Argh!! Life!!

Things have actually settled a bit, but for some reason the horse ‘issues’ just seem to keep freaking rolling! In the past month, every single damned week, I am getting texts or phone calls that something has gone wrong. Fortunately most of them are pretty minor or resolved within a week or so (abscess) but DAMN can this stop happening?

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Oats drugged out of his mind last Friday for an ‘extra special cleaning’ courtesy of my friend ūüėČ

Ha, my husband said that’s life- you get major issues every week. You are just waiting for a new thing to go wrong this week. I guess it’s true…

This week, it was Oaty’s bridle that was the victim! He has a 1 day a week leasor who takes lessons with my trainer. I got a phone call from his leasor that Oats had charged out of the cross ties when she was bridling him, and ran through his damned bridle AND was hard to catch, to boot.

EFFFFFFFF

This is NOT the first time that has happened- though it’s not really a normal thing for Oats to do, at all. This happened last summer, coincidentally while I was out on a TEAMS deployment for 8 days in Lillooet. So, two bridles busted to hell in the span of a year.

Not enough to think it’s a pattern, but still. I can’t really afford to replace bridles that much…This is number 3. I was pretty steamed. Accidents do happen, and this is random enough but..ya know?

Sheesh.

Luckily for them I have a spare bridle, so I told them to take the bit off the broken bridle, replace it in the new bridle, and use that one. Which is fine.

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A palate cleanser- cupcakes with gummy unicorns I made last week when I had a few friends visit (within our appropriate bubbles, safely!)

But damn. I’m just SO OVER IT. Maybe leasing…Isn’t Oats’ thing.

I also had a dressage lesson (after two weeks!!) and it was pretty good, not as ‘fun’ or as ‘flashy’ as my past few, but after two weeks off, I knew I was going to have to take a big step back, ha.

So, I texted the leasor’s mother to pay for my new bridle, see what her schedule is like next week (I offered a few extra practice ride days, and obviously I offered this BEFORE they broke my second bridle….So i’m not thrilled but I also don’t want to renege on this..).

We shall see!

 

 

Mr. Oats abscess journey

So as I mentioned, I was in a real tizzy…A panic spiral the past month or so. It just felt like EVERY SINGLE WEEK there was some new drama with my horse. You name it, I had it. And I felt like I was on a hair-trigger, since my good friend’s horse has had some terrible health issues recently (two colic episodes, and he came up dead lame a day after Oats did, but it was more serious than Oats and continues to be…) ūüė¶ Just awful.

So, in light of my friends miserable horse journey, every single week I get a panic text or call or message from the barn, I rush out and find some new disaster. Fortunately they were not serious but still. I am on a real hair trigger…And Oats came up dead lame on Canada Day, so we had to rush back from our little ‘stay-cation’ out of town but first our car died, so we had to get a jump, to get a new battery, THEN to the barn. Jesus.

So Oaty went lame, dragging a leg, very lame. No heat, no swelling. I called my vet and he suggested we check for an abscess, since it came up so suddenly with no obvious trauma or swelling. I got the farrier out that day and BINGO! She dug in and was like yep, big abscess.

So this is his foot journey for the week he was lame (THANK GOD!!!) it was only that long. Thanking my lucky stars!

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Saturday- some progress, you can see puncture spots and 1 bruise-like area I circled that was the big one!

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And this was on Sunday- I poked at the bruise spot and it was bleeding/puss a bit.

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Wed/Thur- All healed! I was able to check him on Wednesday and it healed over, and then ride on Thursday and lesson on Saturday and then BEACH on Monday! ūüôā

Low maintenance (and yet I still wish to be maintained)

I  had a really interesting chat/session with a friend yesterday (in lieu of me going to the gym at lunch, which is my preferred routine). Because I am still recovering from some of my minor injuries (shoulder, the scrapes on my hands, knee and elbow, now with added bonus of shin splints), I figured I needed to take more time off from working out that I wanted to.

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Healing! This was on Friday.

So we met and had a great conversation! I was kind of struggling mentally with the (relatively minor) setback I had recently, so it was really nice to talk about this stuff with someone who can help me ‘reframe’ what is going on in my head, and help me make a plan for my future rides, and runs, where I’m not running through disaster scenarios in my head, or reliving tripping and falling. If I am being honest, I had falling nightmares after Thursday. All I could feel when I was trying to sleep was this scary ‘rocked’ feeling?

Ugh.

And this weirdly triggered some pretty intense riding anxiety. A ‘physical’ anxiety, if you will? When I went to ride Oats, and he was lame (and now sound), I just couldn’t deal. Physically I’m not even badly hurt, but for some reason it felt serious, like wow…I could get hurt doing this (riding, running, whatever) in a way that doesn’t feel real most days. Or at least, I don’t care.

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This one started healing really early!

Now I do. For now anyways!

I have to tone it WAY down this week. My shin splints hurt so badly this morning I limped to work. That was idiotic. I’m making the big step to walk home from work (can’t run), and get a lift in tomorrow, which is strangely difficult for me to swallow. I don’t WANT to get a lift in? I want to run.

I’m clearly still healing, and this is hard for me to take.

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this one remains the grossest. Not that painful, but it got stuck to my breeches. YUCK.

So my friend and I worked on a plan for my rides (mentally mostly) to make sure that when I go out to ride, I do not bring this negative, ‘triggering’ mentality with me. I’m looking for fun, easy, happy, positive rides. Productive? Sure, can be. But is it fun? That’s the most important.

I had to work on this mindset last night, I was back in the indoor (I am VERY afraid of bringing back his weird 2-week lameness???) so I have been riding in the indoor. Plus my shoulder is messed up, and I have on and off numbness in my foot from the freaking shin splints. You should see me dismount…It’s not pretty. Lots of cringing, and a slowwww slide off Oats.

It’s not as fun, but whatever. He was very good, nice floaty trot, but he was heavier on my hands, draggy through transitions, whatever. Typical Oats stuff. But if/when I’m having kind of a tougher day mentally, this sets me off into a ‘perfection’ spiral, if you know what that means?

Luckily I had JUST worked on defusing and moving on that morning. So I did that! I didn’t get tense, clench up on him, anxious or anything. If I felt like we were getting too ‘into’ it and intense, I moved on and did stretchy trot. I thought ‘calm’ and ‘moving on’ when it got too much. Plus I smiled! I miss riding. ūüėČ

It’s weird that a physical pain (falling) translates into me being extra-anxious and hard on myself and my horse…But that’s kind of where I am. I’m working my way back, and I feel hopeful that we can do it! I want to be challenged, I want to have fun. I want to learn, try, fail, achieve and succeed again. I miss that (and honestly, it’s only been like 3 weeks. Hah!).

The next blue sky- Jump lesson recap!

Jump lesson on Thursday! And we are officially out in the wide open arena, and with it came a lot of anxiety and trepidation. I love riding in the outdoor (so big! so freeing!) but I have had some rough rides out there, so my love of it is always tempered by fear. Last summer, I spent a LOT of time falling off jumping in the outdoor. Sometimes twice in one lesson!

oats pic

I swear, there wasn’t one lesson I did’t fall off in. So what was up with that? Some pretty severe growing pains, I guess?

Anyways, I was excited but nervous. Nicole had set up a really cool equitation course, but it had FIVE oxers in it (could have been six, but we left the first jump a single, since we flubbed it EVERY time we went to it…yeah).

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But they were small oxers (2”) but to me, they looked big? Ha that’s my brain playing tricks on me. Last week I jumped a 2’9” oxer??? And this week I’m fussing about 2” oxers? Oh brain, get with the program.

Anyways, Oats was moving a bit weirdly because he is tender-footed and finds it hard in the outdoor until he gets his shoes on (June 8) BUT he was going pretty nice for a horse that pussy-foots everywhere! Nicole got after me for wanting to chase him at the jumps. We did get two refusals, but I chalked those up to bad distances, re-approached with no issues at all.

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Later the jumps looked tiny, ha. Oh well! We had some great moments, some really shitty ones (eeek, 3 strides in the 2, we never made the two..gah) and the first jump was always craptacular. But you know what? We DID IT!  Jumped successfully a reasonably long course in the outdoor with lots of twists, turns, oxers and a trot fence- yeah we flubbed that one too.

Things to work on: Straightness, jesus. Not straight at all as I go along the course. Elbows! Sitting in the backseat- give a little more to the horse. Breathing. The usual…;)

Good first day back in the outdoor, and bit by bit, I will conquer my outdoor demons, haha.

Foxstone winter series: Recap of the final show!

 

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Our loot- the 4th place is for our single 2’3” round!

 

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It wasn’t really sunny for a single moment yesterday! Shoot!

I’ll preface this by saying I had a really great jump lesson on Thursday (even did a small grid w/o hands) so anything at the show was basically a cherry on top! That said, my recap is tinged with a bit of bitterness–I was standing in reserve champ in my division standings by the third show and I did NOT manage to hang on to it. Shoooooot! I so wanted it this ¬†year and felt like I really worked hard to keep it!

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Lacking any new media- from last year’s show.

Instead, I dropped down to third, and honestly–it was nice to keep it there, as the final show was quite competitive in my division, with up to 14 riders per class! Crazy eh?!

Still, my goals aren’t ribbons–they’re good experiences. Sometimes I do lose sight of that.

Oats warmed up nicely in the outdoor arena and it was so wet! Wet footing splashed up all over us when we landed from a jump. I had sand on my face even! Oats had it on his bit, on his nose, everywhere. It was a very rainy day, and I was feeling supremely grouchy because of it…

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Then we went to do our brief warmup they offer in the ring, and that’s when the wheels kind of fell off…Oats was a bit crow-hoppy in the outdoor, but I brushed it off, until he was VERY humpy and crowhopping in the corners of the indoor. I immediately felt panicked…This is it, he’s going for a launch again..Just like what happened in the past. I was worried.

We pulled it together and worked over the two warmup fences twice, just to clear any residual concerns about his silly behaviour in the corners. Nicole counseled me to sit tall, and work to mitigate his silliness in the corners¬†before he had a chance to act out. Easier said than done? Years of shows past where he completely launched me echoed in my head…

I’m not gonna lie, I was GRAY going in to my first round.

It was not a fabulous round. I rode extremely conservatively, and rather tensely as well. I didn’t give Oats as much freedom and leg as I should have (and could have). I rode deliberately for the short distance and he didn’t get a chance to act up.

Coming out, Nicole and Sarah said I looked better, and I said I felt a “bit” better but I was still riding very backwards, and constrained. Went in for round two and I couldn’t shake it! Still holding back, and very management-style riding. Oats was fine, and he was managing my silliness now…

Third round and I felt slightly better- it was my equitation round and I started coming out of it more and actually riding, instead of acting like a manikin. We even aced the trot fence that last show we completely bungled. Go us!

A LOOOONGG wait for the flat class and we kind bombed it. I’m not sure what the secret is for a great one (all the stars align?) but Oats was chargey and rude and kind of wanted to get crazy in the canter, but I held him firmly under wraps. Gak!

I started backpedaling like crazy after my flat class. Ambitiously (ok, ambitious for me, the wimp!) I had signed up for a single 2’3” class to round out my day. And then I immediately didn’t want to ride it…

I was cold, wet and it took¬†forever for the 2” division to be over, due to the large number of entries. Still, Nicole was NOT. HEARING. IT. and basically forced me into the warm up ring for the 2’3” warm up. And you know what? Oats was GREAT in it!

I went in to the 2’3” class telling myself–this one I don’t give a shit. Go, finish your class and you’re done for the day. Who cares?!! And it was the BEST CLASS OF THE DAY!

True we had a moment of disunited canter when I thought – mistakenly- that we could get the change behind and boyyyy we sure didn’t. Ooops! But other than that I finally- finally, felt connected to Oats, and we were rockin’ it!

No silly humping or being a twit from Oats, no backwards riding from me. Just good, forward, getting it done!

I came out of the ring smiling. Smiling!! Me?! 

That, despite the ribbons for the day being kind of a wash (two 6th places, two 5th places, and a fourth), made me the happiest of the day. Heck, we did place even out of 14 riders in every one of our classes, so I’m not too sorry about the low-number ribbons. The fact that I didn’t want to, and then I did ride my best in my last class of the day, made all the difference to me.

I went the whole day waiting for that moment to happen. And then it did!

Baggage (the fun emotional kind…)

As I mentioned in my ‘Derailed’ post, I have a real tendency to get thrown off track easily and then have a devil of a time getting back in the groove.

So, funny enough, my primary concern for my ride on Oats Saturday was wondering how his feet were going to be, after his run-in with stones in his feet and the potential stone bruise. He does have sensitive feet, you know!

Well, I didn’t have to worry…

He was rocking it. On fire! So much so that when we were warming up, casually walking and trotting (and I NEVER let my guard down in the outdoor, NEVER), he spooked and¬†spun so hard at the ‘spooky corner’ that I came flying off and landed on my back and bad right shoulder.

SHIT

So, my ride went from ”hmmm wonder how his feet are going to be” to BLAM on the ground.

Within five minutes of getting on. ARGH.

I was on my back, but then I was back on my feet and didn’t feel that bad…And it was only the beginning of my ride, so I hopped back on and continued. Funny enough, he wasn’t spooky really at all- it was just that one freak thing? He was full of beans though, cooler windy weather will do that, so I took advantage of his energy and worked over some small fences.

Later that day, I went for a 15km slowest, most terrible run with my husband. My god, I felt sooo slow and soooo drained, but we kept going. That maybe should be a sign for me, since during the night my back was KILLING me and I could barely get out of bed in the morning the next day. I am clearly a genius…

And because I am a genius, I still rode on Sunday too. Eek. I did mitigate my risks though- it was windy, blustery with a chance of thunderstorms so I rode indoors (and of course it was beautiful)… Wish I could say the same for my ride. I was still edgy and anxious, and pissed off at Oats. I took my pain out on him during my ride.

My back didn’t really hurt while I was riding, but boy, it sure hurt before and after! He was a fairly good pony, a bit confused about why I was riding him so edgily and angrily, but I softened, (not much though) and we worked on a pole exercise.

It was another lesson to me – one I learned when my mom fell off Oats in May in the outdoor and broke her arm- that I really, really, really shouldn’t get back on the next day to either tempt fate or challenge myself or challenge Oats. Why, why why do I do this?

Well, anyways I did it- It wasn’t good but it wasn’t terrible. It just was NOT a shining display of how I can normally ride, in a nice partnership with my horse.

I need to not get into it like this. I thought I was getting better about not picking a fight the day after when I’m feeling hurt or emotionally upset, but apparently I’m not 100% perfect about it yet either…

I just feel disappointed in my fall, a fluke accident, but it almost works to confirm my belief that YES, there IS something to be worried about riding in the outdoor, in the scary corner. After all, my mom broke her arm there a few months ago! He’s always bad and on-edge there, and this most recent accident works to concrete that fear in my mind. Shoot.

I hope I can get past that, and get back to the positive progress I was making- both with my horse, and with my mind.

You don’t love me, you love the chase

Man oh man, how do I describe my ‘relaxing’ few days off while my mom visited?

The aftermath...

The aftermath…

Well, they were NOT relaxing, at all. Jesus.

Things started off well, with a nice visit to my in-laws farm, using up some grocery gift cards and a good hike through the woods. The fun vibes continued into the next day, when my mom and I went for a run at Thetis Lake with the dog. She accompanied me to my jumping lesson and then all hell broke loose.

Up to 2'6''

Up to 2’6”

We had a great jump lesson, and I had my mom on for a pony ride to cool Oats off. She was wearing a helmet, and we were half asleep…Just chatting, having a nice time. All of a sudden, Oats¬†spooked!¬†And BLAM! My mom fell right off, onto her arm.

Started off well

Started off well

She started shouting that her arm was broken right away. I ran Oats up the hill as fast as I could drag him, threw him to my friend and shouted for my coach to help us. Thank god they were still around. Nicole ran down to help my mom, I drove my car around the block and into the arena through the field to pick up my mom and drive her to the hospital. Nicole helped my mom into my car, and we slowly drove to the hospital (a 2-minute drive, luckily).

In the backseat!

In the backseat!

There, she got an x-ray and I zipped home to wait for her to call. It took a few hours and she called- a broken humerus. Apparently the most painful break you can get. No joke her. She spent a long night in pain, and then we regrouped in the morning. I helped her get dressed, have a shower and we picked up her pain med prescription, and also went for lunch. When she was having a nap, I wanted to leave the house quiet- so I went to the barn, and it was kind of a bad idea.

Leaving looooooong!

Leaving looooooong!

I went in a bad mood. I felt angry, upset, betrayed. I felt guilty and mad at my horse. Mad at the world, really. I fall off Oats all the time, and nothing happens. My mom goes for a pony ride and breaks her arm? And this is the SECOND time she has broken that arm with me, visiting me in Victoria? What gives???

I was also afraid. When I rode Oats the next day, I wasn’t riding because I wanted to. I was riding because I felt like I had something to prove- to myself, to my mom. It was definitely fear-based. My ride was very aggressive, and I was acting¬†defensively. Oats even got pissed off and threw in a baby buck at the canter, to show me he didn’t like how I was behaving (he hasn’t done that in aaaages).

It was hot, sweaty, hard. I felt rough, tired and unhappy.

I wasn’t happy with how I handled Oats then.

I hopped off, and let him graze for a bit, and then walked him back up the hill. I vowed to not let that happen again- losing my tempter, riding with fear like that.

The next day, I had a better game plan (I went riding while my mom was napping again, wanted to make sure the house was completely quiet for her). We rode in the indoor and it was quiet, calm. I had better control over my emotions and I didn’t feel afraid- but, I had scheduled a lesson for Monday, and I knew that would be a better test of how I was handling the trauma. My ride was very calm and quiet, boring even!

Monday- I had scheduled a private lesson with Karen Brain, as she couldn’t make our usual Tuesday ride. I immediately felt anxious.

But I wanted to push myself- I didn’t want to let my fear or anger rule the day. I felt nervous warming up by myself, but also like, oh you want to look at the corner? Sure, let’s stop for a bit, and look. Oats then started grazing and I was like…Hm…nope. Clearly, it wasn’t an issue for him- it was an issue for me, the ‘spooky side’.

We worked hard, and I told her what had happened. I deal with more fear in the outdoor, but I also like being in the outdoor- I have to be able to manage my fear, physically. And I am. Well, I am learning to. I still deal with fear, and I don’t like Oats lollygagging and staring outside the arena, but I am learning to deal with fear proactively.

So, we worked on lateral work and he was GREAT! And then we worked on picking up right- or -left lead canter through some cones (not quite as good) and then some seriously bone- jarring trot work (ouch ouch ouch). It really helped me work through some of my issues and allowed me to focus on the task at hand.

I needed it.

When you’re going through hell, keep going?

So, I debated for awhile about blogging about yesterday because I still feel rather emotional. And it’s weird, I have been feeling strangely blah, out of it, super emotional and in a real mood, funk, and whatever for WEEKS now. Maybe even months?

I just can’t seem to shake it! This feeling like the other shoe is about to drop.

And yesterday it sort of did. With Oats, of all things. Of course.

I had a lesson with Karen Brain and I mentioned he was bucking with me on Sunday, and I managed to stick it, but that his attitude felt like…MAKE ME! Or maybe…EFF OFF!

He bucked again when I was warming up for the canter before my lesson, before Karen got there, and I felt edgy and concerned. We do not have a great history with his antics, and it makes me anxious, grabby and fearful. Are we constantly doomed to move backwards?

We started the lesson and it was going pretty well, he still felt a bit ‘tense’ but dressage work is not his forte and we’ve been working hard through some evasions. So far so good, until we worked on the right-lead canter…(this is the side he’s been bucking me on lately).

And BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I got flung right off, he wouldn’t stop bucking, and I couldn’t hang on. I’m not THAT great at sticking a buck. I can usually get him stopped before it gets to that point, but there was no saving it yesterday.

I landed fine (turns out constantly falling off is making me better at protecting myself) and instantly burst into tears and said I didn’t want to get back on.

That was ok, Karen got him organized and then TOOK HIM TO TASK.  Like, back up? Oh, he says no? Ok GO GO GO GO. Go forward and he says no? Ok, BACK UP MORE!

Sideways no-go? MOVE YOUR FEET!

Forwards? a rear? MOVE!

He was being very dramatic! He reared, high-ho Silver! style.

He went two rounds with Karen, who was not interested in taking his shit. He looked submissive after the first round, but then was geared up to protest mightily for the second. I spent most of the time watching and feeling upset. WTF?

She said he’s being dominant, and that it’s a matter of working through it on the ground first, before I am ‘at his mercy’ in the saddle and he bucks me off. That’s his way of working through stuff he doesn’t want to do.

So, I have to get side-reins and longe him, in a productive fashion, until I feel comfortable getting back on. And if I sense anything from him, get off and longe again. Repeat as necessary, until he gets that ‘soft’ look and his head comes down, but not if he barges into my space.

And of course, this comes during a time when I’m feeling more blah than ever. Less motivated than ever, less¬†interested¬†in working through this than ever. Like where does that leave me? Crying my eyes out at night, and having nightmares about being involved in a car accident. That’s where. And as an added bonus, I look like absolute shit today, so bad that my co-workers noticed and asked if I was sleeping ok. (they are the nicest! and no, I had a terrible sleep. Terrible!!!!!)

WHY why why why why why

I officially hate my pony. There, that is it.