100 of anything

Monday I had an equine counseling session, in which we reviewed my dressage tests to discuss how they went, and things to improve on (more emotionally than physically). There were lots of points to get better on, but what Vicki said was the biggest win for me was when I felt Oats getting tense in the ring in the canter – historically our biggest challenge- I ‘let go’ of his face and gave more with my hands, so he didn’t get bottled up and angry. It led to a really good feeling and a strong test.

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Throwback Thursday to…Sunday! Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

Even in the warm-up, I ‘gave’ more when I felt him wanting to get bottled up and start swapping his leads (he does this at horse shows, not so much at home). And guess what, when I ‘gave’ he didn’t want to swap anymore! A metaphor for life perhaps? By letting go you get more back, rather than grabbing and trying to control the horse (life). Interesting!

On to what I had to practice though- transitions. So many transitions. Our weakest points are too abrupt and head too high/loss of contact.

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Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

So how to fix? UGH, by doing a lot of transitions, of course. My favourite. (not).

On Tuesday I came out ready for action. I was going to do 100 transitions, and I found that this would take most of my ride actually. Up, down, big trot, little trot. Halt-trot, halt-walk. Walk- canter, big canter, little canter (this never actually happened, as our more focused canter work needed to not be during a shitshow lesson that was happening at the same time…).

It was tough! I was sweating, Oats was working hard.

It was a good effort though and a really interesting way to structure the work I found. Rather than riding around aimlessly, we had a purpose. Something I do struggle with, particularly when I am working around other riders in a small indoor during their lessons, when I am trying to stay out of their way and they are all over the place!

Go Oats Go!

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Throwback Thursday: That one time in Vancouver…

Throwback Thursday to when I remember having a lot of fun riding a silly little pony- Starr!

A million years ago.

A million years ago.

I goofed off on her, ponied her off other horses, jumped bareback, rode in a horse show (??) raced another girl – on foot- and just had a all-around blast. I always said if I had two horses, one would be a show horse and one would be a tiny goof-off pony like Starr to bomb around on and just have FUN!

Go pony!

Go pony!

And how about my current pony? Well yesterday I did another equine counseling session and I relayed some things I have been struggling with (still). Fear of falling off due to a big spook in the outdoor, defensive riding, making better choices for both of us, having productive and GOOD dressage lesson and have fun galloping out in the field!

Pony jumpers with Starr

Pony jumpers with Starr

So, we took Oats to the outdoor and she demonstrated how to work him through the ‘spooky spots’ on the longe first, to establish a connection- this is key to what I feel I’ve been missing with him whenever he misbehaves or gets silly in the ‘spooky corners.’ He did fuss and fight a bit, but that got shut down really fast and the good, honest work began.

It was great to see, and productive for my poor overwrought brain to watch him behave in the scary corner. Now, to fix me and how I ride in the outdoor…A bigger challenge, perhaps?

Throwback Thursday: Sage advice

From the expert himself, and famed curmudgeon: George Morris.

In his article from 2006, he discusses a lack of horsemanship in today’s riders. The article really resonated with me, because, chiefly, I am guilty of these things! I love showing, love winning ribbons, and wish I had more ‘guts’ as a rider.

Focused

Focused

I still do things like gallop my pony in the field, jump ditches, go up and down hills, ride in the outdoor arena when other riders refuse to (I do put front shoes on my pony when we transition to the outdoor because he is tenderfooted) and I take risks.

BUT

Not that many. I hate trail riding in our area because it scares the bejeezus out of me. I’m afraid of getting hit by a bus or motorcycle, of which there are tons and tons. The roads are too busy and too frightening.

Yesterday, I went to the outdoor and messed around with the little teeny tiny baby fences set up. We cantered them, trotted them, angled them, cut in and out of lines and generally did…Whatever we pleased!

A few years ago- playing over a liverpool

A few years ago- playing over a liverpool

I had a BLAST! I felt so free! Even though the fences were beyond small, it was just the most engaging feeling to do whatever I wanted. I do the ‘discipline’ work of dressage on Tuesdays, but i also feel like the ‘me time’ of weekend rides and Wednesday rides are necessary. It’s not a ridiculous free for all, trust me, but we just kind of messed around and I didn’t feel worried, or anxious, or anything.

It’s a nice feeling, ahhh…

It’s not perfect- the issues with his right lead (collapsing, falling in and struggling to maintain it) reared their ugly heads AGAIN telling me he is having a hard time with the footing and needs his shoes on- stat.

But, I didn’t let that derail our ride, we just moved on and I didn’t make a big deal of it. We enjoyed our small fences and i focused on finding my distances, and pace and sort of straightness.

It was nice to experiment a bit, without fear.

Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving 2013

Yes, because I’m in a strange mood today and am throwing back only a few years to Thanksgiving!

I love you this much!

I love you this much!

Also- I had an interesting ride on Oats yesterday. It was good (working on practicing with a neckstrap) and bad (losing my temper at some brief lateral work, Oats contemplating being a shit at the gate). It taught me that when things are going well, don’t push it so hard! Jesus! Haha, well I have been getting much better with ‘letting it go’ and yesterday was just a reminder of what happens when I forget, and start pushing him too hard…

Cutie Oats

Cutie Oats

Anyways, some photos of Oats and I- circa 2013~

Throwback Thursday: I love Lucy

Yeah, sentimental old me- lately I feel like I’ve been saying to people- hey stop with the mare-bashing, some of the NICEST horses I’ve had have been mares! (ok, so maybe I just leased them, but man, i loved those girls!).

One such mare was Lucy, who is now a school horse with her owner Cathy Harrison, with the Harrison School of Horsemanship. I rode her when I was getting back into riding during university, after having take a year or so off.

I started riding at Bear Hill with Cathy when it was still operating. Lucy was very good to me, as an adult coming back after a year or more off, and we took to jumping together really well. I would have loved to buy her- I recall she was going for $4,500 but I couldn’t afford a horse at the time (broke university student!) and felt really glad that she was going with her current trainer to be her school horse.

I remember snowy days, misty days, cold days, rainy days. All good days when I was getting back in the saddle.

Without further ado- photos of Lucy- loved that girl!

Go girl!

Go girl!

Misty day- hard to believe this was almost 10 years ago?

Misty day- hard to believe this was almost 10 years ago?

I have a painting of this one!

I have a painting of this one!

Lucy at Bear Hill

Lucy at Bear Hill

Throwback Thursday, Ontario edition: C’est la Vie

Growing up, I never owned my own pony or horse, but I was lucky enough to lease quite a few and experience a ton of different horses.

I rode at so many stables, now in so many provinces and cities, it’s almost hard to remember them all now!

Started at a now-defunct stable- can’t for the life of me remember what it was called now, but I rode a tiny pony called ‘Pags’ and my sister rode a little white pony called ‘Spirit’.

We liked that barn, but moved on to another- Greenbelt, which wasn’t the greatest. From Greenbelt, we moved to the Nepean National Equestrian Park, and spent quite a few years there. I learned so much from them, and only moved on when I wanted to horse show- something they didn’t do there, despite having fantastic grounds that they rented out to large horse show managers.

I then moved on to Wynbrook, which was a decent experience and a very high-quality program, but a bit too heavy on the $$$ side for our liking. During the move around from these stables, I leased horses on and off for years at smaller private barns.

When we moved on from Wynbrook, we leased a lovely black Appendix mare named ‘Hope’ and her show name was C’est la Vie. She was such a darling, we rode together in a show and did super well there. Great jumper, very forgiving. I only remember her stopping at fences when they got to around 2’9 or 3′.

Hope showing at  Huntleigh

Hope showing at Huntleigh

She passed away from colic about 7 years ago, maybe more. She had bouts of it on and off over the years, and was sensitive.

Miss that girl, she was lovely!

Hope’s owner also owned an adorable small pony named ‘Bubblegum’ at one point, so my sister and I both rode Bubbles too! We normally rode her bareback- and sometimes w/o a bridle either, eek- because there was only the 1 saddle to fit Hope. We made do, and she was SO FUN to ride/jump bareback.

Bubblegum in the Ottawa Valley

Bubblegum in the Ottawa Valley- I wasn’t kidding about the bareback/bridle-less

Loved mucking around, nothing in particular to train for haha and we still managed to do really well. Funny that the more training I do, the more struggles I seem to have. How does that happen??