In the meantime spring appears to be springing. When I compare it to this time last year I am very happy.
We had a bit a storm last weekend but it didn't stick around. Tuesday was a lovely and balmy day so I decided to ride. Carmen was obviously a bit energetic but very well behaved. As I lunged her she was quite looky. As we went down to the far side of the ring I asked her to pick up a canter which she did. Something spooked her and she bolted. The speed and way that she moved jerked the lunge line out of my hands. This spooked her further and she started to run. Calmness is essential in this situation - the worst I could do is run at her trying to grab her. Instead I simply moved to block her in the corner keeping my body language relaxed and low key. She stopped but I could see she was tightly wound. I waited, not moving until I saw her relax a bit and then I walked slowly to her and gathered up the lunge line.
Carmen: you dropped me!
Me: yes I know. I'm very sorry and I'll be more careful.
We did some more lunging and she was a bit excited. I figured that I would lunge and maybe not ride. But within a few minutes she seemed really calm, so I decided to ride.
She now stands perfectly still at the mounting block and waits for me to signal that it's time to move. As I rode her I could feel tension in her body. I kept working her but she was stiff and tight. I realized that she felt like a powder keg.
I then realized that I was riding her like she was a powder keg.
I gave myself a mental shake. Ride for the horse you want. I told myself. And by that I don't mean to ignore how she feels but rather to not make how she feels the focus. Instead I began to focus on the exercise: what I had been riding for was a circle that didn't end in a spook. Instead I began to ride for a round circle. And as we progressed she began to relax. And relax.
We didn't do anything big, just circles and changing of direction and transitions. I didn't ride long because we're just getting back into it. But I was pretty happy with her and she never spooked.
I rode again on Thursday. Again she was a bit excited- especially over the bits of snow that along the edge of the ring. She was not trusting those at all.
When I mounted we went to work and I started off focussing on her hind end and where I wanted it to be rather than worrying about her head. As we went along she began to blow and relax and I felt her become interested in the work. That was a first. She has argued with me, tolerated me and listened to me but never has she seemed really interested. I don't know how else to explain it. We did transitions with minimal fuss and we did a lot of work up by Troll corner with no dramatics. I realized that I had been going for a while (totally lost track of time) and that she was a bit sweaty and puffy. We are both in winter shape. I let her walk on a long rein and she stretched down and marched out.
It will be interesting to see if we can keep this as she starts to cycle through her heats but I feel that I have a much better handle on things this year.