Quite like you: Bad ideas

So, where to start with this weekend? Maybe with the fact that I had a horrendous head cold, and was staring down the barrel of a majorly overscheduled weekend…With some dread/trepidation.

What was on tap? Saturday: Sooke Saddle Club Show and Tell in dressage (Training Level 2 and an attempt at Training Level 3) and then the MEC Race #3, The Pace Setter half marathon on Sunday (gulp!!). Did I mention I had a really nasty head cold that I am still trying to get over, combined with exercise-induced asthma that flares up badly when I have a cold/run hills/run long, and oh the hottest days Victoria will see this month?

What are you talking about, all I see is success….?? Right? Right?

Um, yeah no.

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Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show ‘n’ Tell

But the Sooke Saddle Club show and tell went fairly well, Oats was being a bit of a dingus so we had some issues with contact…spooking and consistency (mine on this point). Oh and get this, I had gotten back from Nakusp on Tuesday, ran a track race Wednesday, had my lesson on Thursday where I printed out and ran through the WRONG TRAINING LEVEL TEST?! For Saturday. Shit!! I did print out the correct one in a big rush on Saturday morning but yes, my ¬†head was definitely not in the game for anything, haha. And that was why we went off course in our first Training 3 test, and thankfully corrected that for the second one. I am a genius. (More on that later, like during the longest half marathon of my life).

So anyways, the judge was great and gave the feedback we needed. And I even made a goal for myself and Oats- try for First Level! I know it’s a reach goal, but I figure we can dream eh?

The scores were tough but VERY fair given what I was riding (sort of poorly, and got a MASSIVE charley horse in my leg, yay…mid-test) and how Oats was responding (not well). Great learning experience, and we even were lucky enough to have a friend swing by the ring and give me an Iced Capp!! Made my afternoon ūüôā ūüôā

It was a hot day, and I sweated through my belt. Phew. Foreshadowing for the race the next day…I got home at like 6pm. EEEK!

Stay tuned for the events of the next day….

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Ripoff report: Horse show edition

Now, I’m typically a hard one to surprise, cost-wise with horses (newsflash: everything they do, wear, eat, train for or participate in is insanely expensive.).

But, I’ve recently come across a new one that really bugs me. The ripoff horse show.

I do a few local- emphasis on¬†local schooling shows hosted by great organizations or stables, and am proud and happy to share their names so that others can experience them at a more or less reasonable cost. They’re not cheap, nothing in horses is, but again, fairly reasonable.

These are:

  • Vancouver Island Appaloosa Club horse shows– don’t let the name fool you, they’re open to all breeds, friendly and nice. Good way to get into showing, offer very soft jump heights (for the wimps like me!!) and hack classes. Avg. $10 a class for non-members and I think $7/class for members? Cheapest game in town.
  • Sooke Saddle Club: They offer normally two ‘Show and Tell’ dressage days that are, quite frankly, a steal at the price. For $35/test, you get to ride your test, have the judge come out and put you through the wringer in the best possible way, and then you ride it again and they judge it again. I normally do two tests, so I have 4X opportunity for learning. It’s amazing!
  • Westside–I kind of hesitate with these guys–they are kind of the only game in town sometimes for shows in the off-season, and they aren’t really very cheap- think $20/class, and a $20/admin fee, but the venue is good, the courses are designed well and they have pretty good judges, from what I remember.
  • Foxstone–They only do 3 winter series shows, $45/div and a $20 admin fee- they are very reasonable and the facilities and course design are top-notch.
  • QMS–Offer both H/J and Dressage schooling shows, quite reasonable, good course design and seem to normally run on time. No quibble with these folks.
  • CDRC– SO cheap! Love them! Jumper classes are no-frills run at $10/a class, and their dressage is¬†similarly¬†no-frills but mega affordable.

And now to the rant part…

Westside has decided to offer a dressage show and tell, similar in format and the same judges that Sooke Saddle Club offers. I give them kudos for recognizing a need in the off-season, as Sooke doesn’t have an indoor arena and isn’t able to offer Show and Tell in the ¬†winter. BUT…

The prices are ludicrous. A total money grab from my view (remember, this is my personal opinion) at $50/test and the nerve to tack on a $20/ring fee. Plus, you only get to ride the test once, instead of like Sooke where you sign up, ride, get your ass handed to you by the judge in a mini lesson, and then immediately ride again. So, double the cost, minus the test. No way José.

So, there’s that. Interesting chutzpah on their end but I will not be parting with my $$$ for that. For others, fair enough, it’s their dime.

Also- I saw a poster for a Halloween jumper schooling show at a local stable – Echo Ridge, which used to be called Oak Meadows, (local, like I could walk to it with Oats…) and was¬†VERY interested. Until, I saw how much they were charging for what amounted to:

  • No real course designer
  • Tiny indoor arena to host the course- that also appears to be the only arena, no warmup ring??
  • Who is the judge?
  • No prizes/ribbons???
  • Oh wait, it’s a jackpot style class, so first place gets $8 and it goes down from there. So you can’t even make half of what the class costs back in prize money?
  • Charging for warm-up? Westside, of the ultimate money-grabber places, doesn’t even have the balls to do that. Jeeeesh.

So, for a tiny in-house jumper show hosted at their farm they were charging $20/class or 3Xclasses for $50. That’s even more than the really fancy-pants Foxstone?? Plus, they were charging $5/3 minute warm-up in the ring. I mean,¬†really?

And you know what the worst part is? I am super disappointed. I actually wanted to take Oats in this show because it’s local, (support local!) I could walk there, it sounded really fun and offered silly classes like Gamblers Choice and some other ones.

I kind of want to write a review to them, and be like…You are pricing yourself wayyyy out of the market here. If it’s a fun in-house show, don’t charge SSITS or A-level prices. Do they know this? How could they not? I’m honestly surprised and was super taken aback by the extreme¬†gouging¬†level.

I think $10/class is a very reasonable price and I would be happy to pay that for this level and type of show. I do understand that the nicer venues have higher costs and nicer decorated jumps, finery, judges and prizes, not to mention course design…But it begs the question- why are their shows cheaper, have great prizes AND offer free in-ring schooling?

Just, help me out here!

Heart: Oaty Pony

I’m back to appreciating my little bratty pony, Oaty Pony. I was feeling kind of bummed out yesterday and a little wrung out (I am feeling some guilt over my grandfather’s passing, I guess) and I was tempted to cancel my lesson.

Judge Melanie Houston

Random pics of Oats doing dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

I didn’t though. I had to last week, to drop off my Saanich Fair entries, and you know what? I need lessons. They keep me accountable, nicer to Oats and less likely to pick fights and get too intense with him. I had kind of an iffy weekend of riding with him because I didn’t have as many lessons. ARGH. Also, I think I was under some personal stress, and that allowed some of my more unpleasant behaviours to surface (getting too intense about exercises with Oats, not being as nice or as forgiving a rider as I should be, picking fights I know I won’t win…).

Sooke Saddle Club show: photo courtesy of Eila

Sooke Saddle Club show: photo courtesy of Eila

So we worked on a fairly easy exercise- a few single small fences, and some circle jumps- and I learned a new way of ‘energizing’ Oats via the Dr. Andrew Maclean technique of tap-tap-tapping the crop against Oats’s side but very close to my boot instead of one big THWACK! Which we as equestrians are more used to as ‘motivating’ techniques. And boy it worked! Oats even threw a crow-hop buck haha. Well better than his big-time bronco bucks he used to pull!

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

I’m glad. Glad that we’re on the same page right now.

Before/After: The way I was/the way I want to be?

Before: Oats and I in the indoor arena. We had our fair share of struggles at the canter- getting it was hard, maintaining it was hard, bend was hard, not bucking was hard…

Winter Oats- canter

Winter riding- Oats canters: photo credit to Jodie Wright

After: August 2014 at the Sooke Saddle Club. So, we’ve got the impulsion down pat, but we still need a bit of help directing it. His enthusiasm is growing at least, for flat work! It was a fun and successful show (after loudly proclaiming I was NEVER going to show dressage again after our¬†disastrous¬†first few shows this season, wtf?) haha I guess I am back at it!

Sooke Saddle Club

Sooke Saddle Club: photo credit to Ian

AND of course, to be as humble as I can…We have rides that look like this: Oats the Giraffe-horse. Dressage is hard, guys!

Oats the giraffe

Oats the giraffe: Photo credit to Daytona

Following up on this, we had a lesson with Karen Brain yesterday. I am not sure what is going on, but apparently I need lessons to keep me honest, out of Oats’ face, and a better person. Yes that’s right, accountability keeps me nicer, and a nicer rider to Oats (not a pushover, but more solid and asking the right questions). I am NOT a pushover anymore! But I also don’t need to pick¬†unnecessary¬†fights either… I had a blah week, where my rides felt like..eh. Just ‘eh’ …

The last straw was Monday, where I felt unenthusiastic, Oats felt really blah, and he was a spooky, argumentative little punk.

Ding ding ding..Time for a lesson!

And so it was. And, pretty good! Not pretty, but not as ugly as before. We worked on picking up a canter lead on a straight line, no ‘cheat’ bending to get it. And it was very tough but more ‘rewarding tough’ than ‘what is this BS-tough’ that I felt before. Hah. So, we did it! Once! Ahhh the slide into mediocrity sure feels gooooood…(ok we are maybe sort of mediocre but I can at least TRY dressage sometimes!)

But I felt more ‘me’ and Oats felt more ‘him’ with the lesson. We need them, for our relationship building.

Hey this before/after thing is fun. I’ll dig up some (god awful) jumping pix for showcasing sometime!

What a weekend! Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show and Tell

Wow, where do I begin?

First off, I was feeling a bit anxious and anticipating my show on Sunday. My ride on Oats on Saturday was …not so good.

He remembered some of our lesson on Thurs, but apparently only remembered the part where he slams on the brakes and tries to turn left!

He pulled that little maneuver twice/three times in the outdoor ring, being a little shit. I calmly said, no, I don’t think so! And kept on my right rein. And kept on it. He threw a few hissy fits- no, I don’t wanna!! Tried going backwards, forwards, everywhere EXCEPT right.

I held the right rein open. Fine, go backwards, forwards, whatever…But I will NOT LET GO OF THE RIGHT REIN. Trust me on this one, Oats.

He went backwards, and then finally turned around and we continued right- into a spook. Clearly, he was looking for an excuse, a reason…I didn’t give him a10446096_10100249079286136_8186726276083283146_ony. I did get pretty annoyed, but I kept my temper in check. We eventually cruised over a few fences and he was very good for those (tiny cross rails).

I wasn’t really expecting greatness at the horse show, with his little temper tantrum on Saturday.

And, I was happily surprised!

Let’s set the scene for you: We literally have NOT done a single good dressage show this year. Each show, he has a hissy fit in the right-lead canter circle and throws a huge buck. Sometimes it gets me off, sometimes it doesn’t. But every time he throws one in.

This time?

Success!

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I’m not sure what the secret is… We had a rough first test, the right-lead canter circle was UGLY. He broke, picked up the wrong lead, went too fast, fell in, etc etc etc…Yeah, hideous.

We talked it over with the judge- the friendly and hilarious Melanie Houston- and worked on some tricks/tips to finesse our ride.

We went back in, and rode the test and it was better- but not great. Melanie saw us, and suggested that we must work on¬†strengthening¬†the canter- not letting him fly into it, and pull me through the transition. It’s too WILD! She said.

True enough! So, our next test we rode and it got marginally better. But not good enough yet, said Melanie. So she set up an exercise where we trotted-cantered-trotted-cantered with only 2-3 strides in-between the transitions. It was hard! It was hot! We WORKED!

She said we need to get collected (sort of) before we transition to canter. Our transitions are too big, too much and out of control. I have to learn to prepare, and then ask, and then collect. I can’t just ‘give away’ my hands just because I am asking for canter, and because Oats WANTS TO GRAB the contact away from me…'”AKA give me my head..I must run!”

So, the trot-canter-trot-canter-trot-canter multiple transitions in a quicker space really set Oats on his backside, and I learned to not throw away my hands in an effort to get the transition.

Funny enough, this is pretty much exactly what I have been working on with Karen in my Tuesday lessons?

Hah!

I came away with a really positive outlook. Yeah! A great day for us and a special thanks to my husband for coming even though it was really hot and nice out, and taking these lovely photos of us.

Throwback Thursday: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage

Yes, this was us at our very first dressage show last May! 

I guess this is a sort of throwback too? Funny how we had just started dressage last year. We did W/T HCBC tests and then in the fall moved up to Training…And then hit a big speedbump (bucking) in the spring, and kind of gave up dressage after that. (Or gave up dressage shows, not sure exactly where I am with that right now).

ARGH.

Then again, I am sensing a common theme here…Going well, don’t push any buttons, and then BLAM! Buttons get pushed! It gets ugly! Back outta there!

Sigh…

The learning process continues…

Had a nice, very FORWARD ride yesterday on Oats, and then hacked in the field to cool out. I thought he was being a bit of a drama queen tossing his head with the flies, until I hopped off to get the gate, and his poor eyes were covered in flies! Oops sorry Oats!