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!

 

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The Zen of riding

This is a scaled-back week for both Oats and myself, for a variety of reasons.

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My patio last weekend. Ah..

Sunday we had our dressage lesson and we had backslid considerably from when I left on my trip, darnit!! Oh well, that’s where things go I guess. Monday I rode in the outdoor and it was a pretty zippy ride, fast and fairly quick. I didn’t want to drill anything from Sunday= cranky horse.

Tuesday I promised I was going to ride indoors, but when I got to the barn, it was SO nice out, warm, sunny…and the indoor was incredibly dusty and choking and stifling. Gag. So another rider and I took to the outdoors (she convinced me, ha twist my rubber arm) and you know what? I didn’t do a whole lot of anything and it was so nice.

For someone who likes drilling, focusing, being prepared and really riding HARD it was a real change-up for me.

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Professional candy-buyer

We warmed up, worked over trot-and-then-canter poles (Oats was GREAT!) and then just…chilled and walked around the arena chatting with my friend. I really liked it, and it made me feel super zen and just ‘ok’ with life. It’s a good feeling, that one of contentment and happiness.

I hopped off, and for once didn’t feel exhausted or tired or anything. I just felt fine with the world. No lesson tonight (I am kind of broke after the Peru trip and May has five Thursdays in it, so I paid for four and am taking this one off). It actually works quite nicely with my week schedule of low-key, quiet rides.

Back to the barn

I took two weeks off from riding when I was in Peru, but Oats had the lucky opportunity to have a few rides by my friend and her friend. Yes! Unfortunately, his canter sucked. It’s time for him to have a chiropractic adjustment, because a big tell for him is swapping his canter leads when asked for anything remotely more challenging that his ‘one canter’…

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I tested this when I got back and yep. High time for him to have a tune-up, as he was swapping right, left and centre! ARGH. He has an appointment this Wednesday.

But, the good news is that he was raring to go when I got back on-board. Yay! He’s still moving and feeling fine, and I had some fun rides back. I even rode the day I got back (very much NOT recommended, I was a zombie), but I missed him so much I couldn’t resist.

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We had our jumping lesson last night in the outdoor- first time for us this season and it *just* opened. I told Nicole to temper our expectations, ha because I wasn’t sure how it would go after taking two weeks off, and our first time in the outdoor. I should have just kept my mouth shut, because it went great!  Oats was super, and once we got through the course he started really flowing. He started off sticky and backed off (due to the change in footing I believe) but I was quite happy with how the course rode.

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Bonus: We now have rocks to jump, thanks to Nicole and Brenda buying jumps from the other trainer Karen. And Oats jumped them without any issues! Yessss!

It feels so so good to ride again. I always miss him when I am travelling 🙂

The next blue sky- Jump lesson recap!

Jump lesson on Thursday! And we are officially out in the wide open arena, and with it came a lot of anxiety and trepidation. I love riding in the outdoor (so big! so freeing!) but I have had some rough rides out there, so my love of it is always tempered by fear. Last summer, I spent a LOT of time falling off jumping in the outdoor. Sometimes twice in one lesson!

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I swear, there wasn’t one lesson I did’t fall off in. So what was up with that? Some pretty severe growing pains, I guess?

Anyways, I was excited but nervous. Nicole had set up a really cool equitation course, but it had FIVE oxers in it (could have been six, but we left the first jump a single, since we flubbed it EVERY time we went to it…yeah).

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But they were small oxers (2”) but to me, they looked big? Ha that’s my brain playing tricks on me. Last week I jumped a 2’9” oxer??? And this week I’m fussing about 2” oxers? Oh brain, get with the program.

Anyways, Oats was moving a bit weirdly because he is tender-footed and finds it hard in the outdoor until he gets his shoes on (June 8) BUT he was going pretty nice for a horse that pussy-foots everywhere! Nicole got after me for wanting to chase him at the jumps. We did get two refusals, but I chalked those up to bad distances, re-approached with no issues at all.

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Later the jumps looked tiny, ha. Oh well! We had some great moments, some really shitty ones (eeek, 3 strides in the 2, we never made the two..gah) and the first jump was always craptacular. But you know what? We DID IT!  Jumped successfully a reasonably long course in the outdoor with lots of twists, turns, oxers and a trot fence- yeah we flubbed that one too.

Things to work on: Straightness, jesus. Not straight at all as I go along the course. Elbows! Sitting in the backseat- give a little more to the horse. Breathing. The usual…;)

Good first day back in the outdoor, and bit by bit, I will conquer my outdoor demons, haha.

Back to the grind

Yep, back at it (work, riding, running, normal life that doesn’t include sitting at a pool drinking wine)..sigh. And I am still really sick, coughing a lot with some intense sinus pain pretty much daily. Love it.

Monday I flew in and rode Oats pretty much immediately. It was a HOT day and it surprised the heck out of me! We still rode in the indoor because my trainer and friends were hard at work on the outdoor, fixing it up and setting a course. It looks fantastic!

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Outdoor 2017!! Summer here we come. Doesn’t it look divine?

Tuesday I didn’t have a lesson, and desperately wanted to check out the outdoor arena, but it was not to be- there was a sudden and fierce windstorm, with winds gusting from 70-90km/hr! I had a devil of a time walking home from work, and then I was walking Gidget and the wind was so awful it blew her dog poo bag right off her leash where it was tied. She was getting blown backwards! It was horrible!

Nevertheless, I trudged out to the barn, my car getting pelted with small tree debris, leaves and branches. Greeeat….

My ride was good, but the tack-up and grooming part was marred a bit by me getting annoyed by a fellow rider, who insisted on ‘claiming’ a cross tie that led to me having to move all of my grooming equipment and tack THREE times. Next time, I’m saying too bad so sad you move! Seriously! I was pissed, had a violent sinus headache and just wanted to ride, go to the pharmacy and crash at home.

Anyways, despite that, Oats was in a good mood even if I wasn’t! Good boy. We worked on posting at the canter over poles, and I let it help me find my distances (sort of worked) as poles are our hardest work. I find it much easier to find a distance to an actual jump.

A good ride, even though my horrible sinus pain still plagued me and I couldn’t WAIT to get to the pharmacy to get some sweet sweet cold medication (I actually finished an entire pack last week, ugh this cold is something horrible).

Last night Oats had off, and I went running and made dinner. Tonight- jump lesson in the outdoor!

Don’t make me read your mind: Weekend recap!

Man, I can’t believe it’s Monday already. I am in serious need of a longer weekend. 2 days off is just not cutting it anymore…

I had a fairly nice weekend, nothing too amazing happened but I enjoyed it nonetheless (just need more of it!). Ran a brief 5k on Friday in the rain to test how my new running shoes performed on wet surfaces- verdict: still slippery. Went out for drinks with a friend, and really enjoyed my cocktails!

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Saturday I got up and went riding first thing, and then after lunch and a bit of hanging around, drove out to the Galloping Goose and ran 15k. It went okay, I felt fine during it but started to get a bit antsy near the middle-to-end. Weather was nice, better than the washing machine I ran in on Friday!

Sunday, rode again and this time, rode indoors. On Saturday, I could definitely feel that tense-anxiety thing happening in the outdoors with Oats. He was behaving fine, but I was looking  out for trouble- and that isn’t a great combo for him. I need to not have these battles again. So, for my ride on Sunday I was very well aware that this was brewing within me.

I have NO desire to bring back my anxieties of the outdoor arena, and I know a very cold, very blustery and rainy day isn’t the right time to test myself or him. Indoors it is!

And I’m glad I went indoors, he was high as a kite! We went straight into very active trotting, to a big canter, to lots of canter, to still cantering, to keeping cantering, to my legs are so tired they are going to fall off cantering! The whole ride Oats was snorty and very active. He just wanted to go-go-go-go.

I can count the number of times Oats has this much energy on one hand- like, twice a year. I was like, ahhh this would have been a great day to jump. Oh well, it was a very strenuous and sweaty ride. I was freezing after though, so chilled. Right to the bone!

I grazed Oats for a bit and then zipped off home, to have lunch and then get changed to run 5k of hills- I do a specific pattern in my neighbourhood of 4 hills, twice. By the fourth hill, I head up for the 5th time and wow…Does it ever drag!

My legs were feeling a little beat up, but not too bad considering how terrible they feel if I try to do this on a weekday, after work. 100X harder. My legs feel like stone, and I am dragging them along. It’s just too hard after a workday.

And then I bought some interesting items at Winners- peanut butter flour (Tru-nut with cocoa) and some pretty decent Turkish Delight. I LOVE the peanut butter flour. SO good.

 

Throwback Thursday: That one time in Vancouver…

Throwback Thursday to when I remember having a lot of fun riding a silly little pony- Starr!

A million years ago.

A million years ago.

I goofed off on her, ponied her off other horses, jumped bareback, rode in a horse show (??) raced another girl – on foot- and just had a all-around blast. I always said if I had two horses, one would be a show horse and one would be a tiny goof-off pony like Starr to bomb around on and just have FUN!

Go pony!

Go pony!

And how about my current pony? Well yesterday I did another equine counseling session and I relayed some things I have been struggling with (still). Fear of falling off due to a big spook in the outdoor, defensive riding, making better choices for both of us, having productive and GOOD dressage lesson and have fun galloping out in the field!

Pony jumpers with Starr

Pony jumpers with Starr

So, we took Oats to the outdoor and she demonstrated how to work him through the ‘spooky spots’ on the longe first, to establish a connection- this is key to what I feel I’ve been missing with him whenever he misbehaves or gets silly in the ‘spooky corners.’ He did fuss and fight a bit, but that got shut down really fast and the good, honest work began.

It was great to see, and productive for my poor overwrought brain to watch him behave in the scary corner. Now, to fix me and how I ride in the outdoor…A bigger challenge, perhaps?