Hold onto something

After a disappointing week (ok, weeks!) of freezing, tons of snow, ice and blah leading to some serious cabin fever, I was OVERJOYED with how awesome the weekend was. And it was a long weekend to boot! Yes!!

I was able to zip out and ride Oats really fast on Friday and I so needed it! 

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Photo courtesy of Sarah C. 

I was also under a tight timeline because on Friday I took my husband out to dinner for our Valentine’s Day (I was supposed to have a jump lesson the actual day, and we all know how that turned out…) so our dinner was scheduled for the Friday. We went to Camosun College’s ClassRoom Restaurant and it was lovely! I highly recommend it- supporting the students and program, great food and very reasonably priced. Win-win-win!

Saturday was back to riding as per usual. There was still a lot of snow at the stables and the trip down to the arena was slippery and treacherous. I basically waterskiied off my boot heels all the way down, clinging to Oats’ mane. He was not loving it.

He was good to ride though, just lovely and even though he was irritating me when I was mounting up (grabbing at EVERYTHING ugh) he was focused and down to business for our ride. I also had another idea up my sleeve- begged my friend to come out to the outdoor arena with us to take photos! Basically the only good thing to come out of the massive amounts of snow.

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I loved it! Hahaha.

I also got a lot of running as the snow and ice melted and the sidewalks were safer. Yay! Went out for drinks on Saturday, and met up with a work friend for a run on Monday. Just overall loving life this long weekend. 🙂

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Falling into pieces

I honestly haven’t been updating much because this week has just been incredibly stressful and drama-filled and it’s been too much to deal with. I think I am coming out the other end but yowza, what a shitty week. I don’t even really want to go over it on my blog because I feel slightly traumatized by it and it’s just…no. Ugh.

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This is actually a screengrab from a few weeks ago, when I had a rib injury. 

On happier news, I have been having some lovely jump lessons on old Oats! Had a great lesson last week, and this week- while still having some bobbles, ugly jumps and such, I’m coming out of my rides just feeling OK, smooth, calmer. You know? Feeling good, totally fine and leveled out. This is in stark contrast to my other, more anxiety-filled lessons that had such highs and lows that I came out of my lessons feeling like I’d escaped?! With what, my life? Hah. The jagged peaks and valley lows aren’t really there anymore. I am learning to ride leveled-out, calmer and just…with a lot less anxiety and emotion attached to the lesson.

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Go Oats! 

Are they perfect? HAH no. Are they good? Yes. Am I having fun and learning new things, re-learning old things, working on my position, enjoying what my pony is capable of, and appreciating it? YES!

Even yesterday, after leaving work crying, sick animals and just…fraught, I wasn’t in a good mood to ride. I was grouchy, tired, upset and stressed. I complained about it to my friend at the barn and she said- I know exactly how you’re feeling, I had that this week too. But you ride, have your lesson, and you’ll be smiling before you know it! You will always be glad you did.

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And you know what? She was 100% right.

(She is also taking lessons on old Oats on Tuesdays, and I’m LOVING the glowing updates she gives me on how much of a professional he is being for her, and a gentleman. YAY!)

I rode, screwed up, fixed it, made new mistakes, and kept going. And it was good!

We worked over a small trot-in grid, x-rail to a small oxer. We then built it into a small course, where we went off course a few times, haaah. Clearly my mind wasn’t really with it last night. But was that a big deal? Nope! Just regroup and keep going. 🙂

We are now coursing 2’6” fairly confidently and feeling good about it. Now that is priceless.

Cobble Hill 10k- VIRA race recap! (nothing hurts like a bruised ego)

Going in to this race I was unreasonably cocky. I was feeling good for once! No nasty chest cold, no coughing my lungs out, no rib muscle injury from coughing, no groin-tendon pull, it was smooooooth sailing and therefore I was owed a new PR!

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Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell of Ceevacs Running. The face of success! Not. 

*newsflash to me* that’s not really how running, racing or life works.

Sadly!

I think because I ran a surprisingly good race at the 8k while still being pretty sick, I indeed thought that a new 10k PR was basically in the bag. HAhh. I ran this race and felt pretty darn good for oh, 2k. And then I started feeling the drag, and it was then a pretty miserable slog for the rest of the race. I just couldn’t get over how much I had to fight for my time- I was working really hard? For what? Jeesh.

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The one time a 43:38 netted me a second place age group. Hah. 

I kind of wanted to give up and walk, to be honest. Be a bit of a sore loser. But then I remembered that racing is hard, that the line between a new personal best and getting a slower time than last time is razor thin. It was tough, I was gasping for breath, my legs felt uncooperative and like lead. Just..ugh. So ugh. No sprint, no victorious feelings, no rush no nothing. Just pain train.

So it was a sucky, hard race where I thought I could waltz in and like, smash my record. I don’t really feel that bad today, but my ego sure did hurt yesterday and friend, nothing hurts like a hammered ego!! 😉

My tendon injury was also tugging a LOT yesterday and ached last night. Sighhhh love it when that flares up. Oh well, the weather ended up being pretty darn good (chilly but no rain) and the food and snacks after were lovely! Except my rotten dog got sick of me leaving her in the car so she ate some of them. I came back from my cool-down run and found gingersnap crumbs all over the backseat and she had gnawed on a really nice large pretzel. Bad dog!

And a big thank you to the over 60 volunteers who make the run series- and this race- a safe, fun and enjoyable experience year after year! 🙂

Forever is a word

So this week I finally had a jump lesson where I felt pretty darn good! No horrible cough/cold, no rib injury (that is healing very well, phew) and I just could focus on riding, rather than feeling miserable.

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He is also a good husband babysitter! 

And my jump lesson went really nicely- quite simple but focused, work over a few short courses and then strung together into a 9-jump course. I was able to work on holding my shoulders, even into a deeper spot. Success! This in turn helps Oats with his jump style in deeper spots as well. Plus we had the rocks back as fillers, in a circle jump. Oats was a bit surprised by it but he is such a good boy, he jumped it fine. 🙂 Love him.

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Oats: Okay guys, let’s get this show on the road. 

Even when we set the jumps up higher, he was surprised but just gave it a LOOK and jumped very willingly – ok he clanged it pretty darn hard with his hooves- but it stayed up and he was so good about it. My trainer laughed and said it’s the same with him and his giant doppelganger Donato- they just have exactly the same attitude, OH this got bigger! Well ok!

Love love love riding him. He’s just so willing these days, and well behaved and I feel like my riding/jumping position is getting much stronger. I do think the two weeks in a row focusing heavily on my release paid huge dividends, and it’s something I really should do more often!

Plus Oats now gets ridden on Tuesdays by a fellow adult amateur who has a horse recovering from an injury and I hear from her that he is such a good boy for her lessons too! Yay!

Put the days away

Had a dressage lesson last Friday and I was feeling sooooooooo tired, low energy, blah, you know the draggy fatigue I’ve been complaining about for oh, 3+ weeks now? It was kind of a hard sell, particularly on a Friday night (hello hang out on my couch time!) PLUS I was dog-sitting my friend’s dog, so he came over just before my lesson.

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Mr. Oats learns some fancy moves! I wish I was sitting up more…

But anyways, despite the myriad excuses of why I didn’t want to, I did. And it was great!! Not perfect, ha are they ever? But just genuinely good. I learned some really interesting exercises and have since practiced them on my own with Oats.

I have been wanting to improve his counter-canter and work towards flying lead changes- clean and proper ones, not grab-and-leap ones. So on that note we worked on canter-walk transitions, which have historically been a challenge for us. Walk-canter? Sure! Canter- walk? Nope!

We developed the canter-walk by coming in on a circle, using a touch of shoulder-fore and then spiraling in to the walk. Like, circle, coming in using shoulder-fore and 1-2-3 WALK.

It was cool! On the left he was super! On the right= struggle bus. Ahhh well.

We used the basis of that exercise to then go large and focus on walk- pick up counter canter- go straight along the long side in counter canter and then walk, pick up true canter for the short side, back to walk, counter canter and rinse, repeat.

It was really neat! We were getting it!! 🙂

So pleased with how Oats is really learning his stuff through these exercises. And we’re not like, drilling him to death on it- a few run-throughs, he gets the idea, more importantly ‘I’ get the idea, and we’re good!

I even practiced it a bit yesterday and was quite happy with how our amateur fumbling went. Whee!

Trophy Daughter

Jump lesson update! Again, I wasn’t really sure how things were going to go- I haven’t been doing that well this week, due to a lot of pain from my pulled rib muscle. I went to bed super early on Wednesday, feeling flu-ish and in pain and just generally really crappy.

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It was a very painful week.

Luckily my ribs started feeling much better on Thursday, so my jump lesson was a go! Small motions like trying to pick up barbells/hand weights were painful, but on the whole breathing/sitting/standing and walking things were much better.

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From when we were first back in the indoor…Now my life. Ah well! 

I was tentative in my lesson though- I wanted to jump (obviously!) but was wary about straining my injury. I shouldn’t have worried though, things were fine! Some aches and my ankle  now hurts for no reason, but overall pretty darn good! 🙂

We worked on a very simple course- a line of two jumps (3 strides), oxer on the diagonal, a vertical on the diagonal, and a line of jumps (4 strides, vertical to oxer). It was actually really good! I am LOVING how Oats is moving these days…So nice. I did get an awkward spot to one oxer after I kind of spurred him hard, and he protested, whoops! He was pissy, like hey, I said I AM GOING you jerk!! Ah, sorry Oats!

Bonus- our work on isolating his neck/shoulders in dressage might be paying off! He came the closest to a clean flying lead change in my warm-up than I have *ever* gotten from him. YES!!

Bad note though- he still has his back lumps and one on his butt too. WTF are these?

Always Forever: Jump/ride/life

Man, things got busy and I got into a few solid days of coughing my lungs out and feeling exhausted. I’m seeing the other side now but it was a few very unpleasant days.

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Plus it was GORGEOUS this weekend. What’s not to like??

Thursday was my jump lesson and I was interested in continuing the work on the automatic release that we had started the previous week. So we developed my automatic release by setting up a grid of tiny (like step-poles and 6′ x-rails) bounces, so Oats had go canter-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-out and I had no choice but to close my hip angle and have my hands low, following in the driving rein position.

It was really neat! It took a LOT of repetitions to develop the feel (for my hands and hips), so we went up and down, off the right, off the left, over and over. It did end up being quite aerobic work for Oats, who was huffing and puffing after. Poor guy! Hahha. We then set it up as part of a mini course. Go over the grid, across the diagonal over a small vertical (focusing on maintaining the auto release over it), over a small oxer (ditto) and then back over the grid the other direction.

I was pretty impressed and really felt like I was learning something! Cool hey?
Oats has been really good these past few days. I rode Saturday/Sunday and noticed he had a big lump on his spine though, ugggh. What now?! Horses!! Fortunately he doesn’t seem bothered by it. Hmm. He does have a chiropractic session in a few weeks, see if we can get to the bottom of it…

Anyways, he’s been moving fantastic and just so so good these days. Yes!!