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Don’t you know what regret looks like?

It looks like the road not taken- but actually, things have been going fairly swimmingly on my end!

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Photo courtesy of Bonita Stables- this is at Fairlawn at the awards lunch last weekend. Beauty day eh?

Monday I had an equine counseling session, and it was kind of challenging in an emotional way, you know? But, something was coming up, and I knew I needed it.

Tuesday I had a casual hack with a friend and it was exactly what I needed. Oats and I were chill, things were just flowing- although I was noticing more in the outdoor arena that he seemed quite ouchy and footsore- particularly when we moved up to canter. I didn’t ride for that long due to that. Fortunately, he was getting front shoes on Wednesday, just in time for my jumping lesson on Thursday!

Thursday we warmed up and his canter felt…strange. Like he was coming up more, and pounding on the sand with his hooves? He felt unsure about his new kicks, and his canter reflected this- he lost impulsion throughout the corners and broke pretty much EVERY time in the top-left hand corner. He was also quite looky and had some spooks in the ‘scary corner’ where we had a gymnastic grid set up. Goof!!

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We had a grid (canter-in bounce grid, two bounces to two-two-strides. Ha, try saying that twice!!). We MAJORLY fumbled the grid more than a few times, like whoa. I don’t know how to ride kind of fumbles. Ahhhh…. Anyways. We schooled a faux-ditch with barrels and it went pretty well. Ditches and weird-looking jumps are no big for Oats.

Course time! Lots of jumps and some interesting features- a ‘rock’ skinny *(ooh) and the gymnastic, the faux-ditch, barrels, some natural planks, and a few oxers. I was like kind of wanting to freak out, but also felt like…Ok. We got this.

And we cantered it, and it went pretty well. Not fabulous- my eye was majorly off and I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, hahah. Oh well.

Then a few jumps went up, and we did it again! First jump, good, second, ok too and then the grid…Yikes. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to collect Oats for the grid while we were IN the grid. Newsflash- bad idea!! He crashed through the x-rail, and then stopped for a poop, ha.

We regrouped and I approached it with a better idea of wtf I was doing. Whoops, sorry pony!

Rest of the course was ok, I was still plagued with a pretty lousy ‘eye’ for any and all jumps, but Oats was cool with it so on we went! I am, however, having trouble making decisions in a line- for example, collecting his canter for the grid BEFORE the grid (???), riding a quieter 6 instead of kind of just riding 5+? and trying to collect or take back the last two strides before the jump in the line. I need to be making these decisions much sooner in my ride.

Argh, get with the program, me!

Ah, well. At least my position was better this week, with me ‘going with it’ for my terrible eye and lack of decisions.

 

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Trap for young players: Jump lesson update!

Another jump lesson in the outdoor arena for me yesterday! I started off in a MUCH better mood than last week (though I have one lingering concern that has been eating my sleep this week, unfortunately).

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Then I kind of felt cranky at our lousy canter- shuffle and was like, ‘I can’t ride out here! Why do I constantly feel like a beginner?’ Crabbing…and Nicole laughed and was like, of course you can ride. Deal with it!

And you know what? We had some ugly spots, and some ‘blah’ moments and I dealt with each and every one of them. We worked over a small grid (bounce to 1-stride to a 2-stride) and he was sluggy, and I had to ‘woman up’ to get the strides I wanted. And I did. And he got it!

Then we moved on to a small course. None of the jumps were intimidating, but we were jumping several small oxers…So…yeah. This is where trusting my body needed to come in. No matter what, my body is strong, capable and extremely fit. So what is the big deal? Oats is a safe horse and my body will protect me, it knows exactly what to do. One thing I am fairly proud of- we had a line of jumps with seven ‘quiet’ strides in between. The striding would be perfect if I left Oats alone to do the quiet strides, not pushing, nagging, pumping, etc. It’s harder to do for me than you think! But, both times the 7 rode great, very quiet and met the oxer at the end with no issues.

I need to trust my physical ability more.

With that in mind, we raised a few jumps (not many, ha) and I went in and immediately flubbed the first fence. Whoops! I regrouped and came back to it, and things went well!  We had 1 kind of ugly jump to the bigger oxer (2’6” I guess?) and finished the course, and I pointed to it and said that one kind of freaked me out! And Nicole was like, ok sure pick up canter and go jump it right now, one-handed.

WTF?

And I did it! And it went perfectly. Rode it out with my right hand on the reins and my left hand free-wheeling, hahah.

I trusted my body to do the right thing, and it went totally fine. Now, I just need to do that a million times. Deal with the ugly, awkward, discombobulated and know I will be fine, because I know how to do it.

Easy eh? Ha.

The machine that made us: Jump lessons!

Yesterday. Wow. So, the day went pretty seamlessly- work was good, it was fairly pleasant to run home and I was heading out to enjoy a walk with Gidget. I had my headphones in, and was listening to my favourite podcast at the moment (Casefile, check it out!) until my good mood came to a screeching halt thanks to an insanely rude, entitled neighbour.

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Dirty details don’t need to come out but protip: Confronting someone with ‘are you deaf’? pretty much NEVER goes well, you old crank. God, it really brought my happy mood down and raised alllllll of my hackles. Don’t mess with me. 

Anyways, I was amped and angry and then spent over an hour driving in traffic to the barn, leading to me rushing around and literally running to grab tack, horse, boots…Yeah. I was in an awful mood going into my riding lesson. Pissed, running late, angry, etc etc the proverbial black cloud was hanging over me.

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This sadly bled into my ride. I felt awkward, clumsy, not connecting well, Oats felt sucked back, tenderfooted and his canter? Ha, what canter. He could not hold the canter, warmed up feeling like a piece of cardboard…Yeah. So, success??

We worked over a few elements of the course in the outdoor and they went ok, until we strung them into a course. Ugh, horrible. I was getting left behind, riding defensively, you name it, I was doing it. I could NOT get in the ‘groove’ per se.

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We regrouped, and then went to tackle the course again- and Nicole suggested I let my body ‘flow’ more and focus on a big, exaggerated two-point bend/release instead of my stiff, defensive, ‘sit’ position. This would help Oats jump better too, as he would feel me committing more to the jump and not riding from the backseat (one of my bigger flaws at the moment).

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Brenda kindly gave Oats her old flymask after his other one got destroyed last week. Wonder how long this will last?

And wouldn’t you know, it worked! Our second course rode really well! Some bobble fences, but overall it flowed much better, we met the fences together, rather than Oats and then me, and it was overall just much more pretty and positive. A great note to end on! AND my friend was there, so I got video + screenshots from it. YES! Plus- I matched with Oats (on purpose this time) so we look pretty too.

So, from good, to really bad, to good again. A rollercoaster of a day!

 

A really good lesson

Had my weekly jump lesson last night, after a looong day at a workshop (which I enjoyed but wow, it was like getting information through a firehose. Too much!). I was looking forward to a good ride, fingers crossed.

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It was. You know? Just really good. Oats was still sticky through the transitions, so we spent quality time schooling those before moving on to the jumps. And the jumps, I requested we keep them small so I could focus on the technical aspects of the course, and it rode pretty well!

The course: Tricky! Two ‘slice’ jumps to a bending line on both ends, a small gymnastic two-stride x-rail to oxer, and then rode it back the other way oxer jump-in two strides to the x-rail. Exciting!

And I was very pleased with how it rode. If Oats got sticky, I schooled the transition right then and there, and then proceeded to the jump/course. Get it done right.

There were quite a few jumps on course, 13 efforts total. And we were schooling so well that I immediately wanted to go jump it again! And we did! Though with that, I am starting to realize my fitness is starting to outpace Oats’…He was huffing and puffing and I was feeling totally fine. Hm.

I did notice that last weekend as well, when my Karen Brain lesson usually leaves me huffing and puffing and sweaty, I felt totally fine. This is a good thing, let me tell you!  It means my fitness has improved at a rate that I can actually start to feel. And it makes me feel like a confident and strong rider. Yes!

 

Happy Easter~

Ah what an awesome long weekend. I started it by having a great jump lesson on Thursday- Oats was slow and sticky, but we worked through it and ended up having a very successful ride!

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Friday we went and I did a super looong run around Elk/Beaver Lake. Hours! Certainly taught me the importance of fueling appropriately yikes. A good day though all around.

Saturday I got up early-ish for a dressage lesson with Oats with my normal jump trainer. It was very interesting and showed to us a few holes in Oats’ education, namely encountering some resistance through transitions. Hm….

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And then we were up Island and off to the farm! We had a HUGE great turkey dinner at the farm, and enjoyed some games, hot-tubbing and hiking.

Sunday we were back home and I had another dressage lesson, this time with my regular dressage trainer. More insight- Oats moves crooked at the canter, and it’s because, gasp, I am HELPING HIM be crooked. Wha? It was a strangely difficult ride!

Monday I was back at the barn! Did a fairly casual ride on Oats because as it turns out, I was tired, haha. My allergies have been out.of.control these days and man, they are sooo horrible. I came home after some unsuccessful swimsuit shopping (styles are SO UGLY right now. No WAY am I wearing a high-waisted granny panty swimsuit) and made myself some sangria and sat on the deck to enjoy some sunshine.

With me was Gidget and Tucker, who do not get along. At all. HA.

A great long weekend and much-needed.

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.

We Got It Coming: Jump lesson!

Back to the indoor doesn’t have to be boring or draggy- in fact, it’s quickly becoming an opportunity to sharpen/refine our skills. Of particular importance, my bad habits of letting Oats motorbike around turns when we are jumping and kind of just ‘give up’. No longer!! This time I am GOING to fix that problem (five years in the making, but who’s counting?!).

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Man!

But yes, we worked on a particularly challenging course last night. Jump height-wise…Nothing impressive. But, we had a circle jump (hard for us), a skinny, some small barrels, a two-stride, and straightness!! to work on.

And it wasn’t easy, or very neat. But, we did improve throughout the ride, which is kind of what I’m going for. Things I am learning and hoping to work on this winter:

  • Fixing my corners, no more motorbiking/forgetting to ride/sitting up!
  • No pulling his head to the left over the jump!
  • No nagging with my leg. Let him relax, then GO for the jump, then relax.
  • Leg stays still.
  • Upper body stays still. Elbows are in shoulders are up.
  • Hands release, shoulders don’t release.
  • Adjustability in the canter.
  • No sitting back when I don’t see a distance and pulling up with my hands. Go with the flow.
  • Both reins used, with contact. This is a tough one for me, as I tend to want to only use one rein with the other flopping uselessly. I get afraid that too much contact will slow him down!

Sooo yeah, lots to work on. But, I did quite enjoy my ride 🙂