Focusing forward

Dressage lesson time! Now, I knew Oats’ big energy from the past week was gone, so how would he be? WELL, hilariously he was good to warm up and when we began the real work, started getting silly about the back door being opened.

I got mad. I mean come ON we had a good warmup and you give me this? Looking for an excuse??

From a few years ago, looking good!

My trainer was pretty funny about it, she said well look at it this way- not EVERYONE wants to go to the gym to work hard and he just isn’t like that. She said we need to channel it, use it for good- not get angry. Fair enough!!

He worked quite intensely actually, I was very surprised. We hadn’t had a ride that intense since…Over a year ago maybe? We did a big power trot, and went into leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches in, and work, work work work work! Bending in a BIG bend, getting the outside rein active (ok, this is the part that I suck the hardest at….and never really got it 100%) and just powered along!

I was tired, Oats was sweaty! We really hadn’t had that kind of big intense riding yet this year, as we were definitely playing it safe.

Though, we did no-stirrups for the canter work and then I had to work harder than Oats, haha. The right rein had some lovely downward transitions, the left was a work in progress, and not so great, hahah. BUT we got some really solid work out of him and were able to amp up the intensity in a way I have been kind of leery about. Go Oats! By the end he wasn’t sweaty but I was ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess he’s getting in good shape these days.

How we left

Ha, I had some kind of disappointing rides on Oats the past week that led me to not being thrilled about writing about them. In a nutshell, he’s suddenly feeling good. REALLY good. So he’s been a little hot rod to ride, spicy and bouncing (literally) hot to trot and I hated it!! I felt out of control, unsure and unused to it.

From a few weeks ago. He’s on fire now!

It’s not a bad thing, but after 8 months of rehab, and 10 months total post-rehab I felt completely out of my league with my new, fast, alert Superpony who was jazzed up beyond belief and NOT settling to his old, sedate Oats of past.

I didn’t know what to do? We hand galloped for 45 minutes last Saturday because he was so jazzed up and wasn’t settling, at all. GO GO GO like the Energizer Bunny?! I almost wished we HAD our jump lesson b/c I could really use that power and energy, but on my own hacking? Sheesh man, this is a lot to work with.

Sunday he was a touch calmer but still had a real undercurrent of BIG energy. We worked over some cross rails, and it was fine. Monday we did some quieter work- most at the walk/trot, and focused on lateral work at the walk and a touch at the trot.

Tuesday he was on fire again, and damn, we had a long, hard ride. Sort of a ‘Come to Jesus’ ride I guess? He was MOVING though and by the end, going incredibly nicely. It was just exhausting- physically and emotionally- to ride out the little pocket rocket first!

Wednesday I didn’t ride, man I was tired! So I put Oats’ halter on and we took a walk to a local park to watch the tennis players. People loved seeing him going down the sidewalk- ”Look, a horsie!!!” and I told them his name was Mr. Oats and the kids shouted ”I love you Mr. Oats!!’…so that was cute!

Thursday we finally had a lesson- I also chalk his bigtime energy to us not having jump lessons for three weeks, and no dressage lesson last week either. We need some help to harness this!! (and supervision, I guess!) ha. It went really well! I started off tense and wanting to get in a fight with Oats, but we did a big power warm -up that was basically hand galloping around over some teeny cavalettis with my lesson mate, and then settled and focused and this is funny, for the wild man Oats, our lesson was mostly done later without stirrups ๐Ÿ˜‰ so, I guess not so wild after all??

It’s a matter of perspective. I’m beyond fortunate to have a zippy, SOUND hot to trot pony after so many years and if he’s feeling GOOD GOOD GOOD right now and wants to GO, well, I go with him and enjoy that ride! I have a real feeling it won’t last, and he’ll be back to little old draggy Oats, but until then…Hang on and gooooo!

(Ok so it will take a bit of convincing on my behalf to really enjoy that feeling of ‘too much’ but damn, he is looking and moving amazingly well right now).

Half free

Funny, these days all I am recapping is dressage? We missed our jump lesson on Tues (soon to move to Sat) due to instructor illness so yep, dressage it is!

From last summer, but I like his canter here.

We worked on a very interesting exercise that essentially had Oats running his own canter, and me doing…a rubbing my belly patting myself on the head type of exercise that I was SO BAD AT hahah. It was tricky! We focused on Oats = cantering around like a carousel horse while I put my inside arm forward, while looking ‘out’ of the circle, and and bringing my outside elbow back. HARD. Harder than it sounds, and I definitely felt very discombobulated, hahah.

Oats was very good though, he had a lot of learning to do and was kind of pissed about it at first, but then was like, well okay….He had one big spook at a very curious and friendly deer that was trying to get into the indoor, and was persistent about NOT going away! Oats has ridden in the indoor arena with deer sleeping in it, so I was a bit surprised that he was so looney about this friendly one?!

Anyways, it was a very educational and interesting lesson and I felt like I had 10 arms, but hey, all in good fun and learning ๐Ÿ˜‰

And then I drove to the grocery store and locked my fucking keys and phone in the car for the second time this month. FUCK ME. I had to go to the grocery store and call my husband, who rode his bike to pick me up. I guess I had a lot of time to grocery shop then, eh? Damn. At least it wasn’t at the feed store this time, which is a million miles from anything and I had to call a tow truck to open my car up, which cost me a pretty $70….Know what complaining about things costing a lot leads to? Things costing EVEN MORE through some insane circumstance. Ha.

More Faith lessons!

I know on Saturday I was griping, mainly because my daytime lessons with Faith all seem to be a bit of a dud- she gets worked up, angsty, balky, etc. And then Oats has started losing his shit every.single.day…and ARGH. I hate horses!!

Go Faith!

BUT Faith was a gem last night, a very good girl. We trotted a crossrail twice without stirrups- ok I tried to chicken out, hahah but the second time didn’t seem so jostly so ok! And then we trotted a few small fences and she was great. Got in crooked- fixed it. Sluggy off the ground? Add leg. It all worked out! That felt pretty darned good, and redemptive from Saturday.

Oats on the other hand… I know he’s bored of rehab and looking for trouble. Every day. A lot of trouble. ARGH. He has started having freakouts about the corners of the arena (newsflash- nothing changes. EVER. He has been in the arena for 5 months…) bolting backwards, slamming on the brakes, spooking at his reflection in the mirrors (not usually a problem), and spooking at me coughing, or blowing my nose. FUN FUN!

At least she is good! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, every ride I have to go out with the idea that rehab takes as long as it takes. He’s running backwards? Pause the watch, deal with it, and start the watch up again when he finally gets over it. Spooking and bolting backwards? Same deal. It is FREAKING EXHAUSTING to deal with every day. I decided to start adding to his trot work last night, to deal with some of his shenanigans. Very moderate- add 30 secs to his intermittent trot work on both sides for an extra minute total, and start with the intermittent trot instead of the continuous trot- leave the continuous for the second round. For some reason the continuous seems to twig his brain off even more? And I also added 30 secs/side for the continuous trot to round it out.

He felt a bit funny on the left, but I think that was because of his inconsistent trot/head carriage. Turns out spooking isn’t conducive to either?! Ha. So he does settle, and go along pretty nicely, but damn those first 20 minutes are pretty annoying and hard to manage. And may I remind you- EVERY SINGLE DAY. SIGH. I had to cancel his Friday rider, as she is quite novice, just getting back into it, and the last thing she needs is to go bolting backwards every 2 minutes…. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

New adventure in dressage-jumping!

So we revisited the lesson from last Thursday, with a focus on ‘building’ the canter up to be a bigger, more energetic and ‘jumpy’ canter rather than a very tightly controlled ‘small’ canter.

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Some choice screengrabs ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dressage with speedbumps!

I now tend to think of dressage for me as a process of going through stages. First we developed his ‘stretchy’ frame, next we bump the frame up a bit for his ‘jump’ frame and then kind of toggle through both. But you need the first one to get the second, if that makes sense?

It’s a sort of transitional phase.

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But so uphill! I love it!ย 

And yesterday had some very rocky moments (his right rein was not a thing, apparently) and he had 1 BIG spook that almost got me off, hahah. Stupid pony! But no matter, I enjoyed the end process and I think I am getting a better idea of how to manage his canter, both on the flat and through the jumps. Both trainers are right- his jump/my jump issues stem from a weakness in managing the canter.

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Heading to a small jump and he still looks good!ย 

If I’m not connected to him at the canter, how WILL I know where the takeoff spot is? I am too disconnected to know or figure it out! And I can feel that, I just didn’t know how to fix it.

This time I am happy to say he nailed every single distance, ha. We didn’t really jump (ok, they were cavaletti size, ha super small) much, but it was higher quality and the canter improved. We did get a little shakier and flat as we wrapped up, but I was able to watch the video and damn…His canter is looking FANCY. I also am reaching the point of jumping where this little stuff is…Not hard. Taking the spectre of ‘jumping’ out of jumping is working well for me.

My hands suck and I sit behind the motion, soooo ignore me. But Oats! Wow! Loving this. I also appreciate that in the 10 years I have owned him, I am still learning so much with him. It’s a journey, isn’t it?

 

 

 

Oktoberfest!

This Saturday we finally attended the annual Oktoberfest celebration at the Edelweiss. We are right near it, so I’m almost ashamed to say that we never went! It was well time this year to check it out.

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Spooky decorations at work. I love them!ย 

And how did it go? It was a lot of fun, but to be honest, this is the second ‘Oktoberfest-style’ event I have gone to (the other one is at the Public Market), and while I enjoyed myself, it was CRAZY EXPENSIVE to attend. So…that’s kind of a naturally self-limiting thing for me. We do too many events, horse shows, races, travels, weekends away to really fork out what came to close to $200 for one night.

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The tickets themselves are $45 for non-members (general public), and the bratwurst dinners were $19/ea, the schnitzel dinners were $23/ea, a pretzel was $3.50 (when last weekend in Kelowna, we bought pretzels at a brewery for $2…)…A pitcher of beer (not good beer) was $23/ea, apple strudel was $3.50…You get the idea. It was nuts expensive.

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So between the two of us, we were at $90 before we stepped foot in the door. Kind of rich for my blood? And we definitely wanted to do the full-meal deal right, you don’t just go for the dancing and entertainment (and it WAS GREAT!).

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So, aside from my griping about the crazy expense, it was a really fun night and people were so friendly and entertaining! We got to watch the Edelweiss dancers, and then got to dance ourselves. ๐Ÿ™‚ I missed that. My friend was telling me that Oktoberfest was originally to celebrate a wedding, in it’s origin, which I can totally get- it was like a more-fun wedding!
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I didn’t have a late night, because I had…a race! The next day! Ooooh. And how did that one go? Well, we will have to wait until I have some photos for a race recap.

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You deserve this: Weekend update

Ah the weekend- I was on pins and needles at first, anxious to see if I was going to be deployed for flooding assistance- something I am fine with doing, butย man, I did not want to go right now. So my weekend was me checking my phone constantly to see if I was going to be deployed. Spoiler: I wasn’t! YAY!

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The facility is incredible.

Saturday Ian and I visited the Fairfield Community Garage Sale and I scored a really sweet Bench jacket for $20 and a puffy polka-dot vest for $5- niiice! There were some other sales that looked pretty good but I wasn’t in need for much, so I left it at that.

Went riding and Oats was really good! I even rode without stirrups, which reminded me how much I dislike riding w/o stirrups…Ouch. I get this big knot under my thighs. Later I went for a run, and then just enjoyed the evening. It was crazy windy and cold, so we weren’t out on the patio at all. Crummy weather on Saturday!

Sunday I had arranged a lesson with another trainer, as my current dressage coach Karen Brain is on a much-needed vacation and travelling around! It didn’t start off well at all. Blah. Oats was a total loon about the end of the outdoor arena and driving me NUTS! Why was this surfacing after having such great, zen rides? ARGHHHHHH. I was so mad. He was literally jumping out of his skin every step. Wha?

Anyways, it kind of looked like we didn’t know what we were doing…Not a great first impression. BUT the lesson went well, and Oats was tired. When we went back to the exercise (raised poles on a circle, trot and then canter) he was like WHA? I have to do thisย again? Ha. yes. The name of the game was to improve Oats’ fitness, so when I am asking for more collected canter work he can actually do it, instead of you know…not.

Then I got changed and my friend and I drove out to the gorgeous Fairlawn Equestrian Centre for the season-end wrap up party potluck. It is amazing out there! Just stunning. I got totally sunburned, ha. We enjoyed a ton of great food (I ate way too much yesterday, ugh felt sick after) and tasty desserts too. Yum yum! And there were door prizes as well- I won a bottle of Cowboy Magic and my friend won a really cute face brush.

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Sweet prize!!

A surprise to me, I won the Adult Amateur High Point award- a really sweet Tempo Jacket from Greenhawk, and they are going to embroider it too. WOWWW! Made my day! Lucky me.

I Hate Canada Geese!

They shit over everything, are just so gross and loud and annoying, AND they are a real safety at the risk. They have been out of control at the stables recently and it’s getting frightening. Last night they were crash landing on the roof, scrabbling wildly on the roof, taking off, crash landing again, and then walking up and down the roof to launch off the front of the arena. This of course was scaring the shit out of the horses in the arena, who thought they were under attack!

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Oats would prefer ‘Pony Parking Only’ but Dressage Queen is ok too!

Not Oats of course, but he is basically a saint. And also there is a limit to how perfect he will be while horses are losing their minds while 30lb birds are crash landing on a tin roof, over and over and over again. It was nerve-shattering for ME!

I knew I couldn’t be the best, most focused rider during these circumstances. I tried a few transitions (meh) and some lateral work, which was ‘ok’ but I just couldn’t be the rider who could ignore how LOUD and distracting something crashing above my head constantly was. Just absolutely destroyed my focus. ARGH.

I did appreciate how great Oats was about it all, though. Man, he is a saint.

I also have a really hard time with loud noises. I can’t handle them- they scare me and I find myself constantly on edge. So yeah, this wasn’t really idea then either…Oh well.

We did have quite a few fun rides this weekend, and on Monday we worked on some x-rails at the trot and it went quite nicely, no big ‘launches’ or anything. Foot-perfect for those even though he literally face-planted over a pole that day. Hah!

The countdown is ON for my trip though, and no Canada Goose is going to ruin that for me!