Never Have Enough

Had an equine counseling session, and we did it in the field! I love riding in the field and it’s been so warm lately, ahhhhh my favourite.

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A few years ago- riding in the field is my favourite! 

Some things we identified- using coping mechanisms like teeth clenching, hands in fists, and biting my tongue are older coping mechanisms (numbing actions) that became a part of me- without me really noticing or knowing. I still use these when I am managing stress, and they have a part to play- to a point. Now, knowing I use these coping mechanisms is important and also the fact that I have them isn’t bad or anything- I just have to recognize that I am using them, and be ok with it!

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Last year- wheee! 

It was a very interesting session, and I know that I will probably have a few more while I manage some anxiety that bubbles up. It’s funny, because things are actually really good right now- which is apparently the best time to manage these little ‘blips’ that come up on the surface.

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And in the meantime? Just be ok with it, and understand that it’s a process to work though. Ah, life! Like horses, like anything- something that requires effort, haha.

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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!!

No one wants it to happen to you

Ah, this week has not started well. Actually, the down slope started this weekend when my car started it’s twice-yearly breaking down/stutter process. By Saturday it was full on busted- hard to drive, hard to get going again from stop lights and scaring the shit out of me! UGH not AGAIN.

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Mr. Oats has a doppelganger! Meet the new pony Daisy.

I had a lesson with Oats on Saturday and I was in a miserable mood, worried and kind of freaking out about how I was going to drive home with my car like this… Anyways the lesson was challenging and kind of awkward and frustrating. Like how my life is right now, ha. Mirroring much? I didn’t love it but I guess that’s just where we are right now–facing challenges.

I was complaining about my car on Friday night at my friend’s birthday (Bin 4 Burgers- love it!!) and my horse friend and her husband CAME TO MY HOUSE after riding on Saturday to help me fix it. WOW!!! Faith in humanity= restored. They did me the hugest favour, I couldn’t have even asked someone to go above and beyond like that. 🙂 A silver lining in all of this car-related misery.

Sunday my friend and I were going to go to take the horses to the beach, but the weather went to shit and it was raining, cold and lousy. Instead we rode together, and her husband picked up the part for my car I ordered that morning, and he fixed it. And it ran again!!! Hallelujah!! I also rode her horse Donato and it was just hilarious. He is so huge!

Monday brought some more bad news, some bad things happening to those close to me. It made me feel very sad and overwhelmed. I had an equine counseling session that night, because last week I could just *feel* that there was something left that needed to be brought up. I had a great week last week but had this constant, nagging ‘sense’ that I was fragile, vulnerable, ready to cry – like a turtle missing their shell, you know?

So we had the session, and we brought it up to process- and it wasn’t pretty but it needed to be done. I’m processing something bigger that is affecting me, and it has to happen.

Tuesday I was in a better mood and felt less vulnerable and less prone to crying. More level-headed, if I might say so. Though I was just exhausted. Running felt like I was running through sand. So tired. My ride on Oats was great though, fun and pretty easy, laid-back. So tired.

And today? Still on the tired side but not as bad as yesterday. No riding, Oats and I get the day off!

 

 

The machine that made us: Jump lessons!

Yesterday. Wow. So, the day went pretty seamlessly- work was good, it was fairly pleasant to run home and I was heading out to enjoy a walk with Gidget. I had my headphones in, and was listening to my favourite podcast at the moment (Casefile, check it out!) until my good mood came to a screeching halt thanks to an insanely rude, entitled neighbour.

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Dirty details don’t need to come out but protip: Confronting someone with ‘are you deaf’? pretty much NEVER goes well, you old crank. God, it really brought my happy mood down and raised alllllll of my hackles. Don’t mess with me. 

Anyways, I was amped and angry and then spent over an hour driving in traffic to the barn, leading to me rushing around and literally running to grab tack, horse, boots…Yeah. I was in an awful mood going into my riding lesson. Pissed, running late, angry, etc etc the proverbial black cloud was hanging over me.

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This sadly bled into my ride. I felt awkward, clumsy, not connecting well, Oats felt sucked back, tenderfooted and his canter? Ha, what canter. He could not hold the canter, warmed up feeling like a piece of cardboard…Yeah. So, success??

We worked over a few elements of the course in the outdoor and they went ok, until we strung them into a course. Ugh, horrible. I was getting left behind, riding defensively, you name it, I was doing it. I could NOT get in the ‘groove’ per se.

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We regrouped, and then went to tackle the course again- and Nicole suggested I let my body ‘flow’ more and focus on a big, exaggerated two-point bend/release instead of my stiff, defensive, ‘sit’ position. This would help Oats jump better too, as he would feel me committing more to the jump and not riding from the backseat (one of my bigger flaws at the moment).

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Brenda kindly gave Oats her old flymask after his other one got destroyed last week. Wonder how long this will last?

And wouldn’t you know, it worked! Our second course rode really well! Some bobble fences, but overall it flowed much better, we met the fences together, rather than Oats and then me, and it was overall just much more pretty and positive. A great note to end on! AND my friend was there, so I got video + screenshots from it. YES! Plus- I matched with Oats (on purpose this time) so we look pretty too.

So, from good, to really bad, to good again. A rollercoaster of a day!

 

The Zen of riding

This is a scaled-back week for both Oats and myself, for a variety of reasons.

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My patio last weekend. Ah..

Sunday we had our dressage lesson and we had backslid considerably from when I left on my trip, darnit!! Oh well, that’s where things go I guess. Monday I rode in the outdoor and it was a pretty zippy ride, fast and fairly quick. I didn’t want to drill anything from Sunday= cranky horse.

Tuesday I promised I was going to ride indoors, but when I got to the barn, it was SO nice out, warm, sunny…and the indoor was incredibly dusty and choking and stifling. Gag. So another rider and I took to the outdoors (she convinced me, ha twist my rubber arm) and you know what? I didn’t do a whole lot of anything and it was so nice.

For someone who likes drilling, focusing, being prepared and really riding HARD it was a real change-up for me.

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Professional candy-buyer

We warmed up, worked over trot-and-then-canter poles (Oats was GREAT!) and then just…chilled and walked around the arena chatting with my friend. I really liked it, and it made me feel super zen and just ‘ok’ with life. It’s a good feeling, that one of contentment and happiness.

I hopped off, and for once didn’t feel exhausted or tired or anything. I just felt fine with the world. No lesson tonight (I am kind of broke after the Peru trip and May has five Thursdays in it, so I paid for four and am taking this one off). It actually works quite nicely with my week schedule of low-key, quiet rides.

Riding with feel

Had a lesson last night, and because I am leaving very shortly on a big trip, I kept it quiet and low-key, ie- no jumping, just flatwork. Which, to be honest, can always use more work, ha.

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Ian with a strange tree in our neighbourhood.

Oats was really good, and it was a chill lesson where we worked more on riding with ‘feel’ and I found myself very able to be ‘focused on the feel’ rather than trying to force it or move on to the next best thing. One issue I have with anxiety and horseback riding is always looking for the next moment, movement, jump, turn, etc. Never on what is happening ‘now’. And you can imagine how this makes my body contort around corners, turns, etc., because I am not present in the moment.

So, this lesson was very nice because it was not an exhilarating thrill-ride of adrenaline, which for me jumping usually is. I was much more present and ‘feeling’ my way through the ride. No drama and I couldn’t even quantify it as ‘good or bad’ it was just a better way to be present through my body and my horse.

Unfortunately I tweaked something in my leg/hamstring yesterday running and so that was bugging me greatly. SIGH. I am on a hair-trigger for injuries right now and this is NOT helping. And the weather just sucks right now too- rainy, cold, windy. Rinse, repeat.

Love spring? Haaa. C’mon warm weather, I am coming for you soon!

100 of anything

Monday I had an equine counseling session, in which we reviewed my dressage tests to discuss how they went, and things to improve on (more emotionally than physically). There were lots of points to get better on, but what Vicki said was the biggest win for me was when I felt Oats getting tense in the ring in the canter – historically our biggest challenge- I ‘let go’ of his face and gave more with my hands, so he didn’t get bottled up and angry. It led to a really good feeling and a strong test.

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Throwback Thursday to…Sunday! Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

Even in the warm-up, I ‘gave’ more when I felt him wanting to get bottled up and start swapping his leads (he does this at horse shows, not so much at home). And guess what, when I ‘gave’ he didn’t want to swap anymore! A metaphor for life perhaps? By letting go you get more back, rather than grabbing and trying to control the horse (life). Interesting!

On to what I had to practice though- transitions. So many transitions. Our weakest points are too abrupt and head too high/loss of contact.

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Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

So how to fix? UGH, by doing a lot of transitions, of course. My favourite. (not).

On Tuesday I came out ready for action. I was going to do 100 transitions, and I found that this would take most of my ride actually. Up, down, big trot, little trot. Halt-trot, halt-walk. Walk- canter, big canter, little canter (this never actually happened, as our more focused canter work needed to not be during a shitshow lesson that was happening at the same time…).

It was tough! I was sweating, Oats was working hard.

It was a good effort though and a really interesting way to structure the work I found. Rather than riding around aimlessly, we had a purpose. Something I do struggle with, particularly when I am working around other riders in a small indoor during their lessons, when I am trying to stay out of their way and they are all over the place!

Go Oats Go!