Read my mind: Jump lesson with Oats

Now before I start with the glowing praises of old Oats, I have to start with reports of him being a little shit-disturber and getting out of his paddock last night and causing a ruckus, going from paddock to paddock to rile up and squabble with allllll of the other horses…OATS! God!

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The culprit! 

Now this is likely my fault, as when I finished my lesson my friend pointed out that Oats hadn’t been given his hay, so I put him in his paddock, moved his hay bag to his paddock, and …probably forgot to re-latch his gate. Argh!

Oh well… On to the lesson! I was feeling weirdly anxious. I’ve been struggling with just crushing fatigue this week, and a fast-moving cold, thanks in part to travel and breathing in that fine, recirculated airplane air. My muscles felt super weak, and I started feeling lightheaded at the gym almost every day. I was dragging myself around. It sucks.

So, exhaustion + sickness + lessons = success? Ha not quite, but it wasn’t the shitshow I was anticipating. It was fun! We worked on a rollback turn (that I sucked out loud at, I could NOT figure out how to jump, and then look, THEN turn, in that sequence). But I enjoyed the process!

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From a few weeks ago. I love jumping this guy! 

We then worked on a small bending line, which rode much better. Oats was great for it, bending lines are his expertise. We strung it together into a small course, and I could feel myself fading a bit, having trouble keeping him straight to the jumps. I even went off-course and forgot where I was going… I think because of the fatigue/exhaustion that I was dealing with. (And I think that’s how I left the gate open too…).

It wasn’t the thrilling jump lesson of a few weeks ago, where we TROTTED a 2’9” warm up fence, but you know what? With my incipient weakness and limp riding, it didn’t need to be, haha. Leave that for another day. I know myself by now, and I’m fine with what each day presents.

Oats was such a good boy though, I just love jumping him! Even if he can be a little turd sometimes.

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No one does it like you

Wow, so like a week of silence… Life got too busy, work kind of blew up in my face and I couldn’t deal with 1 more thing, at all for the past two weeks. I am hopefully coming out the other end of it, but yeahhh… Not fun. At all.

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Love my boy

Also my allergies went completely off the rails and friends, I am suffering. Congested, incredible sinus pain, itchy upper palate, allergic coughing, eyes swelling shut and so itchy that I can’t even deal…Oh boy, I love it. Add this to work and I spent most of the week absolutely miserable.

But there is also the good: Weather! We had a crazy turnaround and had highs of 19-20 degrees this week. It felt incredible and sadly we are back to seasonal (still pretty decent) but on Wednesday it was downright HOT! Woah! I loved it. 🙂

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I went to the beach- 20 degrees, can you believe it? 

Horses! Oats has been a total superstar!! Love my boy. We had a gymnastics jump lesson last Thursday (I hate gymnastics, so it was …Not that inspired, ha.) and then we had a really fun jump course on Saturday, with all sorts of crazy jumps! Not high, but definitely getting more consistent at the 2’6” -ish level heights. We also had a cavaletti jump at ‘A’ that really caught us out a few times, as well as a 1-ft circle jump that I biffed HARD by staring at it, hahaha. It was fun though!!

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Got myself a latte at a new coffee shop nearby: Pretty eh?

Sunday I went on a run with a work friend, and then went riding later. Oats has been really good, although I’m noticing his ‘halt’ has turned back into ‘halt and then start flying backwards…’ so we’re working through that this week. Lovely…It’s not a new issue for us, it crops up about once or twice a year, but kind of always bugs me. Oh horses!

This week was totally psycho with work, and by Thursday I was Over.IT. and tired. So tired. I didn’t really want to go have a jump lesson, but I know that when I go, I’m happier. More ‘me’ if that makes sense? So off I went! My allergies were a bit better yesterday, I still can’t wear eye makeup but yeah anyways. My jump lesson was really good! We worked over a small course, with the rocks as a single jump down the centre-line. Hahahha it was hilarious, Oats deked out and went around it the first time, crushing the traffic cone that was designed to guide us. HAHAH silly pony!

We had a blast! He was jumping really well by the end (he did get a bit flat at first, and kind of ‘blahhhhed’ over the first jump) but we had fun and it felt good later! He also kind of tried to half-jump over the rocks and jump off to the side. Oh pony. He’s such a good boy though, and it was a cool and fun lesson. See? I always do feel glad that I went and jumped, even though I spent my week feeling itchy, miserable, tired and stressed out.

My boy is always there for me. 🙂

Don’t let it get to you: Riding fieldtrip!

So this weekend we had our rescheduled trip out to the fancy environs of Fairlawn, the stables owned by a trainer and her family. I ride with this trainer regularly, but we wanted the whole meal-deal- a ride in her fabulous indoor with all the works! And we were NOT disappointed! It was lovely 🙂

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They still had a lot of snow, but the driveways were cleared enough to be able to get the horse trailer (my friend hauls for us, it’s her rig/truck) onto the property and the horses off and tacked up.

The place is gorgeous! We had soooo much room, we didn’t know what to do with it! Oats and I worked on the counter-canter loop and boy did it feel different with so much space to play with. Not gonna lie, we struggled a bit but when I figured it out, so did Oats and he was happy to comply. I still feel a bit like the loop challenges me personally, and so it’s something I want to ‘finesse’ a little more until our next horse show…

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Synchronized waiver-signing 😉

Which is counting down! Our first dressage schooling show will be later in April 🙂 I can’t wait to take my guy out more. We had a really nice time, and it was great to be able to practice in a bigger arena.

You can have what you want

Another jump lesson (finally!! I missed it last week when our schedules were thrown out of whack!) and another good ride to report on. This week we focused on some cavaletti work (3 cavaletti, 2 strides in between each). We did it in two ‘bigger’ strides, and I did a compressed stride of 3 strides in between and it was wayyy too easy for Oats. He is a fan of the ‘slug’ stride, apparently!

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Here’s my schoolmaster! 

So we decided to keep him at 2 strides, because clearly the bigger stride was more challenging for him than compressing the stride!

And then we moved on to a small course, incorporating the cavaletti work into the course. I was actually kind of tired doing the cavaletti work, it feels more ‘physical’ than just jumping jumps, weirdly. Nicole says it’s because you have to keep riding through it, rather than kind of like, ‘jump’..coast… ‘jump’! Oats was also having to work hard, and he was getting tired through the end of the last course, haha.

In the course we had a small 1-stride, and I bungled it a few times before figuring it out. He was going in boldly, and I was getting left behind and kind of jostled. Not to my liking! So I came in quiet, and asked for a closer takeoff and it worked out great! Until…I took too much back and we bungled it, haha. So, I needed to be conservative, but then ‘LET GO’ in the 1-stride. Easier said than done? But we did it well after!

I did feel vulnerable really releasing over the second element of the 1-stride. It feels weird!! But Oats was jumping great, so I had to, hahaha. Good boy 🙂

And I also feel weirdly proud that his Tuesday rider is having such good rides on him- almost prouder than what I have been able to achieve on him myself. Yay Oats for being a good boy and a schoolmaster. It makes my heart feel so happy!

Love, appreciate, joy,

I’m just feeling really good about my pony these days. Had a jump lesson last night that sure wasn’t ”perfect” but man, it made me just feel so glad to have him, my Oats, with me. I rode on Monday and wanted to cry I was so cold, it was horrible. Oats was perfect, but I could tell that the chill was tough on him too.

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I heard he was a total gentleman for his rider on Tuesday (they have been having some great rides, yes!!) and hearing that just makes my heart sing. You know when you have a horse that other people like?  And more importantly, like riding? It’s a good feeling! So going into my Thursday jump lesson I had warm fuzzies in my heart. 🙂

We warmed up a tad lackluster- he was coughing a bit, and inattentive. I was like, c’mon get with the program! And bit by bit, we did. We didn’t work on anything very complicated, but there was one particular turn that made me feel a bit nervous- come around in a circle, jump the rock jump and cut left immediately (2-3? strides) to an oxer on the long side.

Now, this oxer was the friendliest oxer you could possible want. A x-rail in front of a vertical, which really draws in horses and makes it easier to jump. It was also the highest fence on the course! Two things in one! Hahahh.

The first time we did the cut away jump to the oxer, it went perfectly! The second time…I didn’t lock on to the second jump, landed and got pulled wayyyy wide to the oxer. Whoops!!! Oats had basically veered way right, and it was a judgement call: go around (would be easy!!) or right the course in 1-stride and go jump! We jumped!! It was NOT pretty, given it was at this point a 2’9” oxer, but Oats was game and away we went!

Whee!!!! Man that was funny. But we dug deep and pulled it out, hahah.

He definitely goes better when I don’t forget what I’m doing/lock on to the correct jump, but he’s such a good and honest pony that it doesn’t really matter to him anyways! So game! I think I was having a bit of a hard time seeing last night, as my eyes were watering constantly throughout the course due to the chill. (And yesterday was the warmest it’s been all week, yiiiikes!).

Anyways, things that I always have to work on: Release with my arms instead of chicken wings… Go with the horse, instead of getting caught in the back seat! This happened a few times last night, my body wasn’t clicking with it for some reason. Land on my knee/upper thigh. Hips back, consider a sitting seat to the fences to achieve this. Look where the fences are!! And stay there! I had a lot of trouble with this last night too- I’m going to partially blame the cold/tears in my eyes.

But overall, we jumped the highest we’ve jumped a single fence and it was the one on course that we jumped a few times, and even after a tricky attempt, and it was not a problem. Good to know, and I felt so appreciative and happy with my pony. Go Oats!

You Won’t: Jump lesson update!

I’ve had kind of a mixed week- some personal-life drama (ughh) but in other news, my ligament injury seems to be making a real turnaround with treatment, so I am VERY pleased with that!! Man, it hopped on the healing train once I started treatment. Part of me is kicking myself for not doing this sooner, but hey you learn the hard way sometimes?!

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Cuddlebugs. Photo courtesy of Katie H. 

Jump lesson last night and we were in a real cold snap. Oats warmed up very stiffly, like he was running with a flat tire, ughh. Kind of like how I begin any race, as my husband said 😉

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Photo courtesy of Katie H.

So, we had to manage his stiffness in the cold, and kind of ‘work up’ to the level we needed. Luckily, after cantering and then going over some x-rails, he was moving much more smoothly. Yes! We then worked on a very basic, looping hunter-style course with 1 3-stride line in it, focusing on letting my hands go forward instead of taking back (god, this was harder than it sounds…very vulnerable position for me) no matter the distance. The problem being: When I see a distance, things are awesome! When I don’t, things get distinctly…less awesome. Meaning, they suck, I pull back or try to manage him with my hands and/or upper body. Not great.

So, I just had to ‘let go’ a little more. Mixed success on that, but overall I was fairly pleased with Oats’ effort and my effort to be a little more vulnerable and willing to get go, and also to work through the ‘push hands forward’ and take them back when I need to steer, and let them go again on my way to the jump. Riding- always simple, never easy.

Also having to rely more on my legs vs hands as a support for the jump. Hahahha yeah, this remains a work in progress… All in all, a good lesson and a good ride.

Clocks and Hearts Keep Going

With a busy few weeks, you’d think that my riding has taken a hit, but it hasn’t! I am happy to say I have had some great jump lessons lately, taking advantage of the outdoor arena while it is still open for the season. AND I had a dressage lesson this past Friday with a new trainer! Yeah! I have been dressage-trainerless for quite some time since our previous trainer Karen Brain moved to Vancouver.

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Doesn’t this look just like Oats? An artist in our community does animal portraits, and while this isn’t mine, I love it! 

Cue sad face, arghhh now what?

I worked with another trainer who was just lovely, but she too moved! Man!

So on Friday I rode with Samantha, who owns a really amazing facility in the Saanich Peninsula. It’s gorgeous! I was a bit nervous, I had a stressful day at work, was planning to go to my family’s place for dinner (stressful on its own right), and a new trainer? Plus was feeling anxious about the level (First Level test 3) that I signed up for next, and quite frankly a bit overwhelmed?

Yeah…Not the recipe for success. At this point, I wanted to cancel all of my plans and toss it up and go for a glass of wine at happy hour after work!

But, I sucked it up, and you know what? Things went well. The lesson went super, I was happy with the techniques and tips offered to us, the trainer listened nicely and was very encouraging and positive about Oats and I and our partnership. It felt really cool, and the exercise (a movement in the test I was freaking out about) turned out to work really well! No problems! And the dinner meet-up didn’t have drama, thank god.

Now, I just have to replicate it on the day. But if I don’t? There’s always another show, another day and another ride.

I was fussing about time last night (had a chiropractic appointment, my first ever) and was running late to get to the barn, and trying to figure out when I’d be home, when my husband said to me, instead of my fussing about time: How about you just go and have fun?

He was right. Early, late, middle ground= all that matters is fun. And so, I had my relaxing walk-trot ride around the field last night, in the fading light. The long shadows took over the grass, and for 30 minutes, I didn’t think about anything at all.

And that, friends, is true luxury.