Know Better Learn Faster: Jump Lesson!

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All my swag from the past weekend! 

I was both looking forward to and feeling anxious about my jump lesson on Thursday. I was really happy with how the horse show went, (coachless! but with some hand-holding) and wondering how I could keep the good vibes rolling!

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Remember this from a few weeks ago? Make it almost completely dark out..and then do it. Coop set in the middle of the arena, rail at same height!

Sometimes this means I shut down, because I would rather not mess up a good thing than try and have it kind of blow up in my face. Not a good impulse and not one I am proud of. (see- why I can never play darts again…).

BUT I am learning – year by year- that I can try, and fail, and still have a lot of fun and learn tons. It’s not a one-and-done thing! I can keep going! 🙂 We were back in the outdoor to grasp the last bit of remaining daylight, and it was the last semi-private I will have (gonna miss those!).

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Oxer on diagonal, so festive! (Photo by Nicole).

We worked over a small x-rail, and then the x-rail to a small vertical both working off the diagonal. Oats was…unenthusiastic. I felt like the jumps needed to be higher to get his focus!!  Mine too maybe? He blahhhhed over the jumps. I was kind of annoyed, but like, with some fire in my belly.

Let’s DO THIS

Coursetime: Not complicated, but would require me to sit up (after a stop going into the one outside line, hahahah I decided I would jump first and Oats was like yeah, no.). And key? LEG LEG LEG even on the slow fade 3-strides to the jump. Not just sitting there like a stuffed dummy.

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This ‘Halloween’ line ended up being an oxer set further back. So fun! (Photo by Nicole).

And how did the course ride? Pretty well! The bending line gave me some trouble both times, but overall quite nicely. I got some good distances, not too much ‘stop and crawl’ over the fences, remembered to use my legs in the last 3 strides even! There were a lot of oxers, traditionally something that wigs me out, but I felt pretty good last night.

Course was: vertical on diagonal, oxer on diagonal, ride the outside line in 7, back to the first vertical on the diagonal bending line to 1st fence in outside line, oxer on second outside line to oxer on diagonal (rode well!), ride along and then turn right across the arena to jump the coop, turn left and ride the outside line of 2X oxers (7 the first time, 6 the second. Oats was on FIRE!).

We had 1 more stop the second time we rode the course, honestly it felt like Oats didn’t see the second rail set up in the oxer until the last minute- we bumped the fences up 1 hole and added an oxer. It was really dark out by this point. Re-approached and he was a-ok. In fact, the was golden.

What a great, kickass ride!

 

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Hard but worth it

I had a sports psychologist session with the great Dave Freeze yesterday, right before my riding lesson and it was really insightful. Weirdly I cried on and off the entire time, but I didn’t feel sad- I felt pretty good. And my face didn’t get all red and hot like real tears, I felt fine, no puffy swollen eyes, nothing. It was just emotion, coming out like how it wanted to!

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Whee! Jump jump. From a lesson a few weeks ago.

(As a non-crier, it felt weird).

Anyways, it was a lot to go through and I felt kind of wrung out by the end, but I have some valuable tools to work with and the best part- I was able to head straight over to my lesson after and put it into practice!

Basically to sum it up all I have to do for riding:

  1. Show up
  2. Give it my best
  3. Manage my mistakes
  4. Learn
  5. Look for high powered FUN!

Easy right? Ha! But yes some good things to work on.

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Go Oats go!

I went into my lesson feeling pretty good! Almost immediately I had some ‘external bubble’ things to deal with- it was freezing, so I was shivering and had to grab my gross old barn jacket to wear. No problem, addressed.

Then, Oats was really draggy and non-interested in my warmup. High headed, kind of frustrating, slow off the leg, reins not there, spooky and generally not paying attention. Spooks? Over and done with. Letting it go.

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Funny thing, this was a very awkward jump. Looks fine in a still eh?

Lazy? Deal, don’t dwell.

I was actually pretty good at managing my emotions well in the warm-up, whereas I know I wanted to get frustrated. But you know what? Regardless of how he warms up, I can manage MY emotions- I can’t manage his. So, I will do that!

Anyways, the warm up for the course was good for the first half, and then the second half I got left behind a few times, Oats was hesitant and backed off. No problem. I will go around and try it again! See how that goes. (better).

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Jumping the coop. It is so pretty!

Course time- I was a bit nervous- see the backed-off part…But I thought, hey let’s just see how this goes? I make a mistake, I manage it. No biggie. And you know what? It rode really nicely! Not perfect (HAH) but pretty darn good.

We did the course once, and I had some fleeting thoughts of doing it again, but decided against it. I have to minds of this. Sarah A and Sarah B.

Sarah A: You are a chicken! Why didn’t you ride it again? It went so well, what are you afraid of, screwing it up??

Sarah B: The course went well and you managed all your minor errors. Nice work. Why don’t we take that good feeling home and know that you can be kinder to yourself on a day that you already did a lot of personal work? There is always a next time to ride a good course.

See where I am going with this? It’s tough. I want to be Sarah B all the time 🙂 And if I was, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this! Moving on…ha.

I need what you need: Lesson/ride recaps!

Rode this weekend (it was a long weekend for us, so I took Sunday off go to swimming in the river in Cowichan) and had a BLAST!

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Horse friends at the horse show from the other weekend. Summer is flying by! 

Saturday my friend and I rode in all of the fields – literally went from field to field jumping everything. It was so fun! Even the scarier fences that backed me off recently and last year (I’m looking at you, coop) we jumped. True Oats did stop at the coop once, but he figured it out and I figured out how to ride over the fence, not just to it..HA.

He was a bit silly at the gate again (a theme to be repeated in my lesson on Monday..) but no matter. We jumped a few fences in the other x-c field,including a fan jump that I at first didn’t want to jump (too high!) but then when Brenda set it up to it’s original height, I said sure no problem- and sure enough it went great!

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I have now jumped almost all of the jumps in the fields! 

From there, my friend and I rode over to yet another field and jumped a small bank going upwards. At first Oats spooked at it- WHA? What is THAT! And then he followed big brother Donato up the bank and then we did it again without Donato. Good boy Oats! 🙂

We then went into the big hay field and cantered up the hill. Oats took this to mean he can bulge his right shoulder and drag me to the gate, so we then had the opportunity to do a bit more schooling, you little jerk…

All in all, a really fun and encouraging ride. I tried things I probably never would have done without my friend there riding with me. Yes!

Sunday we took off from riding to go swimming up-Island, and then I had a dressage lesson on Sunday. The theme? Back to basics, equitation-science style. It was pretty eye opening and I came away with some things to practice (transitions using split-rein, spiraling in and out using on my hands, and turns w/o using leg, just hands). Oats was pretty good until we cooled out, and then he immediately got sticky about the gate and started threatening to rear.

I, having dealt with this, oh every single week or so? Tossed down my water bottle and started getting ready for battle. BUT here’s the switch- no battle needed. Annika asked what the problem was (Oats threatening to rear at the gate, up to the left and won’t go right) and so she said move his shoulder right then. No panic, kicking frantically, nothing. Just…right. He pops up again? No big. Go right. Up again? Easy- go right. Up again? Go right.

By taking the fuss and frantic-ness out of the behaviour, Oats gave up and went right, ha. But he is a persistent little bugger, and when I decided I was going to cool out in the arena, he immediately started trying to rear and go left again. Ah, this again. Ok. Pop up? Go right. Then forward. Stop and pop up? Go right, and then forward.

We must have done this for oh, 15 minutes or so. But guess what? I won! We then proceeded to walk calmly, and coolly, around the arena for as long as I wanted and for as long as I asked for. I went back to the gate, ‘tempted’ him to misbehave there a few times and he was fine. Darn this habit though, it is annoying!

Horses- always simple, never easy.

Try

Had a jump lesson last night, after a really slack week of riding (mostly in the field, and an equine counseling session). My focus for the jump ride was twofold: work on managing my anxiety during jumping with a few more techniques that I was developing with my equine counselor, and see what I can do about the ‘spur-suasion’ situation with Oats.

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Screengrabs from jumping in the field last week. So fun and so HOT! I miss that!

And did I achieve these? YES I did! It was by no means perfect (haa…) and I almost bit it hard when I decided I would ‘see’ a distance, and jump for it by spurring Oats – whoops- while simultaneously jumping ahead onto his neck. He declined my dumbass move and I wound up on his freaking neck. Yikes!

However a few good takeaways- I was able to vocalize and manage my anxiety, to the tune of having an excellent first jump on-course both times! And my first course was just lovely, no complaints. And we rode through a grid many times and it went quite well (grids are usually my absolute nemesis, ha).

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Love our homemade x-c course.

I even kind of fumbled the grid after riding the course – I got a bit backed off and less generous with my body- so I decided unilaterally that I would ride it again!

That to me is big- I quite often get backed off and decide that NO that’s it. Even during the second course, when the wheels kind of fell off and the cracks started showing…Part of me was really bummed that our first course was pretty great, and the second sucked. But I had to put that part of me away, and just. deal.with.it. Pretty? Ha no. Challenging? Oh yes. But workable? Definitely!

I think slowing things down, really allowing myself to ‘feel’ all of my nervous energy helped me have a lovely first jump each time. The rest will come.

In trouble for good: Horse show recap!

It’s been a funny time- I have shown more dressage this past year than in my entire life, and you know what? I have been feeling VERY competent in it (mostly, ha). So when I had my first jumping show in a year, I kind of expected it to go, well? We attended the Cedar Vista Schooling Series jumper show, in the 2’3” match the clock jumper division.

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From a million years ago (2014 actually!). At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Well, it went, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t the consistent, competent and thoughtfully-ridden show of my dressage shows past. I still felt very nervous and anxious, and I found it quite difficult to ‘connect’ in with my dear horse. That led to me ‘checking out’ for the first, oh, three jumps on course until we got to jump 4, and I was able to connect back and actually RIDE my pony. That led to some truly sloppy rails. SIGH! And some very backed-off fences.

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At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Would I have preferred to click in for jump 1? YES! But was I at least glad I noticed I wasn’t checked in, and was able to do it for jump 4? Also YES! So, win some, lose some.

I’m going through a process here, and it is not as easy as I thought it would be.

Funny I don’t have this in dressage- jumping just has some ‘extra’ in it that leads to my brain hamsters falling off their wheels! I will have to work hard to manage it. I have some ideas to practice tomorrow in my jump lesson, so I am glad that I have a plan that I trust, to work towards.

Also, I had a really fantastic ride in the field the day before the show (Saturday) when I had my husband come and take a video of a small course of 9 fences I strung together. It was just so awesome, flowing, smooth, happy and positive. I wish all my rides could feel that nice! 🙂

Canada Day long weekend horse camp/cross-country weekend!

Oh man, this weekend was insane. I am now feeling not great, probably coming down with something…Argh. So Canada day long weekend, Oats and I ventured up to Hi Point and rode in a Jane Stone x-c clinic and camp out. With horse games! It was nuts! Hahah.

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Fun with friends at horse camp!

Friday I had plans after work so I couldn’t pack up the trailer but the family I was hauling with generously packed up my gear from my locker. That was great, because we had to get up at 5-freaking-am to load the horses and drive up island to Hi Point in time for our 8:30 am x-c lesson.

It was pouring rain during the lesson, and woooow it was kind of a drag to have that, but you know what? Oats kept his hair on and things went really well- much improved from the first time we went x-c schooling at this venue in October. I was well pleased with Oats. No bucking, a bit sassy in the beginning but let it go quickly. He was spooky about going up on the hill, but oh well…

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All photos courtesy of Nancy.

We schooled logs, a small coop, a bunch of houses, and stacks of logs. It was great!

By the time we finished, it was time for lunch (at 10:45am). I was tired man. But no rest for the wicked! We put up the tent by the small lake – so cute- and a great location, and took the horses for a little walk-around up near the Trans Canada Trail. By evening, it was time to prepare for the horse relay games- whoop!

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My team had a swimmer, a wagon-puller (who had to pull the wagon blindfolded), the horse in-hand person (me) and the rider (who rode Oats actually, so funny!!). The person rode Oats because with the riders had to assemble the horses’s bridle (from pieces!) while the in-hand person was completing the obstacle course. Yikes…yeah no. So we got a different bridle that my team member knew how to put back together quickly and she did it and rode Oats. Success!

It was hilarious!!

We won too! Yesss..I won a small bottle of gin. Hahahha.

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We had a very nice potluck dinner by the lake, and I stayed up for awhile having some wine with the other riders. I actually slept really well (surprising) and then it was time for x-c lesson number two!

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This one was…Not so great. We started off quite well and I was happy with the warm-up course we did, but then it was time to tacked ‘the church’ up on the hill, and Oats was NOT having it. UGH! He slammed on the brakes and kind of reared-spun away…More than once. Yikes.

We wound up not being able to get over it, and so we got a lead from Oats’ best friend Joey, who boldly galloped up the hill, and over the church jump wit Oats following close on his heels. Oats would then only jump the church with Joey leading- SIGH! But at least we ended with him jumping it??

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Photo thanks to Rebecca. No photos of our church disaster though!

We then moved in to jumping a show jump with a small boat as a filler- very cute- and Oats was fine with it. We jumped a lovely course with that jump, and then moved on to the next field. The next one we had a few more stops- Oats was kind of getting backed off and was surprised by the jump. He did go over it no problem the next time though!

And then we had the opportunity to watch Joey with his young rider tackle some BIG fences in a neighbouring field- woooooow so big! And then they jumped the infamous ‘boat’ in the original field. Exciting!! And a great note to end on.

The sun came out, we packed up and it was still only Sunday!

MEC Race #3- Royal Roads- a half marathon with a reputation!

Not gonna lie, I was less than enthused about running this race. Last year it went really horribly for me- I was struggling with mystery asthma symptoms (struggling to breathe, felt like something was crushing my chest and I was gasping) on and off that whole year and hill running made it worse… So that race was hot, horrible and I thought I was going to collapse during it. I walked, a lot which psychologically is kind of tough.

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At the start. Brrrr. Can you see me? Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

My time last year? 2:10 or so. Ha. It’s a hilly and quite technical half, with very steep uphill climbs and downhill ‘jaunts’ that are just murder on your legs. My first time running it (it’s a quite new race, only three years now) I ran it in 1:50 and was kind of shell-shocked, haha.

It’s not a true trail race but there are lots of trail sections, and a loooong flat section (2km) along the Lagoon that is good on paper but a total mental dead zone when you’re running, complete with a pace-killing headwind the whole way.

Soooo yeah, I was not thrilled about this race, particularly since I was wrapped up in a crazy busy weekend with absolutely no downtime. But we picked up our bibs on our way to Hopoxia and it was ON! The race started at 8:30am and it was freezing at Royal Roads. I was shivering and wearing my jacket zipped up to my neck and didn’t want to take it off until we actually started. Ian took it from me (his race started at 9am).

And we were off! Started a bit late due to technical difficulties. I saw some people jump around and generally just waste energy (in my cranky opinion) do a quick fade out at 1km. Oh yeah and the start goes pretty much straight uphill, ha. It’s a pace-killer for sure.

Still, I thought let’s just see how this goes… I ran conservatively, but with the hills, you pretty much only have 1 choice- run conservatively or die.

I cruised up on a few women runners, saw one on the out-and-back at like 2-3km that I thought looked strong (she passed me shortly before the out and back) but I figured if I ran well I could catch her.

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Finishing strong. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

After that, I just didn’t worry about it. I spent a lot of time worrying about the really steep hill climb after the Lagoon though… I paced with this one runner for close to the entire race, haha. And he was a big guy! We’d play a bit of leapfrog up and down, but I lost him at the second loop at the big hill. Too bad, because I was impressed at his stamina.

I generally just kept running and didn’t think too much about anything. It was cold and windy, we had to jump over a downed telephone pole, the hills made my legs feel weird (like, they were kicking out wildly when I was going downhill and I wanted to shout at my legs ‘hey get with the program!!’) and I think that was just because going from uphill-downhill was straining the leg muscles.

I passed the other girl at like 5-6km? And then it was just a run where I had to keep my legs and my head in the game, haha. I didn’t let myself walk up the big hill- BOTH times I kept running (so slowly it was like walking, ha). My right knee this time was bugging me BIGTIME. I was worried going into the second loop, no lie. The downhills in particular were bad.

At the finish I felt quite strong, though my legs hurt quite a bit and felt super stiff and sore. We did it! My redemption race, in full colour.

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The winners! It was freezing though. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

With a respectable time of 1:41 I placed second woman out of a small field (this half doesn’t tend to attract the numbers the other MEC races do, and particularly not for a half this nasty). 38? Women I believe finished the race. But it’s not really the placing that matters to me–it’s that I managed to do it, and ran a strong race for me. That’s the biggest joy of all! 🙂