The Zen of riding

This is a scaled-back week for both Oats and myself, for a variety of reasons.

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My patio last weekend. Ah..

Sunday we had our dressage lesson and we had backslid considerably from when I left on my trip, darnit!! Oh well, that’s where things go I guess. Monday I rode in the outdoor and it was a pretty zippy ride, fast and fairly quick. I didn’t want to drill anything from Sunday= cranky horse.

Tuesday I promised I was going to ride indoors, but when I got to the barn, it was SO nice out, warm, sunny…and the indoor was incredibly dusty and choking and stifling. Gag. So another rider and I took to the outdoors (she convinced me, ha twist my rubber arm) and you know what? I didn’t do a whole lot of anything and it was so nice.

For someone who likes drilling, focusing, being prepared and really riding HARD it was a real change-up for me.

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Professional candy-buyer

We warmed up, worked over trot-and-then-canter poles (Oats was GREAT!) and then just…chilled and walked around the arena chatting with my friend. I really liked it, and it made me feel super zen and just ‘ok’ with life. It’s a good feeling, that one of contentment and happiness.

I hopped off, and for once didn’t feel exhausted or tired or anything. I just felt fine with the world. No lesson tonight (I am kind of broke after the Peru trip and May has five Thursdays in it, so I paid for four and am taking this one off). It actually works quite nicely with my week schedule of low-key, quiet rides.

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Back to the barn

I took two weeks off from riding when I was in Peru, but Oats had the lucky opportunity to have a few rides by my friend and her friend. Yes! Unfortunately, his canter sucked. It’s time for him to have a chiropractic adjustment, because a big tell for him is swapping his canter leads when asked for anything remotely more challenging that his ‘one canter’…

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I tested this when I got back and yep. High time for him to have a tune-up, as he was swapping right, left and centre! ARGH. He has an appointment this Wednesday.

But, the good news is that he was raring to go when I got back on-board. Yay! He’s still moving and feeling fine, and I had some fun rides back. I even rode the day I got back (very much NOT recommended, I was a zombie), but I missed him so much I couldn’t resist.

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We had our jumping lesson last night in the outdoor- first time for us this season and it *just* opened. I told Nicole to temper our expectations, ha because I wasn’t sure how it would go after taking two weeks off, and our first time in the outdoor. I should have just kept my mouth shut, because it went great!  Oats was super, and once we got through the course he started really flowing. He started off sticky and backed off (due to the change in footing I believe) but I was quite happy with how the course rode.

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Bonus: We now have rocks to jump, thanks to Nicole and Brenda buying jumps from the other trainer Karen. And Oats jumped them without any issues! Yessss!

It feels so so good to ride again. I always miss him when I am travelling 🙂

Riding with feel

Had a lesson last night, and because I am leaving very shortly on a big trip, I kept it quiet and low-key, ie- no jumping, just flatwork. Which, to be honest, can always use more work, ha.

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Ian with a strange tree in our neighbourhood.

Oats was really good, and it was a chill lesson where we worked more on riding with ‘feel’ and I found myself very able to be ‘focused on the feel’ rather than trying to force it or move on to the next best thing. One issue I have with anxiety and horseback riding is always looking for the next moment, movement, jump, turn, etc. Never on what is happening ‘now’. And you can imagine how this makes my body contort around corners, turns, etc., because I am not present in the moment.

So, this lesson was very nice because it was not an exhilarating thrill-ride of adrenaline, which for me jumping usually is. I was much more present and ‘feeling’ my way through the ride. No drama and I couldn’t even quantify it as ‘good or bad’ it was just a better way to be present through my body and my horse.

Unfortunately I tweaked something in my leg/hamstring yesterday running and so that was bugging me greatly. SIGH. I am on a hair-trigger for injuries right now and this is NOT helping. And the weather just sucks right now too- rainy, cold, windy. Rinse, repeat.

Love spring? Haaa. C’mon warm weather, I am coming for you soon!

I Hate Canada Geese!

They shit over everything, are just so gross and loud and annoying, AND they are a real safety at the risk. They have been out of control at the stables recently and it’s getting frightening. Last night they were crash landing on the roof, scrabbling wildly on the roof, taking off, crash landing again, and then walking up and down the roof to launch off the front of the arena. This of course was scaring the shit out of the horses in the arena, who thought they were under attack!

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Oats would prefer ‘Pony Parking Only’ but Dressage Queen is ok too!

Not Oats of course, but he is basically a saint. And also there is a limit to how perfect he will be while horses are losing their minds while 30lb birds are crash landing on a tin roof, over and over and over again. It was nerve-shattering for ME!

I knew I couldn’t be the best, most focused rider during these circumstances. I tried a few transitions (meh) and some lateral work, which was ‘ok’ but I just couldn’t be the rider who could ignore how LOUD and distracting something crashing above my head constantly was. Just absolutely destroyed my focus. ARGH.

I did appreciate how great Oats was about it all, though. Man, he is a saint.

I also have a really hard time with loud noises. I can’t handle them- they scare me and I find myself constantly on edge. So yeah, this wasn’t really idea then either…Oh well.

We did have quite a few fun rides this weekend, and on Monday we worked on some x-rails at the trot and it went quite nicely, no big ‘launches’ or anything. Foot-perfect for those even though he literally face-planted over a pole that day. Hah!

The countdown is ON for my trip though, and no Canada Goose is going to ruin that for me!

A really good lesson

Had my weekly jump lesson last night, after a looong day at a workshop (which I enjoyed but wow, it was like getting information through a firehose. Too much!). I was looking forward to a good ride, fingers crossed.

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It was. You know? Just really good. Oats was still sticky through the transitions, so we spent quality time schooling those before moving on to the jumps. And the jumps, I requested we keep them small so I could focus on the technical aspects of the course, and it rode pretty well!

The course: Tricky! Two ‘slice’ jumps to a bending line on both ends, a small gymnastic two-stride x-rail to oxer, and then rode it back the other way oxer jump-in two strides to the x-rail. Exciting!

And I was very pleased with how it rode. If Oats got sticky, I schooled the transition right then and there, and then proceeded to the jump/course. Get it done right.

There were quite a few jumps on course, 13 efforts total. And we were schooling so well that I immediately wanted to go jump it again! And we did! Though with that, I am starting to realize my fitness is starting to outpace Oats’…He was huffing and puffing and I was feeling totally fine. Hm.

I did notice that last weekend as well, when my Karen Brain lesson usually leaves me huffing and puffing and sweaty, I felt totally fine. This is a good thing, let me tell you!  It means my fitness has improved at a rate that I can actually start to feel. And it makes me feel like a confident and strong rider. Yes!

 

Happy Easter~

Ah what an awesome long weekend. I started it by having a great jump lesson on Thursday- Oats was slow and sticky, but we worked through it and ended up having a very successful ride!

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Friday we went and I did a super looong run around Elk/Beaver Lake. Hours! Certainly taught me the importance of fueling appropriately yikes. A good day though all around.

Saturday I got up early-ish for a dressage lesson with Oats with my normal jump trainer. It was very interesting and showed to us a few holes in Oats’ education, namely encountering some resistance through transitions. Hm….

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And then we were up Island and off to the farm! We had a HUGE great turkey dinner at the farm, and enjoyed some games, hot-tubbing and hiking.

Sunday we were back home and I had another dressage lesson, this time with my regular dressage trainer. More insight- Oats moves crooked at the canter, and it’s because, gasp, I am HELPING HIM be crooked. Wha? It was a strangely difficult ride!

Monday I was back at the barn! Did a fairly casual ride on Oats because as it turns out, I was tired, haha. My allergies have been out.of.control these days and man, they are sooo horrible. I came home after some unsuccessful swimsuit shopping (styles are SO UGLY right now. No WAY am I wearing a high-waisted granny panty swimsuit) and made myself some sangria and sat on the deck to enjoy some sunshine.

With me was Gidget and Tucker, who do not get along. At all. HA.

A great long weekend and much-needed.

100 of anything

Monday I had an equine counseling session, in which we reviewed my dressage tests to discuss how they went, and things to improve on (more emotionally than physically). There were lots of points to get better on, but what Vicki said was the biggest win for me was when I felt Oats getting tense in the ring in the canter – historically our biggest challenge- I ‘let go’ of his face and gave more with my hands, so he didn’t get bottled up and angry. It led to a really good feeling and a strong test.

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Throwback Thursday to…Sunday! Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

Even in the warm-up, I ‘gave’ more when I felt him wanting to get bottled up and start swapping his leads (he does this at horse shows, not so much at home). And guess what, when I ‘gave’ he didn’t want to swap anymore! A metaphor for life perhaps? By letting go you get more back, rather than grabbing and trying to control the horse (life). Interesting!

On to what I had to practice though- transitions. So many transitions. Our weakest points are too abrupt and head too high/loss of contact.

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Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

So how to fix? UGH, by doing a lot of transitions, of course. My favourite. (not).

On Tuesday I came out ready for action. I was going to do 100 transitions, and I found that this would take most of my ride actually. Up, down, big trot, little trot. Halt-trot, halt-walk. Walk- canter, big canter, little canter (this never actually happened, as our more focused canter work needed to not be during a shitshow lesson that was happening at the same time…).

It was tough! I was sweating, Oats was working hard.

It was a good effort though and a really interesting way to structure the work I found. Rather than riding around aimlessly, we had a purpose. Something I do struggle with, particularly when I am working around other riders in a small indoor during their lessons, when I am trying to stay out of their way and they are all over the place!

Go Oats Go!