Back to jump lessons with Faith!

First time back in about three weeks? I had to cancel 1 lesson because Oats had his third ultrasound (yess) and it was a daytime appointment, so I couldn’t come back to the barn because that is ridiculous, and last week the trainer cancelled due to weather, so we rescheduled for Saturday because Faith was available.

A few weeks ago.

She warmed up really nicely actually! Her trot can be tricky in the beginning- short strided, tense, choppy. You kind of have to work her into the trot, and then get a nicer stretchier trot. Sometimes you have to canter before that happens! Not on Saturday though 🙂

We then worked on canter poles on the diagonal and damn if it isn’t harder for me to ride a pole than a jump! I actually can’t wait to make them small fences- I feel like I wouldn’t screw up so much! We got 1 good spook in when she heard someone open the back gate, and was a bit jazzed and unfocused when we saw the horse that came through the gate, but did settle nicely!

We then worked over a small gymnastic. Trot-in x-rail, to a one stride x-rail, two strides to a small cavaletti. She went really nicely through it until we added the last element- one time through it great, and the second time she didn’t pick up her feet and we bailed, HARD through the last time and almost crashed face first into the dirt. Lovely. My neck and shoulder are still sore today from that incident!! Dumb horse, pick up your feet!

We regrouped, went for a strong canter, and then went through it and kind of blasted through, hahah. I was riding pretty assertively and was NOT interested in being very blase about it this time! No sir! She was good 🙂

Some things to work on- crop behind leg at base of fence. Important! Also maybe stepping the height up. She clearly isn’t enthused or excited at how low the fences are, which is great for learning, but…She’s learning to not care, which isn’t great either!!

And how is old Oaty? He was pretty tired on Saturday for our canter day, even though he had Friday off! Sunday was our trot day and he was pretty good, not that spooky or anything and had more energy for sure. We walked over some poles, hoping to engage him in this final, boring last 9 weeks!!

If you’re born on an island, the ocean heals you

Another jump lesson recap!! Oats and I warmed up really nicely last night, so nice in fact that I am wondering how I can capture that magic for our next jump lesson? He was soft, forward, responsive and very fluid. It was just lovely.

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Last winter was very snowy.

I was feeling confident after that warm up, more confident than I usually feel about jumping! Lucky me because last night was the night to start being challenged with height a bit more (it was not a complex lesson, compared with the last few weeks of very technical coursework).

We did a trot-in one-stride gymnastic (x-rail to oxer) and by the end of the warm up over the gymnastic, the oxer was up to 2’6” with nary a peep from me! I did feel a bit anxious about it but you know what? It was riding fine.

We then made a small course of 6 jumps, incorporating the gymnastic into the course. That rode fine, so the jumps went up (another panel jump went to 2’6”) and we worked up to a course of 12 fences total. Oats was a tad surprised by the bigger fence and was like wait, woah and had to really lift his hooves to clear it. Good boy!

In the course we did the gymnastic twice and the 2’6” fence three times. That’s a lot for me, hahahah. The course rode quite well though, and I was very pleased with Oats making the effort.

I have been saying it’s time to be challenged and here I go- it’s time and I am ready!

Love/Hate

Yep that’s me and Oats most days~

Rode him on Saturday and he was a twit! I was super annoyed, because I was still kind of riding off a pretty good high of him being really good in my lessons last week- decent lesson on Tues and great lesson on Thurs and then Saturday rolls around….And he’s cow-kicking when I mount up again, acting pissy and bucking at the TROT even, and dicking me around like crazy.

Me: Trot please. More forward!

Him: No! Eff you!!! I’m going to hop! Hop! Hop! Instead of trotting, how about a canter instead?!!’

Me: No, I asked for trotting.

Him: Pop! Canter! Up!

Me: Oh okay..fine then, canter.

Him: Wait…Cantering is hard. Balk hard. Return to slow trot.

Me: Cluck cluck! Kick kick!

Him: Did I hear you thinking of using your crop? *Threatens to buck*

YEAH….so…

Not very broke to my leg these days, still, again.

He did get to go for a walk with a young lady who will be hacking him for me and he was good for her! I was glad for that, it’s been a good year or longer since he’s been out on the trails…And his behaviour in the ring indicates more than a good amount of ring sour pissyness.

Sunday, I warmed him up outside and he was way more interested in life. Forward, happy, ears pricked forward and didn’t feel balky, poppy or draggy. Good! Moved him indoors for more work and he lost a bit of his ‘pep…Bad.

Monday he had off, and the temperatures have dramatically plummeted!

Tuesday I had off, so I rode early- no lesson for us yesterday. He was surprisingly good! Got some really nice trot, didn’t push the canter too much as I wanted to work more on my ‘eye’ exercises (3,2,1- jump!) over poles. Good news is that they are getting much better, phew! Maybe I’ll develop an ‘eye’ for jumping yet. I’m trying to stay a bit more consistent with my eye-counting exercise, at least 1X a week.

Also did two laps of 2-point w/no stirrups at the trot and almost died.

And thank the saints that Oats is not a reactive type of pony…His quarter sheet, to keep him warm, flew off his butt when I was leading him to the arena, fell off his behind when I was RIDING him (had to get off and pick it up off the rail!) and then fell off him for a third time when I was leading him to the stables, where it got stuck under his foot. JESUS.

I have to figure out a better way to stick it on him, or it will cause a major disaster for me one day…Luckily Oats literally didn’t even notice it once!! Even when it slid off his butt in the arena.

Before/After: The way I was/the way I want to be?

Before: Oats and I in the indoor arena. We had our fair share of struggles at the canter- getting it was hard, maintaining it was hard, bend was hard, not bucking was hard…

Winter Oats- canter

Winter riding- Oats canters: photo credit to Jodie Wright

After: August 2014 at the Sooke Saddle Club. So, we’ve got the impulsion down pat, but we still need a bit of help directing it. His enthusiasm is growing at least, for flat work! It was a fun and successful show (after loudly proclaiming I was NEVER going to show dressage again after our disastrous first few shows this season, wtf?) haha I guess I am back at it!

Sooke Saddle Club

Sooke Saddle Club: photo credit to Ian

AND of course, to be as humble as I can…We have rides that look like this: Oats the Giraffe-horse. Dressage is hard, guys!

Oats the giraffe

Oats the giraffe: Photo credit to Daytona

Following up on this, we had a lesson with Karen Brain yesterday. I am not sure what is going on, but apparently I need lessons to keep me honest, out of Oats’ face, and a better person. Yes that’s right, accountability keeps me nicer, and a nicer rider to Oats (not a pushover, but more solid and asking the right questions). I am NOT a pushover anymore! But I also don’t need to pick unnecessary fights either… I had a blah week, where my rides felt like..eh. Just ‘eh’ …

The last straw was Monday, where I felt unenthusiastic, Oats felt really blah, and he was a spooky, argumentative little punk.

Ding ding ding..Time for a lesson!

And so it was. And, pretty good! Not pretty, but not as ugly as before. We worked on picking up a canter lead on a straight line, no ‘cheat’ bending to get it. And it was very tough but more ‘rewarding tough’ than ‘what is this BS-tough’ that I felt before. Hah. So, we did it! Once! Ahhh the slide into mediocrity sure feels gooooood…(ok we are maybe sort of mediocre but I can at least TRY dressage sometimes!)

But I felt more ‘me’ and Oats felt more ‘him’ with the lesson. We need them, for our relationship building.

Hey this before/after thing is fun. I’ll dig up some (god awful) jumping pix for showcasing sometime!