dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Close Call

Yesterday my ride on Carmen was not as good as the one the day before. Instead of feeling lazy, she was reactive and resistant. Our ground work had been very good but the leadership I have on the ground is not translating easily to in the saddle. That said, I know that we have made some excellent progress. On one point she almost unseated me with a spook-deke-rollback maneuver. But I managed to stay on.

Rather than get frustrated I decided that this was an opportunity to get her attention. If she's looking all around for danger than she is not listening to me and when I ask her to do something it annoys her. So I did tons of changing direction, transitions up and down and circles. Lots and lots of circles; big ones, small ones, oval ones (those were not on purpose). Slowly I was getting her focussing on me and responding to my aids. I asked her to canter and she transitioned up and then gave a big buck. I was not impressed. So I brought her back, got the trot soft and forward and then sat up and said 'canter'. She picked it up and carried on. I find that canter work relaxes her so I no longer avoid it when she's up. After some lovely canter work to the left I brought her back to a walk and let her stretch out.

I then changed direction with the plan of cantering to the right. She was tense and worried and I figured that I would just work through it when all of a sudden she slammed to a halt and was quivering from head to toe. I looked up and saw d'Arcy. Ed had let him out (turns out he thought I was done so let him out). I could feel her getting ready to lose it so I hopped off and sent Ed a quick text. Of course he calls d'Arcy and of course d'Arcy is not leaving- he's a border collie and is on the job. I realized that my ride was over and I was NOT happy.

We walked down to the barn and I put her away. I hung out in the barn until I was a bit calmer and then went in the house and spoke to Ed. He was sorry and after a shower and a strawberry daiquiri I felt much better.

But I was worried that I had undone my weeks of work. This morning I got her ready and headed up to the ring. It was hot even at 9 and I quickly realized that she was feeling lazy again. I got on her prepared to work through what we had yesterday. But today was different- she was a bit looky but more resistant to work. I asked her to trot and she really didn't want to and let me know by picking up a plodding trot. When I asked her to move out she pinned her ears. I just engaged my core, sat back (I have a tendency to sit forward during these moments) and encouraged her forward. I find that Carmen does not like to be squeezed but responds to a series of short taps with my heels (not kicks). So I persisted and we had a lovely forward trot.

We worked on leg yields, trotting poles and serpentines. I ignored any tension in certain 'corners' and let her have a long(ish) rein.

Because there was nothing to argue against she didn't. Funny that.

We cantered both ways as well. I walked her up to troll corner and halted and dismounted. I think that that will be our new dismount place.

I was happy that we didn't seem the worse for wear after yesterday. I was happy that I seem to be gaining confidence in our sessions. She seems to be happy with me as well. Most of the time.

more fun to photograph than to ride. 


  1. Ah, helpful husbands... and dogs. LOL. Glad you were able to get off before she launched minus brain. I could say something about dogs and horses not mixing but you know that better than anyone.

  2. Oh yeah, I remember having to ride horses through my husband starting up a lawn mower on the other side of the fence and my kids starting a game of basketball around the corner from where I was riding a green horse. So much fun. They didn't apologize, though. They told me the horse just had to get used to it. I'm reading a book on trail riding by Julie Goodnight, and she's goes into pretty clear detail about what we as handlers and riders can do to train our horses in both the right and wrong directions. I've had quite a few "Ah ha" moments where I thought I was doing the right thing, but it turns out I was sending the wrong message to the horse which lead to more behavior problems. There are things you say from time to time in your posts that make me think you might like her philosophy. Have you studied her?

    1. I'm all for getting used to stuff. I just didn't want to be surprised. I think that if that had happened the day before it might have gone differently. I will look up that book- I haven't heard of her.

    2. I'm a fan of Julie's (and I'm in the book :) ). She manages to say things in a way that makes sense, even if you've heard it before. I've had a lot of ah-ha moments with her.

  3. I seriously think that her and Indy could be related or soul mates or something like that. It's great that the rides went well for the most part!


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