Working Equitation: Day 2

Ah, the most exciting day! I was very anxious. Oats had been pretty amped the day before (hence the need for two rides, ha) but I was most worried about the two natural obstacles in the course: water, and a bank.

And I was right to be worried 😦

We went in for our first round and I immediately got DQ’d, lol. I ‘crossed my line’ on my way to start through the gates, whoops! But it went ok for the first obstacle (barrels) and then we went straight over to the bank for obstacle 2 and the wheels came off Oats’ brain. He was TERRIFIED of the bank. Would NOT go near it, at all. Well-meaning folks were like, well if you tried walking up to it slowly? Hahahahhah yeah, if he would stop rearing and running backwards, maybe I could…But I couldn’t get near it. Not one iota.

Speed round, video courtesy of Shelly Donaldson!

He was stressed and amped as hell, and we got permission to move on, having been disqualified already. He felt very tense and rigid, and was thinking about bucking me off. We went over to the garoccha line and he was good until we went to the bull for the rings and he spooked at the bull and I dropped the ring, and almost my pole! Hahaha.

The rest of the course was edgy and very tense but manageable. He didn’t really want to go through the water but then he did! I was surprised he did, when the bank was such a major issue?! I then messed up the entry to the double slalom (missed going through the cones the correct way) and got confused, ha. DQ number 3 or 4??

And then we hopped over the jump, got the jug, and cantered through the finish lines, where Oats started building up a head of steam and tried to buck me off going through the finish gates!! I had to pull him up, roughly, and then salute to the judge. They were laughing! hahaha.

Then for the Speed Round, same course (ARGHHHH) but no jug, only single slalom and one way through the cattle pen. Still the bank 😦 So I knew we’d get DQ’d and I was thinking about scratching, to be honest.

But, we took a break (Oats was SO THIRSTY allll weekend, poor dude), untacked and then chilled out. It was quite hot out too.

Afternoon, we tacked back up for Speed Round. I was kind of dreading it, but also thought who cares? This is all for schooling. And boy, was it! We went in for our round, and I took special care to NOT cross my lines hahah. We started well again, the barrels and then had a different idea for the bank- a trainer there suggested we go up above it, and then down to it. Did it work? A resounding NOPE! He danced, ran, spun, reared and generally freaked out.

So……DQ again.

And we skipped it, and he only had one ‘gonna buck you off!’ moment immediately afterward heading to the Garrocha line (where he was good but I missed the loop, shit!). Otherwise he was even a real trooper about going into the water, slightly hesitant but good! 🙂

We did get permission to school the bank after the competitors were done. I had someone come with me (my trainer who is helping me practice the obstacles at home) and I led him up to it in-hand. He snorted bigtime, but then happily followed me up the bank. And then down and then back up. I hopped back on, and we walked up to it and over on a loose rein. Easy-peasy! 🙂 How I WISH we had been able to do that in the competition…It would have saved him and me a lot of tension and angst eh?? Five minutes of introducing it to him and done! Good Oats.

It was a challenging weekend but did help me get out of my own head for a bit.

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 😉 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).

You, Forever

So I alluded briefly to this, but damn the weekend really went sideways. I was working/on call Saturday, so I had Monday off as my weekend. Sounds good, right?

WRONG.

I had a poor ride on Sunday- it felt crummy, and 100% my fault- so I was looking forward to meeting with my equine counselor to review my issues on Monday and I had the luxury of time! What a good opportunity, right?

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Oats decides to eat his hay (we don’t keep halters on in their homes, I just wanted to see if he would eat after I hand-grazed him).

HAaaaaa.

I woke up to about 10 text messages from the morning feeder, who said Oats didn’t eat any of his night time hay, wasn’t eating his morning hay, was sulking at the back of his paddock and refused to get turned out.

Instantly alarm bells were ringing in my brain. Colic? What is going on? Oats’ friend Donato had a big bout of colic on Tuesday last week (and then I learned ANOTHER round of it on Sunday which is quite rare and frightening). Shit shit shit shit shit!!

So I called the vet, they said to go out and take his temp, see how it is and let them know.

I rushed out, tossed on jeans and a tshirt and raced out to the barn. Oats looked fine, his temperature was normal-to-low, and yep all of his hay was still there. The vet asked me to hand graze, and he was very eager to eat grass. So the next step was to shake out the hay bags and see if it was the hay, or if it looked different, would he eat it? Yep! He started eating it.

So WTF? They just said check on him, see how he is throughout the day. So I left, ran some errands (and yeah just went nuts at Greenhawk and bought a bunch of stuff…a new helmet, gloves, a replacement fly mask and SWAT for his poor swollen sheath).

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My stress buying stuff. June has been just so crappy. To be fair, I did need a new helmet for safety.

I went back to the barn to apply the SWAT and Oats was back to eating his hay like nothing had happened. Weird. I left a note on the board saying to not turn Oats out in the paddock he was freaking out about, and flagged it online to the stable community…And then I got the message about why, exactly, he was acting so weird.

He had gotten left out till about 8pm in the paddock. His stomach was likely sensitive to due to being out on grass for that long, and he was in a big snit about being ‘abandoned’ in the pasture the next morning too.

Soooooooo that was why. SIGH! I had to text my counselor to cancel. Just too many things going on (see below also…).

No harm no foul, but sheesh I almost had heart failure after my friend’s TWO colic episodes last week…On a hair trigger.

OH and the best part? My hot water heater also died this weekend, so we enjoyed some cold showers and then it got replaced yesterday, a cool 4 hours of that happening and we got to kiss about $2k goodbyeeeeeeeee…FML.

And when I took my dog to the beach, there was a naked guy swimming. UGH.

I hate weekends sometimes. Jesus GOD.

 

Would you rather look fast, or run fast?

After seeing my photos of the race the other weekend, I was like eeeughhh. I do NOT look good- I look like I am barely moving (even though I felt like I was flying like the wind!), gasping for breath, chubby legs, potential unibrow, and just…ugh.

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Dirt unibrow.

I look like a slow person. I always do?

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Hat unibrow?

Made me feel just a touch jealous of those folks who look like gazelles, instead of the living dead like I do. What’s their secret? How do they look so graceful, athletic? I always look like I am in pain, or just trudging. Jeeze.

ANYWAYS, despite that, I know I would rather run fast, than look fast. Bonus would be to have both, but hey, I’m not being greedy.

And that’s enough about running. I have been riding this week- rode Sunday (flatwork), Tuesday (more flatwork) and Wednesday (jump an x-rail, and flatwork). Sensing a theme here? Ha, flatwork is booooring. Occasionally it thrills me, and scares me.

I am looking forward to jumping, even it if does make me nervous sometimes. I just need someone to shake it up for me! I didn’t do my dressage lesson- back to every other week to save some $$$- and instead focused on Oats and my transition work. It was fairly good.

However…I am noticing that I get very tense and more worked up doing flat and dressage exercises than I ever do jumping now? And Oats gets more tense too? Uh oh. I’m not exactly pleased with that transition, but I guess this is a part of the learning process too? My anxiety from jumping is now translated or shifted to dressage? Lateral work? WTF is going on.

Oats was good last night, I was feeling very tired and unmotivated so he sure didn’t have a lot to work with, hahaha. Poor pony! I am still checking out places to bring him, so he gets a little bit more excitement out of his winter. He needs some stimulation too!

Aftermath

A few days out from the accident, I’ve ridden four times. My first time, was rough and angry. The second time, I wisely pulled back and rode Oats in the indoor, to prevent any  nerves or defensive riding on my part- and it was boring! The third time was my lesson with Karen Brain, and I started off fairly determinedly ‘relaxed’ but still nervous, and the lesson was great- tough, but very thorough.

Not so relaxed

Not so relaxed

And the fourth time? A very decided mix of bad and good. Oats was a bit edgy. I let him stand and look at the ‘spooky’ areas and he didn’t relax at all like he did in the warm-up before my lesson. He just stood there, with his head on a freaking swivel, staring as hard as he could. He felt like he was ‘looking’ for a reason to spook. He never brought his head down, never even attempted to graze. Just stood stock-still with his head up high.

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Throughout the ride, he did spook- many times. Luckily, none of them were biggies, and his spooks do tend to be no big deal anyways…Plus I was riding VERY defensively. Not a good point. I’m still not super pleased with how I deal with the ‘edgier’ days.

The canter was very good, it felt like the hard work we put in the day before in my lesson paid off! I was very pleased with him. The trot work kind of sucked (see head on a swivel…).

Anyways, the canter made me feel like I wanted to take him over jumps (a bad idea, since I was 100% alone) but trot made me feel like I wanted to jump off!

So, a combination of positive and negative, bad and good.

I’m taking today off, as I think Oats needs a day off too!

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Oats is afraid

Oats is afraid

Of the hay baler! Yeah, so my ride on Sunday did NOT go as planned…

This is not a new fear for him- the first time he saw the haying process, he lost his freaking mind. He had to be moved to a new pen, because he couldn’t get over himself. He was sweating in fear! When I went to handle him, he bolted out of the crossties and took my trainer for a drag down to the arena, her water-skiing behind him, SEVEN times!

So, this is not a new fear. But he has been getting slowly more mature about it (it only happens, oh, EVERY year…) But yesterday was an exception. The baler was out in the field with workers pulling it off the field, and the bump-rattle and voices just sent Oats into orbit.

I couldn’t get a productive ride in. He was tense, scared and agitated. I was pissed off and anxious, and just couldn’t get a handle on him. My trainer ended up hopping on, facing him towards the ‘scary corner’ where they were baling, and he sat there to watch for a bit. She didn’t push him into a walk past it or anything because he was just too tense for that.

So, Oats chilled out, snorting and watching, and then ate some grass. It was by no means perfect and he’s not completely over it at all, but I was glad to watch him process it a bit better…Then he tried to blow through the crossties at the top again (some things never change??!!) but with not so much fervour as before, so at least I was able to catch him and make him back up. Unbridled him without much fuss.

ARGH.

This happens every year! So much for a relaxing beginning to the summer.

My husband likes to say Oats’ show name should be ‘Honey Bunches of TROUBLE’