Hard work makes the core work?

After hurting my back on the weekend, I went to the physiotherapist on Monday (which started my week of being late to get home, a trend that started last Friday…) and it became clear that my back was quite strong and takes over the work from my abs.

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Too much of this??

Apparently my core is weak? (Which seemed absolutely ludicrous to me, like do you know how many push ups I can do!?) but clearly my back is doing the job of my abs and letting them off the hook.

My back felt better yesterday, so my one trainer generously allowed me to try her saddle on Oats and I rode him in my dressage lesson with Karen. I told her I had been struggling with my back muscles, and wanted to do some core work–and then kind of regretted it, it was TOUGH.

And fun?!

But mostly tough.

The saddle felt really weird, and I felt like I was tipping backwards…We worked on posting trot with a very exaggerated lean back to ‘engage’ my core/lower abdomen muscles, and then sitting, and then canter w/o stirrups. The canter actually felt really good–Oats was pissy at first, and then we did more canter and it felt downright lovely w/o stirrups! We worked on a funny exercise, lifting your legs off the horse out to the side, and and then letting them ‘hang down’ to the side. At the canter! Ahahaha.

We then did some lateral work and I tell you, trying to do that with the borrowed saddle was…interesting. My feet kept flying out in front of me and I was tipping backwards!? I felt rather unstable, which was amusing since our canter-no-stirrups work was so great and solid.

It was a good ride, and I am hoping I can borrow the saddle and that it works out okay today for my jump lesson.

It’s GO time!

Didn’t have my regularly scheduled jump lesson yesterday, as my trainer bumped it to Saturday- which is fine, because as it turns out, I managed to majorly wrench something in my back= back on fire for a few days…

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Photo courtesy of Nicole G. I love it so much! Big D and his mini-me.

Nevertheless, I gingerly made it out to the barn, feeling like a total hunchback with a raging headache that was creeping up from my sore back.

Every single vertebra hurt…I swear I could feel them all moving dis-harmoniously. Ouch…

Still, I rode Oats in the outdoor and actually had some fun. I was going to do some jumping, but I could NOT get in the groove at all. The jumps were small, but I just couldn’t seem to jump like a normal person. Stare at the jump until we are on it? Yep! Miss my distance every time? Yup! Crooked? Sure!

I knew I was riding poorly to protect my sore back, so I gave up on the jumping part (a wise decision) and went to do some flatwork without stirrups. Two-point, canter, trot, grab the pommel with one hand to situate myself…It was actually pretty good! My legs- inner thigh- were killing me. I ended the ride when I felt this huge knot in my thigh and thought to myself ‘If Oats makes one sudden move, you are definitely on the ground when you can’t hold yourself on.”

He didn’t though, he was a total saint.

He did have one BIG spook when a rider came out of the indoor and he didn’t hear them until they were behind him. Whoops!

I still have a bit of a sore back and lingering neck/headache today, but it’s not quite as terrible as it was yesterday. I’m sure being at work, sitting in front of a computer doesn’t help. Ow….

Busy weekend coming up, and busy next week too!

 

Just need a win

Actually had a pretty decent weekend, but it was book-ended with some real disappointments- both at work and at home.

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Little Oats in the back. Photo courtesy of Nicole G.

At home, we took time off on our busy Saturday (that could have been spent at a race, or doing something) to look at a really awesome house…That unfortunately everyone else thought was awesome too, because when we put an offer in, it got totally rejected and it was NOT a lowball offer, except in this market it seems like if you’re not offering 30-40k over asking, then it is? WTF?

So yeah, our weekend was spent making and losing an offer on a house. OH well…

My rides went really nicely with Oats, some small jumps on Saturday and some work w/o stirrups that really made my abs hurt, surprisingly and then some flatwork on Sunday that had me cantering him so strongly forward and up in the bridle that I was stunned! Who is this powerful horse and what did he do with my sluggy pony?? This new Oats, wow…He has me amazed.

I think dressage has really paid off for him! His canter is now so powerful that I don’t know what to do with it?!

I also went on a decent run- 9.5k to break my new runners in (Brooks Ghosts, they come highly recommended) and then on Sunday I went to run a few hills- 5k of hills for 30 minutes, a good short but quite tough workout. The shoes performed well, I like the amount of support they have on the downhills. My heels feel very nice in them.

So this week kind of started with a blah note. At least I hope the weather is ok?

Golden State

Second dressage lesson in a two week period for us–I had scheduled it that way because I think my week coming up might be too busy to try to squeeze in another dressage lesson.

And Oats was really good! We had some moments of great ‘try’ and some of awkwardness (his head-tossing feeling blocked at the trot). We even worked on some no-stirrups canter, upon which Oats immediately went down to trot when I kicked off my stirrups. Apparently the change in seat pressure is a big trigger for him–he thinks I’m at risk of falling off, so he slows right down? Hahaha! He takes care of me (sometimes).

We worked on no-stirrup canter, to sitting trot, to walk transitions. It was a good, wholesome and very thorough ride. In the walk work, we threw in a few straight lines, working with the mirrors to determine if we were actually straight or if he was moving his butt around too much–a lot of that actually…Also something interesting- instead of wanting to come down and through his body in the canter, Oats tossed in a few swaps to right lead from the left. WTF Oats? And you say flying lead changes are too hard, and you’re putting them out right left and centre to avoid giving to the bridle? Gak! To fix this, Karen had me make sure he didn’t have the opportunity to bring his nose outside on the left rein and it mostly fixed it, though I could feel him wanting to swap instead of come down.

The trot work that got kind of wonky was when we did a fair amount of canter, and then in the trot Oats got SO balky and head-tossy…And like was hopping up/down instead of striding forward. To fix that, Karen suggested I move my elbows forward to ‘give’ to him a bit, and kick kick kick him on! He was just feeling ‘blocked’.

It took a little bit, and I had to release my defensive position to enable some success here. Interestingly, my defensive position comes into play when stuff like this happens, probably because a tiny part of me doesn’t ‘trust’ Oats to make the right decision, ie- forward.

Despite my non-trusting, he worked out of it and we got some FAB trot.

Then, hilariously, we worked on this weird exercise called ‘make the horse crazy’ haha. The idea is to use your seat – VERY firmly- to PUSH the horse forward, as much as you can. It’s great for using a driving seat and for re-training riders like me who get defensive and tend to perch forward when they are unsure. Oats didn’t respond like crazy – ha, him? Nope…But we did eventually get enough forward to canter from that one seat direction. Cool eh? Karen did caution us to not practice this at home. It has to be done under direction, because it can backfire if you do it incorrectly. Noted!

 

 

A non-jump lesson

I had moved my lesson time up yesterday as I am on a bit of a different schedule Thur/Fri, and was kind of surprised by the amount of machinery on the ground in the outdoor arena…

Yeah, so not riding in the outdoor and not jumping I guess?

There were dumptrucks, trucks, backhoe and everything- working to clear out blackberries from the paddocks. I’m all for regular maintenance so that was good to see but MAN was it distracting to ride with (even in the indoor?!).

So I told my coach I was ok if we did flatwork but I needed a tune-up so I could work it without stirrups! And I did! For pretty much the whole ride, hahah. We had to sharpen him up with lots of walk-canter transitions (with stirrups) and then moved on to running through a dressage test twice without stirrups, hahaha.

The tests themselves- well, they were ok not great but not terrible. At least I had an excuse- hell-o, riding without stirrups here, voluntarily!

Oats was fine, and we had a very reasonable ride. Enjoying my days.

Leave no bridge unburned? Sometimes, I hate my pony.

So, back to dressage with Karen last night. Good and bad.

Summer Oats

Summer Oats

Bad: Oats is still being a weird asshole about everything in the outdoor. Balky, stopping suddenly and running backwards, when I counterbent, he just slammed on the brakes and refused to move, frightened, spooky, edgy, strange and not cooperative.

Good: Luckily, during our actual dressage lesson he toned down his crazy idiot behaviour and was great!

To be decided: What in HELL is making him act like this?

He is very relaxed, almost comatose, when we were cruising in the middle of the ring and then like when I try to push him to the outside of the arena he just gets super crazy, and tries to either scoot/spook or just slams on the brakes and starts running backwards. WTF??????

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Our dressage lesson was great though. So, we are in the middle of a change in our relationship that for the life of me, i CANNOT FIGURE OUT and I HATE OATS when he is acting like a moron. Seriously, I was so pissed off and frustrated before our lesson started I was almost in tears. TEARS! Stupid horse.

Anyways, I’m getting sucked into his drama and I really really hate it, and can’t seem to extricate myself reasonably.

The lesson itself was quite good- his lateral work continues to improve, he did stall out a bit but got out of it with minor shenanigans, we worked on walk-canter on very tight circles with minor success (it was actually hilarious) but also minor hissy-fits, so that was great too…And we did some work without stirrups (ouch my aching seat bonesssss) and Oats was very understanding about my bouncing and didn’t threaten to ditch me, he just went slower hahah. So, it’s weird- he was a total jerkface about going around in the ring, but in our focused and intense dressage lesson (mostly at a circle at the top of the arena) he was golden. Not perfect, but not an idiot- just trying, good and honestly trying.

I can appreciate that. What I can’t appreciate is the other side of him that wants to spook, bolt, slam on the brakes and then leave the scene. Even typing about it makes me MAD!

Sigh…Horses.

…to be continued, I suppose. I am taking tonight off – to watch Jurassic Park! And then jump lesson tomorrow. I can only imagine what that is going to be like?  He has been so good, and then SO BAD, and then good?