dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Timing is Everything

As much as I was frustrated with the new resistance from Carmen I was glad that it happened when I was having my lesson with Roz. She gave me some good insight into why and what I needed to do.

Since my last post I've been putting my plans into action. I decided that Carmen needed to be tuned into me and if one of us was going to be worried about pleasing the other it should be her too and not just me.

The weather has been very warm with a high humidity. I break into a sweat just walking to the barn let alone doing any sort of exercise. This means that I need to be careful in my work to not over heat either Carmen or me. Yesterday I came home from work and got her ready. Cynthia arrived as we were up in the ring.

In our ground work I focussed on getting her to respond to the tapping as a 'go forward' and she did really well. In our lunging she needed to be focussed on me and respond to my directions. I didn't mind if she looked at stuff but if she got locked on it I immediately got her attention.  A few times she was cantering and I asked her to trot and she ignored me. So I kept her cantering. And cantering. Until when I said 'trot' she was quite grateful and dropped immediately. It didn't take too many of these episodes until she realized that life was better if she listened.

 When I was sure that I had 100% of her attention I put on her bridle and mounted. I won't bore you with the details of my ride but rather overall I approached it. I wanted her to be responsive and listening. I decided that 'relaxed' fell into the 'would be nice' category. But 'forward' and 'listening' were non-negotiable. I carried my dressage whip. As soon as I felt her suck back I would gently squeeze my calves. If she didn't respond I tap-tap-tapped her behind my leg. The tapping stopped as soon as she went forward. Just like on the ground. It really worked.

Twice she slammed on the brakes. I kept her facing forward, took a breath and then asked her to move ahead. when she didn't tap-tap-tap-tap until she went forward. I put one hand on the reins and made sure it was forward so that if she jumped ahead (instead of walk) I wouldn't hit her in the mouth. I didn't 'hit' her, it was really just a tap. When she walked forward I asked for 3-4 steps in the direction we were facing and then circled off (which is, I believe what Roz wanted me to do). After 2 episodes of this, it didn't happen again.

When we were on the circle and she sucked back I reached behind and tapped her until she went forward. A couple times she broke to canter. I didn't care. I just wanted forward. So we cantered and then came back to trot.

When we approached areas that she's less sure about I simply kept her mind busy and ignored where she was looking and kept my purpose on where I wanted to go.

Once I was sure that I had her attention and she was going forward every time I asked I halted and had her stand relaxing for a bit. I then dismounted and we hung out until Irish was done. It was a short ride but I wanted her to continue to understand the formula of obedience = easier life.

This morning we rode again. Again I had to have my timing so that as soon as she sucked back I responded so it didn't have a chance to escalate. A couple times she kicked at the whip but I ignored that and carried on. Often she was tense but I ignored that too. When she was responsive and relaxed I gave lots of praise. We did lost of patterns and changes of directions and transitions. I pushed her more than yesterday to see if she would resist but she really didn't. We followed Irish all around the ring. I find that when she wants to spin away it's always to the inside. I need to gently lift and release the inside rein to keep from dropping her shoulder and diving to the inside. If I hold she leans on it but I keep my rhythm steady and it's soft she softens and drops.

Interestingly enough after both of these rides she was relaxed and affectionate.

There's so much to think about in riding her to keep the timing perfect and I don't always get it right. That's okay, she needs to adapt to that too.

Perfection is a journey after all.

can we take a minute to admire the purple saddle pad I bought?
Doesn't she look lovely? 


12 comments:

  1. Ah, yes, the ever important formula of obedience = better life. I know it well. You are making great progress -- at this point I think its as much about her mind and attitude as it is about her body. I think this age is the most challenging in a horse.

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  2. Gorgeous photo. Getting a horse to listen and pay attention is on the forefront of my brain right now. I know sometimes if I feel like the horse is about to blow up or bolt, I take all my aids off out of fear I'll trigger a dangerous situation, but at the same time I know I'm releasing the pressure and rewarding the horse for bad behavior. It's good to know that Carmen becomes more obedient with more pressure. Ignoring that a horse is tense is easier said than done. Good job.

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    1. thank you! It's really hard to ignore tenseness

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  3. She does look lovely, and purple is a good color on grey.

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  4. I love reading about your progress with Carmen. The purple saddle pad looks great!

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  5. I love your purple pad! Interesting that she was more affectionate after her lesson :)

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  6. She looks lovely and the header photo is magnificent. Purple and gray look so good together.

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    1. thanks. The header photo is of Steele, the one that I lost.

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  7. Great work! :) Awesome photo too!!!

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