Sorry for the lack of posts these days- life has been busy.
Carmen and I have been slowly working along. I've been trying very hard to not get frustrated but instead to be patient and methodical. Those are two words that are not generally used in describing me, so I guess I can use it as a goal for personal growth.
Things I'm learning about Carmen:
- She likes soft brushes not hard
- she needs space to figure stuff out- if you try to push she will resist but if you give her time she will do what you want
- she does not like to be alone
- she needs to develop confidence- in herself and in me.
- she notices everything and anything new
- she loves and responds to praise
I've been working her in the ring but so far have only been able to ride her with Irish. Other times when I've had the thought that I might she just didn't feel ready and it seemed that I would be fighting her more than working with her. So I decided to not do battle.
I've had to talk myself through the idea that we are making progress, even if it's at the speed of a herd of turtles galloping through peanut butter. It's hard when you're an amateur trying to figure it out on your own- it's so easy to second guess every single decision. But, while thinking things through is useful, I can't let uncertainty invade the work or Carmen will have not reason to trust me.
Yesterday Cynthia cam and rode Irish. After doing some ground work I got on. She stood at the mounting block rather than walking off (see, progress). We spent some time working on walk and trot. I really focussed on being clear and balanced so that she could find steadiness in me when she didn't have it in herself. I've also put a grab strap on the saddle so that if she spooks I have something to grab and won't grab her mouth. She gave a big spook sideways once but I was able to sit deep and not grab with my legs or my hands and then just carry on with the work. We spent some time following Irish and moving off. After a while we were following Irish and he and Cynthia trotted off. Carmen asked if we should also trot but I said 'no, we'll just walk' and she said 'okay'. With that I halted and hopped off.
Today I went and brought her in from the field. I closed the gate on the small paddock so Irish was stuck there as well. She did not like being alone in the barn at all but was being okay until Ed started the gas harrow (he was gardening). she was freaking out in the cross ties but I just kept calm and working her and correcting her when she got too feisty. She settled and I tacked her up. In the ring she was being quite reactive to a flowering bush on the side of the hill (it didn't have flowers before so it obviously had evil intentions).
When it became obvious that she wasn't calming down on the lunge I stopped and asked myself 'what does she need from me?' I asked her to whoa and then I started doing work in hand with her. Within 5 minutes she was a different horse. What she needed was for me to be close enough to provide support and to give her something to focus on. On the lunge she had too much freedom and was getting herself in a knot. After doing in hand work we went back to lunging and she was so much more relaxed and listening. I then put on her bridle and mounted. This time she stood still until I asked her to move off and I didn't have the sensation that she antsy.
We did some work- all very very basic stuff. Some went well and some did not. She spooked a couple times but I stayed with her and since there was no reaction from me I could feel her develop confidence in me. She then tried to tell me we were done and she really didn't need to trot anymore but I stayed firm and clear until she had a lovely forward trot and carried it for a bit. I then asked for a walk and then a halt. I then introduced the idea of the turn on the forehand (we've done it from the ground) and I could feel her really thinking about what I was asking (rather than all the dangers lurking outside the ring). We did three steps of the turn on the forehand and I got off.
We walked back to the barn and she suddenly slammed on the brakes. I looked and saw that Ed had set up a screen and shovel (he's been screening some dirt).
It's fine. I said. She walked a couple steps and stopped.
It could be dangerous.
Yeah but I'll protect you.
Okay, but if you want to get back out to the field we have to through the barn and by the shovel. Let me know when you're ready.
I stood there calmly for minute to let her think and then I started walking into the barn. After a brief hesitation she followed.
In the barn I put her in the cross ties and Ed came in. She looked at him and he gave her a pat.
she's starting to like me he looked very pleased. And he was right. she was perfectly happy with us in the barn and could have cared less about where Irish was. We talked about she now seems so content and happy with us rather than worried about stuff. She soaked in the attention and love with her eyes half closed.