Honey Bunches of Oats does dressage!

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

I saw this quote in another blog (Medal Slut), and I loved it so much I had to use it~

“Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski

And here’s the shocker-for a reluctant dressage-er, we did REALLY WELL!! Got our personal best scores of all time?! 68.47% in Training Level 1, and 69% in Training Level 2~ can you believe it! I can’t!

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The whole gang with their ribbons!!

Rewinding a bit, I had originally wanted to go to the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper show on the Saturday, when everyone was going but as I mentioned yesterday we had a packed schedule and no hauler to go up with, soooooo dressage it was!

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

I had avoided the dressage ring for a few years, because it was hard, we were’t good at it, and it tripped all of my high-anxiety issues for showing and Oats did not respond well to my nerves, at all. So, jumping it was. But then, my husband got me some fancy white dressage boots for Christmas, so I wanted to show them off…and well, I had a ride to the showgrounds with my friend and her horse, sooooo…

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

It was fated! We were doing dressage for the first time in like 3 years!

As you will note, we practiced a LOT in the two weeks leading up the show. Four dressage lessons, even? I was ready. I was still very nervous, but luckily we didn’t have a lot of time to fuss around at the show, as we were running kind of late, haha. I hopped on, did a pretty perfunctory warm-up (Oats was ok, but swapping his left lead for his right CONSTANTLY in the warm up and it as driving me nuts). Anyway, off we went for Training Level 1 and you know what? It went fine. I felt pretty ok about it, despite him spooking a bit in the warm up and getting a little silly.

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Funny enough usually at horse shows, I can’t wait to BE DONE and get off. This time? I finished my test 1, and said I want to get back in their and have more opportunities to ride the test! Who is this girl? I was still anxious, but I felt like I could have more time in the ring and really focus on riding.

Cue super long hiatus where Oats got loose and ran over one of the girl’s finance’s foot. Whoops!! He did catch Oats for me though, with Oats pinning his foot into the ground. Yikes! Oats and I hung out for ages..My first test was at 9:50am, and my second one was at 1:50pm!!

I got ready at around 1:10pm and warmed Oats up for the second time. He was TERRIBLE in the warm up. Thundering around, swapping leads like crazy, kind of acting nuts. I had this awful sinking feeling in my stomach.

Nicole was like, hey leave it in the warm- up, and just go and ride your test!

Easier said than done…

But, we entered the ring, started the first half of the test, got whistled out (judge thought we were doing Training 3 mistakenly, so I got to go back out, re-enter and start the test over.) Despite the miserable warm-up, the whistling out, we DID IT. We entered the groove, where I was focused on my test, on my horse, and on my body.

Each moment was there for me, and I wasn’t thinking too far ahead. (I did worry about the canter, ha).

When we came up to the final halt, I just KNEW we had a rocking test. We aced it!! The judge called me over and asked what breed Oats was (a mutt, I said. haha) and she said she really liked him and he was a good size and a very nice mover! WOW!!!!! 🙂

That test? Highest score ever for me- 69%. Good enough for second place for us! YESSS. A great end to a good day. I was very proud of how we pulled it together, and you should have seen how great everyone else was riding yesterday- I wasn’t the only one coming away with some good scores!!

Kudos to my friends for their great efforts, and to the Cowichan District Riding Club for a friendly, welcoming and fun atmosphere.

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

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Before the wind took my words

Had a fairly quiet weekend, rode Fri-Sat-Sun, and also did another equine wellness session on Saturday as well.

Friday night was super windy, but hot. The horses were up and spooky- Oats had one BIG spook at the ‘scary corner’ in the outdoor and I lost a stirrup, but I stayed on and recovered fine. I did feel a bit anxious about it, but then kind of forgot when we went up to canter- highlight of the night- a GREAT canter. Ah….So lovely.

Saturday, I went for a run with my husband and our friend. When will my legs feel better? (probably when I stop exercising every day)…they were tired, aching and felt quite draggy. Come to think of it, they still feel like it and now it’s Monday! Ooops.

Rode Oats later in the day, before our session. It was actually a pretty fun ride, set up a bending line x-rail to a tiny- 1ft vertical. We bungled through it a few times, Oats got distracted by something in the field, or wanted to spook, or flat-out decided to trot over it instead of jumping – we ended up moving up to canter to make him ‘jump’ the tiny exercise. Overall a nice, positive ride.

In my wellness session (that does feel a lot like counselling!) we discussed zones of comfort/toleration, and a breathing exercise. The neat part about the breathing exercise, alternate-nostril breathing, was that Oats responded very well to it when we practiced it near him. He came over, and yawned and was super relaxed. It was a neat effect, and made me realize that by being on-edge and anxious a lot of the time I’m near him really does affect how he sees me. We also discussed taking time off jumping but I am undecided about that- I did sign up for a jumper show, and I actually do feel quite resistant to taking time off jumping! I think that’s the stubborn part of me talking.

Well, one day and one step at a time. I will do the show and use it as a barometer, to measure how I’m feeling about jumping and showing- if anything, I’ll learn something from it.

Sunday- I felt strange going out to the barn. I felt edgy and kind of bummed out. The weather was grey and chilly, and I had been hoping all week to get to the beach to enjoy the sun. I was also thinking a lot about my dad, and how my upcoming trip to the Stampede was something I always did with him, and now we’re planning and going w/o him. It feels strange- I even told my husband it felt like he was dead or something (he’s not! but it still seems like I am mourning something here…a loss?). Riding was ok, Oats was a bit spooky about the ‘scary corner’ and we weren’t connecting as well as we were on Saturday. I do chalk that up to my changed moods, markedly from Saturday to Sunday.

Too bad I’m not being consistent…

I did ride him under the tent though, just because it made me laugh (and because we could! haha). I banged my helmet on the roof though, so I don’t recommend anyone with a taller pony try it, ha!

Surf sisters!

This weekend we went surfing in Tofino (yes in January, ha) on kind of a whim.

Surf sisters!

Surf sisters!

I’d been looking to kind of ‘escape’ from the hassle of everyday life, and what better escape than surfing? It’s literally the activity that makes you focus SO HARD on what you’re doing- so you can’t think/obsess about anything else.

I had a great time, my friends is very good at surfing so she gives me pointers when we go. I asked for a beginner-friendly soft-top this time, because last time I kept falling over the front of the nose of my board! I figured I could get up better if I had the bigger board, and I was right!

Boards up

I achieved my goal of standing up, and even rode it through a few times- very briefly- before either falling or stepping off. Success!

I think they keys to that success were waiting more- instead of jumping up right away, I felt like I could ‘sit chilly’ and then get up without flinging myself up and falling over the front of the board. Also, the bigger board was helpful too.

We had a barbecue on the beach, and then I started getting cold so I took off my wetsuit a bit earlier and changed into sweatpants so I could do a bit more beach exploring. The peeling off of the wetsuit was like a 30-minute ordeal…Jesus.

I was sweating and swearing and fighting trying to pull the damn thing off! haha.

I had a great weekend, and a super busy one. It felt really good to ‘leave my life’ for a little while and get out of my normal zone. I think it’s important you make time for that in the winter, because it’s just too easy to get ‘stuck’ bored and depressed.

I did even ride Oats on Sunday when I got back (he was good and cute to see again!) and I even went on a quick run with my husband, and we went to see Interstellar at the IMAX theatre. Very neat. Still confused…

I guess that’s why I have a super fun filled winter season ahead of me- the run series, a vacation in Hawaii, auditing a clinic with Jim Wofford, Olympic eventing coach/rider, and other fun things coming up. Winter has never been busier and more fun!

I also think it’s important that I do these things to kind of distract myself from the real-life drama right now. Otherwise, it’s very easy to get dragged down and sad all the time.

Here’s to going and DOING IT!!

Holiday Countdown Begins! T-4 days…

A sunny December

A sunny December

Oh man, this week cannot finish fast enough. I am developing a cold and have NOT been sleeping well, with a sore throat, swollen throat, stuffed up nose and crazy ear pressure keeping me up (and this is WITH Tylenol for night. arghhh).

Had a very busy weekend- got invited to six parties, and obviously couldn’t make it to all of them, so I went to a friend’s party, left early, and went to a work party.

Then Sunday, I rode Oats very quickly, did a quick Christmas photoshoot with husband, Oats and our dog, and then we went to my in-laws for a gift exchange (and got the most hilarious gift from my in-law ever…straight to the gift-exchange party with that one!!), a walk and a nice dinner. I was already starting to feel lousy, and was seriously dragging by the end of the night, for another sleepless night. NOooooo….

Merry Christmas from Mr. Oats!

Merry Christmas from Mr. Oats!

Oats was good to ride, my rides were short and kind of lackadaisical- I blame being very busy and getting sick. Apparently he had a very spooky ride with his hacker on Friday, where he took her for a wild ride after getting buzzed too close by a bus. I hate that he had to experience that–those roads scare the bejeezus out of me, no wonder they spooked the horse!

They were ok though, and he was fine to ride Sat/Sun. I think he quite liked a shorter ride on Sunday, hahah.

I also found out that he likes eating candy canes, but you have to crunch them up for him to eat them- otherwise he gets confused and kind of ‘mumbles’ at the whole candy cane with his mouth. What a goof!

Holiday happiness

Holiday happiness

Had a friend’s launch party for his new videogame last night, such a cool thing he was able to do- but I didn’t end up staying that long because I was feeling so lousy.

Lesson today, and definitely feeling tired, lousy and generally sub-optimal. My ear pressure is driving me nuts, still have a sore throat, blahhh.

Oh well…the countdown is ON!

Do right by me

Fresh-picked

Fresh-picked

So what did I do this weekend?

I rode in a lesson on Thursday and I felt bummed out (from live, overall) but the lesson went well. I decided I wasn’t going to ride in the horse show this upcoming weekend.

And then I rode Sat and Oats was good, and rode Sunday and he tried to buck me off! He was feeling spunky, and after some jump schooling (tiny x-rails ha) and some dressage work, he decided to try to turf me off because the dressage work was too hard! What a jerkface eh.

Yummy!

Oats enjoys an apple

And after that, I decided I wanted to ride in the show again?! And yet I told people I didn’t. What is going on in my brain? I blame the sunny weather- it makes me want to get up and get OUT THERE! And true it was sunny allllll weekend hahah.

So, we’ll see where I am this week. Maybe I will be deciding about the show right up until the very. last.minute.

Hahaha!

I did some crafts this weekend that went quite well, minus melting my mold on the element and burning my counter top. Oops!

Also went for coffee with a friend, so it was nice to catch up over a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. Yes the floodgates have burst open and BOOM! Pumpkin Spice everything! I even drank Pumpkin Spice Whiskey (Spicebox) this weekend, hahah. And had a Lighthouse pumpkin beer (it was ok, not as spiced as I would have liked I guess?).

Stay tuned for a crafty post 🙂

Cool Rummings- Lesson update, and weekend plans!

So, Tuesday was our regularly scheduled lesson with Karen Brain. I was ready. Or so I thought…I’m usually ready to get my ass kicked around the ring by her, but I was feeling pretty tired by the time the lesson came around and my resolve started wilting…

But no matter! We did a lot of ‘controlled’ work, ie- controlling Oats’ every body movement, including bend and pace around a circle and over trot poles. Interestingly, once we were through the poles, Oats wants desperately to lift his head, and TANK off.

“Bend? How about FORWARD!” He said to me. “Wrong answer, but nice try. More bend, pretzel up, bend, curve, slower,” is what I said.

So, it was challenging. He looked like a giraffe. My arms felt so tired!

Oats protests bending at the canter

Oats protests bending at the canter

After each trot circle over the poles, we worked harder at maintaining more of a ‘shoulder-in’ bend. And we took the show on the road too- large around the whole ring. GOD that was tough- it was like left-right-left-right fall in-fall out, ARGH.

He was being kind of jerky about it, because it was challenging. That’s ok. I told Karen I felt like we didn’t have any real ‘good’ steps, and she said actually we did- but that this stuff is HARD for Oats. And did I feel tired? My arms ache? That means I was mentally present during the whole ride, and that is also a small ‘win’ for us. Building mental stamina and ‘staying present’ instead of drifting is something we really struggle with.

More cooperative over the poles

More cooperative over the poles

So, even if it feels ugly, hell, looks ugly, something good is happening.

Oh and my weekend update? Surfing in Tofino and quite possibly attending the Otalith music festival! Hells yeah! I leave tomorrow morning and won’t be back until Sunday. Looking forward to a fun weekend with friends, a mini University reunion of sorts. Love those guys.

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A long walk for parted lovers

A long walk for parted lovers

Just a fun photo from a few years ago, family wedding in the UK. It was held at a local castle! Fun eh?

So, some Oats updates- things have been going really well!

Tuesday– Uninspiring ride ( I know, even after I said things were going well, ha). Just couldn’t seem to get it together!
Wednesday– Better. Weather was nice, I felt a bit more chilled out about the whole thing, even if I did feel BORED with being stuck in the indoor still.
Thursday– lesson day! Worked on this crazy course with mandatory trot sections. Pace control, bending and adjustability were the name of the game. Good except we kept bungling this one corner to a diagonal fence. Could NOT seem to get the stride I wanted. ARGH.
Saturday– Set up canter poles at 10 feet and 8 feet. The ten we messed up a few times until…Oats found his SECOND gear. WOahh. He actually started motoring his little pony butt and we flew! The 8-feet we just couldn’t seem to get together…Baby steps? So, I focused on making the 10s, and worked on a short, bouncy ‘up’ canter on the short sides, instead of going to the poles. Fun!
Sunday– My legs were so tired after a good 8k run in the AM. Oats was rather displeased at having to leave his bestest buddy Jim in the paddocks and come with me for a ride. Nice and sunny out, and I’m …still stuck in the indoor. I felt a bit tired and lazy, so Oats naturally was too. Cantered a small cross-rail and trotted a small vertical that was set up with the crazy fillers- pool noodles anyone? Oats, true to form. didn’t blink an eye at it.

Phew! That’s it! Today Oats has off and so do I. I might go for a brief run with Gidget after work. The weather sure is improving! Yesss