him feeling a tad stiff.

On course we had some really nice fences, and some not-so-nice ones, but on the whole I focused on riding more boldly, changing things that needed to be changed, and riding TO and OVER each jump, rather than sitting, waiting and hoping. I need to feel more connected to my horse, rather than just floating on top of him, waiting.

Of course, the first fence we rode to on-course he…Stopped. Ha. It was a balance between ‘sitting’ and ‘riding’ and I just kind of…didn’t? Oats is a very honest pony, and not a stopper. I think he kind of just needed input from me, and I wasn’t there to provide it.

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From last summer- I hope to be feeling this confident again in the outdoor! 

No worries though, I circled, re-presented and he was fine. The rest of the course rode pretty well, with a few uglier jumps going downhill (the swapping lead thing kind of hit us hard), but we finished with a really lovely ride over the roll-top. YES! Go pony go!!!

Danger

I almost lost old Oats on Thursday.

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My car broke down (since fixed) so I had to cancel my usual jump lesson that I have on Thursdays. I also had my phone on silent so I didn’t hear it ringing with an emergency–Oats was choking and going into shock.

I still want to cry thinking about it. When I got into work on Friday morning, I had 23++ missed calls, voicemails and emergency Facebook notifications. I was TERRIFIED.

The good news is that he came out of it fine *he has bad cough now but he survived and that is what is important. The only thing. It seems like he had eaten something like a twig or blackberry bramble in the field, couldn’t swallow, came in to eat dinner and his dinner starting coming back up. He was panicking, couldn’t swallow and was coughing up phlegm.

He was shaking, trembling violently and sweating and breathing heavily. If this had happened and nobody noticed, he would have died. Luckily for Oats, his pasturemate’s owner saw something wrong with him and saved his life by calling the vet. He was intubated and the blockage was pushed through. He was in severe shock though, and that took a lot longer to come out of.

My god. I was horrified that the ONE day I am not at the barn this happens and they couldn’t get hold of me. My god. I was crying at work, saying I can’t deal with this again. My work understands, so they let me leave as soon as my car was back from the shop so I could go and see Oats.

I zipped off asap and he was back to his old self *(with a terrible cough).

I am not ready to live my life without Oats.

 

Insulating yourself

My husband shared this with me recently, and it really resonated with me: Courtesy of Seth Godin’s blog.

Losing the election by ten votes or by a million–which is worse?

“Missed it by that much,” is a way to amplify how we feel when we don’t succeed. So, when we miss the bus by just a few seconds, or finish¬†a math proof just behind the competition–we can beat ourselves up about this for years.

Much rarer, it seems, is the opposite. It’s hard to find people still congratulating themselves after winning an election by just a few votes or making a plane by a step or two. Nice that it happened, but we ask what’s next, where’s the next crisis?

We have a name for someone who expects the worst in the future. Pessimism is a choice. But we don’t seem to have a name for someone who describes the past with the same negative cast.

It’s a dangerous trap, the regular reminders of how we’ve failed, but how close we’ve come to winning. It rarely leads us to prepare more, to be more adroit or dedicated. Instead, it’s a form of hiding, a way to insulate ourselves from the next, apparently inevitable failure.

The universe is not laughing at us. It doesn’t even know we¬†exist.

Go ahead and celebrate the wins, then get back to work. Same for mourning the losses. All we can do is go forward.

I do this ALL the time. “Oh I just got lucky.” “They liked me for some reason.” And the failures- whichever they are – stick around to beat me up at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep. I wish this wasn’t true.

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Cute chestnuts all in a row.

And when I was asking for a win yesterday? I got one! So, why can’t I just celebrate that? Instead of reminding myself at night, again restless, about the zillions of things at work that are left hanging, the multiple events that I don’t have wrapped up yet…ARGH.

Anyways- I had a challenging lesson with Oats yesterday. A good one, but not one that left me singing in the clouds. It was working on straightness and forward, and it was tough for Oaty. We worked and he’d hop into canter, and it was the lightest, loveliest canter, and SO wrong. I wanted trot! Not canter! He was also confused and trying to swap his leads when I was asking for the big trot, as this was tough for him to move his body around.

He wasn’t being a jerk, he was just confused and having a hard time trying to decipher what I was asking- so he would try what was easiest first- canter, swap leads, etc.

It was definitely a lot of work, but I’m glad we are getting to the point where I can really get ‘into’ him and do it, or at least try it. Good pony for trying. You get points for that!

Guilt and horses

Coming into the holiday season, I’m often confronted by lots of charities, organizations and others looking for donations. I’m using the term ‘confronted’ because honestly, it feels like a real barrage sometimes and because it is the holiday season, it’s all coming in one huge rush. Last weekend when I was grocery shopping (a task that I approach grimly on the best of days) I was approached by both the Sally Ann bell-ringers and some boy scouts selling something…ARGH.

Buster

And it’s too much sometimes.

And that makes me feel guilty.

I’m lucky enough to be able to work a good job, I work hard at it, and I have enough support and finances to be able to afford a good but cheaper boarding situation, lessons and training, grain for my horse, the occasional splurge item like a horse show or a road race (ok a lot of road races, they are cheap as anything compared with horse showing).

 

But that’s also where the guilt comes in even more…Because there are fellow horse people – friends, boarders, trainers, etc., who are not as fortunate as myself and it makes me feel vaguely strange about the relative small luxuries I allow myself.

We all make choices in the world, and because I understand others may not be facing the kind of life I have, I do try to give back, but I mean, I’m comfortable but not exactly a Rockefeller here either…

But I made my choice- to have a horse instead of a kid (like that was ever a competition though, haha), to travel and run races, to have lessons and the occasional horse show.

So, it all kind of comes to a head during Christmas, when we’re reminded daily that others are not so fortunate – not that it matters more this time, but that it’s kind of in your face a lot more over the winter.

Also, my sister recently lost her job and I emphathize strongly with that. It’s tough, and demoralizing, and not something I would really wish on anyone.

So, while I greatly enjoy my horse, my progress and my competitions, it’s important to keep all these fun activities in perspective and doing so may help me manage my ‘comfortable guilt’ for this season. Also, I’m making sure I’m not too ‘wanty’ or grabby hands for things at Christmas. Honestly, what do I really need? Nothing!

I am also trying to make sure I give small tokens of my appreciation to the people that ride with me, have fun with me, coach me and do other things. Maybe I can make their day a little bit brighter too!

It’s the little things, not the big things, that can make a difference.

Mr. Oats tries cross-country. Recaps on recaps…Starting with Avalon on Friday.

So, silence a few days but for a good reason- I was busy enjoying my horse, life, etc.

From our first outing. So much better this time around...

From our first outing. So much better this time around…

I’d taken a few days off this fall to enjoy myself and boy, did I!

This post is all about Oats and my redemption at…Avalon. I’d gone there in the past to do a small x-c clinic, and it turned into a huge disaster. The other riders were snobby and unwelcoming, the trainer coaching the clinic was a too-intense person and kind of mean (ok, seemed really mean at the time), Oats was¬†losing his shit. He couldn’t keep his four-feet on the ground. He was up in the air, jumping around, being a nut.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

Oh and I had an unpleasant run in with ‘someone’ associated with the day and he was a total psycho to me. Yeah, way to rub it in eh?

So to add it all up- I was supposed to be at a low-level clinic designed as an ‘intro to x-c’ day for fun, because hey we’re not going to the Olympics people- and the clinic participants were rude, my horse was losing his mind, I got yelled at for some reason by ‘that person’ and the trainer was kind of mean and too intense for the low level group.

A recipe for success? Not so much. I packed it up and left early, in tears, vowing never to try x-c again.

Until last Friday…!

Since I was taking some time off showing, I thought maybe I could try again. And this time, all I wanted was a new experience with my horse, one-on-one with my trainer. No clinic pressure, no crazy other people, nothing. Relaxed, low-key.

And it was GREAT! Redemption!

We hauled out on Friday and Oats went with my trainer and her horse, Query. I was so nervous. So anxious. I just wanted it to go well, and see what happened. We walked the length of both courses and I felt worried but Oats was holding it together. He was a little bit looky and ‘up’ but I mean, compared with how he could have been? He was golden!

My trainer’s horse wasn’t feeling well- just out of character and ulcery. She noticed this after she longed her in the main ring and she just didn’t settle. Oats on the other hand, was having a blast! We cruised up and down the ring, jumped the dressage ring markers (shhh…) and had a fun time! We headed back out to the x-c field to work out a bit more and I spent a lot of time cantering at the top of a hill, quite a funny feeling.

We wrapped up with my trainer unfortunately hopping off Query and hand-walking her, while she supervised my-and-Oats’ log-jumping. He was ON FIRE! It was crazy. I have never ridden him with him so eager, so focused, so intense. It was kind of fast for me, I have to admit…Haha. We even did a little hop up and down a bank and he like, charged it haha.

He was jumping really well and was just so great. Ah…redemption feels good. I was so proud of my brave little pony. Good work Oats and I left feeling super about the whole thing. Maybe we can do this, try new things, enjoy our partnership together.

Winning at winning?

Didn’t ride yesterday because…We went to the Foxstone Stable winter series awards dinner!!

Because I’m kind of dumb about the idea of year-end awards, I didn’t really think it through (because let’s face it, my and Oats’ performance rarely merits awards so that is not my first idea when signing up. Getting around is kind of the end goal…) I had one champion division at crosspoles, and one champion division at 2′. SO that meant I was the lucky recipient of two fourth-place year-end awards!

The other side of me was like, huh genius, maybe you should have kept in one division- added those two fourths into something a little better? But then the other side of me says- shut up! You had a really fun time at the shows, and they were GREAT experiences for you and Oats. Be glad with what you did, and think about what fun you’ll have next year maybe!

(Plus, the awards at the shows themselves are really great too!)

Great horse show prizes!

Great horse show prizes!

Anyways I didn’t have time to ride, we zipped out ASAP and attended the dinner. And wow, the awards are so generous! For my fourth places, I won Antares leather conditioners- two containers of it in total. I figure the price is something around $25/container. Not too shabby! My friend was reserve champ and made out like a bandit!! Antares saddle pad, a huger ribbon, AND she won the draw for the leather halter (jealous!!) and won a $200 bursary cheque for more horse-related activities. Wow!!!

Winter series awards

Winter series awards

I’m sold on the winter series- they are so fun, and they really seem to be interested in giving back.

Fun times all around!

And- I have been particularly lucky lately. As I mentioned, at the show I won the draw for my division entries, which is fabulous AND last week I won a Granville Island Brewery date night crate valued at $200. Photos below: We are eating our way through it this week and I LOVE it. Yum!!

Granville Island Brewery crate

Granville Island Brewery crate

  • Two s’mores from Butter Bakery
  • A tin of crab pate
  • Brie
  • Hand made crackers
  • Butter cookies
  • Sea salt caramel chocolate bar
  • Cappuccino truffles
  • Two bags of Hard Bite chips
  • A small bag of Stacey’s Brownie Chips
  • A bag of vanilla marshmallows from Butter Bakery
  • Rogers Chocolates sea salt chocolate cashews
  • Vanilla-infused honey (I am deathly allergic to honey, boo hoo it smells amazing!)
  • Red wine cranberry jelly
  • A crate from Cumberland Crates (yes this is a thing, apparently)
  • Two Granville Island Brewery glasses
  • Two packages of roasted nuts
  • Beer can chicken seasoning package

Close up of the gift crate

Close up of the gift crate

Get Lucky!

Well, I’m currently running three-for-three right now. How, do you ask? Winning contests!!

Yes that’s right, girls in our family start the winning gene at 28, apparently.

So what did I all win? Well!…

I won a trip with Chevron to fly with the Whitecap soccer team with my husband to watch the Whitecaps play Montreal. It included Whitecaps gear (hat/scarf/jersey/zip-up/t-shirt), $1,000 in Chevron gas gift cards, the flight, hotel (Sheraton!), tickets to the game and $300 spending money and boy did we spend it FAST.

It was a total blast!!

And next? I won a Youth ATV from Canadian Tire!! It’s valued at around $2,000 and it’s pretty small. We picked it up last weekend and had a great time zipping around on it. We are selling, but if it’s not decent $$…I am keeping it!

And next? Well, I had a miserable week a few weeks ago, bad stuff going down and felt really down in the dumps. You know what the best cure for that is? Winning $5,000!!! Yes that’s right, courtesy of a contest hosted by Co-op and Dairyland, I won five grand.

Yes, my week REALLY improved after that, indeed!! And prompted some very serious, in-depth discussions at work about how much money is ‘screw-you’ money…¬†Consensus is about $500,000. Hm..

I’m on a lucky streak! Winning is in my blood!

My mom is incredibly lucky. So far she has won:

  • La-z-boy home furnishing home makeover- valued at $20,000
  • Home chef dinner party for 10 people- valued at $5,000
  • Trip to San Fran
  • Trip to Hawaii
  • Trip to Victoria- funny(horrible) story about that but it was originally a trip to Argentina that she filled out wrong, so she had won it, and then they figured out she’d filled out the wrong drop- box. AHH!!!
  • Ski trip to Silver Star

And countless smaller winnings- gift cards to grocery stores/hmv/ticketmaster/VISA.

What can I say? It’s in our blood! And my sister is currently on a trip (Air Canada cruise) that she won. Isn’t that nuts!¬†