I was able to ride again on Thursday and I'm not sure that was a good idea. It was a very windy day - the trees were almost bent over. Carmen does not like the wind. She doesn't trust seeing everything moving around. However, Cynthia had come and I thought that it would be good for her to learn that she can be worked in less than ideal conditions and the world doesn't end. She was very tense. i could get moments of relaxation but they were fleeting. I finished on a good note.
Friday I was not feeling well at all so I didn't do anything with her.
Saturday I felt better and thought that I should ride. When I went out the barn Carmen was in the small paddock but when she saw me she quietly walked away out the bigger paddock with Irish. I got things ready and went out to the paddock. Irish came right up and Carmen followed. I was able to get her halter on with no fuss and she followed me quietly enough.
It was clear in the barn that she was a bit tense and worried. I worked on staying quiet and calm as I groomed and tacked her up. When I went to put her bridle on she flung her head up - with an Andalusian that is pretty high. It took 3 tries and I got it on. But I wasn't happy so I took it off to do it again. This time she threw up head and back away. I felt myself get frustrated so I took a deep breath and put the bit up to her mouth. This time, instead of trying to get her to open her mouth with my finger I simply head the bit against her lips and decided that I would wait for as long as it took. In a few seconds she opened her mouth and took it as nice as you please. It was raining but not hard so I decided to carry on.
Up in the ring I was very careful with the ground work. I tried to be the calm center but expect that she work around me and stay focussed. If I am too strong and firm she feels trapped between what makes her nervous out of the ring and me in the middle. If I'm too coddling she just wants to hang close to me and not go out on the line. I was able to find the balance and get her working through her back and listening to me.
I was just standing her by the gate while I took off the lunge line and got her ready to work when Irish started running around like a fool in his paddock. He ran the fence line, charged it, raised his head and generally carried on.
Great I thought. I decided that I would some work in hand with Carmen to make sure that she was tuned into me. But she really didn't seem too worried by Irish- mildly curious would be how I would describe it.
Me: Does he do this often?
Carmen: You have no idea. He's quite dramatic at times.
I did some work getting her to yield to the bit and some turns on the forehand. We made it down to the mounting block and she seemed, well, fine. So I got on.
As we walked off she was a bit tense so I worked on breathing deep and keeping my seat in the saddle. She started to meet me half way and we carried on down the ring working on bend and leg yielding. I asked her to trot and she stepped off smartly. She hesitated a bit on the die of the ring. I went and picked up the crop. I asked her again and when she hesitated I gave the lightest of taps behind my leg and she came more forward. I didn't need it after that.
I realized that as we were working I was chasing the contact- it would come and she would fuss and I would lose it and try to get it back. I realized that that was not the way to do it. I instead steadied my hand and let her find me. It didn't take long for her to do just that and things improved immeasurably.
We finished with some walk-halt transitions. She raises her head in those and I was trying to figure out what I was doing to cause this. After a a few I noticed that I was tensing my thighs as I asked for the halt. Aha! So I worked on asking and making sure my thighs were relaxed and not tight. After a few transitions she stopped square and in the bridle. I was very happy with our work and hopped off.
In the barn she was whole new horse- relaxed and happy. I slipped the bridle off her ears and she opened her mouth to drop the bit.
Out in the paddock as I cleaned up she and Irish hung out by the
Carmen: what was up with all the running around?
Irish: I was trying to get you out of work. I thought she might give up the idea of riding.
Carmen: well it didn't work.
Irish: *sigh* no. It rarely does.
Carmen: don't tell her but it really wasn't so bad.
|from last year. Still smiling|