Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

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Time owes you nothing

And enough with the running, how is the riding? Pretty darn good! I know my dressage these days is…Not great (that’s what happens when I do it unsupervised, it kind of sucks, ha) but each ride I come off my pony thinking, I’m so lucky to have such a great schoolmaster! 

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Oats in his other job- carting my husband back to the barn. 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being happy with what you have, the horse you have in this moment of time? Even when it is distinctly non-glamorous work (walk- canter departs yesterday, I have to limit how many I do because it is tiring for Oats).

Yesterday Oats even had a chance to play school pony, for my friend’s adult niece. The young lady had a ride on my friend’s horse and he acted kind of out of character and freaked the niece right out! I was very surprised, this is a horse that I have literally gotten on and like, whaled on him to get him to go! And he’s spooky and acting silly with a beginner rider? Wha?

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Such a good boy 🙂

So I offered up good old Mr. Oats for a pony ride! We felt it was important that she have a good experience with a horse, and I offered that Oats is smaller, closer to the ground too 😉 Ian said why would you say that (hahhh) but it makes people feel safer!

So we got her up on Oats, and I just held him still. She teared up! But I said look, it’s ok. He’s not going anywhere. He stood still for a bit, and then we walked around and everything went totally fine 🙂 I said- you’re in charge of the ride, you tell me when you want me to stop. And everything went fine, and no fuss or drama. Yay! What a good boy.

It just gladdens my heart to see him being such a solid little guy. Not only am I enjoying my rides, but others can too.

And on Saturday I worked on the most boring of things, but it seemed to be a little rusty…halt-trot transitions. Yay?? Ha. Oh well! Such is the tedium of the day-to-day eh?

No one does it like you

Wow, so like a week of silence… Life got too busy, work kind of blew up in my face and I couldn’t deal with 1 more thing, at all for the past two weeks. I am hopefully coming out the other end of it, but yeahhh… Not fun. At all.

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Love my boy

Also my allergies went completely off the rails and friends, I am suffering. Congested, incredible sinus pain, itchy upper palate, allergic coughing, eyes swelling shut and so itchy that I can’t even deal…Oh boy, I love it. Add this to work and I spent most of the week absolutely miserable.

But there is also the good: Weather! We had a crazy turnaround and had highs of 19-20 degrees this week. It felt incredible and sadly we are back to seasonal (still pretty decent) but on Wednesday it was downright HOT! Woah! I loved it. 🙂

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I went to the beach- 20 degrees, can you believe it? 

Horses! Oats has been a total superstar!! Love my boy. We had a gymnastics jump lesson last Thursday (I hate gymnastics, so it was …Not that inspired, ha.) and then we had a really fun jump course on Saturday, with all sorts of crazy jumps! Not high, but definitely getting more consistent at the 2’6” -ish level heights. We also had a cavaletti jump at ‘A’ that really caught us out a few times, as well as a 1-ft circle jump that I biffed HARD by staring at it, hahaha. It was fun though!!

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Got myself a latte at a new coffee shop nearby: Pretty eh?

Sunday I went on a run with a work friend, and then went riding later. Oats has been really good, although I’m noticing his ‘halt’ has turned back into ‘halt and then start flying backwards…’ so we’re working through that this week. Lovely…It’s not a new issue for us, it crops up about once or twice a year, but kind of always bugs me. Oh horses!

This week was totally psycho with work, and by Thursday I was Over.IT. and tired. So tired. I didn’t really want to go have a jump lesson, but I know that when I go, I’m happier. More ‘me’ if that makes sense? So off I went! My allergies were a bit better yesterday, I still can’t wear eye makeup but yeah anyways. My jump lesson was really good! We worked over a small course, with the rocks as a single jump down the centre-line. Hahahha it was hilarious, Oats deked out and went around it the first time, crushing the traffic cone that was designed to guide us. HAHAH silly pony!

We had a blast! He was jumping really well by the end (he did get a bit flat at first, and kind of ‘blahhhhed’ over the first jump) but we had fun and it felt good later! He also kind of tried to half-jump over the rocks and jump off to the side. Oh pony. He’s such a good boy though, and it was a cool and fun lesson. See? I always do feel glad that I went and jumped, even though I spent my week feeling itchy, miserable, tired and stressed out.

My boy is always there for me. 🙂

Bitter winter/Familiar Ways

Had my jump lesson on Saturday- finally! I felt weirdly anxious all day, I guess because it was off my routine? I don’t normally lesson on Saturdays, and I ride earlier in the day as well. Instead I had my lesson and it was after lunch, at 12:30pm. That for some reason really threw me off my game.

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Luckily Oats is a great little guy and he was not off his game, just me! Hahaha. He was very quiet- almost too quiet- because apparently he was playing too hard with his buddies in the field last week. Naughty pony! Oh well, he deserves his fun I guess, haha.

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So we worked over a pretty simple course but identified a thing that I wasn’t too pleased with – a swap left to right going straight over a single fence. And darnit, if we weren’t always doing it? Shoot!! Oh well. We did work on picking up that correct lead on landing, by really focusing ‘right’ and it made us land…straight. Ha. Oh well, I guess if it works, it works? I also am sort of wondering if it isn’t my saddle that isn’t super awesome right now? I have been waiting for the saddle maker who made my saddle to come back from his snowbird holidays to fix it/pump more air into it…It had a twist and I wanted him to review how it was fitting on old Oats…Might be more than time, I think. ARGH.

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Also his canter feels excellent as a hunter canter but wayyy sucky right now as a dressage canter. It has been making me feel very annoyed, ha. And wanting to just jump instead of working on the dressage canter…

 

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! 

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! 🙂 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! 

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.

You can have what you want

Another jump lesson (finally!! I missed it last week when our schedules were thrown out of whack!) and another good ride to report on. This week we focused on some cavaletti work (3 cavaletti, 2 strides in between each). We did it in two ‘bigger’ strides, and I did a compressed stride of 3 strides in between and it was wayyy too easy for Oats. He is a fan of the ‘slug’ stride, apparently!

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Here’s my schoolmaster! 

So we decided to keep him at 2 strides, because clearly the bigger stride was more challenging for him than compressing the stride!

And then we moved on to a small course, incorporating the cavaletti work into the course. I was actually kind of tired doing the cavaletti work, it feels more ‘physical’ than just jumping jumps, weirdly. Nicole says it’s because you have to keep riding through it, rather than kind of like, ‘jump’..coast… ‘jump’! Oats was also having to work hard, and he was getting tired through the end of the last course, haha.

In the course we had a small 1-stride, and I bungled it a few times before figuring it out. He was going in boldly, and I was getting left behind and kind of jostled. Not to my liking! So I came in quiet, and asked for a closer takeoff and it worked out great! Until…I took too much back and we bungled it, haha. So, I needed to be conservative, but then ‘LET GO’ in the 1-stride. Easier said than done? But we did it well after!

I did feel vulnerable really releasing over the second element of the 1-stride. It feels weird!! But Oats was jumping great, so I had to, hahaha. Good boy 🙂

And I also feel weirdly proud that his Tuesday rider is having such good rides on him- almost prouder than what I have been able to achieve on him myself. Yay Oats for being a good boy and a schoolmaster. It makes my heart feel so happy!

Hold onto something

After a disappointing week (ok, weeks!) of freezing, tons of snow, ice and blah leading to some serious cabin fever, I was OVERJOYED with how awesome the weekend was. And it was a long weekend to boot! Yes!!

I was able to zip out and ride Oats really fast on Friday and I so needed it! 

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Photo courtesy of Sarah C. 

I was also under a tight timeline because on Friday I took my husband out to dinner for our Valentine’s Day (I was supposed to have a jump lesson the actual day, and we all know how that turned out…) so our dinner was scheduled for the Friday. We went to Camosun College’s ClassRoom Restaurant and it was lovely! I highly recommend it- supporting the students and program, great food and very reasonably priced. Win-win-win!

Saturday was back to riding as per usual. There was still a lot of snow at the stables and the trip down to the arena was slippery and treacherous. I basically waterskiied off my boot heels all the way down, clinging to Oats’ mane. He was not loving it.

He was good to ride though, just lovely and even though he was irritating me when I was mounting up (grabbing at EVERYTHING ugh) he was focused and down to business for our ride. I also had another idea up my sleeve- begged my friend to come out to the outdoor arena with us to take photos! Basically the only good thing to come out of the massive amounts of snow.

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I loved it! Hahaha.

I also got a lot of running as the snow and ice melted and the sidewalks were safer. Yay! Went out for drinks on Saturday, and met up with a work friend for a run on Monday. Just overall loving life this long weekend. 🙂