Just Give In/Never Going Home

Dressage semi-private (I know, what am I doing stacking them back-to-back?) last night. I’m stacking them because I have a dressage show up in Cowichan on Sunday, and need the practice (hah) and also because I have two events on upcoming Tuesdays and will be missing both riding and lessons.


Totally us right now. So, where are the next Olympics?

Yesterday was actually a really good, solid and enjoyable lesson. Typically my Tuesdays are grinding, tough, sweaty and incredibly physical lessons- I have gotten serious Charley horses in my legs/hips in them the past two weeks! But this week, we focused on getting the horses listening, straight, and then reaching down and ‘calm’ through the walk, trot and canter, and a touch of counter-canter.

It was really nice! Oats enjoys this type of work and finds it very easy, for him. I think stretching down really speaks to his way of going normally, and he could dig in and really get it going last night.

Counter-canter was funny- I didn’t expect it to happen, and it did perfectly. And then I thought too hard about it, and it didn’t. How does that work? Well, I was trying to ‘manufacture’ it and trying too hard, obviously! When I let my expectations and effort -go- I was able to let it happen.

It was a really nice, calm and thorough lesson.

Jump lesson turned dressage practice & camping!

So as I mentioned I had signed up for the dressage show (happening on Sunday, yeek). So instead of my regularly scheduled jump lesson on Thursday, we decided to practice run-throughs of the tests instead. I also changed my tests from Training 1 and 3 to Training 1 and 2 and run Test 2 as a ‘test of choice’ instead (it is easier!).

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

Oats at Sooke Saddle Club dressage: Photo courtesy of Eila

It went ok, Test 1 was kind of flubby and awkward, while Test 2 allowed us to relax more and think throughout the test, rather than jamming it forward and doing the whole thing in ‘hyper drive’ which is more my style (see- jumping every course in a show/in practice…).

I had to slow down, allow more of Oats, and relax my arms for forward motion. Easier said than done, apparently!

And then we had Friday/Saturday off because we went camping with buddies in Parksville! And what a weekend- the whole gang was there (tons of people, kids, dogs, haha) and we played SO many games- it was insane. I played more games that one weekend than I play in an entire year, I swear it!

  • Viking bowling (fun but hard)
  • Slam Ball (hard to learn, fun to do!)
  • Kick ball
  • A foot race (I didn’t partake because I ate too much, ha)
  • Werewolf
  • Antidote

I went for a run, we played on the beach, we drank and ate WAYYY too much. I actually felt kind of sick Saturday night from all the indulging and I ended up fainting at like 1:30am?! Yikes!

I was ok though, and recovered fine and went back to bed. Gidget did not enjoy camping and puked when she got home, all over floor/couch. Yuck!

It was a great weekend with fun times and hilarious company. Loved it!!

Can’t get enough of myself- dressage update

So I signed up for a dressage show (yes it’s been a few years, yiikes) so I figured in my lesson last night, we should work on some elements of the tests. HUMBLING. Wow.


What Oats would rather be doing. Also, why isn’t it summer anymore here? Godammit!

It was a tough, tough ride and I had to get ‘real’ with Oats, who thought he could outlast me. He was wrong! But I got tired, bigtime haha. He fussed, he fought, he threw a small hissy fit, we had to go back to the walk to confirm him, and then back to trot, then back to walk when he started fussing too much and protesting, then back to trot…rinse, repeat.

It was pretty exhausting, and my hip started to cramp up. I’m noticing more charley-horse leg episodes in my dressage days on Tuesday, likely due to the amount of work I am putting in on my legs from the running/longer run days on the weekend. It shows me that with the increasing amount of physical exertion, I need to adapt and get better about using electrolytes instead of just forgetting and then getting a major charley horse in the middle of my ride, AGAIN.

The last one I had really hurt, and it damaged my leg muscle for over a week! WTF?

Anyways, so the lesson was long, and tough and kind of an ego-killer. But you know, Karen said it was one of the first lessons where I was able to get firm, and fairly tough with Oats, and KEEP doing it. I didn’t give in, get upset (though it was certainly frustrating) I just kept.at.it.

So, yeah to sum up dressage= very hard and tiring and now what am I doing signing up for a dressage show? So I can show off my mediocre work and lack of progress?

Well, I do want to show off my fancy new dressage boots. So, there’s that!

Oats did get an apple as a treat from my barn friend, which was very nice of her. Also he was offered some really lovely fresh-cut long grass from my other barn friend. Greedy pony gobbled it right up!

A non-jump lesson

I had moved my lesson time up yesterday as I am on a bit of a different schedule Thur/Fri, and was kind of surprised by the amount of machinery on the ground in the outdoor arena…

Yeah, so not riding in the outdoor and not jumping I guess?

There were dumptrucks, trucks, backhoe and everything- working to clear out blackberries from the paddocks. I’m all for regular maintenance so that was good to see but MAN was it distracting to ride with (even in the indoor?!).

So I told my coach I was ok if we did flatwork but I needed a tune-up so I could work it without stirrups! And I did! For pretty much the whole ride, hahah. We had to sharpen him up with lots of walk-canter transitions (with stirrups) and then moved on to running through a dressage test twice without stirrups, hahaha.

The tests themselves- well, they were ok not great but not terrible. At least I had an excuse- hell-o, riding without stirrups here, voluntarily!

Oats was fine, and we had a very reasonable ride. Enjoying my days.

Throwback Thursday: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage

Yes, this was us at our very first dressage show last May! 

I guess this is a sort of throwback too? Funny how we had just started dressage last year. We did W/T HCBC tests and then in the fall moved up to Training…And then hit a big speedbump (bucking) in the spring, and kind of gave up dressage after that. (Or gave up dressage shows, not sure exactly where I am with that right now).


Then again, I am sensing a common theme here…Going well, don’t push any buttons, and then BLAM! Buttons get pushed! It gets ugly! Back outta there!


The learning process continues…

Had a nice, very FORWARD ride yesterday on Oats, and then hacked in the field to cool out. I thought he was being a bit of a drama queen tossing his head with the flies, until I hopped off to get the gate, and his poor eyes were covered in flies! Oops sorry Oats! 


Red Devil #2: Horse show edition

Red Devil #2: Horse show edition

Looks nice eh? Well, looks can be deceiving.

Oats captured in a moment of nice behaviour- otherwise, I was ready to string him up high! We entered a small ‘ride a test’ day this past Sunday, and we got to the showgrounds and he felt edgy, irritated and on my last nerves.

I longed him, and with help from my husband, tacked him up, with Oats being a twit the whole time.

We had an opportunity to warm up in the arena, and he felt kind of strange. His trot was very short, choppy and he was struggling to keep his right lead, breaking frequently. That was a far cry from our great rides ALL winter (yeah I even had a lesson on Sat the felt SO GOOD, like yeah, I’m rocking this dressage stuff!!)….Not so much.

We rode our first test and he tripped up in the canter circle to the right again, and righted himself from the break with a small buck (yeah I cursed). The judge came out and was pretty good, learned some nice things from her.

Went back out and started the test, and again when we got to the canter circle to the right, BOOM! He bucked me right off, no chance of sticking that one. FUCK.

I got up, volunteers grabbed Oats, who was on edge, and I got dusted off. Felt fine, and before I could start crying or something, got hopped back up and ready to go. Oats was a bit balky and I could tell he was looking for a ‘reason’ ie- getting light up in front near the gate, threatening a rear.

We finished the test sort of, and came out.

I didn’t cry or anything…I just felt like, ahh not again!

Was back in the ring before I knew it for our second test. I was nervous as all hell, and was clutchy, anxious and pissed off. We actually went off course because I was so focused on the upcoming canter circle. Yeah, wonderful. Off-course with a reader?? WTF

It came up, I felt him start to threaten a buck, and I shifted my weight and averted it. It was still not pretty, and the photos are kind of defensive and hunchy (well cut me some slack here, he did just buck me off like 10 mins before). So we got it done and it was not pretty.

I got off, on my own steam this time, and kind of wanted to laugh or cry. Or slap Oats around. A little bit of everything, really.

I mean, MANNNN….Things were going so nicely at home, and then BLAM! Slap in the face at the show.

That’s horses I guess….The photos do look really nice, the girls from the barn caught some really cool shots. So, there’s that I guess. That and my little shithead horse was good to trailer and settled down on the ground after my first ride. Small victories? It was our first outing of the season…


Oats does Dressage

In these grey days, it’s nice to take a step back and reflect on how fun the summer was, and how successful!

This video is from Oats and my first dressage debut- doing walk/trot dressage at the Sooke Saddle Club’s show’n’ tell.

It was really fun, and I found the gang at Sooke Saddle Club very supportive and nice. The judges were hilarious and kind, and Oats and I had a very positive experience.

I came out of that day feeling like, you know what? Maybe we COULD do dressage- and not suck at it completely!

And we were right! I did two more dressage schooling shows- 1 more SSC show’n’ tell and 1 show at QMS, and I never came out of the ring feeling like I sucked.

So maybe there is something to this dressage world eh? My husband was very pleased with the fact that dressage offers times- so you show up at your appointed time, and when you’re done, you go home. No standing around waiting for hours like at my hunter shows. Haha.

I liked how I did feel like I was progressing, and progressing at a pretty good rate. When I am jumping, it can feel really difficult to ‘measure’ how well I am doing, as nerves tend to get in the way, and unfortunately measuring success via jump heights is a losing game…

We did our first show at QMS cantering the dressage tests, and scored well within what we had been scoring all summer. So that told me that our performance had been consistent, and nobody was necessarily giving ‘gimmies’ or overly-generous (yes that is a fear of mine, strangely!).

Here’s to more dressage days!