I don’t believe people ever change. But I’ve changed.

So I am slowly getting over the grips the death cold had on me (wow, it was grim this week) and I had my riding lesson back again too! I had to cancel last Thurs – actually my trainer cancelled because too many people were sick, and I was really starting to go down that road myself, and I was bound and determined to have a LESSON yesterday!

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Remember when we jumped a little house?

I practiced up by riding on Wednesday- it was ok, as Wednesday was the first day I was physically able to stay at work without going home early, though I still felt pretty miserable and tired.

Thursday I was more or less back in action- still feeling physically weak and coughing up a ton of grossness, as well as blowing my nose oh, every two seconds. BUT I could do it! On my way to the barn I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open, I felt so tired and exhausted, but I wanted to ride! The fatigue with this sickness has been truly eye opening. Wow. I have never felt so exhausted in my life.

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Loved this jump photo! Back from when we did our first derby! 

Anyways, I made it and the weather has mercifully turned back to mild so at least I wasn’t freezing my ass off or dealing with lung- freezing and the resultant coughing.

I am happy to say that despite my feebleness and ineffectual riding (ok that’s how it felt, Nicole said I was actually riding pretty well), Oats was on FIRE! He was so good! I love my pony, he is a little superstar. Nothing too big height wise, but we worked on long approaches to a single fence, and then 1 small sort of ‘blind’ bending line, which we aced every time- it was our best line I think! Oats even took a very enthusiastic jump to a small oxer and almost sent me over his head! I could barely hang on…I was NOT expecting to get jumped out of the tack! hahahahah

Can hardly fault the boy for jumping too well! What a star 🙂

I was really, really happy with how the lesson went, even though I was weak and basically clinging on to him. Mr. Oats is a saint pony.

What is it they say about the heart? That it’s a muscle?

Had my jump lesson last night and the temperatures dropped dramatically since earlier this week (when I was bragging about running in shorts!) so it was very cold in my lesson, unfortunately. Lucky for me, Oats is now on regular Previcox and I find that helps him a great deal with the cold/winter stiffness that he was starting to feel regularly, as an older pony.

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Seeking this good feeling- and I’ve got it! Hah no t-shirts last night, that’s for darned sure.

He was pretty bouncy and feeling good last night! I, on the other hand, felt stiff, cold and creaky. Hah. The horse was going better than the rider! I watched my friends ride in their lesson before mine, so I had an idea of what our lesson was going to consist of- though I was wrong, I had bending and broken lines up the wazoo, where theirs was a bit simpler due to a few technical issues early on (one horse had to bow out, he wasn’t feeling quite himself).

So we warmed up (ha, warm. I don’t think I ever felt warm), over a few small x-rails, then lead up to a line (5 strides), and then started working over bending lines still with the cross poles. And the funny thing? We were just nailing it! I don’t think I need to remind you how that pretty much never happens when I ride, ever. It was just so smooth, I didn’t need to think about working or trying or anything, it was was.

Nice eh?

We then moved up to work on the course, and there were so many twisty-turny bending lines, broken lines, it was so fun! Oats was a STAR!!! It was so cold that my eyes were watering the whole ride and I could barely see where I was going, hah.

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Oats is such a good pony. I love him! 

We did biff a few things (wicked drift on the first fence when I didn’t go in riding very well…) and the last fence was kind of a slump, but otherwise it was just BANG ON. Yeah!! Felt awesome! Maybe my trot fence homework is starting to pay off? I wanted to develop feel, agility, comfort and flexibility. I needed to build back my resilience- mine and Oats’- by working on the lowest-level, boring, but important work. No stakes, easy to mess up and easy to fix.

So, I guess the good news is that it is working! The bad news? I have to keep doing it! I used to have a bad habit of completely giving up when something was either working well, or not working at all. So, I keep going.

These are the days that must happen to you: Jumper day update!

A good Walt Whitman quote is always applicable, I think!

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A great weekend! What a good pony. 

Oats and I finally made our debut int he 2’6” ring, after YEARS at 2′, and 2’3” – some successful, a lot not. I normally feel a lot of anxiety, and I weirdly wanted to feel anxious about this show, and just…Didn’t? I felt like, yeah old hat. Weird for me. Weird for being at a horse show, even if it is a small schooling show. I expected to feel anxious, have show nerves, but all I could think is- I can do this. I can definitely do it. Oats is a great pony, and he’s my champion. Challenge me.

My friend was riding in the 2’3”, and I had 1 class in the 2’3” as a warm-up, and then my 2’6” division. She was anxious, and I told her- nobody is even looking at you! Nobody cares! Be challenged. Bring it!!

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That’s my mantra now. 🙂 Make me work for it. Make me focus. Make me try.

We warmed up ok, after Oats spent forever and a day at the (very hot again) trailer, screaming for his buddy and pacing, and it went on and on and on…

Anyways, I was learning from my lessons the day previous, so I did NOT get on Oats too early. I waited until the first 2’3” went, and then tacked Oats up and brought him over. We trotted, cantered and my trainer came over to run us over a few small jumps- just as the ring gate volunteer was like hey you’re in two. Wow! That was quick! But it’s how I like it. 🙂

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We went in and it was…eh. He bucked a little (feeling MUCH better today) and I could tell he was a bit bored. I left the ring saying he needs more. And we waited (awhile) for the 2’6” to be set. The course was not challenging, but it did have a small combination (2 small strides, 3 Oats-sized strides, quite compressed). I kind of wanted them to put the liverpool in, we could definitely do it no problem! Sadly that is for the 2’9” division, not ours. I did not feel scared or have the jumps suddenly ‘grow’ as I usually feel. In fact, even looking back, they look low. WTF?

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We warmed up ok for the 2’6”- it was getting quite hot. I had cleverly brought in a water bucket and asked my friend who finished her division (and placed!!) to fill it and put it in the warm-up. Oats drank! Twice! He was already doing better this day.

We hopped a few verticals, biffed the oxer a few times but it was fine and then we were in. And you know what? The course rode really well- almost perfectly!! I came out smiling. And I said, I want to ride my next round exactly the same way. And I DID!! Who is this girl, who can finish all of her classes, ride competently and well, being fair to her horse, and confidently say she wants to ride exactly the same way? This girl!

I look back and wished I was in this division 5 years ago. But you know what? It’s not really any use doing that. I was a different person then. We placed 3rd in our 2’3”, 3rd in our 2’6” and 5th in our 2’6”. Placing doesn’t really matter though- I felt happy, confident and loving my boy. Go Honey Bunches of Oats!

MEC Race #2: Royal Roads Half-Marathon Recap! (and this time, I won!)

I was having a difficult time mentally preparing for this race. I had a really shitty day on Saturday and was having trouble getting my head in the game.

It’s a challenging half-marathon course, two loops and the start is uphill for about 3km, and then flat-ish, and then some rolling hills, and then a looooooooong flat section of about 2.5km, and then .75km or so straight uphill. And you get to do it twice! Yeah! Sign me up?!

I am very familiar with the course, but like any race you run once a year, you kind of …forget…exactly how it goes. For example, I forgot about the uphill start and was kind of kicking myself/bummed about how off-pace and hard I had to work pretty much immediately. Oh joy! I also forgot my watch, so was running by feel. Which worked out ok!

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

It was a warm day, no watch, and my friends were at the race so that was cool to be able to see them, cheer them on and say hi! They were also running the half-marathon. I was very careful to stay hydrated and make sure I was fueled appropriately. I have run into real trouble at this race by getting dehydrated and significantly under-fueled, leading to staggering, and walking/feeling like I was going to die during the race. I had waffles, coffee, yogurt and a banana for breakfast, and brought with me a whole package of Clif Gummies (Salted watermelon) that had electrolytes in it. I even managed to eat most of the package before the race- not something I can normally do.

So the race?

I ran it, it ran me, I had some fun high points (jumping over a log! Getting electrolyte drinks, high-fiving the volunteers and hearing them say I was the first lady!!) 🙂 and some lows (immediately at the start when it felt hard, at the top of the big hill knowing I had to do it exactly over again, struggle-bus time).

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Note no left sock! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I was sweating like crazy, and I knew I had to be very good about getting electrolyte drinks and water at every stop. Score one for me!

When I started, my damn sock immediately slipped down to my mid-foot. Shit! I stopped (and this was ONE km in…) and pulled it back up. Got back to running and it slipped down again immediately. Ok fine sock, this is how you want to play it? I ran the whole race without a sock on my left foot. Went ok, have a blister now though 😉

When I crossed the finish line, I was really glad to see my time was even better than last year (note- this is NEVER a guarantee. Never.). I raced at a very respectable 1:38:58, for the first woman! My first-ever MEC win! And then I went straight to the medic tent to get a band-aid for my freaking blister.

And something strange, when they announced the 2nd and 3rd place women (who weren’t around), I immediately knew something was up- I never saw them on-course. And I mean, never. It’s a small race. I was talking to the 4th or 5th place woman, who was confused by her placing…I remembered seeing her a bunch of times, about 1:30-2 mins behind me, but NEVER 2nd and 3rd women, who were apparently even closer behind me, according to the race results.

So I did some digging when I got home, and saw that their previous race times at other MEC races were slow- very slow. Like, 1:40+ for 10k slow. There is no way they ran a 1:40 half right behind me- I never once saw them on course.

I suspect they ran 1 loop of the course, and ran through the finish lines. Whether they had signed up for the 10k and accidentally started with the halfs, or had signed up for the half and decided to cut it short, it seems a bit devious to me. I think that they should own up! It sucks for 2nd and 3rd women, who did really well on a very tough course.

So, some intrigue eh??

I’m curious to see the photos come out- photos don’t lie on a race day!

 

 

Soon to be: Jump lesson recap~

I was on a pretty decent roll jumping in my lessons, until yesterday I suddenly wasn’t.

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Rocking it at CDRC! 

I have been managing muscle pain (pulled something in my abdomen/hip area, and trying to deal with the pain for 2 weeks now…) and was taking muscle relaxers on doctor’s orders and I just felt fuzzy, tired and kind of ‘eh’ last night. My lesson started well, we worked through a small grid, took a break and went back to it, until BOOM! Oats jumped the oxer of the grid really nicely, and took 1 canter stride, and fell to his knees!

Yikes!

I luckily was upright already, and landed well on my feet in the stirrups so I was able to stay balanced and pull Oats’ head up. He was able to regain his footing and get up again, none the worse for wear. Scared the shit out of me though, he’s never done that before, poor guy!

It really rattled me, no joke. We continued to ride the gymnastic fine after that (well, until I decided I was done tuning in and kind of lost focus…leading Oats to crawl over the last jump). But the damage was done- Oats can take a jump, but I was just having a lot of trouble staying focused and never felt like we really ‘clicked in’ last night, you know? That led to a lot of ‘stop and climb’ jumps, ughhhhh…So awkward.

I wanted to fuss and sulk about my shitty ride, but a friend who was watching came up to me after the lesson and was like, ‘hey you guys are a great team!’ And I was incredulous. You’re saying that after watching us today? Wha? It sucked!

And she said, yeah it wasn’t perfect, but you get going and kept trying, and that was pretty good! So, in perspective it wasn’t 100% shitty, it was just a non-clicking day. We have them, I guess, and so do horses! Like the sports psychologist says: You had a fantastic ride, won everything, great job- move on. You had a bad ride, things sucked and went hell, too bad. Move on.

It doesn’t matter, because it’s already in the past.

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Don’t you know what regret looks like?

It looks like the road not taken- but actually, things have been going fairly swimmingly on my end!

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Photo courtesy of Bonita Stables- this is at Fairlawn at the awards lunch last weekend. Beauty day eh?

Monday I had an equine counseling session, and it was kind of challenging in an emotional way, you know? But, something was coming up, and I knew I needed it.

Tuesday I had a casual hack with a friend and it was exactly what I needed. Oats and I were chill, things were just flowing- although I was noticing more in the outdoor arena that he seemed quite ouchy and footsore- particularly when we moved up to canter. I didn’t ride for that long due to that. Fortunately, he was getting front shoes on Wednesday, just in time for my jumping lesson on Thursday!

Thursday we warmed up and his canter felt…strange. Like he was coming up more, and pounding on the sand with his hooves? He felt unsure about his new kicks, and his canter reflected this- he lost impulsion throughout the corners and broke pretty much EVERY time in the top-left hand corner. He was also quite looky and had some spooks in the ‘scary corner’ where we had a gymnastic grid set up. Goof!!

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We had a grid (canter-in bounce grid, two bounces to two-two-strides. Ha, try saying that twice!!). We MAJORLY fumbled the grid more than a few times, like whoa. I don’t know how to ride kind of fumbles. Ahhhh…. Anyways. We schooled a faux-ditch with barrels and it went pretty well. Ditches and weird-looking jumps are no big for Oats.

Course time! Lots of jumps and some interesting features- a ‘rock’ skinny *(ooh) and the gymnastic, the faux-ditch, barrels, some natural planks, and a few oxers. I was like kind of wanting to freak out, but also felt like…Ok. We got this.

And we cantered it, and it went pretty well. Not fabulous- my eye was majorly off and I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, hahah. Oh well.

Then a few jumps went up, and we did it again! First jump, good, second, ok too and then the grid…Yikes. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to collect Oats for the grid while we were IN the grid. Newsflash- bad idea!! He crashed through the x-rail, and then stopped for a poop, ha.

We regrouped and I approached it with a better idea of wtf I was doing. Whoops, sorry pony!

Rest of the course was ok, I was still plagued with a pretty lousy ‘eye’ for any and all jumps, but Oats was cool with it so on we went! I am, however, having trouble making decisions in a line- for example, collecting his canter for the grid BEFORE the grid (???), riding a quieter 6 instead of kind of just riding 5+? and trying to collect or take back the last two strides before the jump in the line. I need to be making these decisions much sooner in my ride.

Argh, get with the program, me!

Ah, well. At least my position was better this week, with me ‘going with it’ for my terrible eye and lack of decisions.