MEC Race 1 of 2018: The Tape Breaker~

Boy we got LUCKY this year. The morning couldn’t have been nicer! Sun shining, warm, just an overall fabulous day for a run.

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria photographers.

Compared with last weekend (which was absolutely horrible) I was feeling downright happy to be getting up early for yet another race. I wasn’t going to race this one, as I am attempting to be strategic (ha right, I know) in my race efforts.

This means last week I:

Ran my legs into the ground, and boy do I MEAN it. Running to work, treadmill work, hills on Saturday and then my MEC ‘race’ on Sunday (10k at medium effort, still relaxed to talk).

And during the race I had a great time actually! My quads felt pretty trashed- thanks hills- but my cardiovascular was going fine. Psychologically I thought it was going to be hard to not want to ‘race’ race it…But my legs were tired so I didn’t mind too much.

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Feeling good! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria photographers.

We wrapped up with a 49:?? which is a fine effort to practice at. And as I said, the weather was so awesome that I was smiling, the volunteers made me laugh so hard and it was a nice day. My friends ran fantastic races too, both meeting their goals of achieving a personal best in the 5k and 10k. Whoop!!! We even met at the barn after and rode together briefly. Who has friends that you can run with and then meet later at the barn? It’s the best šŸ™‚

The only thing that I found annoying was the silly lineup to get nutrition after (bananas, granola bars, etc.) people were in a lineup that wrapped around the entire gym. WTF? Just go in, grab, and gtfo. Which is what I did, ha.

Also Muscle Mlk wasn’t there and I was sad. I missed them!

But a great day and a fun race. What a perfect time to run.

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The World is a Loud Place: Jump lesson recap!

Thursday was just miserable here. It was hammering down rain, windy, cold and just so very blah. I walked home and was frozen by the time I got home, and just not feeling it. After a fairly mild week that began with the horrible weather at the race, I was so over it!

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I am a good boy!

But…Jump lessons are calling.

So I bucked up, grudgingly pulled on my breeches and left for my lesson. I was assuming Oats was going to feel as ‘enthusiastic’ as I was (ie- not) so yeah, good times. Rained on and off on the way to the barn, dark as anything, and I learned that most of the horses on Thursday night jump lessons were total psychos. Greeeatttt…

Needless to say, I was a tad apprehensive. My trainer even said that close to none of her lessons went according to plan that night. Lovely. However, I was on Oats- who is a very consistent pony now, and if he acted up, it would be 1000% out of character for him. He’s a laid-back dude.

(Though he was a total turd and a half for many years!)

We worked over canter poles that eventually went up to a grid-type consisting of one small vertical pole, canter poles to a small oxer. The name of the game here was to COMMIT.

Then we worked up to a small course, a vertical on the long side (kept small the whole time), to a vertical on the diagonal, to an oxer on the other diagonal, to the grid, back to the diagonal vertical, oxer, and finish up with the vertical on the long side that we began with.

We had some awkward jumps BUT we noticed that every time I kept my butt out of the saddle, Oats felt empowered to take those leaps! We finished up with some really nice efforts from him, and I was very happy with how the canter pole grid line went, each time.

Good pony. And I was SO glad he wasn’t a nutbar like the other horses last night. Winter fever???

The countdown is ON!

T-3 days and counting…Oh man am I ever counting down the hours/days.

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My Reese’s Advent Calendar. I LOVE IT.

Anyways, dressage lesson last night with Karen and my friend Lindsey joined us, as I usually do a semi-private vs private because privates are $$$$ and my other regular lesson partner is injured, so I asked Lindsey if she was interested. She was! Win win.

I think she got a lot out of the lesson, at least from what I saw!

My takeaways for my ride: Practice transitioning from posting trot to sitting trot. Wow, this was way harder than I originally anticipated. I go fromĀ smooth posting to WHAM WHAM WHAM bucket of bolts sitting trot jarring my everything. Gag. It was hard, and my abs hurt? WTF?

We worked on that for awhile, making sure I didn’t tip forward and get all bunched up holding my breath (told you it was hard). We then went up into canter, and worked on getting a ‘jump’ from Oats in the canter. We were close but my timing was off in the ‘release’ part of the ride- I wasn’t releasing fast enough or near enough. Ah, well.

I need to practice posting trot to sitting trot though. Ouch!

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I am also eating a LOT of holiday candy. Man, I love Christmas candy. Mmmmmm even grabbed some treats at the Dr’s office this morning! šŸ™‚

If you’re born on an island, the ocean heals you

Another jump lesson recap!! Oats and I warmed up really nicely last night, so nice in fact that I am wondering how I can capture that magic for our next jump lesson? He was soft, forward, responsive and very fluid. It was just lovely.

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Last winter was very snowy.

I was feeling confident after that warm up, more confident than I usually feel about jumping! Lucky me because last night was the night to start being challenged with height a bit more (it was not a complex lesson, compared with the last few weeks of very technical coursework).

We did a trot-in one-stride gymnastic (x-rail to oxer) and by the end of the warm up over the gymnastic, the oxer was up to 2’6” with nary a peep from me! I did feel a bit anxious about it but you know what? It was riding fine.

We then made a small course of 6 jumps, incorporating the gymnastic into the course. That rode fine, so the jumps went up (another panel jump went to 2’6”) and we worked up to a course of 12 fences total. Oats was a tad surprised by the bigger fence and was like wait, woah and had to really lift his hooves to clear it. Good boy!

In the course we did the gymnastic twice and the 2’6” fence three times. That’s a lot for me, hahahah. The course rode quite well though, and I was very pleased with Oats making the effort.

I have been saying it’s time to be challenged and here I go- it’s time and I am ready!

Let the festivities begin!

For Christmas, I mean. Ian and I set up our decorations on the weekend, in preparation to start the holiday season (which apparently starts the first weekend of Dec. Who knew?).

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We also had his Christmas party and I enjoyed it a lot. A little too much, actually. I need to rein it in after one big blowout, I can’t handle that much fun these days! (Or I can, but my stomach can’t. yeeesh). It was a night filled with blackjack, dancing, good food and lots and lots of wine, my ultimate downfall.

Sunday was a write off, thanks to the wine-related hangover and accordingly sour clenched fist of a stomach…Thanks body you really got me this time! I did make time to go riding on Oats while Ian made a special trip to Greenhawk for some Xmas shopping. Yessss!

This week no dressage lesson tonight, so I’m bumming around on Oats. Lucky because it is also COLD this week, like 0 deg at the barn at night. Ouch. Still going riding though and maybe a little shopping myself! Oats was very pleasant to ride this week, some disagreement on ‘collected canter’ aka he doesn’t know wtf I am doing/asking for, but oh well it’s a work in progress.

Jumping on Thursday, as per usual. Christmas cookie decorating with a friend on Saturday!

Your ambitions also inspire others

Dressage lesson on Tuesday (my last one for two weeks, as my lesson partner is away and I have other priorities for the next few Tuesdays as well). And we re-visited the ‘diamond of doom’ ha exercise from last week.

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It’s a particularly revealing exercise, because the horses both have absolute meltdowns at some point during it- revealing without mercy the holes in our training…Yikes.

We did it first at walk-trot-walk w/o stirrups, and then I did a few w/o stirrups walk-canter (but then had to take them back) and we did it both reins, in both gaits, and the second time we went to do it off the right rein- you guessed it- HISSY FIT city for both horses.

Oats was like, no. Just no. I am done. I have done this now TWICE and I amĀ OVER IT.

I had to walk, cajole him ‘nicely’ into the exercise while he gnashed his teeth, huffed and puffed, ran backwards and swished his tail and threw his head down. He was pissed! Nevertheless….we persevered. It was ok, I can be calm and just.keep.asking. And wouldn’t you know, he let go of his pissy attitude and started coming around.

The trick here…Is to not buy into drama. And it is soooo tempting, the drama part. He gets all fussy and huffy and I want to get into it too! But, no. Calm, quiet, walking, boring. And eventually the drama goes away by itself, ha.

Karen reminded us that the exercise isn’t always ‘nice’ or perfect but the point of it is to keep doing it, and let it expose your weaknesses. And then don’t overreact when it does- that’s the point! Let it work, and the horses will figure it out- don’t worry about them huffing and fluffing around- they are confused and having a hard time with it. You don’t need to get into it with them.

We ended on a nice canter, and Oats was forgiving by that point, ha. Good pony.

How can you make a horse believe in you, if you don’t believe in you?

Oats and I had a tricky FREEZING jump lesson last night. Temperatures plummeted and it was threatening snow all afternoon (on Vancouver Island. Snow?!!). Definitely unusual and cruel for all of us, I was just lounging at the beach last weekend – true story! It did end up snowing all night too. Crazy.

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This was Sunday. Today it is freezing and it snowed. WTF?

Anyways, it was a shock to the system for both of us.

The lesson? 3-jump one stride line, a bounce on the diagonal – the evil diagonal that keeps haunting my dreams…, the panel jump and another flower x-rail on the diagonal, that was simple.

What was not simple? Managing to ‘keep riding’ through the bounce and managing my pace through the one-strideĀ  line. I keep wanting to blast through it, OR when we come in deep, -stall- out through it instead of riding more strongly.

There were no huge mistakes, well except for the bounce jumps, ha those were definitely iffy, butĀ  I was pretty pleased with how reasonable Oats was and how quickly the bounce and one-stride exercise was making us think! This is not my forte, at all. I like to think about jumping, oh…four strides after the jump, or 10 strides before it. Not AS it’s happening. Whoops!

Overall a good and fairly technical ride. Hm, much like my dressage lesson on Tuesday. Sensing a theme here…