Love, appreciate, joy,

I’m just feeling really good about my pony these days. Had a jump lesson last night that sure wasn’t ”perfect” but man, it made me just feel so glad to have him, my Oats, with me. I rode on Monday and wanted to cry I was so cold, it was horrible. Oats was perfect, but I could tell that the chill was tough on him too.

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I heard he was a total gentleman for his rider on Tuesday (they have been having some great rides, yes!!) and hearing that just makes my heart sing. You know when you have a horse that other people like?  And more importantly, like riding? It’s a good feeling! So going into my Thursday jump lesson I had warm fuzzies in my heart. 🙂

We warmed up a tad lackluster- he was coughing a bit, and inattentive. I was like, c’mon get with the program! And bit by bit, we did. We didn’t work on anything very complicated, but there was one particular turn that made me feel a bit nervous- come around in a circle, jump the rock jump and cut left immediately (2-3? strides) to an oxer on the long side.

Now, this oxer was the friendliest oxer you could possible want. A x-rail in front of a vertical, which really draws in horses and makes it easier to jump. It was also the highest fence on the course! Two things in one! Hahahh.

The first time we did the cut away jump to the oxer, it went perfectly! The second time…I didn’t lock on to the second jump, landed and got pulled wayyyy wide to the oxer. Whoops!!! Oats had basically veered way right, and it was a judgement call: go around (would be easy!!) or right the course in 1-stride and go jump! We jumped!! It was NOT pretty, given it was at this point a 2’9” oxer, but Oats was game and away we went!

Whee!!!! Man that was funny. But we dug deep and pulled it out, hahah.

He definitely goes better when I don’t forget what I’m doing/lock on to the correct jump, but he’s such a good and honest pony that it doesn’t really matter to him anyways! So game! I think I was having a bit of a hard time seeing last night, as my eyes were watering constantly throughout the course due to the chill. (And yesterday was the warmest it’s been all week, yiiiikes!).

Anyways, things that I always have to work on: Release with my arms instead of chicken wings… Go with the horse, instead of getting caught in the back seat! This happened a few times last night, my body wasn’t clicking with it for some reason. Land on my knee/upper thigh. Hips back, consider a sitting seat to the fences to achieve this. Look where the fences are!! And stay there! I had a lot of trouble with this last night too- I’m going to partially blame the cold/tears in my eyes.

But overall, we jumped the highest we’ve jumped a single fence and it was the one on course that we jumped a few times, and even after a tricky attempt, and it was not a problem. Good to know, and I felt so appreciative and happy with my pony. Go Oats!

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Falling into pieces

I honestly haven’t been updating much because this week has just been incredibly stressful and drama-filled and it’s been too much to deal with. I think I am coming out the other end but yowza, what a shitty week. I don’t even really want to go over it on my blog because I feel slightly traumatized by it and it’s just…no. Ugh.

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This is actually a screengrab from a few weeks ago, when I had a rib injury. 

On happier news, I have been having some lovely jump lessons on old Oats! Had a great lesson last week, and this week- while still having some bobbles, ugly jumps and such, I’m coming out of my rides just feeling OK, smooth, calmer. You know? Feeling good, totally fine and leveled out. This is in stark contrast to my other, more anxiety-filled lessons that had such highs and lows that I came out of my lessons feeling like I’d escaped?! With what, my life? Hah. The jagged peaks and valley lows aren’t really there anymore. I am learning to ride leveled-out, calmer and just…with a lot less anxiety and emotion attached to the lesson.

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Go Oats! 

Are they perfect? HAH no. Are they good? Yes. Am I having fun and learning new things, re-learning old things, working on my position, enjoying what my pony is capable of, and appreciating it? YES!

Even yesterday, after leaving work crying, sick animals and just…fraught, I wasn’t in a good mood to ride. I was grouchy, tired, upset and stressed. I complained about it to my friend at the barn and she said- I know exactly how you’re feeling, I had that this week too. But you ride, have your lesson, and you’ll be smiling before you know it! You will always be glad you did.

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And you know what? She was 100% right.

(She is also taking lessons on old Oats on Tuesdays, and I’m LOVING the glowing updates she gives me on how much of a professional he is being for her, and a gentleman. YAY!)

I rode, screwed up, fixed it, made new mistakes, and kept going. And it was good!

We worked over a small trot-in grid, x-rail to a small oxer. We then built it into a small course, where we went off course a few times, haaah. Clearly my mind wasn’t really with it last night. But was that a big deal? Nope! Just regroup and keep going. 🙂

We are now coursing 2’6” fairly confidently and feeling good about it. Now that is priceless.

You’ll never get to heaven: Jump lesson recap!

Had my regular jump lesson last night, and not gonna lie, I was dragging ass all day. Turns out I’m probably getting sick, dammit! Had crushing waves of exhaustion in the afternoon and just felt super blahh. I wasn’t really looking forward to my lesson, which bummed me out because I was looking forward to riding Oats on a regular schedule so badly!

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Oats says oxers are no biggie! Wish it was summer…

But, I sucked it up and went anyways. And I am so glad that I did. Oats, while not perfect, was a great ‘trier’ and showed me that we can indeed be competent jumpers together even after he has a week off from riding and lessons. Yes!!! And with an audience too! We worked over a circle jump exercise with a x-rail and Oats wasn’t really respecting it…He was making big ‘bids’ at it, to my great annoyance. My legs felt weak and tired, so I was relying more strongly on my heel to anchor, rather than my thigh. Whoops!

We worked on more of a half-halt after kind of a disastrous long spot to a small vertical that almost ended up with Oats’ nose in the dirt. Yikes! And I asked for it! He jumped really flat, and almost bailed. Sheesh.

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Jumping a fan jump in the summer- so fun! We literally never got the right spot to it, haha. 

So, I smartened up and rode a better, more ‘bouncy’ canter to the fences rather than asking him for a dumb flat long spot. We then moved to a small course that ended up being quite ‘loopy’ with lots of changing directions and…dun dun dun…OXERS! All the jumps (3) out of 5 were oxers. Gulp?! We started small and then rode the course at 2’6”.

But you know what? We dug deep and just …did it! I felt slightly anxious but more tired, and so I was just ok with riding and not thinking that much, hahah. Oats did get fairly surprised by one jump that went up a bigger oxer, and was like, whaa??? But he figured it out and was a good boy! We did get some awkward spots, nobody’s perfect and I was getting tired, as was Oats. However there were no big crash-and-burns, we didn’t give up, and I just felt so glad with how my pony was, and grateful to have him on my side.

I missed him soooo much, and I just love riding him, being around him. I’m so lucky with my Oats!

Way Yes

I had a very nice weekend- still managing some difficult aspects of life, but I feel like I’m hopefully taking the route that leads to me feeling better about it. This weekend I had a LOT of great friend time, me time, horse time, run time and everything!

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We remember.

Friday I had a dressage lesson – where we worked on a canter exercise. It was tough! I had to cut the lesson a bit short to run out to the Westshore for my friend and namesake’s birthday celebration 🙂

Saturday, riding and running. My ligament injury is not 100% but slowly improving run by run. It was a bit painful and ‘tugging’ on my run, but you know what, it was better than it has been- so I’ll take it!

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Just a good day- photo by Lindsay. 

Saturday night was visiting with friends- I brought dessert and drank some (a lot?) of wine. Haha. This was in preparation for Sunday’s big event…Bringing the horses to THE BEACH!! Yes, in November?! Hahaha. It was great though. They managed to keep their hair on mostly, Oats was a bit anxious and nippy with some of the other horses, and he spooked at a dog, but yeah for it being November, cold and windy, and a bunch (6 total) of horses? Very good. 🙂

Got home in the afternoon and had to get ready to host in-laws at our place for dinner. Busy busy! It was a lovely evening and the dinner my husband made was fantastic! I also drank a lot of wine, hahahah.

Monday- counseling session to work on some of the issues that have been challenging me this week- it was productive, and I had a better idea of where things went wrong recently. Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? I didn’t ride, but Oats got to cruise around the indoor while we were talking and chill out. He also had a farrier appointment. Another busy day! So glad to have Monday off, phewww.

And that brings me to today- where I am trying to be more relaxed, present in my surroundings, and not taking myself, my health or my abilities, for granted.

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!

 

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.