Nothing Feels Natural

Finally we had some sun! In fact, we are now on THREE whole days of sun! Can you believe it?! I can’t. We honestly had close to 3 months of straight rain, or wind and rain, or wind/rain/snow combo. Not a single clear day for months, and boy does that drain a person…

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Daisy is at another stable now, but Oats loves his friends! 

Friday I had my dressage lesson and it was really good! I wasn’t expecting much, given it was basically a tornado with pouring rain, the arena was super flooded and Oats was feeling okay but not amazing. However he really rallied and we worked on straightness in the canter on the diagonal fences, and then some head-to-the-wall leg yielding. Success! He was quite good and sweet. Love my boy 🙂

Saturday the ring was still nuts and the vibe a bit off but not too bad, it was a bit quieter which is nice, and so Oats and I worked on transitions, and his leg yields. The canter to the left is still..eh. We will call that a ‘work in progress’ shall we?

Sunday I had a race (Cedar 12K recap coming soon!), and then managed to finagle a bareback 20 minute ride on Oats after- you know I can’t resist getting a ride in, any way, or anytime I can! He was very sweet, and apparently had spend the entire night running amok outside of his paddock, going horse to horse to play bite-face with the ones who would oblige him! He then was exhausted and spent the afternoon flat on his side, sacked out. Phew!

Monday I was tired from the race, but also determined to do my ‘homework’ which I do try to do once per week- straightness on the diagonal jumps AND trot fences. It was good! I did find that when I posted trot in, I was able to control the take-off spot a bit better, rather than coming in two-point using the ‘hope and pray’ method…! Good to know. I think I ride Oats better when I am more ‘connected’ through my seat, vs straight-up butt out of the saddle 2point.

Things you learn eh? 25 years in and I’m still learning.

Anyways, day off for me, Oats teaches a beginner tonight, and I am off to dinner with friends to the new place: Boom & Batten. I hope it is good, it is very pricey.

Please Stay

It is definitely not sunny here! We have had an EPIC amount of rain, = permanently flooded indoor arena (arghh)…. And a very limited space for riders, unfortunately. I feel like this is the winter that won’t end?

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From last winter- man, it was so much drier!

I did have a good jump lesson yesterday though! Not complicated, but still managed to reveal some big holes in my jumping, in particular managing my ride- less emotions, and also the right-to-left diagonal jump where I can’t seem to figure out how to go straight, then get the correct right bend. My life struggle, basically. Well it gives me something to work on in my dressage lesson tonight>?

Also we had a small oxer and we aced it every time? Go figure! Used to be my biggest boogeyman jump…Ha. We also revisited the circle jump of last week (before the arena got even more flooded…) and Oats was so good this time too!

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Also from last year- Oats is so good! 

The only one I kept flubbing was the one lone vertical on the wall- I got weak to it, and commensurate, Oats got sucked into the base and flopped over. I did this oh…Three times? And finally womaned up and actively RODE to it, and surprise surprise, we  nailed it. Ok, so now I realize how I actually have to ride, rather than just ‘sit’ to a fence that I feel is kind of a ‘gimmie’ fence (aka pretty easy, hah). Oats did start getting tired, which is hard for me to fathom, because I didn’t feel tired?? He was huffing and puffing. He is getting to be an older pony, my little dude.

Man I love my pony. Oats is my boy, my love, my little buddy.

Otherwise, a grey and rainy day today (though it was ok for walking to work), and a riding lesson tonight, and hopefully two days of sunshine?? Fingers crossed!

Buy you some time

Well it’s officially ‘Snowpocalypse’ over here on the Island! White winter for sure. We have about a foot of snow in our neighbourhood by the water. I put my big treads on – the Saucony Peregrine shoes- and jogged to work today. It kind of sucked, it’s tiring to run in snow and while I made an effort to run in the street, it’s still a tough slog. Oh well, a good cardio workout 🙂

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Happier this year! 

I’m not sure if I will be able to make it out to the stables though- two days off and I start getting VERY itchy to go and see my dear pony! I know he is being taken care of and is safe though.

The critters are enjoying the snow- Tucker was playing in it yesterday! A marked difference from last year, when he sat angrily in the snow and it piled up on top of him, hahah.

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And I had one frightening incident (side note- why the DRAMA lately? jesus christ I am so OVER it). I was leading Oats up the hill to the stables, when the fellow rider in front of me who was leading her horse- the horse paused slightly and LASHED OUT her hind hoof in a huge kick. She kicked my coffee mug straight out of my hands and it went flying! The horse wears steel hind shoes too, so jesussss I got incredibly lucky. SO lucky that it wasn’t my hand that got broken, or my freaking face.

We both never saw it coming. That was the most chilling part. Usually you can read something happening by body language- they get spooked, antsy, angry or pissy. The horse looked chill, didn’t even raise her head and BOOM!! Kicked. I have been around horses for over 20 years and I have NEVER been kicked in my life. Until now, I guess? It scared the bejeezus out of both of us. The owner was really sorry- and it’s 100% not her fault, at all. It was just a really scary incident.

It was also a wake up call to me, to be very aware and careful with handling horses. When you are around them this much, you get complacent. Until something really serious happens, like Monday.

First the dog attack, and then getting kicked by a horse. World, please stop.

You know this doesn’t just happen to anyone

Good god, this weekend. We have snow coming down, temps dropping to -4 with a wind chill of -10?! Here, on the Island of all places? PLUS my weekend was kind of…really sucky. Drama-rama…

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From last year- not this again?!

Friday started off great though, I had a FUN dressage lesson and I loved it! We were having a blast, Oats and I 🙂 We worked on jumps (in dressage?! They were teeny tiny), and focused on ‘contact’ and not letting Oats choose the take off spot. It was really cool and a good exercise to feel his hind end power! What a neat lesson.

And then on Saturday, all hell kind of broke loose..I went riding, and Oats was fine, fun to ride and everything was great. I got home and took my dear dog Gidget out for a walk around the block. I was listening to my headphones, we were cruising down the sidewalk when a dog ran out of someone’s yard and ran aggressively at Gidget (who is fearful of dogs), and grabbed her throat?!!! WTF?! I could NOT believe what was even happening? It was such a blur. I was trying to grab Gidget to pick her up, and she was trying to run away, and this fucking dog was on her throat…Gidget was shrieking. It was terrible! I screamed so loudly my throat hurt.

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Who dares to hurt the love of my life?! No WAY will I let that go. 

The asshole owners got their awful dog back, and then yelled at ME that they already apologized. WTF? No, no no it doesn’t work that way. I yelled at THEM that they didn’t SOUND very sorry, assholes!! I knew exactly where the dog had come from too, so I had the house number. They then got into their car and drove off?! Three of them. Good god.

One of their neighbours had witnessed the whole thing and asked if Gidget was ok (she was, thankfully), and then told me that she knew them, and that their dog was ‘very nervous’ and I said it isn’t nervous, it’s aggressive and that is NOT OK, it wasn’t restrained, no leash, no collar, no nothing! Again…WTF??

I chatted with her for a bit- she was really nice! She was telling me about these cute little dogs that look like Ewoks, so I am going to do some research to see what they look like 🙂

I then went home, got in my car and took photos of their house and the witnesses’s house. I called Animal Control, and reported it verbally to them. They asked me to email them a written statement and attach the photos I had taken, which I did. They were very kind and considerate, and I was pleased to have them take this seriously- it certainly felt serious, and I was beyond angry with the verbal aggression and lack of caring by the dog owners.

I was also grateful that Gidget was ok (but now she is traumatized by loose dogs, poor thing), and I am very watchful for any more incidents that I may need to report. Animal Control said they were going to take this seriously and go and talk to the owners, which is a great response.

It’s also a lesson to me- since I seem to have regular confrontations, it is important to me that I do not look like a victim. If anyone accosts me, or has something they want to confront me with or get aggressive with me, I will SCREAM and YELL and MAKE A HUGE SCENE!

It gets you witnesses. That is the most important thing. Don’t fuck with me.

Also a question for the ages- why do I always have these weird run-ins with horrible, aggressive people? Like, I put my headphones on, mind my own business, and walk on…and get assaulted verbally by people, or body slammed by one person, or screamed at by drivers, or bike riders, or men on the street. ????? Riddle me this?!

I hate people.

 

Take a bite out of me

Back to the grind, part 2. This felt like a strange week- work Monday and Tuesday, run a night time race (the Run through Time fun run on NYE at UVic), ride during the day Wednesday, and then back to work Thur/Fri??? My mind is confused, ha. I am not sure I would do the Run through Time again…It was fun, but the rain sucked, and I’m not really into the ‘fun runs’ per se…I was lapping people and that was annoying to me.

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Oats says, take time this year to smell or eat the flowers! 

I did have my regular jump lesson on Thursday, and we were under winter storm conditions all day leading to Fri/the weekend, so I did feel kind of anxious and apprehensive about how bad the storm was going to be during my lesson! (again!). I didn’t even have to worry though- it was misting rain the whole time but on the whole not too windy or anything. Phew!

We worked on a fun exercise too- poles in a gymnastic, and then a middle jump, and then a few jumps on an angle. Everything was really low- so low that Oats got really lazy and decided he could just trot them, or maybe knock them down? UGH! Have you tried, Oats?? Ha. I wanted to focus on not pinching with my knees. Easier said than done…

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I always look like a 12-year-old on Oats

I can now feel *when* I am pinching, but I am not consistent in NOT doing it. Oh well?!

It was fun though! We finished by jumping a small oxer like 10 times, ha. It got boring! Oats jumped it perfectly each time. I know why my trainer made me do it over and over…I get anxious with oxers. Very anxious. Even if they are really tiny! hahah. Well rest assured that the one got ‘old hat’ very soon for us. Oats wanted to start trotting instead, wondering ‘why’ we had to keep doing this…

yawn!

Sometimes the boring jumps are fun too!

Merry Holidays~

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Our gingerbread train! Sweet eh?

From me, while I am back at work! Boo! But don’t feel too bad for me, I certainly enjoyed a big chunk of time off. I got to sleep in!! (yes!), go running! (and hurt my knee again!), lots of riding lessons- good and bad, and eat a ton of good food, drink some great wine, cider and tequila, and spend time with family.

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Merry Christmas from the critters! 

I am a bit sad that Xmas – and let’s face it, my time off- is over, but I did make the most of my time off and got in a lot of fun activities, so I can’t get too bummed now, can I? I think Oats prefers when I am at work, because then he gets days off too! Hahah.

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Gidget looking polite, even though she had a meltdown too. 

My jump lessons were both ok and not great- like, not terrible, he was still a good boy, but I felt a little jumbled and all over the place. My first lesson in my time off was NOT great- it was a dramatic windstorm complete with pouring rain. Honestly it felt like a tornado! Oats lost his ever-loving mind. He was bolting, trembling and freaking the eff out. Strange for him…. The vibes were clearly not to his favour. I 100% was sure I didn’t want to have a lesson, get on my horse who is having a panic attack and jump, but by the end of my lesson guess what I was doing? Jumping a small course of smaller fences! Hah! Never say never I guess? We still couldn’t get near the side of the arena that he was afraid of though…

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My sister in law got this for me- isn’t it adorable?

And for my dressage lesson the next day, he was perfect! Go figure eh?

Christmas was good, lots of family time (which is good and bad…), and we did some family activities, and made a gingerbread train too! Both Gidget and my husband had meltdowns though, ahhh. I managed to really rack up my knee running, how I did it is anyone’s guess but I had this really sharp and intense pain under my knee cap. I managed to limp home, and now over a week later I have trouble going down the stairs. FML. AGAIN!

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My friend from Ottawa sent this to me- it’s a chocolate postcard! So cool eh??

I had another jump lesson on Boxing Day, and it was ok- but I couldn’t like, get my knee to stop pinching….And our straightness was an issue too, unfortunately. I had a dressage lesson the next day and it was definitely not quite as lovely as our lesson the week previous. Why is it that when I have a FABULOUS lesson, the one immediately after it, the one were I am actually expecting to be great, sucks?? Riddle me this!

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We played a game with balloons- these were the balloons I bought. Funny eh?

Oh well! I did my trot fence practice yesterday too, and while the arena was bizarrely busy (5 horses on a Sunday? WTF??) It went really well! Good Oaty! Bareback ride tonight, he gets tomorrow off because I have NYE plans, and then lesson on Thursday again like normal. I guess returning to the routine has it’s benefits.

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My secret Santa NAILED IT! This weighed about 10lbs, and was so good I almost died eating it! 

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Some of the amazing gifts I received this year! 

 

I don’t believe people ever change. But I’ve changed.

So I am slowly getting over the grips the death cold had on me (wow, it was grim this week) and I had my riding lesson back again too! I had to cancel last Thurs – actually my trainer cancelled because too many people were sick, and I was really starting to go down that road myself, and I was bound and determined to have a LESSON yesterday!

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Remember when we jumped a little house?

I practiced up by riding on Wednesday- it was ok, as Wednesday was the first day I was physically able to stay at work without going home early, though I still felt pretty miserable and tired.

Thursday I was more or less back in action- still feeling physically weak and coughing up a ton of grossness, as well as blowing my nose oh, every two seconds. BUT I could do it! On my way to the barn I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open, I felt so tired and exhausted, but I wanted to ride! The fatigue with this sickness has been truly eye opening. Wow. I have never felt so exhausted in my life.

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Loved this jump photo! Back from when we did our first derby! 

Anyways, I made it and the weather has mercifully turned back to mild so at least I wasn’t freezing my ass off or dealing with lung- freezing and the resultant coughing.

I am happy to say that despite my feebleness and ineffectual riding (ok that’s how it felt, Nicole said I was actually riding pretty well), Oats was on FIRE! He was so good! I love my pony, he is a little superstar. Nothing too big height wise, but we worked on long approaches to a single fence, and then 1 small sort of ‘blind’ bending line, which we aced every time- it was our best line I think! Oats even took a very enthusiastic jump to a small oxer and almost sent me over his head! I could barely hang on…I was NOT expecting to get jumped out of the tack! hahahahah

Can hardly fault the boy for jumping too well! What a star 🙂

I was really, really happy with how the lesson went, even though I was weak and basically clinging on to him. Mr. Oats is a saint pony.

Deep into this: Try something new

Had a very decent weekend, where I tried my FIRST SPIN CLASS! Woo! A colleague is an instructor at the spin studio downtown, and I have been promising to try it out for oh…A solid year now? In my defense, my weekends can get really busy (training, travelling, horse shows, races, riding…) so this past weekend, I dropped my excuses and just did it! And I liked it!

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I miss the summer…

I did see how it could get really intimidating…I am not a cyclist, and I don’t know how to use clip on shoes, so he had to clip me onto the bike and when I clipped out, I couldn’t see well enough to get them clipped back in, hah. Luckily it was at the end of the class when we were stretching, so I just hopped off and stretched off the bike.

The room is not very big, and it’s dark. The music is loud and really fun! The choreography was not very complicated, thank god because I am the WORST at figuring out what I am supposed to be doing, and nobody likes a class where you spend the whole time fumbling instead of working it out!

It was super warm, so I was sweating my ass off. I like that! I worked pretty darn hard, I’d say. My body was unused to the exercise, for sure- felt quite different from running. I don’t normally get so hungry running- this- I was freaking ravenous. I did have a real ‘ephiphany’ moment riding the bike thinking, I am going to be so healthy and virtuous after this! Salads! Smoothies!  and I would say that feeling lasted, oh…until I jogged home and straight to a candy shop. Whoops! And ate Ramen for lunch. Oh well, it’s winter right?

I had lunch, cooled off and then went to ride- and I think I had a good ride? It was a flatwork ride. Sunday my legs were definitely feeling the workout- I went to ride in the morning, after meeting Oats’ new farrier (I think she seems nice and good at her job, phew!). I went to do my ‘homework’ ride and my legs were straight-up burning. Whooow… Those xpoles never worked me so hard!

Yesterday is my ‘easy’ day, so I do not run, only do minimal working out and more stretching at the work gym, and I rode Oats bareback. It was freaking freezing. Ugh.

It’s an easy day for both of us.  I jumped my first xpole bareback last night! I was grabbing onto his mane like it was going to save my life, hahah. Death grip for sure. He did it perfectly, and I almost collapsed into a quivering pile of adrenaline on the backside of it. Good boy!!! hahah.

Tonight Oats is doing his beginner’s lesson and I am off at the Premier’s Awards dinner! Yes!

What is it they say about the heart? That it’s a muscle?

Had my jump lesson last night and the temperatures dropped dramatically since earlier this week (when I was bragging about running in shorts!) so it was very cold in my lesson, unfortunately. Lucky for me, Oats is now on regular Previcox and I find that helps him a great deal with the cold/winter stiffness that he was starting to feel regularly, as an older pony.

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Seeking this good feeling- and I’ve got it! Hah no t-shirts last night, that’s for darned sure.

He was pretty bouncy and feeling good last night! I, on the other hand, felt stiff, cold and creaky. Hah. The horse was going better than the rider! I watched my friends ride in their lesson before mine, so I had an idea of what our lesson was going to consist of- though I was wrong, I had bending and broken lines up the wazoo, where theirs was a bit simpler due to a few technical issues early on (one horse had to bow out, he wasn’t feeling quite himself).

So we warmed up (ha, warm. I don’t think I ever felt warm), over a few small x-rails, then lead up to a line (5 strides), and then started working over bending lines still with the cross poles. And the funny thing? We were just nailing it! I don’t think I need to remind you how that pretty much never happens when I ride, ever. It was just so smooth, I didn’t need to think about working or trying or anything, it was was.

Nice eh?

We then moved up to work on the course, and there were so many twisty-turny bending lines, broken lines, it was so fun! Oats was a STAR!!! It was so cold that my eyes were watering the whole ride and I could barely see where I was going, hah.

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Oats is such a good pony. I love him! 

We did biff a few things (wicked drift on the first fence when I didn’t go in riding very well…) and the last fence was kind of a slump, but otherwise it was just BANG ON. Yeah!! Felt awesome! Maybe my trot fence homework is starting to pay off? I wanted to develop feel, agility, comfort and flexibility. I needed to build back my resilience- mine and Oats’- by working on the lowest-level, boring, but important work. No stakes, easy to mess up and easy to fix.

So, I guess the good news is that it is working! The bad news? I have to keep doing it! I used to have a bad habit of completely giving up when something was either working well, or not working at all. So, I keep going.

Doing your homework

Last night I went out to the barn and was really dragging. It was pouring rain, though still fairly mild, and I just wanted to sit on my couch and watch Heartland, to be honest.

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There was a lot of this. Soooo exciting… 

However, I know that Oats has his leasor riding in a lesson tonight (she has Tuesdays), and I like to give Oats Wednesdays off before my jump lesson on Thursday, so MONDAY it is!! And because I am a masochist (I don’t actually think I am, I am more of a hedonist, ha), I decided to do what I had been putting off all weekend- my ‘homework’ ride. These can mean anything from working on our canter (ugh), long and low work (ok) transitions (ugh), or the double UGH- trot fences. No cheating in the canter, trot only.

So trot it is!

I really don’t love having an audience for these rides. They are just so…unfortunate. Ugly. but, I had no choice last night, so I had to swallow my pride and just do it. Over and over and over….Trotting a million crosspoles. Knocking them down, having to get someone to put them back up, and going back at it.

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I’m sooo not a fan of trot fences. 

It was really tiring actually! I also ate too much at home and my stomach was joggling MOST unpleasantly.

Oats was a good boy but damn they are just…grinding. Grinding it out. Homework. Not flashy, fun, or glamorous or anything. I just do it. And do it over again. And over again, and then take a break, and then do it again. It’s funny but when I was a kid I would have KILLED to have access to a fabulous pony like Oats and the opportunity to do x-poles to eternity…As an adult I’m like, ugh not trot fences again…

I do know that this unglamorous, fussy and tiresome work of endless trot fences is GOOD FOR ME and I will keep doing it. It keeps me loose, my position relaxed, and me more fluid and flexible when I have a jump lesson. It is just hard work though.