And the hours tick down!

That’s right, on my last day before holidayyyyys…!

And some bummer news, I no longer have a jump trainer 😦 I knew this day was coming, and fair enough: She now has to travel a great distance due to owning a farm up island. I was kind of surprised she lasted this long~ but with the increasingly bad weather making travel on the Malahat a dangerous proposition, combined with a lot of her students either not riding due to lame horses or varying schedules…I totally get it.

Just a bummer, overall but a very fair reason.

Here’s to the many years we shared- it was great! πŸ™‚

And a video from our last real jump lesson- it was very fun. As I step Oats down from most of our competition jump lessons, it’s nice to look back at the great things we’ve done. I love our partnership and how it has grown and progressed over the years, much like my relationship with my now-former jump trainer.

Going for it!!!

Another busy weekend for old Oaty and I! We started off strong with a jump lesson in the field (my fav- I bust my butt each summer hauling jumps out there so I can enjoy them and lol- it is ALWAYS me doing it. I was going to have help this summer but circumstances prevailed and I had to drag Ian out to help me!) πŸ˜‰

All small jumps, but he’s totally going for it!

I even dragged another jump out there so we could have more options- they are scanty because it’s just me and those standards are HEAVY to drag all the way out there, so I am a bit limited.

But, it’s always fun and this past weekend Oats really agreed with me hahaha. He started off a bit sluggy, and I was a bit anxious because we had one jump on a ‘hill’ of sorts (tiny) but next to the owner’s house, where he finds it spooky. So, double whammy for me- hill? Spooks?

Wheeee!!

We worked up to it slowly and carefully, and he was really good about it. A touch looky but not bad.

We then started cruising over the other jumps and I was a bit all over the place at first. We took a break and worked over our first course and WOW Oats came ALIVE. He was amped!! We cantered the fences, and then he got lazy and dropped a hind hoof over the small xrail on the hill and stung himself a bit and BOLTED?! Haaaa. I know right, Oats? Fast? Nooooo way. This is the slowest pony on the planet.

So we got him back, and on to the next fence! He was feeling it. Ha.

yeah!!

And then on to course #2, and woooow, I haven’t had this much horse to ride in like, ever??? He was charging around, going for it, I was just along for the ride! Go Oats go!!! He is in the best shape of his life, according to him?! Hahahha. Nice to see him with so much forward energy, even if it did really surprise both me and my trainer lol.

Which was good, because I wanted him to burn off some energy- we had a trail class event to go to on Sunday! Stay tuned…

Trying something new: Mountain trail class!

We took the horses up island this weekend for a big adventure- our first mountain trail class! I had signed up, oh three months ago? After my farrier mentioned to me that she was working with a trainer who had an arena full of the obstacles. It was SO FUN and there were a ton of obstacles to try- the arena was crammed with them! I loved it!

Mr. Oats and the fabulous Lance doing their course, ft. a small hissy fit by Oats, haha. I guess he couldn’t go the whole day without SOME opinions!

We took Oats and Summer, and our other friend borrowed a gorgeous Andalusian named ‘Lance’ to try in the clinic. Lance was extremely experienced at all the obstacles so she had a pretty fun and non-complicated day, ha!

Oats on the other hand…Was actually pretty good! We had one obstacle he could not figure out (a narrow bridge. He couldn’t figure out where to put his feet, like at all. So we let that one go and focused on the others) and he DID NOT want to drop down into the water, so I just went around and got in that way.

King of the hill!

Still really fun! Oh and at lunch Oats took off from the trailer. Jerk!! He wanted to check things out.

Morning was unmounted and playing with the obstacles in-hand, which he was ok with but I could tell he wanted me to go over the obstacles first, rather than have him go through independently. After lunch we all hopped on and rode them, and then at the end we did a little course. Really great! πŸ˜‰ And then after everyone was finished their course, we goofed off on the obstacles (I had a drink, White Claw of course) and I had it on top of the big tires! Hahahah.

Mr. Oats tackles the tires, ft. White Claw πŸ˜‰

It was so warm out and I got sunburned as heck. ARGH. Dumb, I thought I had reached far enough with my sunscreen- newsflash- I didn’t. Shoooooooot.

My funnest/best obstacles? So many! The tires, the big platform, the sunken bridge, the roller bridge, the slosh pad, the ‘car wash’ and the teeter-totters. Loved it!

Focusing forward

Dressage lesson time! Now, I knew Oats’ big energy from the past week was gone, so how would he be? WELL, hilariously he was good to warm up and when we began the real work, started getting silly about the back door being opened.

I got mad. I mean come ON we had a good warmup and you give me this? Looking for an excuse??

From a few years ago, looking good!

My trainer was pretty funny about it, she said well look at it this way- not EVERYONE wants to go to the gym to work hard and he just isn’t like that. She said we need to channel it, use it for good- not get angry. Fair enough!!

He worked quite intensely actually, I was very surprised. We hadn’t had a ride that intense since…Over a year ago maybe? We did a big power trot, and went into leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches in, and work, work work work work! Bending in a BIG bend, getting the outside rein active (ok, this is the part that I suck the hardest at….and never really got it 100%) and just powered along!

I was tired, Oats was sweaty! We really hadn’t had that kind of big intense riding yet this year, as we were definitely playing it safe.

Though, we did no-stirrups for the canter work and then I had to work harder than Oats, haha. The right rein had some lovely downward transitions, the left was a work in progress, and not so great, hahah. BUT we got some really solid work out of him and were able to amp up the intensity in a way I have been kind of leery about. Go Oats! By the end he wasn’t sweaty but I was πŸ™‚ I guess he’s getting in good shape these days.

Half free

Funny, these days all I am recapping is dressage? We missed our jump lesson on Tues (soon to move to Sat) due to instructor illness so yep, dressage it is!

From last summer, but I like his canter here.

We worked on a very interesting exercise that essentially had Oats running his own canter, and me doing…a rubbing my belly patting myself on the head type of exercise that I was SO BAD AT hahah. It was tricky! We focused on Oats = cantering around like a carousel horse while I put my inside arm forward, while looking ‘out’ of the circle, and and bringing my outside elbow back. HARD. Harder than it sounds, and I definitely felt very discombobulated, hahah.

Oats was very good though, he had a lot of learning to do and was kind of pissed about it at first, but then was like, well okay….He had one big spook at a very curious and friendly deer that was trying to get into the indoor, and was persistent about NOT going away! Oats has ridden in the indoor arena with deer sleeping in it, so I was a bit surprised that he was so looney about this friendly one?!

Anyways, it was a very educational and interesting lesson and I felt like I had 10 arms, but hey, all in good fun and learning πŸ˜‰

And then I drove to the grocery store and locked my fucking keys and phone in the car for the second time this month. FUCK ME. I had to go to the grocery store and call my husband, who rode his bike to pick me up. I guess I had a lot of time to grocery shop then, eh? Damn. At least it wasn’t at the feed store this time, which is a million miles from anything and I had to call a tow truck to open my car up, which cost me a pretty $70….Know what complaining about things costing a lot leads to? Things costing EVEN MORE through some insane circumstance. Ha.

New adventure in dressage-jumping!

So we revisited the lesson from last Thursday, with a focus on ‘building’ the canter up to be a bigger, more energetic and ‘jumpy’ canter rather than a very tightly controlled ‘small’ canter.

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Some choice screengrabs πŸ˜‰

Dressage with speedbumps!

I now tend to think of dressage for me as a process of going through stages. First we developed his ‘stretchy’ frame, next we bump the frame up a bit for his ‘jump’ frame and then kind of toggle through both. But you need the first one to get the second, if that makes sense?

It’s a sort of transitional phase.

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But so uphill! I love it!Β 

And yesterday had some very rocky moments (his right rein was not a thing, apparently) and he had 1 BIG spook that almost got me off, hahah. Stupid pony! But no matter, I enjoyed the end process and I think I am getting a better idea of how to manage his canter, both on the flat and through the jumps. Both trainers are right- his jump/my jump issues stem from a weakness in managing the canter.

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Heading to a small jump and he still looks good!Β 

If I’m not connected to him at the canter, how WILL I know where the takeoff spot is? I am too disconnected to know or figure it out! And I can feel that, I just didn’t know how to fix it.

This time I am happy to say he nailed every single distance, ha. We didn’t really jump (ok, they were cavaletti size, ha super small) much, but it was higher quality and the canter improved. We did get a little shakier and flat as we wrapped up, but I was able to watch the video and damn…His canter is looking FANCY. I also am reaching the point of jumping where this little stuff is…Not hard. Taking the spectre of ‘jumping’ out of jumping is working well for me.

My hands suck and I sit behind the motion, soooo ignore me. But Oats! Wow! Loving this. I also appreciate that in the 10 years I have owned him, I am still learning so much with him. It’s a journey, isn’t it?

 

 

 

Until tomorrow goes away

And another dressage lesson in the books, and man, I am getting blown away by how soft, forgiving and good Oats and I can be! It’s an excellent revelation πŸ™‚ I want to be that rider, who has a horse with a soft mouth, who has forgiving hands…And we are getting it! Now I wish I had it years ago, but to be honest, I don’t think I could have.

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Something more like this…Β 

This is just part of the journey I guess?

We added canter to our building blocks of progress, and while the canter does require much more ‘maintenance,’ it also felt way better than it normally does. Also, with the idea of contact as a ‘living’ thing to be constantly worked on, rather than a ‘set it and forget it,’ I am actually having toΒ ride more. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? What am I doing on a horse if not riding?

Well, the truth is I like to get statue-still and mistake that for perfection. It really isn’t. A horse is a living, breathing, flowing, reacting thing, and so am I. So, no room for turning into stone, ha. Or having a grip on my contact. Ebb and flow, take and give. And my legs need to actually be used rather than just ‘there’. It’s funny it has take me until now to ride like this, but hey- progress?!!

It is humbling but I’m really enjoying how excellent Oats feels!! Yes!

Now if only our TERRIBLE weather would freaking shake out of it. Every day is either cold, or rainy, or cold, rainy and windy. I had to go back to wearing jeans, sweaters and vests and jackets. Efff…. So much for this miserable summer.

Oh, always killin’ it

I had my dressage lesson back (and on Thursdays, what the heck? Thursdays are usually jump lessons) and it was REALLY good. After COVID-19, all of our schedules got all jumbled up and mixed around. I had to move my jump lesson to Saturdays so that we could try and get our dressage trainer on 1 day, since she was not available on Fridays anymore. Couple that with my weird tension-building anxiety and I really felt like I was in need of some really basic building blocks, ridewise.

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See, this is NOT the frame I want- I want him to be ‘stretching’ down more, not so compressed with his head and neck. So, always more to do! And this is from last summer.

I wanted to be able to work with contact without getting rigid with my hands and arms. Easier said than done, haha. BUT I feel like we are really getting somewhere, a better place where I can ride and maintain contact without turning into stone, hahah.

So it felt very positive. It is a challenge, but given Oats’ advanced age, I need to start working him in a more responsible, and responsive way. I really appreciate the opportunity to modify my ride, and I have the time and headspace to make it happen. Oh, and a supportive trainer too! Can’t forget that. It’s kind of nice to not focus on horse shows right now, because I feel like this foundational work is really important and something I want to develop further for my personal riding education. πŸ™‚ Go Oats!

Except that rotten pony rolled in my saddle AGAIN!! I was raking on Wednesday and Boom!!! He went down so fast heΒ wrenched my damn arm and neck pretty hard. ARGHH he is sooo cheeky.

When best laid plans…

So I was pretty excited to get BACK TO JUMPING!! Yes! With my dear Oaty. He was moving rock solid on Wednesday, just really nicely and feeling awesome…I thought my lesson on Thursday was going to be awesome!

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Man do I ever miss this!!!!!!Β 

Spoiler: He was lame 😦

He had the flat-tire feeling he had a few months ago, and I suspect it was due to him playing too hard with his buddies in the field. The last time this happened (his flat tire..) he was sore for a few days. He had played too hard with his neighbour horse and the next day when I went to ride= lame. This time, he was turned out with his buddies in the field during the day, and at night I went to ride him= lame.

He thinks he’s 10 years old still, not 18 going on 19 and elderly.

EFFFFF

So this couldn’t have happened, say, when I had 2 months of NO lessons? I am literally on my second lesson in two months (going on 3) and boom. No lesson. ARGH horses!!!!

I am trying not to get too wrapped in up in the downward spiral that I love getting sucked in to when he goes lame…. ughhhhhhhhh. Not sure when I can lesson again, I was going to see how he is tonight, with some more Previcox. Damn damn damn. 😦

Letting the dust settle

Ah, opportune as it is SO dusty in the indoor arena right now! As a follow-up to my extreme ambivalence this week…I did have my jump lesson! And I am not switching lesson days! Even better πŸ™‚

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From two weeks ago. Oats not even really bothering with his feet… Low I guess?Β 

This week has it’s fair share of challenges (see- people freaking out about COVID-19 and trying to tell me it is literally the end of the world, worse than the Spanish Flu as per Wikipedia…) It’s not, and I work in the HEALTH SYSTEM on THIS VERY TOPIC so…yeah. I don’t recommend trying to scare me, this is what I am doing each day, every day. Cite BCCDC or CDC or gtfo.

I of course, struggled mightily with allergies and boom! Horrible sore throat on Wed, so swollen I could not swallow anymore. I felt miserable. Didn’t ride (though I wanted to..) and went home and took meds and lay on the couch.

Thursday felt better actually! Rode, and while my warm up was not good- Oats was really pissy and balky, and off my leg. I had to tune him up under the watchful eye of my trainer, as I want to get really pully and pushy with him when he is like this. But on course, he was great! I think this is a symptom of me not riding much this week (sick..) and his beginner lesson on Tues= No, I don’t WANNA!!

My throat hurt again today (so like, one day on, one day off???). UGH. Work is bananas (See COVID-19), the weather has been absolutely bone-chilling and just wet and windy and really raw, and I’m just over it all this week. I have engaged in the pettiest, most irritating little bunfights even.

Riding tonight though! Easy day for us both πŸ™‚ I do love my boy.