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!

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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.

 

Trap for young players: Jump lesson update!

Another jump lesson in the outdoor arena for me yesterday! I started off in a MUCH better mood than last week (though I have one lingering concern that has been eating my sleep this week, unfortunately).

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Then I kind of felt cranky at our lousy canter- shuffle and was like, ‘I can’t ride out here! Why do I constantly feel like a beginner?’ Crabbing…and Nicole laughed and was like, of course you can ride. Deal with it!

And you know what? We had some ugly spots, and some ‘blah’ moments and I dealt with each and every one of them. We worked over a small grid (bounce to 1-stride to a 2-stride) and he was sluggy, and I had to ‘woman up’ to get the strides I wanted. And I did. And he got it!

Then we moved on to a small course. None of the jumps were intimidating, but we were jumping several small oxers…So…yeah. This is where trusting my body needed to come in. No matter what, my body is strong, capable and extremely fit. So what is the big deal? Oats is a safe horse and my body will protect me, it knows exactly what to do. One thing I am fairly proud of- we had a line of jumps with seven ‘quiet’ strides in between. The striding would be perfect if I left Oats alone to do the quiet strides, not pushing, nagging, pumping, etc. It’s harder to do for me than you think! But, both times the 7 rode great, very quiet and met the oxer at the end with no issues.

I need to trust my physical ability more.

With that in mind, we raised a few jumps (not many, ha) and I went in and immediately flubbed the first fence. Whoops! I regrouped and came back to it, and things went well!  We had 1 kind of ugly jump to the bigger oxer (2’6” I guess?) and finished the course, and I pointed to it and said that one kind of freaked me out! And Nicole was like, ok sure pick up canter and go jump it right now, one-handed.

WTF?

And I did it! And it went perfectly. Rode it out with my right hand on the reins and my left hand free-wheeling, hahah.

I trusted my body to do the right thing, and it went totally fine. Now, I just need to do that a million times. Deal with the ugly, awkward, discombobulated and know I will be fine, because I know how to do it.

Easy eh? Ha.

Good/Bad/Bummed

So no Oats recaps this week. He is SICK! 😦

I thought he was coughing a lot during my lesson last Thursday. Little did I know…

Saturday I got to the barn and he was full-blown snotty, snot spraying everywhere! On the ground, on my jacket, on his face, chest, legs all accompanied by a lovely cough. So, yeah my horse show (Wild ‘N Wooly Dressage Series) was supposed to be on Sunday. Can’t take a sick horse, Oats now having to have a bunch of days off to recover, as per my vet.

Show’s off.

Or is it?

My friends who were coming with me to the show were so bummed too! What to do? They suggested I borrow my trainer’s schoolmaster Blaze! I pondered that for a hot minute. I wanted to to do the show (on Oats) but I just plain wanted to try it out. I wasn’t going to be able to defer my entries b/c I am racing the next time and in Peru for the time after that!

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The talented photographer Sue Ferguson took this photo of us!

So…I asked to borrow Blaze and got a yes!

Now, to ride a dressage show on a horse I have ridden once, in a jump lesson, three years ago. = Success??

HA, sort of!

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Horse treats, gummy candies (from the horse show!) AND Reese’s (from Lindsay). They know me so well! 

It was a success in that the day went really well, Blaze was a really good girl and not spooky at all, and we tried our best! We even did the Prix Caprilli (pictured above)! The green-eyed jealousy monster in me wished I had Oats so we could strut our stuff, but I also knew that Blaze and I would be trying our best, and that was good enough for us 🙂

The show was run really well, super smoothly. My friends came and I had a great time chatting and catching up!! My friend on her horse was able to really pull it together after a bit of a shaky first test. I also kind of went off course twice… Apparently the third time is the try, hahahah. I am going to pin that on catch-ride nerves, haha. Or something?

It was a lovely way to experience the show and I am grateful I was able to borrow a horse to go. Now, please get better Oats. I miss riding you and having a purpose to my day!!