dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It Was Totally Worth It

Cynthia arrived soon after I collapsed started resting on the sofa. After a quick greeting she bustled into the bathroom to change. Groaning, I mustered up some energy and headed upstairs to don my layers.

Now riding in the winter climate can be fun but you need to dress appropriately. You need layers that are warm and also wick away the sweat. Fortunately, science has been working hard for us. I buy my layers most often from sports shops in the  'winter sports' section.

We headed out to the barn and spied the horses at the top of the hill. They could not be enticed down, even with me shaking a bucket of grain. So Mohammed went to the mountain. Carmen came right up to me and then left. That didn't matter- I put the halter on Irish and he came down quite willingly. After closing him in his stall I looked up and Carmen hadn't moved. I wasn't worried. I ignored her and, sure enough, she came flying down the hill and, with a saucy swish of her tail, went in her stall.

It was clear that both horses had a ton of energy. Carmen was good about getting ready and being led up the hill behind Irish. Even though she was giving off waves of excitement she never crowded me or took off.

I started her lunging and she immediately tried to bolt.
I must FLEE
Nope. You must go in a circle around me like a civilized equine. 
You are ruining a good panic
I don't want to fly a thousand pound kite, thank you very much

After that she settled into the work. At first there was just tension in the trot. Then she started to enjoy herself. She was trotting along with energy and clearly enjoying herself. We lunged up and down the ring. After a bit I asked her to 'whoa' and she stopped and looked at me with her ears pricked.
Are we ready do you think? 
Yes. I think so. 

I walked her up to the mounting block. It was a black blob sticking up above the snow. In the past this would have had her flying backwards. Instead she marched right up to check it out. After a good sniff she declared it safe and stood there while I got on.

Once I got on I could feel the energy underneath me but it felt like good energy, full of bounce, not tension.

Her immediate idea was to follow Irish which I quashed. Then she thought she should look out for snow trolls but I wouldn't allow it. She was listening fairly well but at B she gave a big spook. I was anticipating that so used the energy from the spook to pick to up a forward trot and go to work.
At first she was fine with that and I was happy that we skipped the balking. But it was there:
Carmen: hey wait a minute. I didn't want to trot
Me: you started it. I just went with it. 
Carmen: But I don't think I want to trot
Me: too late now. 

There was a bit more of discussion but as soon as she yielded I praised her
oh there's a good girl. 

It's funny- as soon as she is praised, she immediately relaxes and become cooperative. It has to be genuine praise. I know it might sound stupid but if I just say 'good girl' she ignores me, unless she's actually done something worth praising.

It was so much fun playing in the fluffy snow. I wasn't worried about training- just having a good time. We rode around letting the snow fly and enjoying the sunshine. Irish was hilarious- his whole demeanour was like a puppy given a new ball. He was wanting to zoom around the ring. Cynthia did a good job keeping him contained without shutting him down.
alas, I have no photos of us but here's one of d'Arcy that shows how Irish was feeling

I was thrilled with Carmen. This was our third ride in January and she was not crazy or out of control. Instead she was listening and being my partner.  


  1. I believe you about "true praise". Horses are smart and competitive and they usually know when they've put forth true effort...or not. Three cheers for Carmen!


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