Mr. Oats goes to a gymkhana!

Mid-August, we had the chance to go to a really fun little local gymkhana. And we are NOT western-style riders, but wanted to have fun, support some local grassroots events and check it out!

Our failed pairs race!

Oats was very much non-fast, but he was also a touch footsore, so he did his best and was a good boy until he had a freakout on the trailer coming home and almost killed all of us…UGH horses!!

Anyways we had a great time trying barrel racing, pole bending, pairs race (hah not really), keyhole. I would definitely go again.

Here’s our youtube links, enjoy! πŸ™‚

Working Equitation Schooling Show at Wildwood Stables!

Wow now where to begin- we took the horses (mine, and my WE coach Shelly’s mare Heidi) up island this weekend to compete in a schooling show for Working Equitation, which was also a fundraiser for the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society πŸ™‚ And it was a pretty intense weekend for 1 major reason- RAIN. Holy god, it was basically a monsoon for two days.

Oats was definitely a trooper and managed better about the rain than I thought, but me? Yeeesh, it was pretty rough haha. A good experience all around though, so I won’t discount that! I took Friday off and we loaded up the horses at 1pm, and headed up Island. It was so balmy out that we were wearing t-shirts, which was the last nice day we had, hah. We took the horses to the hosting stables, Wildwood out in Courtenay. It’s a great place with a coverall indoor and a really big outdoor. Too bad the outdoor was basically a swimming pool all weekend!

The horses settled in nicely and I had made 1 major mistake- I grabbed the wrong hay by accident and Oats HATES the barn hay. He gets really nice mega $$$$$$ hay and I …mixed it up and brought the wrong stuff. Shoot. He then kind of had me freak out this weekend wondering why he wasn’t eating much of the hay (ok he got hungry and had to eat) but not much and then was fussy about his grain (because I had his pills in it…) and I was worried! Plus I think he wasn’t drinking water- it is well water and he can be weird about drinking, because I saw him drink heavily from one of the huge puddles?! And he drank from it all day?! Sheesh, horses…Giving me heart attacks…

Anyways, drama aside, I also had bought Good as Gold calming paste, as he’s been a bit of a nut at shows lately. Getting it into his mouth turned into a big humongous fuss where he broke a crosstie off the wall and ran backwards into another horse. I finally wrestled him into his stall and managed to sort of finagle it into the corner of his mouth, but I think you can guess that this weekend I wasn’t Oats’ favourite person…

And in the morning (Saturday) I got out there super early to feed and wrestle with him/pick out his stall, and then I immediately went back to my in-laws because it was pitch black out and HAMMERING rain, allllll day lol. I cooled my heels for a bit enjoying the warmth of indoors and then went back to the show to warm Oats up. Newsflash: It didn’t stop raining, ugh.

He was hot to trot in the outdoor, pretty amped and was trotting around with his head on a swivel, charging around. I decided not to risk an explosion by cantering him like that, so I borrowed a longe line (I have one, but why do I never think to bring it?!!) from the barn owner and longed him first. He had zero explosions, just a few head tosses and then settled nicely. Phew, good to go!

I hopped on and he was ok, but tight throughout at the trot. His canter was better but yeah, he felt a bit stiff and resistant.

Finally our dressage test, it felt like forever to get there! I was completely soaked, hahah. Wet tack, gloves, helmet, boots, horse, argh. I wasn’t super thrilled with the test, he was still tight through his back and not coming through nicely. It’s a bummer, because we have SUCH NICE dressage lessons and they do not translate to horse shows, at all. Well, he did have a year off, so it’s a process to come back I guess??

Anyways, moderate griping aside, he was very compliant and well-behaved. He did have a look at the judge’s stand, but held it together nicely and gave me an honest, if not thrilling, ride. The judge (who I know pretty well) agreed and I got hammered hard on the scores, but with the understanding that she knew we could accomplish a nicer ride. I totally get that, and I think it was fair- we just need to get to a place where we see the work translate better at shows! πŸ™‚

And stay tuned, Sunday was the exciting stuff- Ease of Handling, and Speed Round. My faves!!! Ok, speed round is my absolute fave πŸ˜‰

Saving the birds

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day- so many incidents with wildlife!

In the morning I was working (as per usual now that I am working from home during the pandemic) in my living room, and BANG! A poor little hummingbird just splattered hard against my patio glass door. 😦 I was instantly up and looking for it, and it did not look good…It was flat on the ground, all its feathers splayed out, not moving.

Sitting up, but very dazed.

I yelled for my husband and we gathered the poor little hummer up on a book and I brought it some sugar water. I watched it (during a meeting for work, ha) and after about 15 minutes it started actually looking around at things, and then it perked up and flew off! πŸ™‚ SO relieved. I was very worried about the little dude.

And then after work I had some time and the weather was pretty nice, so I went for a walk with my husband and dog, and I put my bunny out in my backyard for some fresh air. I went to check on him after the walk and to my surprise, a racoon was digging in our raised gardens!! I yelled at it and he took his sweet-ass time sauntering off, and I was pretty worried because my RABBIT was still out there too! Sheesh. Except…My dog saw the racoon and ran straight at it barking like Hound of the freaking Baskervilles…And scared the bejeezus out of my poor rabbit! He was terrified! He took off, so I had to chase the racoon off, catch the rabbit (thankfully contained in my yard) and chase off my dog from the raccoon. Chaos!!

There was fluffs of fur flying everywhere, so we were concerned that the racoon had somehow scuffled with bunny, but nobody had any injuries. Tucker bun did have a bloody spot on his foot, so we cleaned it up but there was no scrape or anything there today, so who knows?? He was exhausted after that, poor bun bun.

And THEN I had a jump lesson at the barn, which was great. I finished up and went to sweep out the crossties and found this:

Poor little thing!

Yeah, a baby bird kicked out of its nest. Not again 😦 I thought it was definitely dead, so I went to sweep it with the broom and it MOVED. OMG. I freaked out, called my husband, and put gloves on and picked it up. It moved so weakly… I couldn’t put it back into the nest it fell out of (in the window-well of a locked locker, behind a grate where the window was) so I found another barn swallow nest inside the barn, got a step ladder and kind of tossed the little baby up there. Hoping for the best for it!! I hope it survives.

So, that was a very exciting and emotional day for me. It’s so hard when it’s wildlife animals…I feel so bad for them. I want to help!!

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 πŸ™‚

Chaos by invitation?

Some good, some bad. I was celebrating on Friday (I can still drink sparkling wine, so that was on tap!) about Oats having his first riding lessons (though with trepidation), my leg was feeling better and things were looking up!

They still kind of are, but I am struggling with my leg injury again. ARGH. It was actively hurting today at the walk, which it hasn’t been since I got injured so good-byeeeee progress…. I had to go back to walking. Love it. Five weeks and counting, and I have not made measurable progress?? Things were looking up last week and then boom! Hurting again.

At least Oats is doing ok (watch I say that and then god only knows…). We had our lesson on Thursday, he had Friday off, then we did a lighter day on Saturday and he was pretty bad. Spooky, jumping out of his skin, etc etc. Our canter was nightmarish. Sunday he was worse- much spookier, and we were able to bump up the canter to three circles and they were all terrible, ha. Monday was another light day (we are doing it one day with more work, one day back off, much like what I was doing with my leg rehab until it got fucked up again). He was quite nice on Monday! Edgy and spooky, but his canter (only 1 circle) was quite lovely and his trot did get smoother, though I did feel resistance at first and it wasn’t amazing- just better.

And the weather, well I guess I can’t complain THAT much but can we get some spring weather?? Soon? Anytime? It feels like Feb. every single day. Some rain, but otherwise quite a dry March- just cold, unseasonably cold. Struggling to get to 10 deg, lows of 1 or -1 every night. What gives??? I have gone back to wearing my winter coats, because I have been so cold.

I guess the Year of my Discontent will just continue??? Or something? Good things are happening, just not very quickly and not very much good I guess.

At this point, food has been my only friend and companion!!

Stranger still: Cold jump lesson with Faith!

Since I have news so seldomly, I think I only blog with actual media, and things that I have been doing. Otherwise it’s basically groundhog day over and over with Oats’ rehab. Fun eh?

Whee!

Anyways we are in a ‘Polar Vortex’ over here on the balmy wet coast and man, I am not loving it. Brrrr!!! I had my lesson on Faith last night and then had to rehab Oats. It felt ok until I finished my lesson and then slowly started to freeze.

Faith was pretty good! Snappier transitions, no real drama when two horses left the arena (some tension, but not bad), not that much tripping, and a few balky moments right at the end of the gymnastic lesson but hey, we’ve had worse πŸ˜‰

Ok but I am still rusty and tense.

Things I really need to work on: Letting go of tension in my arms!! And work on an actual ‘release’ with low hands- think automatic release- as I see I was actually pulling back in the second element of the grid! Come on, ME! Give the poor horse a chance!

Legs: Much better though. That is going my way!

Things I want to do next: Jump the bigger panels with Faith. πŸ™‚ I think she’d be good at it!

And Oaty was a good boy for our solo chilly ride. What a little saint! My saddle is in the shop right now, so I have been playing musical saddles/bareback for each ride, which makes every day a little more challenging. 1 day was with a bareback pad (wowza I felt sore everywhere after that ride), 1 day was in a good saddle, 1 day was in a kiddie saddle (no stirrups b/c I am genius and forgot the would NOT be big enough for my adult feet), and last night in an older Mondega.

Which one will be the key? Not sure yet, trying the Mondega again tonight to see how it goes. It is only temporary, after all.

A short week, a polar vortex and me.

Living with endometriosis

So yeah, I inadvertently got diagnosed (unofficially) last summer. The extreme pain got too great for me to handle and I was desperate. The fun thing about endometriosis is that you can get it at anytime, at any age apparently. Mine got triggered by having the Mirena IUD for some reason, and then it was a full-on ride to pain town for years. 😦 It does not respond to painkillers, at all. I have burned a hole in my stomach from trying to use ibuprofen with Tylenol to try to function, and it never worked.

On bad days I am vomiting in pain with extreme bloating and discomfort. I have chronic fatigue with terrible back pain with flare-up days and my stomach is in a turmoil with IBS-like symptoms. It’s miserable.

On good days I can function, I am not dizzy and incredibly fatigued, my stomach looks NORMAL and sometimes even *gasp* Good??

Sadly, even with a new medication (Visanne) that I started taking about 5 months ago, I don’t have all good days. It started off terrible- horrible periods that hemorrhaged, awful cramps, bloating, back pain, exhaustion- and then for about 2 blissful months I had nothing! It felt incredible!

And then it immediately relapsed and now I have bad weeks again. 😦 the doctor I am seeing- who is a specialist- said to hang on and it should be getting better, but so far it has NOT gotten better. My bad days aren’t as bad as they were, but they still suck a 100000% worse than those good 2 months I had.

I am starting to wonder if Visanne is enough, or I should start looking at other options, like a surgical intervention. This is a life-altering disease, and causes severe, chronic pain and discomfort. I hate living with it, and it greatly affects my personal quality of life.

Forget Me

And as we start getting back to normal, I started my lessons back up! Of course after 2 months of no lessons…I desperately needed them. My jump lesson was good and to the point, and Oats got back to it like he had never been away! Small tiny little cross poles, but it felt good to get back to the groove again with my honest as the day is long pony. A good feeling for sure πŸ™‚

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Hard to believe this was in March, and like one of our last jump lessons?!

I then had my first dressage lesson back on Saturday at the freaking crack of dawn, and you know what? I wanted to really take me and Oats back to basics. My hands are too rough, I feel like he is shortening through his neck because of that in the warm-up, and our transitions are now non-existent and tough and leaning. I know a lot of this is because of the weird anxiety I had over the past two months, but that is no excuse for BAD hands and terrible warm-ups and transitions.

So, our entire dressage lesson was a rework on soft hands through the warm-up to start things off on the right foot. And you know what? It felt great! I was able to warm up with soft hands and then incrementally work them up into the contact. Oats was then more responsive off my seat!

Of course, he was still a spooky goof yesterday, so I spanked him pretty hard and then we revisited what we learned on Saturday about warming up nicely, stretching rather than compressing his neck and spent the whole ride yesterday just doing that- and it was good! He was pretty sweaty, but it wasn’t difficult work- it was just comprehensive and warming up with ‘reach’ rather than some sort of weird giraffe-neck.

He spooks because he can get bored, and I’m like, enough of that!!

But then he got down to business, and was reaching quite nicely. I’m so glad to be able to get guidance again. I definitely need it to keep both of us honest, nice to each other, and back on track!! Oats likes it too πŸ™‚

Oats and I then got to explore one of the unused pastures to see if it ok for turn-out, and it was. Oats was in hog heaven, with knee-high grass and weeds everywhere!

When your life resumes (sort of)

At least my riding lessons are back on! Yes!

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I ran my shoulder into a telephone pole a few weeks ago. Totally an accident but ouch!Β 

But with the resuming of some ‘normal’ activities comes roaring back all of my previous concerns/issues. Footing in the indoor.Β  Horses not being turned out enough. The outdoor is kaput, at least for this season? UGH.

I told my husband that I want to just buy a farm and deal with all this myself, dammit!

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Ian made bagels and they were great!Β 

Otherwise…Address what I can, and then see what I can manage or not manage. Oats has been great otherwise, we had a return to lessons last week (jumping and dressage!) and I was really able to address our warm-up issues in a way that felt both calming, and productive. Go us! Phew!

I felt rusty as all hell but otherwise? Pretty darned good. Oats is moving great, I’m very pleased with that. I missed my trainers like crazy too. All the drama, angst, moving, rude and horrible boarders and COVID 19 and just…Man. My trip to ArgentinaΒ  (haaaaaaaaa) not a thing anymore, summer holidays..?? Just. ARGH.

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Oats has enjoyed lots of hand grazing, now that I work from home during this time and I have no commute!Β 

It still feels like some of my life is on hold, and will remain so.

Ian and I are able to get a lot of cool runs done throughout areas locally, and in the Cowichan Valley and I feel extremely grateful that we are able to do so with ease. Same with riding- at least I can do it? Despite all the ‘should I stay or go’ angst that continues to plague us?

I miss horse shows, friends, races, travel…Happy hours are coming back, and so are hair cuts, but the other stuff? Nope.

Ian and I are forced to be creative with our time, so we do a lot of running, food projects, and some creative projects too- like water colours.

This is a long and strange time, and I didn’t want to blog about it because all I felt was gloom and doom. I don’t really feel that anymore, but I do feel like I’m in this strange limbo where everyone is acting like normal, but behind the act is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

But since it’s going to be awhile, I might as well come back for now.

Music for the long emergency

Sooooooooo…Work is crazy right now, and that is due to the emerging coronavirus. I am assisting on the file (it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ thing right now), and making life extremely difficult for many, and in some cases, deadly. It’s a real challenge, and while I don’t want to dismiss fears, the risk we have here on the Island is very low. I do accept that the impact will eventually come here- like the flu, like H1N1, it will spread and sort of becoming ‘the norm’ but right now? Yeesh. Also I can be a bit paranoid, so having this be my ‘all day everyday’ existence is difficult.

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Bright side to the weekend: Doughnuts and sunshine!!Β 

But anyways, my normal life is fine actually, with a few dramas. Oats got out of his pen twice this weekend- 1 time on Friday night after I rode, where I SWEAR TO GOD I double checked his latch. I have never, ever left it open.

The other boarder suggested his horse might have opened it by playing with the gate. I thought that might be it, but my trainer said it’s really unlikely, but that I probably forgot to do up the gate. Ok, but yeah…

Until Sunday night it happened AGAIN! And I was not at the barn on Sunday- at all! And even worse- he got out past the external fencing, that leads to a MAJOR ROAD. WTF?

I wasΒ pissed. And it’s definitely the new horse neighbour messing with his gate that caused it to open both nights. So, there is a new chain, and mercifully Oats is ok. Phew!

And in other annoying news…Oats was stiff, balky and shitty on THur/Fri, and I found out why- and it’s twofold- 1. He needed his feet done like, 2 weeks ago. Bad me. I thought he was fine, and he just…Wasn’t. This is entirely on me.

2. He was playing too hard with his horse friend, and was sore. He felt prettttty terrible on Thur/Fri. Thursday I chalked it up to him just being stiff, but on Friday he felt awful- moving laterally, balking, stiff, stopping. It took about 45 minutes of riding to warm him up enough to feel ‘ok’ but not great.

The farrier came out on Saturday and trimmed him up, and then I rode. He was definitely improved from Friday (no tripping!) but his left lead canter still felt like a bag of crap. His trot work was almost back to 100%. He then had Sunday off (to escape…) and then I am riding tonight. Fingers crossed that he is back to his old form by now!

Man, Life. Just…ah.