So I totally stole an idea from Kate at Peace &Carrots to set goals for September. I liked the idea of choosing short term goals. I figured it would keep me focused. After giving it some thought I settled on just 2. I didn't want to have too many because that can be distracting. So for what it's worth here are my goals:
1. Walk, trot and canter the entire ring.
2. Teach Carmen to do the stretchy trot circle.
Both of these require a horse who is on the aids and listening but are very concrete.
yesterday I had to go into the city but I figured I could squeeze a ride in if I started early. So that's exactly what I did.
I'm becoming quite tuned to reading Carmen from the first time I get her from the field. She was calm right from the second I put her halter on. She stay d that way through the groundwork. When I got in her I had to smile. She was totally with me. And she stayed that way. She gave one spook as we trotted around a circle but it was just a quick hesitation and then she carried in without me doing anything. Rather than be frustrated about staying on the middle circle I realized that I could that it as "home base". It is our safe place to establish rhythm and balance and then I can take it out beyond that spot. I believe that was what Roz was trying to teach me (first prize for being a slow learner). Using this approach we were able to go farther away from her safe spot and stay relaxed. When she seemed to be getting more worried I just brought us back to the middle.
We finished working on getting her to stretch at the walk. At first she would just grab the reins and root down. I had to help her figure out that she didn't have to. So I would establish the walk and bend and then give a small amount. As she stretched I gave her praise. When she snatched I put my leg on and tightened my core so she couldn't grab the reins or pull me out. By the end we were making real progress.
I was over the moon with her.
This morning I again had to ride early. Sh was a bit tense relations. But that made sense- there was a car accident down the road and I'm sure that the commotion affected her. I couldn't expect her to be thinking "yesterday was so goo I want to repeat that experience ". That's how humans think. Horses react to the moment. Knowing that I was more careful with my groundwork. It paid off because when I got on she didn't move. She was definitely more distracted and gave me a few moments of attitude. I was clear on what was acceptable and what was not. She had a couple bigger spooks and gave me attitude at the gate but it didn't last long. We worked much more on the home base circle but I was able to be patient and as a result we trotted and cantered into troll corner with just tension, no freaking out. And we worked more on the stretchy walk.
I was over the moon today too because it could have gone badly but I was able to turn it around.