Le me be mine

No jump lesson this week, as my trainer wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel. Bummer! But oh well, I used this opportunity to tune up Oats, and again kind of wished I was riding with a friend or in a lesson- I let his kind of ‘blah’ reactions colour our ride, and I wasn’t super thrilled with my personal riding, OR how I was reacting. UGH! Why do I have to keep picking at him?

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Who doesn’t love a good Oats?

I know my counselor has mentioned that these weird perfectionist drives will still resurface for me, but I always think I’ve got it licked…And then it bubbles up and ruins my ride. I want a strong relationship with my horse- NOT an angsty one. So I can’t continue to ride like he owes me something–he doesn’t. He’s a horse, and I love our partnership.

I’m looking forward to my lesson tonight, just to regain some perspective under the watchful eye of my trainer (dressage tonight). I think it’s crucial that when we ride, we do so without emotions–and for some reason, I was feeling edgy and tense last night. Oh well, I have to move on from it, and understand that this CAN bubble up, but I can choose to not engage- like I unfortunately did yesterday.

Also a friend of mine got slammed through the x-tie boards yesterday, thanks to the horse she was leasing- he had a ‘moment’ ??? No idea what happened, but he violently swung his butt and basically pushed her straight through and she broke the board with her stomach. OUCH.

I checked in with her today and she is okay- no internal bleeding, just some impressive bruising. Jesus! Maybe that was why my ride went from ‘ok’ to ‘tense and angsty’…I know I am sensitive to accidents and have anxiety/fear about them. Yikes, it was just awful.

 

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We’ve been had

This week felt really light, riding-wise as Oats got Sunday off after the horse show when I had my race, and I rode Monday, he had a lesson with his leasor on Tuesday, and had Wednesday off. I had my jump lesson last night and it was tough! We worked on bounces and boyyy I was out of shape for those, which surprised me.

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Oats caught standing in his neighbour Joey’s feed tub. He is such a little thief!! He waits until Joey brings it close enough, and then…MINE!

Also Oats is literally full of shit as he pooped before the lesson, and then slammed on the brakes to poop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOUNCE GRID?!! ARGH. What a little brat!!

Other than his mid-jump poop break, he was a good boy, though a bit sloppy with his front end over the single verticals we had in our small course, so we had to repeat them and I actually felt him ‘lift’ over the fence. I am struggling still with a few things- want to tip forward, instead of shifting hips ‘back’, elbows (always chicken wings..), and wanting to ‘chase’ Oats to the fence instead of sitting and waiting for the distance. Hm, that was probably why we were ticking some of the fences with his front end?

He gets today off and then back at it on Saturday! Love my boy, even if he is a little turd sometimes.

Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Friday  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) were so bad at the rollback exercise in my jump lesson the day prior. Bingo- that’s what we needed to work on!

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So I told Sam, and we experimented! I really enjoyed it actually, because it provided me with an opportunity to really distill the prior lesson down and play around with it a bit more. What works? What isn’t working?

We broke it down from a line of two jumps, to a single jump, trot-in. Get the lead!! That was the key. Once we did that, I learned that we could influence the correct lead by asking for canter ‘just’ in the step before the jump. Newsflash- that’s your lead.

This wasn’t quite so simple with the canter-in approach. I was getting pulled past the x-rail, and dumped down on the landing= picking up left lead instead of right. Shoot. How to fix? Change the positioning I have coming in. Instead of two-pointing and sort of floating above Oats, sit more and influence, holding the contact all the way through. And you know what? This ‘more contact’ approach did the trick! Neat eh? I’m glad we took the time to really experiment, keep an open mind when things didn’t immediately work.

How cool!

And then we worked on seating positioning influencing the canter. It was…Hard. Hahahah. But we got a lovely canter from both me AND Oats. Oats really is very happy to keep going, providing I give him the correct feedback 😉

Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

Time owes you nothing

And enough with the running, how is the riding? Pretty darn good! I know my dressage these days is…Not great (that’s what happens when I do it unsupervised, it kind of sucks, ha) but each ride I come off my pony thinking, I’m so lucky to have such a great schoolmaster! 

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Oats in his other job- carting my husband back to the barn. 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being happy with what you have, the horse you have in this moment of time? Even when it is distinctly non-glamorous work (walk- canter departs yesterday, I have to limit how many I do because it is tiring for Oats).

Yesterday Oats even had a chance to play school pony, for my friend’s adult niece. The young lady had a ride on my friend’s horse and he acted kind of out of character and freaked the niece right out! I was very surprised, this is a horse that I have literally gotten on and like, whaled on him to get him to go! And he’s spooky and acting silly with a beginner rider? Wha?

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Such a good boy 🙂

So I offered up good old Mr. Oats for a pony ride! We felt it was important that she have a good experience with a horse, and I offered that Oats is smaller, closer to the ground too 😉 Ian said why would you say that (hahhh) but it makes people feel safer!

So we got her up on Oats, and I just held him still. She teared up! But I said look, it’s ok. He’s not going anywhere. He stood still for a bit, and then we walked around and everything went totally fine 🙂 I said- you’re in charge of the ride, you tell me when you want me to stop. And everything went fine, and no fuss or drama. Yay! What a good boy.

It just gladdens my heart to see him being such a solid little guy. Not only am I enjoying my rides, but others can too.

And on Saturday I worked on the most boring of things, but it seemed to be a little rusty…halt-trot transitions. Yay?? Ha. Oh well! Such is the tedium of the day-to-day eh?

We all want the same things: Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Alternate title: (nothing hurts like a bruised ego part #2 and a visit to physical therapy the day after a race).

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Second in my age-group, and I picked up my missing Cedar 12k gold medal too. Ian won a sweet door prize- a growler & fill from Forbidden Brewing Co.!!

So yeah I am in a world of hurt today, AND also my race on Sunday up Island in Comox was…Less than glorious, haha. I wasn’t super optimistic about it, given high stress levels for the past few weeks, absolutely heinous allergies (ongoing), and just feeling kind of beat-down. Nothing glaring, just not feeling super optimal. And I was kind of right, haha.

It was very much a sub-optimal race. I remembered last year and was thrilled with my time then- it felt GREAT!!! And I was rocking it!! I tried to keep that in mind and things just sort of started…Falling apart. It was weirdly warm- much warmer than I thought it was going to be. I immediately started sweating heavily and thought, ‘oh great I’m hot already…’ Unusual for this time of year and I was wearing shorts even- that NEVER happens!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri, featuring the gentleman that matched me and kept my pace honest at least! 🙂

The first few KM’s I ran fast, but not ‘super’ fast…I recalled the ongoing rolling hills to the turnaround at 10-11km, but what I didn’t remember was the entire way up from like 4-9 is also rolling hills, so I kind of went up and up and up! Hm.

My pace started kind of sucking and I thought well, that’s ok. If I can hang on now, I can make it up on the back end (newflash- I couldn’t).

Went around the turnaround and thought ok here it goes!!! Big burst of speed!! Ahahahaha nope. In my mind I was running fast, in reality, I wasn’t even making up what I had lost. It was kind of demoralizing. I felt hot and kind of nauseous the entire way back. My stomach was churning- not terribly but I just felt strange and not dialed in. We ran to about 16-17KM and the wheels started falling off for me. I felt lightheaded and my legs felt so tired, so heavy. No matter what I was doing, I couldn’t go fast?! I grabbed some E-lite drink and choked on it for a good few minutes. Shoot!

I was running neck and neck with another guy and he even waited when I was choking, to see if I was all right. Hahah nice eh? We were both pretty deep into the pain train…

At 18km I thought yes here ‘s the big push! Andd….flat legs. Each Km was about 5:00/km, which was far slower than I wanted or expected (here’s the ego part again). It clearly wasn’t happening for me yesterday. I tried as hard as I could, and I didn’t have it. I was gasping for breath, and just couldn’t do it.

We finished at 1:36:28, which was far slower than last year but again, I think many of us had the same race and were riding the struggle bus too. I placed 2nd in my age group (which is funny because I was 5th last year with a better time!). And my stomach was just miserable after, took me awhile to settle long enough to enjoy the fantastic chili and snacks that they had on offer. I still think Comox has the BEST after-race spread, hands-down. 😉

Many thanks to the fine volunteers, cheering squads and food servers- they really make this race something special! Even with all my whining and moaning, it was a gorgeous and warm day, and nice to be outside. Today hurts though, and to add the pain I had a great idea to get some active release done on my hip injury and glutes…Woww. Let’s just say I’m glad THAT is over. Yeesh.

 

 

Bitter winter/Familiar Ways

Had my jump lesson on Saturday- finally! I felt weirdly anxious all day, I guess because it was off my routine? I don’t normally lesson on Saturdays, and I ride earlier in the day as well. Instead I had my lesson and it was after lunch, at 12:30pm. That for some reason really threw me off my game.

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Luckily Oats is a great little guy and he was not off his game, just me! Hahaha. He was very quiet- almost too quiet- because apparently he was playing too hard with his buddies in the field last week. Naughty pony! Oh well, he deserves his fun I guess, haha.

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So we worked over a pretty simple course but identified a thing that I wasn’t too pleased with – a swap left to right going straight over a single fence. And darnit, if we weren’t always doing it? Shoot!! Oh well. We did work on picking up that correct lead on landing, by really focusing ‘right’ and it made us land…straight. Ha. Oh well, I guess if it works, it works? I also am sort of wondering if it isn’t my saddle that isn’t super awesome right now? I have been waiting for the saddle maker who made my saddle to come back from his snowbird holidays to fix it/pump more air into it…It had a twist and I wanted him to review how it was fitting on old Oats…Might be more than time, I think. ARGH.

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Also his canter feels excellent as a hunter canter but wayyy sucky right now as a dressage canter. It has been making me feel very annoyed, ha. And wanting to just jump instead of working on the dressage canter…