Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

With a busy few weeks, you’d think that my riding has taken a hit, but it hasn’t! I am happy to say I have had some great jump lessons lately, taking advantage of the outdoor arena while it is still open for the season. AND I had a dressage lesson this past Friday with a new trainer! Yeah! I have been dressage-trainerless for quite some time since our previous trainer Karen Brain moved to Vancouver.

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Doesn’t this look just like Oats? An artist in our community does animal portraits, and while this isn’t mine, I love it! 

Cue sad face, arghhh now what?

I worked with another trainer who was just lovely, but she too moved! Man!

So on Friday I rode with Samantha, who owns a really amazing facility in the Saanich Peninsula. It’s gorgeous! I was a bit nervous, I had a stressful day at work, was planning to go to my family’s place for dinner (stressful on its own right), and a new trainer? Plus was feeling anxious about the level (First Level test 3) that I signed up for next, and quite frankly a bit overwhelmed?

Yeah…Not the recipe for success. At this point, I wanted to cancel all of my plans and toss it up and go for a glass of wine at happy hour after work!

But, I sucked it up, and you know what? Things went well. The lesson went super, I was happy with the techniques and tips offered to us, the trainer listened nicely and was very encouraging and positive about Oats and I and our partnership. It felt really cool, and the exercise (a movement in the test I was freaking out about) turned out to work really well! No problems! And the dinner meet-up didn’t have drama, thank god.

Now, I just have to replicate it on the day. But if I don’t? There’s always another show, another day and another ride.

I was fussing about time last night (had a chiropractic appointment, my first ever) and was running late to get to the barn, and trying to figure out when I’d be home, when my husband said to me, instead of my fussing about time: How about you just go and have fun?

He was right. Early, late, middle ground= all that matters is fun. And so, I had my relaxing walk-trot ride around the field last night, in the fading light. The long shadows took over the grass, and for 30 minutes, I didn’t think about anything at all.

And that, friends, is true luxury.

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So many things! Horse update

So, in between my crazy schedule lately of holiday- work trip up North- music festival in Vancouver I had a jump lesson! And I wasn’t 100% pleased with Oats (his effort to my effort ratio does NOT always match up) I was pleased with how it rode in the end, and in my anxiety levels.

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I was riding in a semi-private with another young rider – just for the month of Sept- but I’m really enjoying it! It’s fun to watch another rider negotiate the same course and see what challenges they face, and how their horse jumps as well.

Oats was stuck off my leg, sulky and kind of rude about it for oh, the first 2 or 3 jumps in the course but we figured it out and he got with the program. AND the jumps went a little higher and we didn’t wig out (Oats knocked a rail off one, dammit!). That will cost us in the hunter/jumper ring…

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Weather was great, and we had some nice jump vibes. Bonus- the other rider’s mom was there and took some photos. YES! I never get media, so I am just loving it. 🙂 It started raining this weekend (and basically didn’t stop in Vancouver) so our time in the outdoor is sadly limited. I will enjoy it while I can.

Another busy week coming right up!

Hard but worth it

I had a sports psychologist session with the great Dave Freeze yesterday, right before my riding lesson and it was really insightful. Weirdly I cried on and off the entire time, but I didn’t feel sad- I felt pretty good. And my face didn’t get all red and hot like real tears, I felt fine, no puffy swollen eyes, nothing. It was just emotion, coming out like how it wanted to!

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Whee! Jump jump. From a lesson a few weeks ago.

(As a non-crier, it felt weird).

Anyways, it was a lot to go through and I felt kind of wrung out by the end, but I have some valuable tools to work with and the best part- I was able to head straight over to my lesson after and put it into practice!

Basically to sum it up all I have to do for riding:

  1. Show up
  2. Give it my best
  3. Manage my mistakes
  4. Learn
  5. Look for high powered FUN!

Easy right? Ha! But yes some good things to work on.

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Go Oats go!

I went into my lesson feeling pretty good! Almost immediately I had some ‘external bubble’ things to deal with- it was freezing, so I was shivering and had to grab my gross old barn jacket to wear. No problem, addressed.

Then, Oats was really draggy and non-interested in my warmup. High headed, kind of frustrating, slow off the leg, reins not there, spooky and generally not paying attention. Spooks? Over and done with. Letting it go.

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Funny thing, this was a very awkward jump. Looks fine in a still eh?

Lazy? Deal, don’t dwell.

I was actually pretty good at managing my emotions well in the warm-up, whereas I know I wanted to get frustrated. But you know what? Regardless of how he warms up, I can manage MY emotions- I can’t manage his. So, I will do that!

Anyways, the warm up for the course was good for the first half, and then the second half I got left behind a few times, Oats was hesitant and backed off. No problem. I will go around and try it again! See how that goes. (better).

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Jumping the coop. It is so pretty!

Course time- I was a bit nervous- see the backed-off part…But I thought, hey let’s just see how this goes? I make a mistake, I manage it. No biggie. And you know what? It rode really nicely! Not perfect (HAH) but pretty darn good.

We did the course once, and I had some fleeting thoughts of doing it again, but decided against it. I have to minds of this. Sarah A and Sarah B.

Sarah A: You are a chicken! Why didn’t you ride it again? It went so well, what are you afraid of, screwing it up??

Sarah B: The course went well and you managed all your minor errors. Nice work. Why don’t we take that good feeling home and know that you can be kinder to yourself on a day that you already did a lot of personal work? There is always a next time to ride a good course.

See where I am going with this? It’s tough. I want to be Sarah B all the time 🙂 And if I was, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this! Moving on…ha.

Calling you from my dreams: Ride recaps!

Now where did I leave off? Oh yeah, my friend and I had another fun bomb around the x-c fields jump session, AND I even got her to take media! We jumped everything a bunch of times and it was great. Until…

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Thanks to Lindsay for the media. Not a high jump but a wider one!

We went to the small field that is super rutted and full of holes to jump the coop, and I was sitting watching her jump and BLAM! Oats spooked, and spun so fast I didn’t even have time to formulate 1 thought- and bang, I was on the ground. And damn, did it hurt! The field has had no rain, and the ground feels like freaking concrete right now.

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Jumping the coop (it looks bigger in person, I swear) right after I fell off.

I fell hard on my right hip, but the twisting motion meant my left hip/pelvis really hurt the most. I hopped back on and jumped the jumps in the field, and then we were finished with that. Walking back up the hill to the barn sucked though, I was in world of hurt and limping a bit. I thought I could maybe power through and still go running but nope…my back, pelvis, neck and shoulders were just killing me.

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We could never figure out the right distance to this. He kept stopping! Jerk! 

So I had to take the next few days off running (just walking was hard enough) and I rode on the Sunday before my holiday but very gingerly and was quite sore. Damn!

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Oh well, by the time my holidays came the pain had mostly lifted and I am back to riding (rode in the ring on Saturday and in the field Sunday) and running like normal. I do have a massage therapy appointment tomorrow afternoon to help with the pelvic/hip tightness.

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Horses!!

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Ha. So awkward.

Try

Had a jump lesson last night, after a really slack week of riding (mostly in the field, and an equine counseling session). My focus for the jump ride was twofold: work on managing my anxiety during jumping with a few more techniques that I was developing with my equine counselor, and see what I can do about the ‘spur-suasion’ situation with Oats.

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Screengrabs from jumping in the field last week. So fun and so HOT! I miss that!

And did I achieve these? YES I did! It was by no means perfect (haa…) and I almost bit it hard when I decided I would ‘see’ a distance, and jump for it by spurring Oats – whoops- while simultaneously jumping ahead onto his neck. He declined my dumbass move and I wound up on his freaking neck. Yikes!

However a few good takeaways- I was able to vocalize and manage my anxiety, to the tune of having an excellent first jump on-course both times! And my first course was just lovely, no complaints. And we rode through a grid many times and it went quite well (grids are usually my absolute nemesis, ha).

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Love our homemade x-c course.

I even kind of fumbled the grid after riding the course – I got a bit backed off and less generous with my body- so I decided unilaterally that I would ride it again!

That to me is big- I quite often get backed off and decide that NO that’s it. Even during the second course, when the wheels kind of fell off and the cracks started showing…Part of me was really bummed that our first course was pretty great, and the second sucked. But I had to put that part of me away, and just. deal.with.it. Pretty? Ha no. Challenging? Oh yes. But workable? Definitely!

I think slowing things down, really allowing myself to ‘feel’ all of my nervous energy helped me have a lovely first jump each time. The rest will come.

Go Get Ahead: Happy Birthday to ME!

Ah, yes the old birthday. I found streaks of white hairs this year- wha? I’m too young for this shit!

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I had a lovely birthday though and enjoyed it several ways: Riding my horse on Friday night, to come home to a dinner of seafood and cake by my husband. Going for a looong hike on Saturday with great weather, my husband and my dog. Dinner with my in-laws which was delicious and great company! Can’t complain about that 🙂

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How Gidget hikes- in a backpack, ha. 

And on Sunday, I had a dressage lesson with Oats (mixed reviews on how the ride went. Our canter needs help, god! But our trot was super awesome!) and then I zipped out to Greenhawk to buy myself (ok let’s be real here, it was for Oats) new boots and some MSM. And completely forgot WHY I was at Greenhawk to begin with…So I have to go back now. Shit!!

And then I was off to enjoy some ceasars and mini golf with my buddy! A fantastic day and a great way to cap off my holiday – birthday haha.

Had a good ride on Oats yesterday, alternated between riding in the field, to the outdoor, back to the field. It was hot hot hot! I looooove summer weather.

 

Be the one you love: A good lesson update

Last jumping lesson, I was kind of bemoaning the fact that Oats just didn’t have any ‘oomph’ and consequently was grinding slowly to a halt at some pretty easy fences. I just didn’t have it in me to make a change in those last few strides, even though I knew I had to. So how do I manage this? What can I do to help?

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Nancy took this photo of Oats sharing a moment with her daughter’s pony and Oats’ twin. So cute! 

A few things actually- I had an equine counseling session to determine why my anxiety was stopping me from being more proactive on Monday.

And in my riding lesson last night, I came armed with something a little more – a pair of my ‘motivator’ spurs (they are pretty long). Now a note about Oats and spurs: I could NOT use them on him for years. He would basically send me to the freaking moon. He had a very hard buck and was not afraid to use it! So, I couldn’t use my ‘motivators’ on him, heck I couldn’t even use my regular small spurs on him.

But now, he is at the ripe old age of 17 and more mature. It was time.

So I came into the ride with some backup to my leg – the long spurs. We warmed up in the arena, and I kind of wanted to have a freakout when he got silly about going through the gate to the outdoor field (where we spent time on Wednesday setting up x-c style jumps…so fun!!) but Oats gets weird about the gate, so he was rearing/hopping up, etc.

With that, I wanted to spiral. Shit!!

But Nicole talked me through it, haha and soon we were happily walking and trotting in and out of the arena to the field with no drama. Phew!! Now on to jumping. We warmed up in canter over a small x-rail to a 6-or 7- stride line. The normal Oats would get 7…and that would be a stretch. The new and improved motivated Oats? 6 bang on. Wow!!

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Our ‘x-c’ jumps in the field.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the spurs would have on our ‘forward to the jump’ at all. It was crazy- my legs got tired because instead of squeezing or kicking, I was having to steer with them, and hold them still! They were burning? Oats also had a few ‘squeal!!’ moments when he realized I was using my spurs to get some forward- a few sassy kick outs but nothing bad.

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This one looked weird but rode fine!

And I realized that I was definitely going to have to get used to this ‘new Oats’…He was very forward, but when I was not careful and kicked or squeezed with my spurs too much, he ‘spurted’ forward and would get flat over the fence= rails down. I had to be more careful about maintaining the pace, rather than trying to get ‘more’ pace as I am used to.

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We jumped the other hay bales, not these ones.

All in all, it felt crazy, exciting and kind of thrilling. Who is this new thoroughbred I am riding? It’s Oats! We also went into the field and schooled some of the small x-c jumps and he was awesome, but we also faced the forward =/ flat jump issue and he hardcore ignored some half halts and just slammed a rail. SIGH! Oh well. He was very responsive and I was very impressed. Wow.

As with any new power, comes responsibility. I will only use these for jump lessons under supervision.