Nothing Feels Natural

Finally we had some sun! In fact, we are now on THREE whole days of sun! Can you believe it?! I can’t. We honestly had close to 3 months of straight rain, or wind and rain, or wind/rain/snow combo. Not a single clear day for months, and boy does that drain a person…

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Daisy is at another stable now, but Oats loves his friends! 

Friday I had my dressage lesson and it was really good! I wasn’t expecting much, given it was basically a tornado with pouring rain, the arena was super flooded and Oats was feeling okay but not amazing. However he really rallied and we worked on straightness in the canter on the diagonal fences, and then some head-to-the-wall leg yielding. Success! He was quite good and sweet. Love my boy 🙂

Saturday the ring was still nuts and the vibe a bit off but not too bad, it was a bit quieter which is nice, and so Oats and I worked on transitions, and his leg yields. The canter to the left is still..eh. We will call that a ‘work in progress’ shall we?

Sunday I had a race (Cedar 12K recap coming soon!), and then managed to finagle a bareback 20 minute ride on Oats after- you know I can’t resist getting a ride in, any way, or anytime I can! He was very sweet, and apparently had spend the entire night running amok outside of his paddock, going horse to horse to play bite-face with the ones who would oblige him! He then was exhausted and spent the afternoon flat on his side, sacked out. Phew!

Monday I was tired from the race, but also determined to do my ‘homework’ which I do try to do once per week- straightness on the diagonal jumps AND trot fences. It was good! I did find that when I posted trot in, I was able to control the take-off spot a bit better, rather than coming in two-point using the ‘hope and pray’ method…! Good to know. I think I ride Oats better when I am more ‘connected’ through my seat, vs straight-up butt out of the saddle 2point.

Things you learn eh? 25 years in and I’m still learning.

Anyways, day off for me, Oats teaches a beginner tonight, and I am off to dinner with friends to the new place: Boom & Batten. I hope it is good, it is very pricey.

Buy you some time

Well it’s officially ‘Snowpocalypse’ over here on the Island! White winter for sure. We have about a foot of snow in our neighbourhood by the water. I put my big treads on – the Saucony Peregrine shoes- and jogged to work today. It kind of sucked, it’s tiring to run in snow and while I made an effort to run in the street, it’s still a tough slog. Oh well, a good cardio workout 🙂

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Happier this year! 

I’m not sure if I will be able to make it out to the stables though- two days off and I start getting VERY itchy to go and see my dear pony! I know he is being taken care of and is safe though.

The critters are enjoying the snow- Tucker was playing in it yesterday! A marked difference from last year, when he sat angrily in the snow and it piled up on top of him, hahah.

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And I had one frightening incident (side note- why the DRAMA lately? jesus christ I am so OVER it). I was leading Oats up the hill to the stables, when the fellow rider in front of me who was leading her horse- the horse paused slightly and LASHED OUT her hind hoof in a huge kick. She kicked my coffee mug straight out of my hands and it went flying! The horse wears steel hind shoes too, so jesussss I got incredibly lucky. SO lucky that it wasn’t my hand that got broken, or my freaking face.

We both never saw it coming. That was the most chilling part. Usually you can read something happening by body language- they get spooked, antsy, angry or pissy. The horse looked chill, didn’t even raise her head and BOOM!! Kicked. I have been around horses for over 20 years and I have NEVER been kicked in my life. Until now, I guess? It scared the bejeezus out of both of us. The owner was really sorry- and it’s 100% not her fault, at all. It was just a really scary incident.

It was also a wake up call to me, to be very aware and careful with handling horses. When you are around them this much, you get complacent. Until something really serious happens, like Monday.

First the dog attack, and then getting kicked by a horse. World, please stop.

You know this doesn’t just happen to anyone

Good god, this weekend. We have snow coming down, temps dropping to -4 with a wind chill of -10?! Here, on the Island of all places? PLUS my weekend was kind of…really sucky. Drama-rama…

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From last year- not this again?!

Friday started off great though, I had a FUN dressage lesson and I loved it! We were having a blast, Oats and I 🙂 We worked on jumps (in dressage?! They were teeny tiny), and focused on ‘contact’ and not letting Oats choose the take off spot. It was really cool and a good exercise to feel his hind end power! What a neat lesson.

And then on Saturday, all hell kind of broke loose..I went riding, and Oats was fine, fun to ride and everything was great. I got home and took my dear dog Gidget out for a walk around the block. I was listening to my headphones, we were cruising down the sidewalk when a dog ran out of someone’s yard and ran aggressively at Gidget (who is fearful of dogs), and grabbed her throat?!!! WTF?! I could NOT believe what was even happening? It was such a blur. I was trying to grab Gidget to pick her up, and she was trying to run away, and this fucking dog was on her throat…Gidget was shrieking. It was terrible! I screamed so loudly my throat hurt.

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Who dares to hurt the love of my life?! No WAY will I let that go. 

The asshole owners got their awful dog back, and then yelled at ME that they already apologized. WTF? No, no no it doesn’t work that way. I yelled at THEM that they didn’t SOUND very sorry, assholes!! I knew exactly where the dog had come from too, so I had the house number. They then got into their car and drove off?! Three of them. Good god.

One of their neighbours had witnessed the whole thing and asked if Gidget was ok (she was, thankfully), and then told me that she knew them, and that their dog was ‘very nervous’ and I said it isn’t nervous, it’s aggressive and that is NOT OK, it wasn’t restrained, no leash, no collar, no nothing! Again…WTF??

I chatted with her for a bit- she was really nice! She was telling me about these cute little dogs that look like Ewoks, so I am going to do some research to see what they look like 🙂

I then went home, got in my car and took photos of their house and the witnesses’s house. I called Animal Control, and reported it verbally to them. They asked me to email them a written statement and attach the photos I had taken, which I did. They were very kind and considerate, and I was pleased to have them take this seriously- it certainly felt serious, and I was beyond angry with the verbal aggression and lack of caring by the dog owners.

I was also grateful that Gidget was ok (but now she is traumatized by loose dogs, poor thing), and I am very watchful for any more incidents that I may need to report. Animal Control said they were going to take this seriously and go and talk to the owners, which is a great response.

It’s also a lesson to me- since I seem to have regular confrontations, it is important to me that I do not look like a victim. If anyone accosts me, or has something they want to confront me with or get aggressive with me, I will SCREAM and YELL and MAKE A HUGE SCENE!

It gets you witnesses. That is the most important thing. Don’t fuck with me.

Also a question for the ages- why do I always have these weird run-ins with horrible, aggressive people? Like, I put my headphones on, mind my own business, and walk on…and get assaulted verbally by people, or body slammed by one person, or screamed at by drivers, or bike riders, or men on the street. ????? Riddle me this?!

I hate people.

 

Don’t let it get to you: Riding fieldtrip!

So this weekend we had our rescheduled trip out to the fancy environs of Fairlawn, the stables owned by a trainer and her family. I ride with this trainer regularly, but we wanted the whole meal-deal- a ride in her fabulous indoor with all the works! And we were NOT disappointed! It was lovely 🙂

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They still had a lot of snow, but the driveways were cleared enough to be able to get the horse trailer (my friend hauls for us, it’s her rig/truck) onto the property and the horses off and tacked up.

The place is gorgeous! We had soooo much room, we didn’t know what to do with it! Oats and I worked on the counter-canter loop and boy did it feel different with so much space to play with. Not gonna lie, we struggled a bit but when I figured it out, so did Oats and he was happy to comply. I still feel a bit like the loop challenges me personally, and so it’s something I want to ‘finesse’ a little more until our next horse show…

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Synchronized waiver-signing 😉

Which is counting down! Our first dressage schooling show will be later in April 🙂 I can’t wait to take my guy out more. We had a really nice time, and it was great to be able to practice in a bigger arena.

Hold onto something

After a disappointing week (ok, weeks!) of freezing, tons of snow, ice and blah leading to some serious cabin fever, I was OVERJOYED with how awesome the weekend was. And it was a long weekend to boot! Yes!!

I was able to zip out and ride Oats really fast on Friday and I so needed it! 

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Photo courtesy of Sarah C. 

I was also under a tight timeline because on Friday I took my husband out to dinner for our Valentine’s Day (I was supposed to have a jump lesson the actual day, and we all know how that turned out…) so our dinner was scheduled for the Friday. We went to Camosun College’s ClassRoom Restaurant and it was lovely! I highly recommend it- supporting the students and program, great food and very reasonably priced. Win-win-win!

Saturday was back to riding as per usual. There was still a lot of snow at the stables and the trip down to the arena was slippery and treacherous. I basically waterskiied off my boot heels all the way down, clinging to Oats’ mane. He was not loving it.

He was good to ride though, just lovely and even though he was irritating me when I was mounting up (grabbing at EVERYTHING ugh) he was focused and down to business for our ride. I also had another idea up my sleeve- begged my friend to come out to the outdoor arena with us to take photos! Basically the only good thing to come out of the massive amounts of snow.

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I loved it! Hahaha.

I also got a lot of running as the snow and ice melted and the sidewalks were safer. Yay! Went out for drinks on Saturday, and met up with a work friend for a run on Monday. Just overall loving life this long weekend. 🙂

The incorruptible heart: Valentine’s Day!

Ugh, just some more weather-griping from me these days. It is cold, unseasonably so, with tons and tons of snow and ice. Yay?! UGH!! I hate it. I finally got out to ride Oats yesterday, driving very carefully. There is a lot of snow at the barn, but you can get to the barn, paddocks and arena- it’s a bit of a tough slip ‘n’ slide but I made it!

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Tucker is OVER IT.

Have a lesson tonight, and the forecast is calling for more snow. Can it just be rain, please please? For me? Good lord, I’m not cut out for this winter- business. Not even close! I was commenting to my colleague the other day that when the weather clears up, what will I be able to complain about? I’ve had a lot of ”good” material this new year (really sick, pulled a rib muscle, the dog-sitting adventure from the depths of hell, sick rabbit to join in the fun, and now tons of snow, ice and freezing temperatures).

Oh 2019, you aren’t making it easy to like you!

Keeping in mind of course, these are all minor annoyances and small gripes. Thank Christ.

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It looks pretty until there’s 2ft of the damn stuff! Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

Happy Valentine’s Day? I’ll meet you on the other side, when the sun shines and the sidewalks aren’t treacherously deadly.

 

Snow Weekend

And week…

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Tucker came to work with me on Friday. He was so good! 

I want a weekend do-over! The weather was soooo bad here. Windstorms, snow storms, -15 with windchill and tons of ice. 😦 Not good. Needless to say, after walking home in the beginning of the wind/snow storm on Friday (after enjoying appetizers and drinks with a friend) I was so over it!

I went to ride Oats on Saturday and my friends warned me against the indoor- the hurricane force winds were making a terrific slamming sound and trees were slapping up against the indoor. As you can imagine, the horses were NOT having it. Neither was I, as it turns out!! I tacked up Oats and we slipped and slid our way to the indoor. The wind was hammering at us, and I hopped on him and was flinching every single time the wind slammed a tree against the indoor. NOPE!! This is not the way I want to go, honestly?!

He was a total saint, but even for a saint, there are indeed limits. And I’d hit mine. I hustled Oats back up the hill (he was confused but pleased that he didn’t have to do anything) and he was huffing and snorting and VERY excited as the wind blew straight up his butt the entire way up the hill.

So yeah, no riding Saturday. Similar story to running, except that it was very icy, and every time I turned around a corner, wind blasted me and sent me reeling off-balance. Greeeeattt….

It was horrible. The rest of my weekend was spent on the couch, reading, drinking wine and napping with my dog. There are worse things, I guess? I did ride on Sunday with a friend, and fortunately we got our ride in before the wind/snow storm picked up again for Round #2. It was a lovely ride! So dusty in the indoor though, with freezing temperatures we have not had water in the indoor, and there is like zero moisture in the air right now either. UGH!!

Got home, planned for another run, and thought the weather would hold for that. Newsflash- it didn’t. I was surprised because it didn’t look that windy, but yeah, it was horrible. I got to the small hill at Clover Point and gave up when I got blasted back UP the hill by the wind. Add in snowflakes into my eyes and NOPE!!! I gave up, and ran home. It was miserable, just so miserable.

Back to the couch!

And I was supposed to ride today…there is another blizzard. SIGH!! I guess I will struggle back home, and reschedule my ride for Wednesday (traditionally Oats’ day off, but I have to be flexible with this terrible weather). I’m just so glad I got my ride in yesterday! Man!

 

 

Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

This past Sunday was the Hatley Castle 8k- a fun and challenging race in the VIRA Island Race Series. Notable for a very hilly course, scenic views, and tasty hotdogs for the participants!

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Yum!

It was also freezing. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the gravel was slick and icy. A windstorm was currently raging in Victoria, luckily we only got hit with it at Royal Roads when we ran along the water at the start. Anyways, it felt pretty lousy.

I didn’t have very high hopes for the race- not that this was bumming me out, but that I’m focusing more on building more Km’s into my week and not taking a lot of time off during the week= deader legs. I know this going in, so I am not using these races for goal races, I’m realistic about what I can accomplish.

But…I’m also improving. I am getting faster, even with not-so-fresh legs supporting me.

Logistics were pretty smooth, lots of parking, hit the port-a-potties early so no lineups, and I felt pretty chill (haha, I was frozen). We warmed up, I stupidly kept my fleece on for the race b/c I was frozen, and when we hit the start line, I fumbled trying to zip it up. I couldn’t! We were going too fast. I also hit my watch ‘START’ and it didn’t. So my recipe for success:

  1. Run with your jacket flapping like Superwoman. Yeah that’s not annoying at all!
  2. Watch doesn’t start. Notice 1km in.
  3. It is so cold my exercise asthma was kind of flaring but not badly so.
  4. ….
  5. Success?

We ran up the first hill, I was getting passed like crazy but I had a feeling like- nah, I can do this. I will wait. I will bide my time and then I will go.

To be honest this ‘zen’ mindset is more to keep me from freaking out and trying to run faster when I am getting passed early. That’s a quick way for me to ruin a race. I have to run MY race.

So I hung on, lost a bit of speed and enthusiasm up the longer hill and we hit the flatter gravel section. Now it’s flat but also gravel….slippy. The guy running ahead of me slid pretty dramatically around the turnaround but he didn’t fall! Came damn close though.

I plugged along, not running great but kind of looking forward to the forested trail section. We ran for awhile on the gravel and then turned into the woods. Yes! My time to shine! (sort of). I was able to tackle the hills well here, played leapfrog with another woman runner up to the top of the hill. By then, I was able to pass her and stay past. I had been getting passed by her consistently up until then. Sweet!!

Then the loooong downhill. Ouch my hamstrings.

Flat section, some more gravel, and a slight downill again. Use it! Free speed.

And…the long leadup to the finish. I didn’t really sprint (ha, yeah like I could) and my hamstring was feeling really cranky…

But I am happy with my time: 36:39 and good enough for 1st in my AG women’s 30-34. First time ever!

(also for context: This time last year would have netted me 6th place. Ha).

Thanks again for the volunteers, race directors and VIRA for putting on a well-run, smoothly executed race despite some weather challenges!

Frozen, freezing, froze

UGH. Mostly just a rant about how terrible the weather was this weekend, AND last night. FREEZING.

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Last week.

I don’t really want to ride, or run, at all in the deep-freeze. Plus we live on the island and it’s never supposed to get this cold?!! What gives. I rode grudgingly on Saturday and it was pretty miserable. Oats was good but I was just…stiff and cold. Went for a run on Saturday after riding and almost died. It was HORRIBLE. I was almost crying it was so miserable. Freezing, rain, toes frozen, face windburned and chapped…UGH.

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Practically this week. wow. 

Sunday was marginally better and I had a fun ride where I got to jump some small jumps with a ground crew (my friend Sarah’s friend Christi was visiting and set for us very nicely) and then she rode Sarah’s horse too! A fun day all around. And I wasn’t bitterly frozen.

I then hoofed it to some hills and ran a decent hill loop (and then wondered why my legs feel so tired today…) and called it quits on exercise. Husband and I ended the evening with a footbath each, with foot soak and peppermint foot lotion. Ha, the things that make you happy in the winter.

Monday I had an equine counselling session, and I rode briefly beforehand. It was FREEZING. I caught my breath going down to the indoor it was so awful. My eyes were watering just walking around. Terrible. I toughed it out for a bit, but just couldn’t warm up. Probably the coldest night I have felt of all the deep freeze nights last week. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

And today? Ran to work and it was pleasantly chilly but I was overdressed (afraid of freezing like Saturday/yesterday) and had to take my hat off I was sweating so much. Harumph.

Tuesday dressage, and no Thur jump lesson this week.

Rust buster for real: Prairie Inn Harriers 8k race recap

First off, thanks to the volunteers and race organizers. This is a VERY smoothly run race, and I absolutely loved the post-race food options (great soup, hot dogs! pizza?! wow!!). A super effort by all involved and made my recovery that much more fun.

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7th place!! Photo is courtesy of the Prairie Inn Harriers.

Now for the race recap: Wow, this was a lot harder than I felt it should have been, and it was 100% my fault- I went out FAST in the beginning (first downhill km at 3:55? No way can I run that fast, and I was just getting caught up and silly). It was then a strugglefest for the rest of the race, thanks to my poor planning.

My next km was still very fast for me- 4:16. Then I dropped rapidly and started losing my will to live…

4:46, 4:35, 4:39…eeeeek.

Basically my race was a textbook example of poor pacing efforts, combined with another perfect positive split. So, don’t do what I did- ha. I honestly felt like I would have paid someone to let me quit midway through, it felt that rough.

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Well deserved (until I fell off Oats shortly after).

I wanted to puke, pass out and collapse. I had the distinct pleasure of getting passed right left and centre all throughout the race, which made it tough to ‘run my race’ instead of feeling like I was getting caught up and passed constantly. The ‘hurry scurry’ feeling just never left and I couldn’t achieve that ‘flow’ that I try to during races.

Maybe it’s because I’m out of practice for taking a few months off racing, and the 8k, while a fine distance, is just not my distance.

It was a very chilly day and it actually started snowing like crazy when we finished. Thank god we missed that though- a stroke of good luck. I was happy with my time (36:06 net, 36:11 gun time) which is a slight improvement from last year (36:20), but I do still feel like if I ran a better, more competent race I would have fared wayyyy better. hahah.

At the finish, I wasn’t sprinting, I was struggling. I was huffing and puffing and trying to catch my breath, reeling and staggering at the end. I sat down on a retaining wall and felt dizzy. Yuck!

I was coughing heavily for the rest of the day, thanks to my incompetent lungs being slightly damaged- yuck again.

With my time I received 7th place AG, which is fine for a fairly competitive race.

And after the run, my husband and I enjoyed a very nice beer taster at Category 12, which is nearby, and then we headed to the barn so I could get a quick ride in on Oats. He spooked during my ride, and I promptly tumbled off. Not my day I guess? I was fine, landed on my feet and hopped back on and continued but yeeesh, I guess I was just tired, and not ‘with it’ haha.

Oh well, a lesson to learn for that day.

I am stiff as heck today though!