Keep me honest

Had another jump lesson, and I was very pleased with how it went! Again, it was not perfect, but I felt good, confident and was really riding very forward. Oats was good as gold (a minor bulge issue and some lead/changing lead awkwardness around changing directions) but SUCH a little star!

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This rode well all night.

I am enjoying doing semi-private lessons right now, and the funny thing is that having another rider, and people watching, helps keep me honest. Focused. Riding instead of getting overfaced and backing off. It’s like I’ve reached a point in my own confidence that I need to have an audience to keep me there. Otherwise, I back off, big time. And I know right now that I don’t need to. I am going there! I am doing it! I am being challenged and meeting that challenge.

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It’s a bummer it’s so dark, darn light changing. BUT this is the first time we’ve jumped the coop as a oxer! So wide, even if it doesn’t look like it! 

I think my motto now is: Challenge me. Make me.

And we are so there! Yeah! Go Oaty pony. I’m so proud of him, bobbles, silliness and all. I have things I want to fix (elbows, the straightness problem going into the uphill line AGAIN, the difficulty in changing leads, stalling out to a chip…) But on the whole? I am enjoying what I am doing, and getting a lot out of my boy.

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This is a two-stride that I rode conservatively (read: chicken) for a three, until the last course when I was like, fuck it! I go in two! And we DID.

This week we celebrated 9 years together. Each year he gets better and better! I guess we all do? How I love this. I really appreciate, cherish and find joy in our rides. He’s my prince, my pony, my boy.

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I love this picture, because we almost match the jump! How cute is that? Plus it rode just perfectly. The best line on course. 

Whenever people are frustrated with their current horse, I just think to myself- yep been there, done that, sometimes am still there. It takes the time it takes. YEARS even (in my case). Being mad about how slow progress is doesn’t help, it never does. Your ego doesn’t trump reality.

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And the ‘out’ of the same lattice-line. It rode really nicely. 

I have had to learn some really bruising lessons about ego (life, running and horses) and I had to learn them the hard way. However, I think it’s helped shape what I do now.

Sadly, there is no footage of us finishing on the triple bar jump (first one I have gathered up the feeble shreds of my courage to jump with Oats!) because we were too close to the videographer and it is close up and dark. Ah, well. It was such a good ride that I forgot that the main reason I was excited about it was to jump the triple bar?! Ha.

Adulted-out

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This weekend wasn’t all fun and games though…After our lovely getaway in Cumberland, complete with raging allergies that have given me a cold, we had to do some serious adulting. I’m talking boring, inescapable, chore type things. I don’t mind a good cleaning, or putting laundry away. This is the stuff that you put off as long as possible, like:

  • Getting a new cellphone. Painful in my world. Takes FOREVER!
  • Getting a hair cut. I have been putting this off for years now. Hate them!
  • Buying items for a baby shower. Unsurpassed only by physically attending the baby shower. So far I have been unscathed but I do still buy items for the shower, I’m not a total heartless monster…
  • Buying dog food, rabbit food, grain. Animals, why do you eat so much?! And why is my rabbit such a fussy eater, who hates the new stuff, or randomly decides he won’t eat his old food?!!
  • Taxes and any financial documentation form-finding= life purgatory.
  • Dentist appointments. Enough said.
  • Doctor appointments. Doubly enough said.
  • Going to the pharmacy for any reason. UGH!! Too many grabby-hands people driving me bananas.
  • Home repair items. A five-year going nowhere plan in the making…
  • Visiting Home Depot or Canadian Tire. Enough to make me want to burn my house down!!
  • Car repairs. Possibly worse than Home Depot or Canadian Tire? Definitely seems to be more often and right now, more freaking expensive and frustrating. ARGHHH.
  • Paying parking tickets. Particularly those stupid ones that say ‘resident parking only’ and you live on the street, for the love of god.
  • Dog licences. Why why why?
  • Horse Council Insurance. I get it, in the idealistic way of all insurances. But WTF.
  • Home insurance: Why are condos more expensive than houses??
  • Car insurance: Necessary evil. Emphasis on ‘EVIL’.

Wow, ok so I had a lot boiling up under my skin these days. Interesting.

Anyways, I’m also pleased to report that despite a lot of life frustrations at the moment (that really, everyone faces so what am I complaining about?), my dressage semi-private last night went SUPER well.

Oats is now learning how to say ‘yes ma’am’ and mean it!

Good pony boy. We had some really cool moments, and it was a fun lesson that felt really thorough and accessible. I’m getting to work more into Oats with lateral work (go us!) and we did some fun exercises on roundness, collecting the trot, building it back up again and such. We were significantly weaker in the canter for these exercises, but I’m assured that it is just something new we are learning and it will take time.

Nice to feel this type of progress, and I’m feeling more connected with Oats, and he is trying his little no-tail heart out!

When horses aren’t ‘generous’

I had an accidental private dressage lesson on Tuesday (my riding partner was not feeling well) and had an opportunity to try out more lateral work with my trainer, Karen.

Because I have no recent photos- my newest ribbon frame!  A good way to display all those ribbons cluttering up my bedroom.

Because I have no recent photos- my newest ribbon frame! A good way to display all those ribbons cluttering up my bedroom.

I said I really hate practicing it on my own because it feels so miserable and I can’t get the ‘feel’ right (much like jumping gymnastics. SO. AWKWARD!). So, she said we’ll work on that today. Ha, and I said lateral work makes me feel crazy.

We set off on head-to-the-wall leg yields first off the left rein and man, it was so ugly. Oats was resistant, chomping on the bit, head up, then pulling, then trying to barge past my legs, and my hands. It was very uncomfortable and awkward feeling. I felt like I was trying to parallel park a dump truck! Forward…back up…halt..sideways! Halt…forward..back up..stop suddenly…toss head around…sideways!

GAH

It was very frustrating, and I was like, no wonder lateral work makes me feel so nuts! We then changed reins and worked on it on the right rein, and it was like I was riding an entirely different pony. A fairy pony! Light as a feather! Moved sideways like a dream! Oats moved over so quickly, he needed only the softest of corrections, he kept his head in the right place, he felt so soft, so light, and so good! It was like riding a hummingbird, haha.

I was like, mouth agape…This feels wayyy different.

So that begs the question- why the two-sided argument? Why was the first side (on the left rein) so miserable, and then the right, so good and effortless? We have a few theories, and want to test them out next lesson:

1. He had to learn what was being asked, and had it figured out by the change of rein.

2. He is naturally moving softer on the right rein, and being asked to move off my left leg is easier.

Or both?

He is a fairly clever pony, who figures out what you’re asking, and then immediately learns out to, as Karen put it, ‘economize’ on your demands…Meaning, he is smart, gets it, and then figures out a way to evade the activity.

So, lots to think about anyways. We then worked on canter, sitting the canter, getting the outside rein in on the action and ‘softening’ on the inside rein. Easier said than done, but it is making my life a lot easier when I don’t feel anxious and grabby with the inside rein–I now have the outside rein to grab with impunity! I can let the inside relax more!

I also got the BEST big trot with Oats, so big that I was having trouble posting to it! The best trot I have ever gotten with him- I am loving his new ‘go-getter’ attitude. That brings me to my title- some horses are naturally more ‘generous’ with your demands, they will acquiesce a little more naturally, and forgive your mistakes.

Oats, on the other hand, is not quite so forgiving when it comes to stuff like lateral work, or me freezing up in the show ring. He does ‘tune me out’ well when I screw up, but he’s not particularly generous when I’m not asking things correctly (see all my lateral work, ugh).

The good news, is that the better I ride, the better he gets! Our partnership is slowly growing, bit by grudging bit…