Keeping your eyes up: First jump lesson back with Oats!

I was supposed to have my first lesson back on Tuesday but we rescheduled to Saturday. After a lovely dressage lesson on Thursday, I was on cloud 9!!! When Saturday rolled around though, I was a ball of anxiety. What-ifs went racing around my head, I felt sweaty and out of it, and just so anxious! For some reason all of my fears of his re-injury went around and around and it was so weird. We walked and trotted around, he’s gotten very silly about the doors and corners of the arena so I was glad to have a good 10 minute walk to get the sillies out and make him a solid and reliable citizen again, and he settled down.

We’re getting there- slowly but surely!

We limited the canter– again because we want to make sure to be VERY careful about how his post-rehab recovery goes. And when we went to right lead, we just started hopping over teeny-tiny fences! YAY! I was practically hyperventilating, and trust me when I say my breathing was kind of all over the place the whole afternoon after, because of a big post-adrenaline dump. Ha it was nuts!!

Oats was a total star! He was very chill, very ‘yes ma’am I got this’ about everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

And we just, did it! I was stiff, very awkward. I got left behind twice which feels unheard of for me?! Just because I couldn’t relax enough to really go with the movement at this stage. I also forgot where I was riding – in a course of four fences!! hahahhaahah man, I am rusty.

So glad we had this lesson on Saturday. It shut down a lot of fears in my head.

Weirdly we had a miserable ride yesterday for some reason (Oats was literally trembling with fear in the arena??? There were no bears or cougars, to my knowledge???) and was racing around like a deranged llama for most of the ride, sooooooooo yeah. It was great to have a very low-key and successful jump lesson.

As for yesterday who knows what his deal was? We had a very long, very quiet and very slow ride. I kept him in the walk until he stopped trembling and trying to exit stage left. We only trotted and then went back to walking, some lateral work that he was pretty good at, and called it quits when he was fine trotting quietly and not losing it. Horses!! My husband says they’re basically a confusing relationship hot and cold, good and bad?? Maybe!

Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

Oats gets a lesson in patience

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He looks so innocent..ย 

I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but Oats has quickly developed into a total moron in the indoor stable cross-ties. He was ok for the farrier a few times, and then last time he was fidgety and rude, and when the farrier left, he had a total meltdown…Managed to flip himself around in the cross-ties, SAT on the garbage can and handwash stations, flinging stuff absolutely everywhere and had a giant scrape on his face, thanks to him managing to turn completely around.

Jesus!

Ok, so the next farrier appointment we had outside and he was not great either, but not terrible.

Yesterday I had the saddle fitter come out to check my saddle and put more air in it (he is the owner of the brand I have, so I have him check everything once a year). Oats was only in the cross ties for under 30 minutes, and yet….

He starts going crazy and crashing the crossties as loudly as he can and banging around and generally being an idiot. And that’s how this idiot ended up hung up on the damned ceiling, like a fish! EFF!!!

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I had to run to him, unhook the cross tie from his halter, get a CHAIR, stand on the chair and unhook the damned x-tie from the ceiling.

After that, Oats got a really good ‘come to Jesus’ lesson that involved me being puffed up, big and VERY ANGRY every time he moved backward, forwards, sideways or was being otherwise dumb. One FOOT and I came roaring in to make him regret it. (I held the broom and slammed it against the wall, floor or x-ties, he doesn’t need to be physically hit with anything for this).

We repeated that little exercise a few time, he moves, I come RUSHING in and make him regret it! I pretended to leave, and waited to see what happened. He has to learn that he stands, end of story. No dancing, no sitting down, no flinging.

In the end, he stood somewhat nicely and that was ok. He got a candy cane as a treat ๐Ÿ™‚

And I do have a real feeling we will have to repeat this little exercise a few times to MAKE HIM GOOD IN THE XTIES AGAIN. I’m just glad there weren’t any people around..It was pretttty special.

Chriiist..He is 18 years old turning 19. And this? Still being an royal idiot.

If I like the fight in you, will you like to win?

It feels like ages since I’ve had a ride recap! I had a good dressage lesson last Friday, my jump lesson on Thursday was rescheduled to this upcoming Saturday (because we all attended a rider fitness course instead!), and I rode Sat/Monday, and took Sunday off to race in Cedar. So in short, been busy!

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My darling Oats!ย 

Friday we worked on rider positioning and straightness, featuring an exercise where I held gloves against my side, held in place with my inner arm. The idea being, the kinetic work being done also helps focus my body, and allows the horse to move more freely. It was very cool and we got some of the nicest, most connected trot I have ever seen in Oats! ๐Ÿ™‚ He was a very good boy and he seemed to really enjoy the exercise too.

I worked on the exercise again on Saturday, but was riding around lessons and just never really got into the ‘flow’ that I needed…Plus his canter was just, ugh. Very ugh. I decided to work on his canter on Monday, and I got a little too into my own head, and intense, and lost track of time while riding. I don’t love when that happens, because I have tried VERY hard to not be that rider anymore for him! I guess I still have some relapse moments… It wasn’t my finest moment, that’s for sure, but I guess they are far and few between these days at least?

I was also in a rush because we had Beer, Pizza, & Gelato night at Pizza Prima Strata so I had to finish up my ride, rush home, get changed and go to our event! This has been a pretty busy week- I am planning to ride (a light ride, no going down the rabbit hole tonight) to make up for missing my Sunday ride.

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Squid ink pizza with squid and paired with squid-ink beer. It was good!ย 

Oats on the other hand had a lesson on Tuesday when I had it off! He still gets a pretty regular schedule every week, even if my life happens to be very busy.

Much better

Ok crazy week recap:

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Monday: Oats still sick, on antibiotics that I frantically called my vet to get him put on from Saturday. Beerfest is on! Pizza and Beer night with gelato. It was AMAZING!

Tuesday: Work is crazy, Oats is apparently still really sick? I start freaking out…Go out to the barn and jog him up and down the hill, and it looks pretty good. No snot, minor coughs in the barn.

Wednesday: Ride Oats finally!! After two weeks my legs areย rusty hahaha. He has some coughs and snorts early in the ride, and it is insanely dusty in the ring. Like, I am coughing. So he’s doing quite well! Our first ride back in two weeks. After my ride on Wednesday, I head downtown for Beerfest Cheese and Beer night! It does NOT disappoint, unlike last year there are no crowds, the food is great and easily accessible and the beers are all my favs- Belgian Trippels, Belgians, and some sours and a fruit beer or two. YUM!

Thursday: Was going to try for my lesson but my trainer cancels this time! The dust in the arena aggravated a cough she had, and I can’t blame her. I go ride for my first ‘real’ ride and Oats is fantastic!! Coughing a bit, but it is so dusty that even I am coughing too, so I’m happy with the progress. Good boy ๐Ÿ™‚ Also on Thursday: We go see The Dears at Capital Ballroom (formerly Sugar Nightclub). It was a sweeeet concert! Weirdly there was almost nobody there, so we got practically a private show- could buy drinks with no line-ups, and were right up at the front!

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Phew. A busy, busy busy week. But, I’m just so happy that Oats is on the road to recovery. That was a long illness he had, and I was worried antibiotics weren’t helping- until they did, ha. I know I made the right decision to have him put on them, it had gone on long enough!

What does this weekend hold? Phew I dunno, I’m tired from the week!!

Saturday Jump lesson: Recap!

I had changed my jump lesson from Thursday night to Saturday for my trainer’s birthday (worth it!! so fun) and we rescheduled for 2 p.m. I had kind of an irritable morning–it started off well with Gidget at the park, showing off her new playground climbing skills, and then I felt restless, agitated and anxious….I just can’t do the ‘sitting around’ thing.

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Our internet bombed out, again, so we were just bumming around until I had to get ready to go. I dropped my husband off and there was a massive clusterfuck of traffic…All of this contributed to me feeling even more off that day! ARGH. I got to the barn, and my allergies hit into overdrive–I could manage them, but I had a feeling that my anxious/gaspy, struggling to catch my breath would affect me later- still blew it off, but would later regret it…

During my jump lesson Oats felt pretty ‘meh’ even though he had two whole days off. Lazy pony! We worked on a really fun exercise- x-rail to low-wide oxer gymnastic again, to a small course of 9 fences. I was struggling to catch my breath–and it felt like my heart was racing. What on earth was going on??

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then jumped…Awkardly.

We caught a right drift that Oats was sneakily putting in, and after correcting that, I was quite pleased with his efforts. Nothing fantabulous, but just some good, solid work. I was still struggling a lot with catching my breath, and it felt like with the excitement of jumping, it was triggering an asthmatic response in my breathing. Greeaaat…

It took me much longer to catch my breath after jumping, which sucked and made me feel a bit worried. The good news? It wasn’t the jumps that were worrying me! Oats was a cool pony and he was so honest and good…Nice guy!

I was very pleased with him, and with me in the end for coolly riding out the small gymnastic and courses with minimal nerves. I think there’s really something in it, jumping smaller fences. They just ‘flow’ for me, and even when I boff them up, it’s no biggie!

(It’s never ‘perfect’ though- it’s good sometimes, bad others, and ok all the rest. And I am enjoying the process like never before!). Go Oats go!

And Oats gives me a heart attack

Got out to the barn last night and I was feeling pretty tired and unmotivated, I guess that’s what riding after my dressage lesson on Tuesdays gives me…But I’m not having my jump lesson tonight (other plans) and I have after-work plans on Friday night, so my jump lesson got moved to Saturday, so I haaaad to ride.

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Yeah, right.

I guess Oats was feeling the exact same way, because when I got to the barn, I went to get Oats out of his shelter and he was LAYING IN HIS HAY MOANING>?!! And kind of biting at his belly???

Dear god. The only thing running through my mind wasย colic!

I got his halter on, tugged him up, and surveyed his shelter. Good poops, lots of hay, he ate his dinner. So what is going on? He walked fine next to me, slowly (he is an incredibly slow walker). Nibbled at grass. Gut sounds fine, gurgly, not deadly silent.

So, wtf?

He seemed fine, by all accounts? I panic-texted my friend Sarah, who assured me that if he was pooping, gurgling and nibbling at grass he was probably fine. And you know…He was.

I tacked him up, rode him around for a bit. He was good, but quite lethargic/tired (so was I, so I can’t blame him). My riding was pretty much terrible, and it’s only due to him being an absolute saint that he didn’t dump me off at an x-rail…Ha.

He even pooped during the ride and I inspected it closely, and it was good. (yeah I know, good poops. Who am I??).

My guess…Tired. He’s actually done this once before- last year I came upon him in his shed, laying in his hay, groaning. I almost had a heart attack then too! And he was even harder to pull to his feet?! But he was fine, acting normally, but very tired and sleepy.

Maybe this is his once-a-year weirdness? Anyways, it always scares the bejeezus out of me.

My other trainer thought it might be a fart. Hahaha.

I’m just glad he was fine, and that this pretty much only happens once a year. I don’t know what I would do without my little pony buddy!

He ate a licorice candy, and this time he was super not impressed with it. He ate it because there was nothing else, but kept sniffing at my hands and mumbling them with his lips to see if what I had in my hand was tastier!

 

What could have been?

Scorched earth policy

Scorched earth policy: Art by the famous Robert Montgomery

As I indicated yesterday, Oats and I are at a crossroads. I want to make sure he is a happy, willing partner who likes being with me, and respects me.

So, that leaves me with a puzzle. How much of his behaviour is Oats’ attitude (and boy, he has TONS of ‘tude), and is there anything else underlying that I should be aware of?

What changed?

I literally see two paths before us right now:

1. Push through it with more work- groundwork and others. Get my ballsy friend on him to sort out some of the under saddle stuff.

2. Don’t do anything under saddle and let him take a bit of a break for awhile, until he gets his chiropractic visit. Re-asses, but with time off- a few weeks off from lessons and serious under saddle stuff?

I am leaning a bit more towards course of action #2 at the moment.

We literally NEVER take time off. I am not good at downtime, unfortunately. Does that mean my horse has to never get downtime either? It just scares me, this long stretch of …what?? No goals? Progress? Etc? To be completely fair, I am bad about this with myself. I have a nagging knee problem that got really bad last year when I was running 10k regularly. It was extremely painful, and I ended up not being able to run that distance anymore- physically at all.

I did everything- went to a physio, ran shorter distances as recommended by them, bought a knee brace, ran shorter trail runs, did more stair runs, broke up my runs, stopped running 10ks (except when I did run them, oops!).

Everything except…Take a break and stop running.

And what happened? Over a year later, my knee is still messed up and I can’t seem to really stop running, but the knee thing is still stopping me from really ‘enjoying’ my run and I can’t do 10ks unless I commit to limping at least half of it. I am getting a referral to a sports medicine doctor in a few weeks so that is that I hope!

BUT

As a life lesson, I don’t want my relationship with Oats to become a nagging knee injury, limping along a year later. I want to enjoy being with him, riding him, without worrying and with more trust. And I just feel super bummed about it too, because things were going WELL with him. I feel like I’ve been riding him more consistently and more thoroughly than ever??

I ran this conundrum by a not really horsey coworker and they thought that step #2 was a wiser course of action. I find that interesting, and they are really just coming to the scenario not really knowing me or Oats, but knowing that animals can be tricky sometimes, and we really just want what’s right for them.

Hmmm….Waiting to hear back from Oats’ chiro!

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Equine diet course: Don’t eat like this!

Equine diet course: Don't eat like this!

Photo is a delicious funnel cake I made last year (or the year before?) with a friend. Yumm!

But, it nicely illustrates that a lack of nutrition is causing an obesity/overweight crises in North America and some areas in Europe. Misfed or malnourished no longer seems to refer to skinny or starved horses, instead, our horses are experiencing an obesity crises of their own!

We had the good fortune to have an equine diet course taught last night by Dr. Stephen Duren, who was hilarious and really informative.

He reviewed the basic digestion of the horse, and the most important part of a horse’s diet- forage and movement.

Stalled horses are more prone to digestive issues, including ulcers. Free-moving horses do the best, with quality forage for their environment.

He reviewed the obesity issue with us (human and horse!!) and discussed case studies of what to feed an obese horse that he showed us. We discussed insulin resistance, special case studies, and the differences in oats/hay/grains. It was very interesting.

Then, we had time for a long Q&A that people asked questions about their personal horses, and questions of feeding- like feeding beet pulp, soya hulls, soaking beet pulp, supplements, allergies.

Vancouver Island is an interesting case for hay, as our hay is not good quality at all. The longer the hay grows, the less good it becomes- it is more fibrous which an cause blockage in the intestine, and it has more sugar because it sits in the sun for longer to dry out. It is also a rather unappealing browny-yellow instead of a soft, rich green of nicer hay. We are also deficient in Selenium and Vitamin E, and he is seeing more cases of calcium deficiencies and other minerals as well.

I went to the course right after I had a quick (yes I had my phone with me to keep an eagle eye on the time!) ride. He was great!! Worked on trot 10 steps, canter 10 steps on a circle exercise from the dressage show. It was WAY easier on the left, obvi. We also worked on getting some bangin’ trot. Woo!

I’m glad I went, and I thank Greenhawk for putting this on for us. I really learned a lot and enjoyed the session. Funny and informative!

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My two favourite guys

My two favourite guys

Things have been pretty crazy. Like, my goal is to take a lunch this week kind of crazy.

Luckily, Oats has been adorable and on Saturday, the weather was fabulous.

Thursday I had such a delicious ride, I couldn’t believe myself. Oats canter was amazing, he was so wonderful and flexible.

Saturday was another fun ride, and my husband came by to pick me up (he had borrowed the car) so I snapped some fun shots. It was that warm out, in January!

Sunday, I had set up a braiding clinic for myself and some barn friends. I arranged for another friend who is quite the accomplished braider and turnout guru to teach us how to braid. It was really good! I learned a new skill (that I apparently knew at one point) and was proud to be able to practice it.

It was quite chilly on Sunday though, so after 3+ hours of braiding and hanging around, I had ZERO desire to ride! Plus Oats had some wild energy to let loose, so I went home for lunch and he went outside for a romp.

Went for a run this weekend and my new goal is 1- longer run and 1- shorter run (up the hill to the reservoir) with the dog each week. I think it is fairly doable? Except Gidget started trying to run home when I was jogging with her. She’ll get into it though, I hope!

Fingers crossed some of this craziness slows down a little bit! Yikes! I am also going to try to practice braiding and pulling Oats mane each time I ride, after I ride.