Won’t let you down

Riding this week has been in the distinctly ‘ok’ camp- nothing amazing, but nothing bad either. Rode lightly Monday (FREEZING), worked on no-stirrups on Tuesday (much more reasonable temperatures), had a jump lesson last night where we worked on adjustability by my request over poles/small x-rails (it kind of sucked, but yeah that’s clearly where I need to improve haha), and have a dressage lesson tonight.

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Where I will likely be working on…canter adjustability. Hah.

Oats wasn’t even sweating last night, and the work is tiring for him. I guess since he is clipped and in pretty good shape, he just doesn’t sweat? He has had a recurring poopy butt though, UGHHH that is a lot of fun to deal with every day. The hay is too rich for him, and he’s been having gastrointestinal effects for about two weeks now. I had hopes that it was improving this week, until I got to the barn on Thursday and nope…Still gross. Poor pony!

He was also kind of in slugville, ha. I am putting him back on Previcox this winter, to see if it helps him move more freely when it gets cold. On Monday, he moved like the Tin Man. Stiff, uncomfortable and just awful! My husband joked that it’s like me starting a race- stiff, awkward, slow and super uncomfortable. Takes me a good 10-20 minutes to warm up into it…As for Oats I guess?

I am hoping the Previcox helps him when it gets colder out. As it is, the weather has been very mild! 🙂 Since the deep freeze on Monday. Also it’s raining a lot, sooooo yeah. Otherwise I’m just trying to put the training in on Oats, but still maintaining good perspective with a mix of easy rides, beach rides and the girls are trying to get him out on a trail ride with them one day…We’ll see about that.

I am also still focusing on rehabbing my ligament injury, which is kind of a back-and-forth journey most weeks- I can barely feel the injury anymore, except when I run too much or too fast, then it swells back up into a lump of scar tissue on my lower hip/groin. Lovely.

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A mountain with no ending: My first track race!

So, this weekend wasn’t all gloom and doom- despite what my previous blog post was griping about. My running was actually really neat! This year, adding to the theme of ‘getting outside my comfort zone’ I decided to be brave and sign up for a local amateur-friendly track series. This race ended up being on Saturday, the same day as my horrible horse show. Bad timing or what?

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My version of hauling ass at the track.

I did it anyways!

This is the track series: The Christie-Phoenix Victoria Run Series– super bare-bones, but really well run!  I was very intimidated when I got to the track–all these people looked super intense, elite athletes, and there’s me…the running schlub.

I bought the series run package- a steal of a deal at $65 for the season. That gets me three track events, and some local x-c running too. That meant that at the track, I can sign up for any or all of the track races. Saturday offered three distances: 1,500m, 800m, and 3,000m. I hemmed and hawed about trying the distances and decided on entering two: 1,500m and 3,000m.

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The 3,000m.

If there are enough elite athletes, they offer two or more heats per event. That meant the 3,000m and 800m races had two heats- actually the 800m had three! (Not that I was running in it). This is primarily due to safety on the track. I overheard the race officials talking about it and they said something about 14 racers being ok but not more than that.

My 1,500m race had 1 elite racer and the rest of us amateurs- about 14 runners total. I was sooooo nervous…there was a start gun and everything!! I lined up far away from the other runners, and I think there was even a false start when the gun went off (it was fine though). I was running soooo fast, my arms felt numb! I was blasting away and man it was tough!~

Turns out my ‘fastest km ever’ is not really that fast, but wow it was hard for me. I ran it at 3:48/km. Running 1,500m means going around the track 4 times. Running 3,000m means going around the track EIGHT times. That is a lot of time around the track!

I even got second female in my 1,500m race–whoop!!!! (there were not a lot of women racing in ‘amateur slow people’ category, trust me on this.) Still, I was very excited and proud. I’m doing it- running on a track! I was soooo out of breath too, holy shit, it is HARD on your lungs. I immediately wanted to quit, but Ian suggested I take a break and catch my breath, and then think about keeping going in the 3,000m.

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Two second places!

And I’m glad I did–because it went really well too! I was able to ‘settle’ much faster, and get comfortable for my eight laps around the track. They ring a bell when you are on your last lap and it is a very inspiring sound. 🙂 I even got second in my 3,000m race too! What a way to end a seriously disappointing horse show day, by getting some redemption in a race.

Track racing is wildly out of my comfort zone but you know what? I went out and gave it my all–and I’m glad I did! Well run, inspiring to watch the elites (they are stunning!), and just plain ballsy to run on a track.

In control or being controlled?

Had my dressage lesson last night (shoulder was still kind of bugging me) and also I did a session with my equine counselor on Monday. A double-whammy, of sorts?

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My life right now.

It was a good time to top-load my learning. After a disappointing weekend, I needed to take stock of what was happening to me. I did this in two ways- processing it with my equine counselor on Monday, and then physically riding it out in my dressage lesson on Tuesday (working on balance).

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Wish I was on the beach today!

Monday- We discussed my fall, how it happened, how I can regain my sense of ‘self’ when I am riding, to bring me down when things get really ‘up’ and ‘high’. She brought up an interesting question- was I really ‘in control’ and calm when I jumped up and got back on and rode Oats through the course, even though I was hurt? Or was I forcing myself to do it?

It’s hard to say. I am going to say I was present and there, but it still freaked me the hell out. I just knew that I HAD to get back on, and go do it! I’ve done those jumps a million times before, so I knew what I had to do. I was still frazzled though, and that led to another stop.

In the past, that would have 100% led to me stopping entirely and giving up. Like, I can’t even fathom dealing with this even a few months ago. No WAY would I have gotten back on, not asked to have the jumps lowered (this went through my mind in a flash, but I left it alone and just jumped it).

So, is that also progress?

Maybe?!

This led to my work on Tuesday with my dressage trainer, Karen Brain. She asked how my weekend went, and I said it was bad. I came off from jumping ahead at a jump and hurt myself. She asked how I fell off, and what did I think caused my jumping ahead?

Well, I said in the outdoor I feel like my balance isn’t great going downhill, that I tend to hunch/curl in a fetal position even though I know it doesn’t help. Oats jumps flatter, I overcompensate, and bang- not successful jumps. How do I fix my insecurity and confidence riding downhill?

Well, we do it through a LOT of very uncomfortable, gross, bouncy and jarring transitions. Up and down. Up and down. Walk- trot. Trot-canter. Canter-walk. Down the hill we go! And wow they kind of felt…AWFUL! But did they work? Yes ma’am.

We worked through the transitions rapid-speed, and by maintaining a leg-yield feel through the whole ring. Yes that’s right- Oats had to be polite or else! Leg-yield city! (well it was modified). I rode them through in ‘the backseat’ position and tried hard to not get jarred out of position or pulled through the transitions. It was a lot harder and uglier than I expected, and this is probably the ‘training’ that I really needed to do, but didn’t want to do because of how nasty it feels!

 

Being comfortable with uncomfortable

Had a jump lesson yesterday and strangely, unlike last week, I wasn’t hyperfocused on the jumps themselves…I had some issues with my back being weird at work (still is, argh) so I guess that kind of took some of my attention away from…JUMPS!

That didn’t mitigate the level of suckitude though- oh man. Gymnastics, which up until this point this summer, I had actually been doing quite well at…Turned on me. And again reminded me about why I kind of hate gymnastics!

Jumping last year- photo courtesy of Christi.

Oh look, we can do oxers after all (from last year).

We worked over a four-jump gymnastic line of one-strides. All went well until Oats started being less generous with the last fence in the line- maybe he thought it was set a touch too far for him and decided, NOPE not gonna play that game today. And proceeded to slam on the brakes, and climb over the oxer. How that is easier than say, just jumping it, is beyond me…

But yeah we did that about four times, maybe 5 if you’re being generous. ARGH.

And funny enough each time Oats decided he would crawl over the oxer, he left it standing. How???

Gah, it was miserable. Uncomfortable, awkward, you name it, I felt it. I wanted to give up so hard. Nicole set the oxer in a bit, and dropped it down to a cross-rail with the oxer rail behind it, a bit more visually appealing for Oats. He still did it. gag.

But you know what? When I said no way did I want to do it again, Nicole was like, “What’s the worst that can happen? He slams on the brakes and crawls over. You’ve already done that a bunch of times, so what?” And I was like, yeah and it was the worst!!!!

But, she had a point. So we are sucking out loud at this today. Get it done and over with. We had another crappy go-round of the gymnastic, and moved on to a short course (that went really well, hah) and then tried the gymnastic again. One more failure, but I got proactive and spanked his butt over one of the jumps- he gave me quite the kickback for that, and one more time–and the message got through. Finally, we got it. Nice, forward, no crawling.

So, it took the whole lesson- multiple failures with the gymnastic- but nowhere did I really feel panicked or worried…Just kind of annoyed. I know that not every lesson can be flawless, sometimes you have to embrace the uncomfortable, shitty ride and know that if you see it out today, maybe next time will be better (or even the end of the ride will be better). Quite similar to my dressage schooling with Oats on Sunday- it was kind of a battle, but it was a battle worth doing and winning.

I see you, gymnastics from hell, and I raise you one successful go-around!

Oh and coursework remains one of our strengths….No wonder I’ve been having so many relatively flawless lessons lately, duh, no gymnastics in them! hahaha I’ve been fooling myself.