Argh!! Life!!

Things have actually settled a bit, but for some reason the horse ‘issues’ just seem to keep freaking rolling! In the past month, every single damned week, I am getting texts or phone calls that something has gone wrong. Fortunately most of them are pretty minor or resolved within a week or so (abscess) but DAMN can this stop happening?

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Oats drugged out of his mind last Friday for an ‘extra special cleaning’ courtesy of my friend 😉

Ha, my husband said that’s life- you get major issues every week. You are just waiting for a new thing to go wrong this week. I guess it’s true…

This week, it was Oaty’s bridle that was the victim! He has a 1 day a week leasor who takes lessons with my trainer. I got a phone call from his leasor that Oats had charged out of the cross ties when she was bridling him, and ran through his damned bridle AND was hard to catch, to boot.

EFFFFFFFF

This is NOT the first time that has happened- though it’s not really a normal thing for Oats to do, at all. This happened last summer, coincidentally while I was out on a TEAMS deployment for 8 days in Lillooet. So, two bridles busted to hell in the span of a year.

Not enough to think it’s a pattern, but still. I can’t really afford to replace bridles that much…This is number 3. I was pretty steamed. Accidents do happen, and this is random enough but..ya know?

Sheesh.

Luckily for them I have a spare bridle, so I told them to take the bit off the broken bridle, replace it in the new bridle, and use that one. Which is fine.

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A palate cleanser- cupcakes with gummy unicorns I made last week when I had a few friends visit (within our appropriate bubbles, safely!)

But damn. I’m just SO OVER IT. Maybe leasing…Isn’t Oats’ thing.

I also had a dressage lesson (after two weeks!!) and it was pretty good, not as ‘fun’ or as ‘flashy’ as my past few, but after two weeks off, I knew I was going to have to take a big step back, ha.

So, I texted the leasor’s mother to pay for my new bridle, see what her schedule is like next week (I offered a few extra practice ride days, and obviously I offered this BEFORE they broke my second bridle….So i’m not thrilled but I also don’t want to renege on this..).

We shall see!

 

 

Go out fighting

Mega-run update!! As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I take each Sunday as an opportunity to go for a mega run/hike. Last weekend we went to Heather Lake, which was a good experience and full of bear poop with 1 bear sighting. The weeks earlier we went out to Duncan, Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, Shawnigan and so on, even Courtenay!

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Borrowed photo- one of the many trestles

This week we revisited Sooke and the Galloping Goose. We have been working our way through 10km sections of the Goose every other week or so, and this time we started on Ludlow Road and went up to the Sooke potholes. Or so we thought…

We ran for about 7km, and then the entire trail was blocked off due to construction on the trestle bridge. No way around. Decision time- head home at 14km or try one of the offshoot trails (to a mystery destination??). Obviously we were too hardcore for only 14km, so we headed up into the hills to check out Grass Lake in the mountains. The trail said it was only 3km, so we figured sure, why not?

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Grass Lake! Up high. 

God, it was the longest 3km of my life. Sheeeeeeeesh. Rocky, clambering, very slow. We kept plodding along, and after running, it felt just deathly slow!

We kind of got worried that we’d be out on this trail all night (no exaggeration, it felt like forever) but then we ran into some folks, and then kept going, and then we found the lake! It was pretty nice, very quiet. Some campers were packing up from the 1 point you could visit the lake at. There were also very pretty hot-pink water lilies! It’d be awesome to swim in if it wasn’t constantly winter here and freezing cold.

We got chilled right down, and then hoofed it back to the main trail, a groaning 5.7 km back. But you know what? It turned out that that amount DOWN is way easier than a mystery 3km up and scrambling over rocks. Felt pretty darn smooth! And the best part, when we got down to the Goose, it was only 5km back to the car 🙂

All in, it ended up being over 3 hours and about 23 km. A bit more ambitious than we thought, and we were pretty underfueled for it (yikes) but it went fine! It helps that it’s not hot here anymore, so no fuel is not a big problem.

A good run day for sure! 🙂

 

I just wasn’t made for these times

So, in these strange new days, my husband and I don’t have a lot going on during the weekends (well now I have jumping and he has climbing) but we got into a routine of doing a mega run or trail run/hike day on Sunday.

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About halfway up?

A big one, where we pack food, drinks, camelbak, and hoof it out for hours to a new place! Lately we were exploring sections of the Galloping Goose (just running), after a few mountain excursions, but this weekend we returned to the mountains… Heather mountain, in Youbou.

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See the trees at the very top? That is where the trail begins! 

I have never even been to Youbou (it is just past Lake Cowichan, from Duncan), so it was all new and strange to me, ha. And quite a long drive from where we live, with large sections of gravel road.

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We made it after shooting past the (fairly unmarked) turnoff, and jogged up the trail for a ways. We made 1 false move by following a trail we thought was the one, and we were confronted by an angry grouse pretty much immediately! Ha! Ian screamed and was pretty surprised. After that the trail turned into bushwacking and I hated it. I got scratched to pieces, ugh and was like NO WAY are we doing this for hours.

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Nearer to the top

We struggled through and then returned to the main road, and followed that to a trail- that- thank god- was wide and well maintained. The only thing we didn’t realize is that it takes forever– like 2.5 hours- to get to the actual top of the mountain trail above the treeline. So by the time we ran there, we were freaking spent and tired.

We also noticed the trail had tons of bear poop on it. TONS. Yikes! At that point I would be surprised if we didn’t see a bear…

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So we finally made it to the top of the trail and I backed down. It was steep, closed in and really high up= triggering all of my vertigo. Yikes!!!! We called it there (ok, well I called it..) and then jogged back down. We stopped for a snack and a drink and I spotted the bear- finally!

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Mr. Bear! 

He was ambling around the path, sniffing and stuff. We watched for a bit and then decided to shout, to scare the bear off the path that we had to go down. He immediately lumbered off and we got down to the path where he had been- and wow you guys, bears go FAST. He was already halfway back up the mountain in like 3 minutes?!

Lucky for us it was the only bear we saw, and it was a safe bear situation. Phew!

We got down with no other interactions and back to the car. A long day but a good one 🙂

I can’t help you if I can’t help myself

Back to JUMP lessons on Saturday! It seems so funny that only a few months ago, I was fussing hardcore about having jump lessons on Saturday because it can be tough on my weekend schedule plus I just didn’t like to really be scheduled on the weekends, in case things changed, plans came up, etc…

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After my ride, I turned Oats out with his friends. Here he is having a nice grooming session with a buddy! 

Well, I guess everything changed and now I have lessons on Saturdays because no other days worked! If I wanted to do dressage lessons, the only day that worked was Thursday. My jump day! So I moved jump day to Saturday, dressage to Thursday, and Oats’ novice rider lessons are on Tuesdays. Busy busy eh?

We had a nice lesson but WOW having to get strides in the indoor and in a line (4 strides) instead of 5 strides, felt tough! Really tough! I am not used to pushing, and neither was Oats, haha.

Still it was fun, I was out of breath and tired, haha.

We did a small line in 4 strides, and then a small course working with the line/bending line. I, of course, messed it up a fair bit at first (thank GOD the jumps are like..a foot. ha).

Still, getting back into it just requires more work! More than I remember, hahah and wow it is tiring. I think Oats felt the same way 🙂 Felt so good to do it.

Forget Me

And as we start getting back to normal, I started my lessons back up! Of course after 2 months of no lessons…I desperately needed them. My jump lesson was good and to the point, and Oats got back to it like he had never been away! Small tiny little cross poles, but it felt good to get back to the groove again with my honest as the day is long pony. A good feeling for sure 🙂

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Hard to believe this was in March, and like one of our last jump lessons?!

I then had my first dressage lesson back on Saturday at the freaking crack of dawn, and you know what? I wanted to really take me and Oats back to basics. My hands are too rough, I feel like he is shortening through his neck because of that in the warm-up, and our transitions are now non-existent and tough and leaning. I know a lot of this is because of the weird anxiety I had over the past two months, but that is no excuse for BAD hands and terrible warm-ups and transitions.

So, our entire dressage lesson was a rework on soft hands through the warm-up to start things off on the right foot. And you know what? It felt great! I was able to warm up with soft hands and then incrementally work them up into the contact. Oats was then more responsive off my seat!

Of course, he was still a spooky goof yesterday, so I spanked him pretty hard and then we revisited what we learned on Saturday about warming up nicely, stretching rather than compressing his neck and spent the whole ride yesterday just doing that- and it was good! He was pretty sweaty, but it wasn’t difficult work- it was just comprehensive and warming up with ‘reach’ rather than some sort of weird giraffe-neck.

He spooks because he can get bored, and I’m like, enough of that!!

But then he got down to business, and was reaching quite nicely. I’m so glad to be able to get guidance again. I definitely need it to keep both of us honest, nice to each other, and back on track!! Oats likes it too 🙂

Oats and I then got to explore one of the unused pastures to see if it ok for turn-out, and it was. Oats was in hog heaven, with knee-high grass and weeds everywhere!

When your life resumes (sort of)

At least my riding lessons are back on! Yes!

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I ran my shoulder into a telephone pole a few weeks ago. Totally an accident but ouch! 

But with the resuming of some ‘normal’ activities comes roaring back all of my previous concerns/issues. Footing in the indoor.  Horses not being turned out enough. The outdoor is kaput, at least for this season? UGH.

I told my husband that I want to just buy a farm and deal with all this myself, dammit!

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Ian made bagels and they were great! 

Otherwise…Address what I can, and then see what I can manage or not manage. Oats has been great otherwise, we had a return to lessons last week (jumping and dressage!) and I was really able to address our warm-up issues in a way that felt both calming, and productive. Go us! Phew!

I felt rusty as all hell but otherwise? Pretty darned good. Oats is moving great, I’m very pleased with that. I missed my trainers like crazy too. All the drama, angst, moving, rude and horrible boarders and COVID 19 and just…Man. My trip to Argentina  (haaaaaaaaa) not a thing anymore, summer holidays..?? Just. ARGH.

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Oats has enjoyed lots of hand grazing, now that I work from home during this time and I have no commute! 

It still feels like some of my life is on hold, and will remain so.

Ian and I are able to get a lot of cool runs done throughout areas locally, and in the Cowichan Valley and I feel extremely grateful that we are able to do so with ease. Same with riding- at least I can do it? Despite all the ‘should I stay or go’ angst that continues to plague us?

I miss horse shows, friends, races, travel…Happy hours are coming back, and so are hair cuts, but the other stuff? Nope.

Ian and I are forced to be creative with our time, so we do a lot of running, food projects, and some creative projects too- like water colours.

This is a long and strange time, and I didn’t want to blog about it because all I felt was gloom and doom. I don’t really feel that anymore, but I do feel like I’m in this strange limbo where everyone is acting like normal, but behind the act is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

But since it’s going to be awhile, I might as well come back for now.

Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap: When the problem is you

Yeah it sounds like a grim title, and it isn’t really that terrible BUT I raced on Sunday (ha before the snow really started flying!) and I wasn’t pleased with my body, my results. The race itself was fine, the volunteers are excellent and I even had pizza and cupcakes after! YEah! But during the race, I had a hell of a time trying to breathe. It felt like someone was squeezing my lungs. My throat was on fire from straining to suck in air. I was red-lining the entire race, at a pace that shouldn’t be a problem or issue for me. It was also quite windy, and we faced a real headwind and cold blowing air for a bit of the race. Fun times!

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I got passed by everybody at the finish. Wow that was humbling! 

I was just totally fried. And after the race, my damaged lungs were like, filling with fluid or something? I coughed and coughed and coughed all afternoon/night, horrible racking sounds with a deep chest rattle. I honest to god sounded like a 90 year old person with COPD or something. It was extremely unsettling and really alarmed me. In a moment of desperation I dug out my old inhaler and used it, and was finally able to breathe normally before bed.

Now, this struggle with asthmatic breathing isn’t new to me- in 2016, almost all of my races were shitty and I had some really scary incidents where I thought I was going to pass out because I couldn’t breathe- at all. Finish lines, etc. When I was running the track series, I would cough ALL night.

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I’m a fairly experienced long-distance runner with lungs that are apparently ‘superhuman’ when they were tested two years ago, so really WTF is going on? I had my lung capacity tested, stress-tested (off the charts..), and heart checked with an echocardiogram. All perfect. I ended up getting an inhaler, and regular allergy meds (I have a terrible, year-round allergic cough), and also iron pills for my extremely low iron. That seemed to fix it?

Even now, my throat feels scorched from the efforts on Sunday- and it’s Wednesday. And I still have a sort of cough.

The race was very disappointing, primarily because it felt like my body betrayed me. I tried as hard as I could, and I felt like death, for a minute slower than last year. Ironically, I ran that race with a nasty chest cold, and when I finished I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle in my ribs. ??????

It’s annoying to try so hard and get nowhere. I feel like I am going back in time, to 2016. People tell me that I need to be kinder to myself, to my body. I feel like I can’t sometimes- I want to push, to punish, to try harder, force myself, challenge myself, make myself do it.

That’s not the answer, but it has been my answer- and it worked in the past. Races are really all relative though, so who knows?! Athletic performance is always a bit of a crapshoot, haha.

So my next steps? Get a new, not two-year-old expired inhaler. And then we will see!

Easy tiger

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I love the photos Christi took. I miss summer! (though I don’t miss the drama-filled shitshow that summer turned into…)

After a week fraught with stress, I had a really solid, nice weekend. It was good, relaxing, stuff to do but not TOO much, you know? A fine balance with me. I had a dressage lesson with Sam on Friday and Oats was sassy, and we had to work HARD but it was a far better lesson than last week. I felt like he was more flexible, and not quite so stiff. His left lead canter is still a work in progress, but he was trying, he really was. He wasn’t misbehaving or anything, I could tell it was just tough for him.

So, things to work on. I know that his canter is what is holding us back from Second Level right now- just too much to fix/try to adjust at this point…Oh well, onwards right?

Saturday I had a nice ride, flatwork but working hard at it! The vet came and gave me wormer for Oats – he was going to do it, but I said it would be easier if I did. Oats HATED IT and was in a sad, deflated state after. Nothing looks good, can’t eat, bad taste in my mouth..wah wah poor pony.

Then we had a show- we went to see BRONCHO perform (most of their stuff was from the album Bad Behaviour) and they rocked! Such a fun set. I’m glad my husband sprung for tickets. I was on the fence- not sure if I would like them enough, since they are pretty new to me. But it was super fun!

Sunday I did something fairly ambitious- ran to the barn from home (it was raining in my face the entire way. Joy.), rode (bareback! It was fun and chill. Just what we needed), and then I ran home. It was a lot of running (a cool close to 25k, whewww) but at least it stopped raining and the sun came out! Sure didn’t help the absolutely wicked chafing I experienced…Ouch….that one needs more time to heal. Lesson learned about jogging in wet tights. Bring a spare shirt and shorts. At least it was very mild out?!

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From last spring- I hope we continue to have mild weather~

We even had tacos for dinner and went to Dairy Queen to get dessert- Peanut Buster Parfaits! And on that note- I couldn’t believe how expensive they were now. 1 cost a cool $6.50. Can you believe it? It wasn’t THAT good. Pfft. I won’t go again. Not worth it…Plus the clientele at DQ, in a pretty normal/ok location close to downtown, was ….yikes. Street involved, druggy, a sex worker was wandering around. It was about dinnertime? Hm.

I am dealing with a lot of rebound hunger today though, ha. Despite my dinner + dessert!

Comeback kid?

So I deliberately haven’t been updating my blog because I wasn’t happy with what I was writing (read: ALL ranting). Gosh, it was too much even for me! I don’t like being a black cloud. And it felt like my entire summer leading to fall was just so…Disappointing.

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Dressage day. My friend did the braids, aren’t they cute?

But, as my counselor says, the path to enlightenment is long and sometimes hard. And once you’re on it, you can’t really get off it!

So, here is a recap of my season-ending horse show. And as a tale of two horse shows, it went well, and badly! Ha. I had two kind of lousy riding lessons the week before, back-to-back. They were technical and I just felt…Like I didn’t know how to ride anymore. That was a marked difference from my last show (CDRC that is) when I felt like I was on top of the world! Nothing could bring me down!

And now, I’m down. I felt deflated and uninterested in going. But I also didn’t want to bail on my friend, who I really enjoy showing with. Sooooooo…My headspace was kind of ambivalent. And I am not really an ambivalent person.

Saturday was dressage, and I was a bit anxious about it, because our last dressage outing, Oats was tense, anxious, gassy as heck and acting strangely. It worried me a lot! It was terrible. This time? Our first test sucked, he was distracted and tense through his neck/poll, but ok, fine. Our second felt lovely, enough though I forgot how to ride the counter-canter loop on the second pass and he swapped! Shit!! BUT the rest of the test was lovely, and I was super happy with Oats. We won the class with a 67%, which was very reasonable, and we were third in our first class with a 64%, which was fair. The judge was pretty tough, but I found my scores to be right in line. The classes were quite large! About 13 rides in Test 1.

Our jumping the next day, well…I was ambivalent as I mentioned, and it was pissing down rain the whole time. UGH. I so did not want to be there, getting soaked. Oats felt the same, I guess, because he stopped at SO many jumps. Shit!! Needless to say, we’ve had better, and quite frankly, been better prepared. I should have left my ego at the door and gone down a level, but I didn’t. So, I learned something more about myself and my horse- if in doubt, knock one down. There’s no harm in it.

Lessons learned, all!

Here’s to a more productive, learning September and fall. I guess it can only get better from here?

Cruel Runnings

This week was objectively much better than last! I’m feeling good, had my last day of shockwave and am now on a three-week trajectory to hopefully being able to run pain-free without flare-ups again, so why do I feel so ambivalent?

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I just want this good feeling back! Plus I miss the nice weather…

I have a horse show this weekend, and my lessons this week have been so…awkward that I am starting to not look forward to riding in it. Weird eh?

We worked on some technical polework in my lesson Wednesday and while hilarious, it was definitely a challenge (Oats was convinced we were JUMPING and why did we have to canter each pole nicely? Why??)…And then in my lesson yesterday, I just felt so stiff and disconnected and annoyed with Oats, who in turn ALSO felt stiff and his canter felt more like a bunny hop than a canter…It was not great. Our steering was miserable, his canter felt bad, I got really backed off in the grid-pole exercise and couldn’t focus.

Kind of a deflating few lessons. I like having super great power lessons to leave me on a confident high before my shows, but this week? Ha, NOPE.

I came out of my ride yesterday not really feeling disappointed (look, polework is tough for both of us, and I just couldn’t get in to the rhythm!), but feeling extremely ambivalent about riding in the show tomorrow. I just wanted to scratch. Sigh…

But when I get down to it, my goals for the show aren’t really anything? I want to have a fun time with my friends, and enjoy the companionship with my horse. If anything, I had a fabulous few rides last week and the weekend with Oats, so why does the impending horse show throw me in such a tizzy? Am I letting the pressure of it get to me, even if my goal is pretty much- show up, don’t embarrass yourself and learn something good!

Trying to puzzle out why I’ve felt so stiff, awkward and blah this week! I fee Oh well… I’m going to ride tonight, and for me the hardest thing about riding is to enjoy it and not make it a ‘workout’ for me and the horse. Tonight will be a test for me- can I be fair about it, and just cruise?