These are the days that must happen to you: Jumper day update!

A good Walt Whitman quote is always applicable, I think!

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A great weekend! What a good pony. 

Oats and I finally made our debut int he 2’6” ring, after YEARS at 2′, and 2’3” – some successful, a lot not. I normally feel a lot of anxiety, and I weirdly wanted to feel anxious about this show, and just…Didn’t? I felt like, yeah old hat. Weird for me. Weird for being at a horse show, even if it is a small schooling show. I expected to feel anxious, have show nerves, but all I could think is- I can do this. I can definitely do it. Oats is a great pony, and he’s my champion. Challenge me.

My friend was riding in the 2’3”, and I had 1 class in the 2’3” as a warm-up, and then my 2’6” division. She was anxious, and I told her- nobody is even looking at you! Nobody cares! Be challenged. Bring it!!

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That’s my mantra now. 🙂 Make me work for it. Make me focus. Make me try.

We warmed up ok, after Oats spent forever and a day at the (very hot again) trailer, screaming for his buddy and pacing, and it went on and on and on…

Anyways, I was learning from my lessons the day previous, so I did NOT get on Oats too early. I waited until the first 2’3” went, and then tacked Oats up and brought him over. We trotted, cantered and my trainer came over to run us over a few small jumps- just as the ring gate volunteer was like hey you’re in two. Wow! That was quick! But it’s how I like it. 🙂

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We went in and it was…eh. He bucked a little (feeling MUCH better today) and I could tell he was a bit bored. I left the ring saying he needs more. And we waited (awhile) for the 2’6” to be set. The course was not challenging, but it did have a small combination (2 small strides, 3 Oats-sized strides, quite compressed). I kind of wanted them to put the liverpool in, we could definitely do it no problem! Sadly that is for the 2’9” division, not ours. I did not feel scared or have the jumps suddenly ‘grow’ as I usually feel. In fact, even looking back, they look low. WTF?

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We warmed up ok for the 2’6”- it was getting quite hot. I had cleverly brought in a water bucket and asked my friend who finished her division (and placed!!) to fill it and put it in the warm-up. Oats drank! Twice! He was already doing better this day.

We hopped a few verticals, biffed the oxer a few times but it was fine and then we were in. And you know what? The course rode really well- almost perfectly!! I came out smiling. And I said, I want to ride my next round exactly the same way. And I DID!! Who is this girl, who can finish all of her classes, ride competently and well, being fair to her horse, and confidently say she wants to ride exactly the same way? This girl!

I look back and wished I was in this division 5 years ago. But you know what? It’s not really any use doing that. I was a different person then. We placed 3rd in our 2’3”, 3rd in our 2’6” and 5th in our 2’6”. Placing doesn’t really matter though- I felt happy, confident and loving my boy. Go Honey Bunches of Oats!

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Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

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Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

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From last time. It was still really windy! 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep. He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!? 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

Resist much, obey little

My husband clued me into Walt Whitman last night and darned if I’m not really enjoying delving deeper! This has been a difficult week, not for work reasons but just for life/physical reasons. I’m still holding out some hope for a better conclusion, but in the meantime, the sage words of Walt Whitman hold some consolation.

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I have an excellent weekend to look forward to at least!

And I had a good (but definitely challenging and not great) riding lesson last night. My physical struggles this week manifested in my ride- I could hold things together for a bit, and then BOOM! Forget how to ride. I rode a very good first course, and then when the jumps went up, my brain fell out. Sorry Oats!

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Why do the jumps look big when you’re jumping and then small in video??

This meant we had some stops, about 3-4 jumps where Oats rode magnificently and I just…Didn’t ride and got left behind, spectacularly.  I was having a brain-body disconnect.

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Oh well, you can’t win them all and this week? I got out alive so I’m winning. I was fortunate enough to have my friend use her Pixio, and she let me borrow it to videotape my rides. It is SO COOL!!! Like having a robot film you the whole round! I am very impressed- how neat is that technology? It’s amazing!! And the quality/picture quality is so good, considering how bad the light is at that time of night (sun glare all the time).

 

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!!!

Soon to be: Jump lesson recap~

I was on a pretty decent roll jumping in my lessons, until yesterday I suddenly wasn’t.

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Rocking it at CDRC! 

I have been managing muscle pain (pulled something in my abdomen/hip area, and trying to deal with the pain for 2 weeks now…) and was taking muscle relaxers on doctor’s orders and I just felt fuzzy, tired and kind of ‘eh’ last night. My lesson started well, we worked through a small grid, took a break and went back to it, until BOOM! Oats jumped the oxer of the grid really nicely, and took 1 canter stride, and fell to his knees!

Yikes!

I luckily was upright already, and landed well on my feet in the stirrups so I was able to stay balanced and pull Oats’ head up. He was able to regain his footing and get up again, none the worse for wear. Scared the shit out of me though, he’s never done that before, poor guy!

It really rattled me, no joke. We continued to ride the gymnastic fine after that (well, until I decided I was done tuning in and kind of lost focus…leading Oats to crawl over the last jump). But the damage was done- Oats can take a jump, but I was just having a lot of trouble staying focused and never felt like we really ‘clicked in’ last night, you know? That led to a lot of ‘stop and climb’ jumps, ughhhhh…So awkward.

I wanted to fuss and sulk about my shitty ride, but a friend who was watching came up to me after the lesson and was like, ‘hey you guys are a great team!’ And I was incredulous. You’re saying that after watching us today? Wha? It sucked!

And she said, yeah it wasn’t perfect, but you get going and kept trying, and that was pretty good! So, in perspective it wasn’t 100% shitty, it was just a non-clicking day. We have them, I guess, and so do horses! Like the sports psychologist says: You had a fantastic ride, won everything, great job- move on. You had a bad ride, things sucked and went hell, too bad. Move on.

It doesn’t matter, because it’s already in the past.

Know Better Learn Faster: Jump Lesson!

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All my swag from the past weekend! 

I was both looking forward to and feeling anxious about my jump lesson on Thursday. I was really happy with how the horse show went, (coachless! but with some hand-holding) and wondering how I could keep the good vibes rolling!

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Remember this from a few weeks ago? Make it almost completely dark out..and then do it. Coop set in the middle of the arena, rail at same height!

Sometimes this means I shut down, because I would rather not mess up a good thing than try and have it kind of blow up in my face. Not a good impulse and not one I am proud of. (see- why I can never play darts again…).

BUT I am learning – year by year- that I can try, and fail, and still have a lot of fun and learn tons. It’s not a one-and-done thing! I can keep going! 🙂 We were back in the outdoor to grasp the last bit of remaining daylight, and it was the last semi-private I will have (gonna miss those!).

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Oxer on diagonal, so festive! (Photo by Nicole).

We worked over a small x-rail, and then the x-rail to a small vertical both working off the diagonal. Oats was…unenthusiastic. I felt like the jumps needed to be higher to get his focus!!  Mine too maybe? He blahhhhed over the jumps. I was kind of annoyed, but like, with some fire in my belly.

Let’s DO THIS

Coursetime: Not complicated, but would require me to sit up (after a stop going into the one outside line, hahahah I decided I would jump first and Oats was like yeah, no.). And key? LEG LEG LEG even on the slow fade 3-strides to the jump. Not just sitting there like a stuffed dummy.

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This ‘Halloween’ line ended up being an oxer set further back. So fun! (Photo by Nicole).

And how did the course ride? Pretty well! The bending line gave me some trouble both times, but overall quite nicely. I got some good distances, not too much ‘stop and crawl’ over the fences, remembered to use my legs in the last 3 strides even! There were a lot of oxers, traditionally something that wigs me out, but I felt pretty good last night.

Course was: vertical on diagonal, oxer on diagonal, ride the outside line in 7, back to the first vertical on the diagonal bending line to 1st fence in outside line, oxer on second outside line to oxer on diagonal (rode well!), ride along and then turn right across the arena to jump the coop, turn left and ride the outside line of 2X oxers (7 the first time, 6 the second. Oats was on FIRE!).

We had 1 more stop the second time we rode the course, honestly it felt like Oats didn’t see the second rail set up in the oxer until the last minute- we bumped the fences up 1 hole and added an oxer. It was really dark out by this point. Re-approached and he was a-ok. In fact, the was golden.

What a great, kickass ride!

 

Try

Had a jump lesson last night, after a really slack week of riding (mostly in the field, and an equine counseling session). My focus for the jump ride was twofold: work on managing my anxiety during jumping with a few more techniques that I was developing with my equine counselor, and see what I can do about the ‘spur-suasion’ situation with Oats.

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Screengrabs from jumping in the field last week. So fun and so HOT! I miss that!

And did I achieve these? YES I did! It was by no means perfect (haa…) and I almost bit it hard when I decided I would ‘see’ a distance, and jump for it by spurring Oats – whoops- while simultaneously jumping ahead onto his neck. He declined my dumbass move and I wound up on his freaking neck. Yikes!

However a few good takeaways- I was able to vocalize and manage my anxiety, to the tune of having an excellent first jump on-course both times! And my first course was just lovely, no complaints. And we rode through a grid many times and it went quite well (grids are usually my absolute nemesis, ha).

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Love our homemade x-c course.

I even kind of fumbled the grid after riding the course – I got a bit backed off and less generous with my body- so I decided unilaterally that I would ride it again!

That to me is big- I quite often get backed off and decide that NO that’s it. Even during the second course, when the wheels kind of fell off and the cracks started showing…Part of me was really bummed that our first course was pretty great, and the second sucked. But I had to put that part of me away, and just. deal.with.it. Pretty? Ha no. Challenging? Oh yes. But workable? Definitely!

I think slowing things down, really allowing myself to ‘feel’ all of my nervous energy helped me have a lovely first jump each time. The rest will come.