The machine that made us: Jump lessons!

Yesterday. Wow. So, the day went pretty seamlessly- work was good, it was fairly pleasant to run home and I was heading out to enjoy a walk with Gidget. I had my headphones in, and was listening to my favourite podcast at the moment (Casefile, check it out!) until my good mood came to a screeching halt thanks to an insanely rude, entitled neighbour.

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Dirty details don’t need to come out but protip: Confronting someone with ‘are you deaf’? pretty much NEVER goes well, you old crank. God, it really brought my happy mood down and raised alllllll of my hackles. Don’t mess with me. 

Anyways, I was amped and angry and then spent over an hour driving in traffic to the barn, leading to me rushing around and literally running to grab tack, horse, boots…Yeah. I was in an awful mood going into my riding lesson. Pissed, running late, angry, etc etc the proverbial black cloud was hanging over me.

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This sadly bled into my ride. I felt awkward, clumsy, not connecting well, Oats felt sucked back, tenderfooted and his canter? Ha, what canter. He could not hold the canter, warmed up feeling like a piece of cardboard…Yeah. So, success??

We worked over a few elements of the course in the outdoor and they went ok, until we strung them into a course. Ugh, horrible. I was getting left behind, riding defensively, you name it, I was doing it. I could NOT get in the ‘groove’ per se.

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We regrouped, and then went to tackle the course again- and Nicole suggested I let my body ‘flow’ more and focus on a big, exaggerated two-point bend/release instead of my stiff, defensive, ‘sit’ position. This would help Oats jump better too, as he would feel me committing more to the jump and not riding from the backseat (one of my bigger flaws at the moment).

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Brenda kindly gave Oats her old flymask after his other one got destroyed last week. Wonder how long this will last?

And wouldn’t you know, it worked! Our second course rode really well! Some bobble fences, but overall it flowed much better, we met the fences together, rather than Oats and then me, and it was overall just much more pretty and positive. A great note to end on! AND my friend was there, so I got video + screenshots from it. YES! Plus- I matched with Oats (on purpose this time) so we look pretty too.

So, from good, to really bad, to good again. A rollercoaster of a day!

 

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Think about me: Jump lesson recap!

Oats and I were back in the game on Thursday, after a staggering THREE WEEKS away from jump lessons. I felt nervous actually. Well, I wanted to work on Prix Caprilli (because I was feeling anxious about our show in two weeks) but I had printed copies of Training Test 2 and 3 instead of the Prix Caprilli, so we just jumped instead and tabled the Prix Caprilli testing until next week.

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Oats from a few years ago (three). These jumps are too little! 

Phew!

And how did it go? Very well! We warmed up over a canter-in gymnastic, two x-rail bounces to a small vertical then-oxer. And here is the best part- my trainer commented if I had been practicing my two-point recently? And I kind of mumbled sort of…Sort of because Oats had the two weeks off, so not really, but I did have a good equine counseling session this Monday working solely on minute fixes to my upper body in two-point.

And she said she could see the difference?! Wow! So this IS working. I felt very encouraged by that (quite honestly I usually feel like I get worse, not better, in riding). She was saying my upper body looked much more controlled, taller.

So I was very pleased with that, and I did feel better in the two-point this week, instead of dropping back down in the saddle. We then worked over a small course that had some technical elements (two-strides combinations, across the diagonal and along the long side). We also did a bending line skinny- across to the diagonal. Go us!

I did bow out after 1 go-around on the course. I was feeling GREAT about how the lesson went, but I didn’t want to do it again and lose that good feeling. To be honest, after three weeks away from jump lessons I just wanted to feel good and THEN build to working up more. I was very pleased with Oats. The jumps were tiny but it was more about the smoothness, sitting up through the turns (always my challenge) and a ‘stiller’ body in the air. Things I think we did achieve 🙂

Onwards and upwards!

Under allergy attack!

UGH it is officially spring here in Victoria and the alder pollen count is at ‘excruciatingly high’ rather than just ‘high’ or irritatingly high. God, my eyes started swelling shut this morning at work 😦 my breathing was impaired and I started feeling terrible. My eyes were so itchy, swelling and watering constantly and I had a sinus headache. Basically think of every allergy symptom you can have and I had it. All at once. Shoot me.

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Save me from spring!!!

I had to powerwalk to Shoppers to grab the biggest box of Reactine they had and eat one in the lineup. Even still, with Reactine and the Singulair I take every morning, I am STILL dying. UGH.

My eyes are still watery and itchy, and my sinuses are on fire. Lovely.

Very likely I am going to have to take more than 1 Reactine to stave off further horrendous reactions. This one is *barely* working.

Funny I chalked some of my allergy symptoms on the weekend to the dust in the indoor. As it turns out, it’s not just the dust, it’s the air itself around me, trying to kill me. Or just make my life a living hell, it’s a toss-up.

Blah!!

I did have a nice equine counseling session on Oats last night, and we worked on my positioning over a small x-rail. Oats biffed it good a few times, but it was really helpful for me in terms of being ‘ok’ with bad jumps, maintaining a strong arm/leg position to help us both out when the jump is less than pretty, and helping me hold my two-point in a relaxed, easy-to-maintain fashion.

A good ride all around.

Ugh, now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find a fork to scratch my eyes with.

The messenger began to believe that the message was him.

Quote I found (I believe it is a lyric from a song?) but I liked it!

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Jump lesson recap this week- MUCH better than last week. Oats was more consistently forward, though I came into the ride with a plan. Get him off my leg, the walk in the warm-up is NOT lollygagging around, and I ride with purpose, every step. Jump lessons are too precious to half-ass the beginning!

So I marched him around, got some pissy leg kick-outs, dealt with them and moved on.

Was the lesson perfect? HAHAH no. But, it was much improved and it helped me ride with ‘my horse moving underneath me’ rather than me pushing, pulling with my body moving too much. I am particularly guilty of this when I am not sure I have enough horse to ride!

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The exercises were very simple this week: Jump a line of skinnies 4-strides apart (an easy four, which of course we biffed and got a choppy FIVE sometimes…ah Oats), and a small course with some oxers. The focus was more on flow, and we got it!

I was much improved with my upper body, staying in two-point most of the ride, back with my shoulders through the corners (still had some blips but hey…better) and Oats was riding quite nicely.

It just went so much better. I was happy with Oats, and left on a real good note. Yay!

Say yes for another time

Jump lesson last night and I admitted my rides this week have felt kind of blahhhh….But I was hoping to turn that around. From uninspired to inspired? We’ll see!

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Another throwback to the race a few weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Ken D’Ell. 

Actually Tuesday was a good quality ride, but not for physicality- more for mental progress, so there’s that 🙂 So we built upon my work from Tuesday and I did a LOT of jumping with one hand!

We worked over a small grid (two-stride trot-in, X-rail to a small oxer) and I rode it one-handed most of the time! And then we worked up to a small course, of which I alternated steering with two hands, and jumping the jumps with one hand. Not gonna lie, I almost felt paralyzed by indecision and fear for a bit in the beginning, and I felt frustrated. Why is this so hard?!

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Some days you ride better without hands. This remains true…Throwback to a few years ago.

BUT it got better, and my body responded. I was figuring it out, and the frustration I felt slowly ebbed and went away. The jumps were small, I felt bolder. I re-did a line that was riding poorly (ok, I did say things got better but YEAH not amazing, and boy did I have some screw-ups, ha) of my own volition!

But you know what? I was able to accept the mistakes graciously and here’s the big one: move on from them.

I said I wanted to ride the course again, and yes it wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t paralyzing either. So go for it! Get what’s yours and just try it. I didn’t feel the heart-pounding exhilaration that sometimes accompanies big ‘tries’ of mine… I just felt like yes, let’s go for it, and I can do it. Maybe not well, but I can.

And Oats was a good pony, with some really truly sloppy jump efforts, and some really good ones too. He had no stiffness, so I am sure the Previcoxx is working for him! Yes!

If you’re born on an island, the ocean heals you

Another jump lesson recap!! Oats and I warmed up really nicely last night, so nice in fact that I am wondering how I can capture that magic for our next jump lesson? He was soft, forward, responsive and very fluid. It was just lovely.

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Last winter was very snowy.

I was feeling confident after that warm up, more confident than I usually feel about jumping! Lucky me because last night was the night to start being challenged with height a bit more (it was not a complex lesson, compared with the last few weeks of very technical coursework).

We did a trot-in one-stride gymnastic (x-rail to oxer) and by the end of the warm up over the gymnastic, the oxer was up to 2’6” with nary a peep from me! I did feel a bit anxious about it but you know what? It was riding fine.

We then made a small course of 6 jumps, incorporating the gymnastic into the course. That rode fine, so the jumps went up (another panel jump went to 2’6”) and we worked up to a course of 12 fences total. Oats was a tad surprised by the bigger fence and was like wait, woah and had to really lift his hooves to clear it. Good boy!

In the course we did the gymnastic twice and the 2’6” fence three times. That’s a lot for me, hahahah. The course rode quite well though, and I was very pleased with Oats making the effort.

I have been saying it’s time to be challenged and here I go- it’s time and I am ready!

Can’t get enough of myself- dressage update

So I signed up for a dressage show (yes it’s been a few years, yiikes) so I figured in my lesson last night, we should work on some elements of the tests. HUMBLING. Wow.

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What Oats would rather be doing. Also, why isn’t it summer anymore here? Godammit!

It was a tough, tough ride and I had to get ‘real’ with Oats, who thought he could outlast me. He was wrong! But I got tired, bigtime haha. He fussed, he fought, he threw a small hissy fit, we had to go back to the walk to confirm him, and then back to trot, then back to walk when he started fussing too much and protesting, then back to trot…rinse, repeat.

It was pretty exhausting, and my hip started to cramp up. I’m noticing more charley-horse leg episodes in my dressage days on Tuesday, likely due to the amount of work I am putting in on my legs from the running/longer run days on the weekend. It shows me that with the increasing amount of physical exertion, I need to adapt and get better about using electrolytes instead of just forgetting and then getting a major charley horse in the middle of my ride, AGAIN.

The last one I had really hurt, and it damaged my leg muscle for over a week! WTF?

Anyways, so the lesson was long, and tough and kind of an ego-killer. But you know, Karen said it was one of the first lessons where I was able to get firm, and fairly tough with Oats, and KEEP doing it. I didn’t give in, get upset (though it was certainly frustrating) I just kept.at.it.

So, yeah to sum up dressage= very hard and tiring and now what am I doing signing up for a dressage show? So I can show off my mediocre work and lack of progress?

Well, I do want to show off my fancy new dressage boots. So, there’s that!

Oats did get an apple as a treat from my barn friend, which was very nice of her. Also he was offered some really lovely fresh-cut long grass from my other barn friend. Greedy pony gobbled it right up!