By now through observation and data keeping I've figured out a few things that will set Carmen off:
- blowing leaves, grass, etc
- birds flying overhead (a hawk flew over once and cast a shadow over us. She freaked out. Well I saw it was a hawk, Carmen maintains it was a pterydactyl).
- being alone.
- being in heat- although that usually manifests in a general grouchiness about moving forward.
- things that she has decided that she will not do or places she will not go
- bushes/plants that weren't flowering yesterday but are now.
Before it used to be any ONE of those things would lead to a frustrating ride. Now it's usually a combination. But I am a stubborn, determined sort of person so I keep working away. All of the instruction, reading and youtube watching convince me that it's patient leadership that will save the day.
I hate being patient. But that seems to be my life lesson.
Yesterday was a lovely day and I got home and got Carmen ready. Irish was in his stall. She was warm and snuggly in the cross ties. She walked up happily with me and our ground work was terrific. I took off the lunge line and walked her to the mounting block. As I did so the sky suddenly darkened and it became extremely windy. I swear, it came out of nowhere. Carmen immediately went into yellow alert. I had some misgivings but I got on. And endured 10 minutes of the most tense, spooky, argumentative ride I've had in a long time. It was awful.
I dismounted and lunged her again. This time, I had to work really hard to have her attend to me. But I wasn't taking no for an answer. She had to listen to me- not the wind, evil clumps of asters and blowing leaves/trees. After a long time of doing this up and down the ring we were both a hot mess. I took of the lunge line and got back on. I worked on simple things, like bending and steering. It was not great but it was better. I kept my seat as releaxed as I could but at times I needed to be clear with my aids that yes, we were going this way at this pace. Thank you ver much. I found a good moment and got off.
I was feeling frustrated and so very frigging tired of riding the same ride over and over. I spent some time going over in my head how far she's come since she's arrived and that I just need.to.be.patient.
However, it didn't feel like a total loss because I did manage to get her listening to me. In the barn she went back to being her sweet self.
This morning downed cold and blustery but the sun did come out. I was hoping that the wind would go away but had to accept that it probably wouldn't. Cynthia was coming out to ride too so I figured Irish would be of help. I got Carmen ready. She walked up beside me and it was apparent right from the beginning that she was definitely tuned into me. Not that she didn't notice the trees, grass and leaves blowing like crazy but she stayed focussed on me. Even going past the evil asters. I got on and began out ride. I had decided that I was ignoring whatever was going on outside of the ring and staying focussed on the inside of the ring. And I had one of our best rides in terms of obedience.
There was one big spook when we were doing a 10 metre circle not was from the Evil Asters. But I just kept relaxed and brought her right back to what we were doing. I insisted on bend but gave as soon as she relaxed. I made sure that my inside leg pulsed and didn't grip. I did my level best to keep my seat following. I began to be able to play with shapes and figures in the ring. One that was fun was trot on right rein down the long side, right turn at P, half a 10 metre circle to the left at L and then leg yield from the quarter line to the rail and repeat at R/I. It was fun to do because my aids had to be timed correctly and it was busy enough to keep her attention but not hard physically. It also allowed me to get her to face the 'scary grass' but with a task, not just heading towards them. we ended walking around the whole ring with a long rein (to the buckle).
So I think I'm on the right track- no more trying to baby her along but being clear and sticking to what I want, not what she wants. Our ride wasn't perfect but it was progress.
I'll take that.