Some good rides and things

Ended up very busy last week, so no Oats updates or anything. Where to begin? On Tuesday Oats had his dentist appointment, shots and worming. I had to be out there for the dentistry part. He was quite good, did need ear plugs hahah man those power floats are SO LOUD and the vet did say his back teeth were going, so he’s require soaked cubes eventually but I don’t want to think of that now- he’s had a lot of feed changes recently! The vet did say Oats looked thinner, but man I was like, you should have seen him two weeks ago! He is looking much better now.

Look at this handsome dude! Photo by Daytona.

I had to cancel my Tues lesson because of the teeth appt, but that was ok because he had a beginner trying him out for a potential lease on Wed! The lease isn’t going ahead for some good/obvious reasons. The young rider is just too inexperienced in horse handling. Had a good seat for w/t but did struggle to keep Oats from coming in off the track to the middle and had a bit of a tough time getting him to trot. Was not comfortable bridling or haltering or handling in and out of the paddock, so while I did offer them to think about June, I did have my concerns. The family did too, and thankfully decided not to. It is actually great when it’s mutual- they seemed like lovely people, Oats is just not the right horse at the right time for their rider.

And then Thurs I had my dressage lesson and it did go pretty well, THOUGH Oats brought out his threaten-buck when we were asking for straighter at the canter. He did NOT like that, ha. We schooled over a few xpoles and he was kind of tricky! Fighting me a little more, ha. Ended on a reasonably good note though.

Friday Oats had off, which was good because my busy week didn’t end there- I had a physiotherapy appointment at ReBalance. I had been a patient there- on the sports medicine side- for my subluxating patellar like a million years ago, haha. I liked the experience, so I wanted to go back to the physio side to try and get some answers for my chronic MTSS frustration. And wow, they put me through my paces!! Balance exercises, ‘kayaking’ with a big slosh tube, and the weirdest of all, a blood pressure cuff that goes on your leg and squeezes the blood out of it, creating a lactic acid sensation in your leg- it was SO weird and uncomfortable. You can barely push the leg press (and it is EASY). Ick! So odd!

But my right leg felt really good after, so maybe it’s gross but it works??

Saturday I had my make-up jump lesson (see, busy busy!) and I was kind of annoyed at ol’ Oaty…He was sluggish, slacking off and I guess just feeling warm and snoozy. It was warmer than it had been all week! I had my spurs on but he was reacting very poorly to them (balking, bucking, sucked back, rude) and I knew I wasn’t going to use them appropriately, so I took them off. Right answer! He perked up over the small fences and before I knew it, we had a nice little time 🙂

Sunday I was pretty determined to not get into a canter fight with Oats, so what do I do? Immediately get in a canter fight with him. Sheeeeeesh. I should know better than that by now! At first I even had a pretty nice left canter, but then I asked for more, and then right for straightness, and it…fell apart and turned into a fighting match. Yick. No thanks!

We cooled out in the outdoors, which was nice, sunny and hot. Oats got a long graze after and I cleaned his tack. Fingers crossed for a smooth week, and that my legs and feet start healing for once!!

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 jumps and all poles and bending make me feel something something

Ohh yeah, I didn’t update this from my jump lesson on Thursday because it ended up NOT being a jump lesson, instead more like an exercise in frustration with poles! UGH!

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Miss jumping outside, and well, can’t we just just jump it? haha.

We did this crazy zig-zag course with like 10 metre canter turns and wow it sucked and we were bad at it. Like, really bad. Oats was dragging me through my outside hand, and for probably the first time ever my trainer was shouting at me to halt and then canter. Halt? Oats? His preferred gait is ‘standing around doing nothing’ so I was pretty surprised. But it was true…I was getting dragged and he was getting heavy and together we were going nowhere.

So the poles did not get put to jumps because we were kind of sucking at it so hard. I was sweating, Oats was sweating and it was just a lot of work and not the really fun type of work, the really hard type of work.

I then went home and pondered on it. Not fun but hard. Hm.

And practiced it a bit on Saturday (getting schooled again by the idea of a dressage canter and not holding a line to a pole correctly..ha). I let it go a bit on Sunday and schooled some easy lines to the World’s Smallest Xrails. Another trainer or kid likes to set jumps that are so small that I think Oats finds them hard to see, let alone jump! But I was also feeling kind of lazy (weekends, and a long run will do that to you). I left them and we schooled them.

All in all, ok. But man…Feeling like a plateau in my riding for sure. ARGH.

Goofing around

Coming back from travelling in Brazil, then moving, and now…I just don’t feel that motivated when I ride. Sure, I love my lessons and I am having a blast, but that spark to get out and go to horse shows? Not there right now.

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So, the field to the left? Yes we jumped up and down from it!

Part of me struggles with this, but the other part is like, whoa whoa whoa…You went traveling, you bought a new house and moved into it, things are busy and it is a season of change. Sit tight, and that desire will come creeping back as it always does.

I am noticing it in my riding too. On Saturday I schooled Oats in the ring and he felt BLAH. Just so..ugh. Looky, silly, resistant, annoying…no thanks. Sunday, I went to school in the ring and saw my friend had removed the planks that separate the big x-c field where they turn horses out from the riding arena (these are made to be removed, it’s really neat actually.) I kept an eye out on the horses to make sure they didn’t decide to suddenly gallop into the riding arena, and she practiced jumping up and down from the arena to the field, and back again.

It looked really fun!

So I had to try it too! I asked my friend for a lead, but you know what? Good old Oats was like, nah I got this. He ambled up from a trot over the bank with NO drama (or enthusiasm..ha) and then my friend suggested I walk down to minimize any surprises for Oats…Well, he had this one too! He slowly shuffled down the bank. Ok. Needs more energy, haha.

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My hands probably looked exactly like this.

Eventually we worked up to cantering up the bank, cantering around, and then trotting down the bank- Oats was a VERY good pony and did it all with no silly behaviour, and no drama.

I rode the down part with my hands too high, oops, I was surprised haha. It has been like, ages since I did anything like that!

And then, because I was having too much fun goofing off, I left the ring and went to finish my ride in the big field up top. I couldn’t face schooling after having so much fun goofing around with a bank, ahha.

And that, friend, was a good and fun ride. I need to let the anxious, ‘must be competitive’ part of me go sometimes…I ride for fun, and I ride to enjoy myself and my horse. That’s what it’s all about. Plus, the weather is fantastic right now, yessssssss!!!

It’s GO time!

Didn’t have my regularly scheduled jump lesson yesterday, as my trainer bumped it to Saturday- which is fine, because as it turns out, I managed to majorly wrench something in my back= back on fire for a few days…

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Photo courtesy of Nicole G. I love it so much! Big D and his mini-me.

Nevertheless, I gingerly made it out to the barn, feeling like a total hunchback with a raging headache that was creeping up from my sore back.

Every single vertebra hurt…I swear I could feel them all moving dis-harmoniously. Ouch…

Still, I rode Oats in the outdoor and actually had some fun. I was going to do some jumping, but I could NOT get in the groove at all. The jumps were small, but I just couldn’t seem to jump like a normal person. Stare at the jump until we are on it? Yep! Miss my distance every time? Yup! Crooked? Sure!

I knew I was riding poorly to protect my sore back, so I gave up on the jumping part (a wise decision) and went to do some flatwork without stirrups. Two-point, canter, trot, grab the pommel with one hand to situate myself…It was actually pretty good! My legs- inner thigh- were killing me. I ended the ride when I felt this huge knot in my thigh and thought to myself ‘If Oats makes one sudden move, you are definitely on the ground when you can’t hold yourself on.”

He didn’t though, he was a total saint.

He did have one BIG spook when a rider came out of the indoor and he didn’t hear them until they were behind him. Whoops!

I still have a bit of a sore back and lingering neck/headache today, but it’s not quite as terrible as it was yesterday. I’m sure being at work, sitting in front of a computer doesn’t help. Ow….

Busy weekend coming up, and busy next week too!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend

A very laid-back weekend, which was fine by me but a bit tame, nonetheless…

Funny Valentine Cards - Meat and Weapons (11)

Each Valentine’s Day, I like to curate vintage cards. This year is a hotdog theme.

Saturday I shared the arena with a lesson, and Oats was very cute. He was breaking into trot from the canter (argh!) but I kind of blame my inconsistent riding for that. We cruised over an x-rail the lesson was working over and he was lovely over it…Though his penchant for taking flyers definitely came back with it, he just can’t take them seriously!

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Went for a run (wanted to do a long run but it was pouring rain, gaag) just over 9.7km after riding and yeah, it was…special. So special.

We wrapped up the day by preparing dinner for my friend who experienced a horrible tradgedy, and brought it to her house. It felt nice to do a good deed, and she’s going through a really, really difficult time right now, so I hope when she is able, we can spend some time together.

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Sunday (Valentine’s day!), headed off to the barn again and did a fairly tough dressage school with Oats. He got very sweaty! He was somewhat compliant, though I think he kept looking at the very inviting little mini jumps set up and thinking…why aren’t we just doing those instead??

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Finished the day by running some hills, feeling like I was going to puke the whole time. ARGH! Remind me to never eat that much rice noodle stirfry with chilis and then run…Too much. Way too much. God..my stomach was messed up the whole night from that barf-inducing experience.

We wrapped up V-day by getting two lobsters and a sack of clams, and a bottle of Prosecco. My husband even surprised me with a box of ginger chocolate Purdy’s to finish it off! Yum!

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Now boarding the struggle bus

Jump lesson last night and woooow…I was just NOT clicking with Oats. I have no idea why (hmm, maybe the death of my friend’s dad, my car being an idiot and having to pay a repair bill this week, oh and feeling overwhelmed at work?), yeah I have no clue!

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So easy and yet so hard??? Why??

So anyways, we set up a small gymnastic and I absolutely flailed my way through it. Smashed my face on Oats’ neck when he went to canter it, as I awkwardly fell back, and then forward, and then BANG! Face meets neck. Ouch!!!!!

Well, I don’t know how to to ride today, was my immediate thought.

It got ok, and then worse, and then…well I don’t know.

We worked through the gymnastic w/o reins, because clearly I had relinquished my rights to riding normally with my idiotic display…Oats was also in fine form, wiggling, wobbling, taking off ridiculously early, heading for a chip, he even spooked?!! This is a pony who didn’t even blink an eye when geese were like, getting killed on the roof?!!

We had one really nice go-round, took a break to talk about cheerful things like death, and then I proceeded to go blow up another round. Greeeatttt….

Fumbled and tripped our way through the grid. Lovely.

Went to try grid again and fumbled and wobbled through it. Well, ok. Take a massive chip to the next fence. ARGH!

Single fence after that was good, and then headed back to the gymnastic. Oats leaps over, I flail wildly and pull him to stop, very narrowly missing the standards. Okayy…Take 2: We go over, I stay firmly planted in the backseat waving my arms..We make it over. Canter to the next fence, it goes well. Canter to a few more singles, also good.

I have a righteous fire lit within me, for some reason….You know grids are often easier for horses and riders? So, WTF is my problem?

Wow, it was kind of a rough ride. I have a headache today, thanks to my nose…I guess we need these rides to make us really appreciate the good ones??? Please tell me that is the truth!

Sidenote: I am making another appointment for a session with the equine counselor. It’s time for a tune-up.

Jump for it!

Despite my kind of gloomy post yesterday, Oats and I have actually been having a TON of fun jumping lately!

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The small gymnastic from Saturday.

We had a good jump lesson with Nicole on Saturday, and have another jump lesson scheduled for Saturday again as she’s busy on Thursday. In the meantime, I’ve been practicing pretty much every chance I get on my own and you know what? I’m having a blast!

I have no expectations (other than safety) and I set the fences to whatever I feel comfortable doing. Really tiny, like under 2 ft? Sure! Then the next ride, I’ll set them to 2’3” and work over that. And it feels great!

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Jumps that make up the course I’ve been schooling lately- they are tiny, I wasn’t kidding!

Every jump isn’t perfect, but you know what? That is totally ok. It’s fun, it’s completely manageable within my anxiety levels, and I keep right in my comfort zone. I know, it sounds a bit silly- I jump within my comfort levels alone? Who IS this person? But it’s honestly…true?

I feel fairly confident, relaxed and I don’t push myself beyond what I feel like I can reasonably accomplish on my own.

My jump lesson had us going over a small gymnastic, and we aced it (ok, well aced it after I started riding with my hands in the ‘phyllis rein’ set up, aka carriage hands, because I was starting to ‘snap back’ too fast. And then we worked over a small course, with a tear-drop rollback. It was fun! And totally not anxiety-inducing at all! The jumps were tiny!

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

I came out feeling exhilarated but not scared.

And so I kept that feeling rolling on Monday, as I flatted on Sunday.

Set up a few fences a hole higher than what we had on Saturday and just rolled through them. Jumped the ‘higher’ fence twice- once from each direction, and he was perfect throughout. It was even a quick ride, because I was so pleased with how he was moving. Yay!

So, even though my anxiety is kind of bubbling below the surface– my jump rides have been quite fun, and I’m being very careful about how I manage my anxiety/expectations when I jump. And this is totally paying off!!

 

A busy and tumultuous week & weekend

Feels nice to be outside!

Feels nice to be outside!

This past week, and weekend, had many ups and downs.

Good: Oats went really nicely for my non-lesson ride on Thursday (trainer had a sick child) and I was quite pleased with his leg yielding.

We also had a GREAT weekend of riding, we were playing around in the outdoor ring both days, it was hot and sunny, I had no real expectations, and had a blast! We even saw the cutest bunny hopping across the path back up to the stables.

Bad: Family and husband drama rears it’s ugly head again. UGH. It made me very unhappy, and I had to go for a run with my husband to clear my head. Things are still unresolved, and I still have a lot of cognitive dissonance that I live with every day.

Good: Had the opportunity to go to the beach on Sunday and LOVED it!

Bad: Too many families with horrible screaming babies. The WORST! I ended up moving my beach blanket to a quieter area, and that made a huge difference.

Good: Tried the new s’mores Frappucchino from Starbucks. Delicious! A calorie bomb!

Bad: Tried the new Bacon Clamato Caesar in a can and did not really like it. Flavour is too strange and fakey. Also salty as all hell.

Good: Made no-bake chocolate-oatmeal cookies AND chocolate granola! Tasty!

Bad: I think someone was messing with MY Oats this weekend! The barn owner thought she saw me going in to his pen late at night, and his gate was left unlocked overnight. This was most definitely NOT me, as I rode at around 11am and left the stables before noon (had to get back  in time to check out an open house, the unit was exceedingly strange and made me feel like a hunched-over giant…).!!!! Someone was in with my horse? Or at least his gate?

Don't mess with Mr. Oats!

Don’t mess with Mr. Oats!

That’s beyond our skill set! Well, how do you expect to learn that skill then?

Wish it was summer!

Wish it was summer!

Hah, we had an interesting and challenging dressage lesson last night.

We worked on picking up the canter on a 10-metre circle from a walk and GASP- keeping the canter!

Now, to note, we were definitely not really successful with many components of this exercise…The circle part, the transitions, staying in the canter…But overall it was a very good learning exercise.

What did I learn from it? To trust that Oats will do it, to not lean in and drop the contact, effectively ‘dropping’ him in the transition (which he doesn’t like!) and trust that he will complete the transition, not be a jerk about it, and will continue in the canter.

We didn’t quite achieve all of it, but I did find that I was expecting the worst. Expecting him to be a little shit about the transition, dropping out of the canter, etc. I did all of my worst habits- leaned in, dropped contact, let my hands get defensively high, took my leg off, etc.

And it was tough! I was like ”this is above our skill set!!” and Karen was like, ”well how do you expect to get that skill? Keep trying at least!”

HA, no excuses here. Though I did feel like a bit of an excuse machine! We moved on to the left, which did still have issues but was smoother, and then back to the right.

We were definitely not ‘successful’ but I was learning, inch by inch, to trust that Oats wants to do this and we CAN do it (or something close to it). I also got the mother of all butt cramps in my high hip/leg area and holy god it hurt.

It was also death by 1,000 transitions night, which was a challenging time in itself. But it felt pretty good, better than it has been. We ended with getting a big trot, and working down to get their heads low, on the ground low (note- this didn’t happen either, but oh well…learning process right?).

A good, mentally challenging and apparently physically challenging lesson as well. For me and Oats! Haha.

Sleepy clipped Oats

Oats after our lesson (not actually, this was him tranqed for a clip)