Some really fun rides

Had a great lesson last night, where we worked on an exercise that was deceptively simple but also tricky: Jump a small 2ft jump on the long side, then canter leg yields weaving through jump standards! We remixed it a few times to change direction, trot the jump, canter the jump, back to trot, and worked on straightness via leg yielding to the fence.

Small fences, like this from the summer

We had a really nice time! It was a reminder to focus on straightness as well, as that was definitely something we struggled with generally when we jumped. Also I haven’t really jump-jumped in awhile so that was nice too 🙂

Ah miss summer…

We had a really fun ride and the ponies were game to try anything! Though they really herp-derped the warm up fence a few good times too hahah. Silly guys!

Horsey updates!

Oats had two lessons this week AND a trail ride around the block- what a great week for us!

Tuesday was our jump lesson, and I had done a few trot fences the day before and kind of failed at them, sooooo it was homework time: Trot all the fences! Truth be told, I am the weakest at trot fences. Man, I just do not like them. So it was a good opportunity to really get deep in the discomfort zone, hahah.

Miss the good old days when we jumped in the outdoor. Maybe again??

We did a little course of the trot fences, a few canter circles and he was really good. I was…Less good, ha but learning. Go pony!

Wednesday I remembered that I don’t want to get into a fight with Oats, like at all and we had a bad track record of just really crummy rides on Wednesday. Spooky, stiff resistant, angsty, just argh. So I let all that go and put on my ‘Please Pass Wide and Slow’ vest and we hit the streets.

Oats was great! I NEVER trail ride him, and he has not been off property since last August, two days before his serious injury sidelined him for 7-8 months! The spookiest part of the ride was leaving the property actually- we go through the owner of the farm’s driveway, past their house and barn, and dump trucks, surveyors who were clearing property, sheds, machinery, long haul trucks and a dump truck drove right up to as as we were heading out- non stop excitement!

Oats kept his hair on THANK GOD and was a gem about it, and we both breathed a sigh of relief when we got to the road. The roads were very busy but people were relatively careful and I rode in the middle of my lane to ensure nobody tried to buzz us.

And then on Thursday for our dressage lesson, I was a tad apprehensive, because last Thursday Oats was very stiff and uncooperative. Not bad, just…not very good, and our canters had been deeply crappy since. So, not thinking great things. BUT I did ride in my silly fitted saddle pad, like I did for my hack, to see if he needed more padding since he lost weight. Anything works, right?

He was great! He warmed up nicely, and the name of the game was, how little of a ‘hint’ of an outside rein can you use to keep him straighter? My inclination is to straight-up bend to the outside and as I am learning…It’s too much. Be more subtle, less cueing, easier.

He was so lovely, it was the nicest canter again. We were back, baby!! Yeah Oats!

Now all he has to do is gain some weight and we’re golden. I guess going out on a hack and NOT engaging in a fight with him really worked out for us, phew 🙂

Doing your homework

Last night I went out to the barn and was really dragging. It was pouring rain, though still fairly mild, and I just wanted to sit on my couch and watch Heartland, to be honest.

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There was a lot of this. Soooo exciting… 

However, I know that Oats has his leasor riding in a lesson tonight (she has Tuesdays), and I like to give Oats Wednesdays off before my jump lesson on Thursday, so MONDAY it is!! And because I am a masochist (I don’t actually think I am, I am more of a hedonist, ha), I decided to do what I had been putting off all weekend- my ‘homework’ ride. These can mean anything from working on our canter (ugh), long and low work (ok) transitions (ugh), or the double UGH- trot fences. No cheating in the canter, trot only.

So trot it is!

I really don’t love having an audience for these rides. They are just so…unfortunate. Ugly. but, I had no choice last night, so I had to swallow my pride and just do it. Over and over and over….Trotting a million crosspoles. Knocking them down, having to get someone to put them back up, and going back at it.

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I’m sooo not a fan of trot fences. 

It was really tiring actually! I also ate too much at home and my stomach was joggling MOST unpleasantly.

Oats was a good boy but damn they are just…grinding. Grinding it out. Homework. Not flashy, fun, or glamorous or anything. I just do it. And do it over again. And over again, and then take a break, and then do it again. It’s funny but when I was a kid I would have KILLED to have access to a fabulous pony like Oats and the opportunity to do x-poles to eternity…As an adult I’m like, ugh not trot fences again…

I do know that this unglamorous, fussy and tiresome work of endless trot fences is GOOD FOR ME and I will keep doing it. It keeps me loose, my position relaxed, and me more fluid and flexible when I have a jump lesson. It is just hard work though.

 

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.