Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there 🙂 and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! 🙂 Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! 🙂

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt 🙂 how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

Foxstone hunter show: Winter series finale recap!

This Sunday we attended the final show in the Foxstone hunter winter series. They offer three horse shows over the winter as a way to tune up a bit and get some exposure. The stable is fabulous, and the people are really friendly and fun to talk to. I highly recommend attending the series- and it doesn’t hurt that the prizes they offer are SO GOOD!

I have now attended two of their shows. Last time I went to this show, I was primarily focused on gaining back confidence. I suffer from performance anxiety, and in general, extreme tension when I’m showing and jumping. I had kind of a tough summer, (lots of falls, just silly ones but they really build up) and I wanted to go out, and just…Have fun. So, I rode in the crossrails division and was the division champion! I like to joke that I am now heading to the crossrails Olympics.

So. Serious.

So. Serious.

This show, I decided I could do the 2′ feet hunter division. And when we rode it, it really wasn’t about the jumps- it was about the canter in between the jumps! Oats was a tad ‘wired for sound’ so he kind of felt edgy, like maybe he was going to pull some SERIOUS shenanigans. That led to the first jump on-course being, well, interesting for a lack of better terms. He kind of lunged forward, like he was going to do his patented ‘leap-buck-buck’ until I go flying off!

[I’m going to add here that my husband joined me and was able to take these pics! Thanks to him 🙂 even though I like to joke that he is bad luck, because I always seem to fall off when he’s at a horse show!!]

I managed to circle him, approach the first fence, and the rest of the course rode beautifully. And then the same with the second, and third, courses. So, I was like, ARGH what is with this horse? The bucking, snorty head-tossing? And then we’re like..so ON when we get rolling?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

But, I’m proud about one thing- I did NOT let it derail me. We rode the rest of the courses (and, gulp, managed to survive the flat class) without zoning out, disassociating and falling off! AND a personal Oats victory- managed to get into the ring without him balking at the in-gate and we didn’t even have to take laps outside, he managed just fine in the little area at the in-gate.

In the past, this would have completely destroyed my entire course, and division. I didn’t let it get to that point this time. And, I love Foxstone- I won the draw for my entries for the day, so my division was free! I paid for the office fees and the stall rental but other than that, made out like a bandit. What a nice idea eh?

And to top it off, we are going to the small year-end awards dinner this Wednesday AND my friend, who shows at a much higher height than me (think a foot higher!) is also getting an award. What a nice way to cap off the winter series, don’t you think?!

Great horse show prizes!

Great horse show prizes!

YAY!

“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”

And here is a big horse show report for you:

Foxstone Stables (with Oats photobomb)

Foxstone Stables (with Oats photobombing)

Winner!

Winner!

I went to a horse show this weekend (Cowichan Winter series at the amazing Foxstone Stables) and entered a division MUCH lower than I usually show at.

Yes, think cross rail olympics here.

Why the big drop down? Well, a lot of reasons. Oats’ behaviour, my jumping fears, my extreme performance anxiety, my ‘normal’ jumping anxiety, you name it, I have it.

(Fears, that is. Not a plethora of skills.)

So, I swallowed my ‘sort-of’ pride and entered the low division. And the funny thing- I STILL had a ton of anxiety the night before the show- was awake all night tossing and turning, feeling worried, the rain was absolutely hammering down all night, we had to get up super early, what if, etc etc. I was kind of a wreck.

It was pouring rain when we packed up the car, drove to the barn and loaded up the horses. Just POURING! I was sooooooo ready to cancel. Wanted to badly.

But, I was already there, and loading Oats on the trailer. I guess it was happening!

I felt kind of distracted on the drive up (it’s a good hour or so away from our barn) and when we got to the stables, still felt worried.

But we warmed up, had a nice interaction with the show office staff (who were WELL aware of Oats, and his little ‘reputation’ eek) and the rain stopped. A good omen! During our warmup outdoors, of which were were absolutely spoiled by the lovely outdoor ring with two banks to play with, Oats felt very forward. This is new to me, and he is so rarely this eager.

Gorgeous outdoor

Gorgeous outdoor

I was a bit intimidated, to be honest! I never feel him go like that! But, he was eager and game, and it made our warm-up pretty smooth- and he kept that ‘forward’ pace well into the ring, for our brief ring warm-up.

Two banks to play on in the outdoor!

Two banks to play on in the outdoor!

Then, the rounds started. I still felt SO nervous, but it was nice to not have to worry about the jumps- they were there, but it wasn’t so desperate- like my past rounds have been. They just ‘happened’ you know? I made all the usual mistakes but it was alllllllright.

Oats does not like to stand still, so in between the rounds, we walked up and down, all over the grounds. He loved that, he was very relaxed and cruised around looking interested.

'We are the champions...'

‘We are the champions…’

Then, for the flat class, I was feeling like maybe doing a flat class was a mistake….He was a bit too eager, and kind of felt like he was running down the other riders. And canter in a group? Oats’ biggest nemesis.

Luckily- since this was a low-level division- they let us canter once at a time! Lucky me! So we did it, and my transitions, and actual riding in the canter was spectacularly shitty- but hey, we stuck it out and DID NOT get excused! Or bucked off!

Success!!!

And when the ribbons were announced, Oats and I were champion! YES!  You know, I just needed some sort of ‘win’…Some sort of ego boost that could prop up my failing courage. And this show was just it. Thankful I was able to attend!

We won (and this is big folks, I never win anything!!)

  • A champion ribbon
  • First place
  • Two second places
  • Third (in the flat)
  • An engraved stirrup cup!
  • $20 gift certificate to Victoria Saddlery
  • Candy canes!
  • A lovely scrapbooking card making set

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And we waited around ALL day due to hauling up with a friend, who was showing her hot TB in the hunters (for the first time!) – it sucked for her, because she was there at the asscrack of before-dawn, and it sucked for me and Oats, because we left in the dark, and got home in the dark!!! HAHAH.

They did fabulously actually- I was very impressed at how well Willie calmed down in the indoor arena and did his job. They placed well too- 2nd, 3rd, 4th and I think another 2nd? Very close to reserve champion for their 2’9” division.

Nice work!!

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But because Oats is still Oats, he still managed to kind of piss me off- I went to put him in the stall my friend and I shared, he tried to RUN out and smushed me against the stall wall- crunching my bad left shoulder AGAIN. That’s the third time this year I’ve injured my bum left shoulder- one time lifting jumps, one time lifting a TV, and now, horse-related. OUCHHHHHHHH.

AH, well…That’s life I guess!

Get Lucky!

Well, I’m currently running three-for-three right now. How, do you ask? Winning contests!!

Yes that’s right, girls in our family start the winning gene at 28, apparently.

So what did I all win? Well!…

I won a trip with Chevron to fly with the Whitecap soccer team with my husband to watch the Whitecaps play Montreal. It included Whitecaps gear (hat/scarf/jersey/zip-up/t-shirt), $1,000 in Chevron gas gift cards, the flight, hotel (Sheraton!), tickets to the game and $300 spending money and boy did we spend it FAST.

It was a total blast!!

And next? I won a Youth ATV from Canadian Tire!! It’s valued at around $2,000 and it’s pretty small. We picked it up last weekend and had a great time zipping around on it. We are selling, but if it’s not decent $$…I am keeping it!

And next? Well, I had a miserable week a few weeks ago, bad stuff going down and felt really down in the dumps. You know what the best cure for that is? Winning $5,000!!! Yes that’s right, courtesy of a contest hosted by Co-op and Dairyland, I won five grand.

Yes, my week REALLY improved after that, indeed!! And prompted some very serious, in-depth discussions at work about how much money is ‘screw-you’ money… Consensus is about $500,000. Hm..

I’m on a lucky streak! Winning is in my blood!

My mom is incredibly lucky. So far she has won:

  • La-z-boy home furnishing home makeover- valued at $20,000
  • Home chef dinner party for 10 people- valued at $5,000
  • Trip to San Fran
  • Trip to Hawaii
  • Trip to Victoria- funny(horrible) story about that but it was originally a trip to Argentina that she filled out wrong, so she had won it, and then they figured out she’d filled out the wrong drop- box. AHH!!!
  • Ski trip to Silver Star

And countless smaller winnings- gift cards to grocery stores/hmv/ticketmaster/VISA.

What can I say? It’s in our blood! And my sister is currently on a trip (Air Canada cruise) that she won. Isn’t that nuts!