A few good rides

I rode Oats Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues but you know since I took Monday off (and spent EIGHT HOURS at the barn…) it didn’t feel like that many days in a row?

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In the big field last year.

We schooled flatwork primarily, but I also did a big-field ride on Sunday for a quicki ride (30 minutes of transitions up and down the hill) and then I rode in the smaller field last night for a dressage-type ride. Oats was really good!

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In the small field last year.

I love that the fields are opened up again, a lot of really fond memories are of us just cruising around in the field, year after year.

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha). Last year.

My friend and I also set aside some time and set up the new jump course in the outdoor arena. Wow, I am SO not good at it and it is a lot of work. I’m glad our trainer is so interested in setting up and maintaining the riding arena, lots of new jump courses to try out for fun! The weather is finally turning around, after a really blah and lousy weekend (rain on Monday, chilly and windy, on and off clouds). C’mon summer!!

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Endless memory- you have to want it: Jump lesson!

So recently I listed my horse goals for the summer, and among them were jump a 2’6” course, jump a  2’9” fence and some other ones. I am happy to say I am getting VERY close to my goals!

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Ok from a few weeks ago, but still cool! 

While realizing that with these goals weren’t to just ‘scramble’ over the jumps- I wanted them to feel good, competent, relaxed and focused. So with that in mind, I rode in my lesson last night focused on a few items: Forward! (yeah.. sort of didn’t happen), straight, calm and focused.

And a good number of the jumps were 2’6” and I am happy to say they were not a big deal. It was more like, Oats was a deflating tire going to some of the jumps and we had a few stops. No biggie. They weren’t mean or scary stops, they were just Oats trundling to a slow…stop. Ha. One jump, I was like ok this is enough. Backed him up a few strides and WENT! And he cantered a stride and jumped it, and we went back around and did it fine. Oats, if only you had listened to me at first- we could have just jumped it once! Silly pony.

He ground to a halt over one oxer and again it was just a lack of impulsion. I am starting to learn how to act, rather than ‘react’. It’s tough for me! Oats was giving me NO gimmie jumps, that’s for sure. Nicole got into action with a longe whip just in case (we didn’t need it in the end, haha).

And at the final oxer? Oats soared over it (ok, it was not that high but still). He was great! He really gave me that jump for sure 🙂

So it was not all pretty and definitely not flawless. Also I kept forgetting where the last jump was. Whoops….

Oh well. Checking off some of my goals, piece by piece.

Canada Day long weekend horse camp/cross-country weekend!

Oh man, this weekend was insane. I am now feeling not great, probably coming down with something…Argh. So Canada day long weekend, Oats and I ventured up to Hi Point and rode in a Jane Stone x-c clinic and camp out. With horse games! It was nuts! Hahah.

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Fun with friends at horse camp!

Friday I had plans after work so I couldn’t pack up the trailer but the family I was hauling with generously packed up my gear from my locker. That was great, because we had to get up at 5-freaking-am to load the horses and drive up island to Hi Point in time for our 8:30 am x-c lesson.

It was pouring rain during the lesson, and woooow it was kind of a drag to have that, but you know what? Oats kept his hair on and things went really well- much improved from the first time we went x-c schooling at this venue in October. I was well pleased with Oats. No bucking, a bit sassy in the beginning but let it go quickly. He was spooky about going up on the hill, but oh well…

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All photos courtesy of Nancy.

We schooled logs, a small coop, a bunch of houses, and stacks of logs. It was great!

By the time we finished, it was time for lunch (at 10:45am). I was tired man. But no rest for the wicked! We put up the tent by the small lake – so cute- and a great location, and took the horses for a little walk-around up near the Trans Canada Trail. By evening, it was time to prepare for the horse relay games- whoop!

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My team had a swimmer, a wagon-puller (who had to pull the wagon blindfolded), the horse in-hand person (me) and the rider (who rode Oats actually, so funny!!). The person rode Oats because with the riders had to assemble the horses’s bridle (from pieces!) while the in-hand person was completing the obstacle course. Yikes…yeah no. So we got a different bridle that my team member knew how to put back together quickly and she did it and rode Oats. Success!

It was hilarious!!

We won too! Yesss..I won a small bottle of gin. Hahahha.

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We had a very nice potluck dinner by the lake, and I stayed up for awhile having some wine with the other riders. I actually slept really well (surprising) and then it was time for x-c lesson number two!

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This one was…Not so great. We started off quite well and I was happy with the warm-up course we did, but then it was time to tacked ‘the church’ up on the hill, and Oats was NOT having it. UGH! He slammed on the brakes and kind of reared-spun away…More than once. Yikes.

We wound up not being able to get over it, and so we got a lead from Oats’ best friend Joey, who boldly galloped up the hill, and over the church jump wit Oats following close on his heels. Oats would then only jump the church with Joey leading- SIGH! But at least we ended with him jumping it??

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Photo thanks to Rebecca. No photos of our church disaster though!

We then moved in to jumping a show jump with a small boat as a filler- very cute- and Oats was fine with it. We jumped a lovely course with that jump, and then moved on to the next field. The next one we had a few more stops- Oats was kind of getting backed off and was surprised by the jump. He did go over it no problem the next time though!

And then we had the opportunity to watch Joey with his young rider tackle some BIG fences in a neighbouring field- woooooow so big! And then they jumped the infamous ‘boat’ in the original field. Exciting!! And a great note to end on.

The sun came out, we packed up and it was still only Sunday!

Horse goals: Go get it

Had actually very few rides last week (rode Tuesday and Thursday) took Monday/Wed/Fri off because I wasn’t feeling well on Monday (exhaustion is a thing??) and had a physiotherapy appt Wednesday after work for my back, and had a work thing Fri night that ended up kind of not happening…

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But in the end, I felt like riding fewer days worked well for Oats and myself? He had more time off, and I had time to recover from the busy horse show weekend. Win-win! It’s hard to convince my brain of this though. My busy brain likes to remind me that I need to keep going, keep grinding, keep working. But I don’t have to listen to it.

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In fact, my jump lesson on Thursday was far from perfect. So far. Ha. But it was pretty fun and by the end I was saying Oats needs to have the jumps up higher because he’s not respecting them! One jump he was just cantering over and I was like wha, where is the jump?? Pfft.

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But my dressage lesson on Saturday was really good! He felt pretty nice, very cooperative and I felt much less tense than I have been. Even the awkward moments (breaking stride, trying to drag me out of a circle, some swapping, it was like hey, ok you can just sit and be ok with this awkwardness. Just sit with it for a moment, instead of reacting, or scrambling, or whatever.) And you know what? It went just fine! 

A lesson to me- sometimes you don’t have to react, do, be, whatever. You just have to maintain and be ok with whatever is happening.

So I think my goals for the summer are:

  • Ride a 2’6” course at home – ideally comfortably. Maybe try for a 2’9” fence in a grid? I’m not going to push this too much. Feeling good and not stressed about it is key.
  • Ride a competent first level test- I don’t much care about the scoring, but I do want it to feel more cohesive, round through the back, less struggle. I will know it when I feel it. Be present in my body doing it.
  • Show at 2’3” comfortably- maybe a course at 2’6” if I am feeling confident and good about it. I’m not pushing this goal too hard- I want to feel present, confident and comfortable.
  • Practice what I preach- less tension, less stress. Ride a 5-day week, and then ride a 4-day week. Let things go with Oats, let him have more time off.

Everything at the end of everything: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show’n’ Tell recap

I feel like each year I do these, my first show is very ‘blah’ and I’m not overly thrilled with my test riding/Oats’ performance. This year was no exception. It’s like we need an outing to kind of be crummy/not exceptional to figure out what needs to be fixed.

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Last year. 

This season we made our first ‘First Level test 1’ debut though! And I was happy with how the test rode generally, I wasn’t pleased with the level of cooperation and roundness I got from Oats in it. He was quite resistant, balancing off my hands, his canter was quite high-headed (to say nothing of his canter lengthenings..ha.) All in all NOT our best work.

We also rode our Training Level Test 3- and a brush fire had started in the Metchosin hills, so in the middle of my test a fire siren started BLARING from the fire hall! WHA? Oats is apparently a saint, because he didn’t blink an eye at it…It freaked me right out, and shattered my concentration. Soooo yeah, that test. Ha.

Oats however did spook VERY hard twice at ‘A’. Silly pony! In my first test he also stopped to poop at A and then spooked at it later. ARGH!

I really liked judge Melanie Houston’s take on Oats and agreed with her on the points that needed to be addressed.

So like, yeah it was fine. A nice day, tests rode ok, but I’m honestly at the point now where ‘ok’ doesn’t cut it? Our next show and tell is in July and I have higher expectations for us by that point!

 

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Don’t you know what regret looks like?

It looks like the road not taken- but actually, things have been going fairly swimmingly on my end!

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Photo courtesy of Bonita Stables- this is at Fairlawn at the awards lunch last weekend. Beauty day eh?

Monday I had an equine counseling session, and it was kind of challenging in an emotional way, you know? But, something was coming up, and I knew I needed it.

Tuesday I had a casual hack with a friend and it was exactly what I needed. Oats and I were chill, things were just flowing- although I was noticing more in the outdoor arena that he seemed quite ouchy and footsore- particularly when we moved up to canter. I didn’t ride for that long due to that. Fortunately, he was getting front shoes on Wednesday, just in time for my jumping lesson on Thursday!

Thursday we warmed up and his canter felt…strange. Like he was coming up more, and pounding on the sand with his hooves? He felt unsure about his new kicks, and his canter reflected this- he lost impulsion throughout the corners and broke pretty much EVERY time in the top-left hand corner. He was also quite looky and had some spooks in the ‘scary corner’ where we had a gymnastic grid set up. Goof!!

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We had a grid (canter-in bounce grid, two bounces to two-two-strides. Ha, try saying that twice!!). We MAJORLY fumbled the grid more than a few times, like whoa. I don’t know how to ride kind of fumbles. Ahhhh…. Anyways. We schooled a faux-ditch with barrels and it went pretty well. Ditches and weird-looking jumps are no big for Oats.

Course time! Lots of jumps and some interesting features- a ‘rock’ skinny *(ooh) and the gymnastic, the faux-ditch, barrels, some natural planks, and a few oxers. I was like kind of wanting to freak out, but also felt like…Ok. We got this.

And we cantered it, and it went pretty well. Not fabulous- my eye was majorly off and I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, hahah. Oh well.

Then a few jumps went up, and we did it again! First jump, good, second, ok too and then the grid…Yikes. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to collect Oats for the grid while we were IN the grid. Newsflash- bad idea!! He crashed through the x-rail, and then stopped for a poop, ha.

We regrouped and I approached it with a better idea of wtf I was doing. Whoops, sorry pony!

Rest of the course was ok, I was still plagued with a pretty lousy ‘eye’ for any and all jumps, but Oats was cool with it so on we went! I am, however, having trouble making decisions in a line- for example, collecting his canter for the grid BEFORE the grid (???), riding a quieter 6 instead of kind of just riding 5+? and trying to collect or take back the last two strides before the jump in the line. I need to be making these decisions much sooner in my ride.

Argh, get with the program, me!

Ah, well. At least my position was better this week, with me ‘going with it’ for my terrible eye and lack of decisions.

 

You deserve this: Weekend update

Ah the weekend- I was on pins and needles at first, anxious to see if I was going to be deployed for flooding assistance- something I am fine with doing, but man, I did not want to go right now. So my weekend was me checking my phone constantly to see if I was going to be deployed. Spoiler: I wasn’t! YAY!

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The facility is incredible.

Saturday Ian and I visited the Fairfield Community Garage Sale and I scored a really sweet Bench jacket for $20 and a puffy polka-dot vest for $5- niiice! There were some other sales that looked pretty good but I wasn’t in need for much, so I left it at that.

Went riding and Oats was really good! I even rode without stirrups, which reminded me how much I dislike riding w/o stirrups…Ouch. I get this big knot under my thighs. Later I went for a run, and then just enjoyed the evening. It was crazy windy and cold, so we weren’t out on the patio at all. Crummy weather on Saturday!

Sunday I had arranged a lesson with another trainer, as my current dressage coach Karen Brain is on a much-needed vacation and travelling around! It didn’t start off well at all. Blah. Oats was a total loon about the end of the outdoor arena and driving me NUTS! Why was this surfacing after having such great, zen rides? ARGHHHHHH. I was so mad. He was literally jumping out of his skin every step. Wha?

Anyways, it kind of looked like we didn’t know what we were doing…Not a great first impression. BUT the lesson went well, and Oats was tired. When we went back to the exercise (raised poles on a circle, trot and then canter) he was like WHA? I have to do this again? Ha. yes. The name of the game was to improve Oats’ fitness, so when I am asking for more collected canter work he can actually do it, instead of you know…not.

Then I got changed and my friend and I drove out to the gorgeous Fairlawn Equestrian Centre for the season-end wrap up party potluck. It is amazing out there! Just stunning. I got totally sunburned, ha. We enjoyed a ton of great food (I ate way too much yesterday, ugh felt sick after) and tasty desserts too. Yum yum! And there were door prizes as well- I won a bottle of Cowboy Magic and my friend won a really cute face brush.

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Sweet prize!!

A surprise to me, I won the Adult Amateur High Point award- a really sweet Tempo Jacket from Greenhawk, and they are going to embroider it too. WOWWW! Made my day! Lucky me.