dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, May 9, 2016

Clinic Report Day 3: Coming Together

Throughout the whole 3 days Carmen was clearly enjoying her stay. She was friendly with people and nickered every time she saw me. The facility was beautiful- a stunning view of the river and right next to a golf course. I told Ed that it was perfect for us (assuming we had that kind of money!). The people were so much fun- everyone loved their horses and wanted to do their best by them. It was a great way to spend mother's day weekend. Especially this mother's day- it help me to not dwell on this being my first Mother's day without my mother. I was staying with friends that I hadn't seen in a while. It was great to reconnect and catch up on what is going on.

Even though I was enjoying myself I was tired. It's funny how tiring a clinic can be-Carmen and  I have certainly worked much harder physically but mentally it was very tiring. It's hard to change how you think about things. It was also inspiring. I was starting to feel like I was getting the tools I needed to take Carmen to places and progress in our training.  I knew that I could never expose Carmen to everything but I was flailing a bit to try to find the way to help her trust me and believe it was okay.

I had asked in Johanna would ride Carmen - I was hoping that she could give me some insights. While Johanna is quite willing to ride other horses she told me that, in her opinion,  I needed to ride her and she needed to help us work together.

I repeated what I needed to remember:

  • breathe
  • be calm in my body
  • direct with my seat 
  • soft shoulders 
crap. What was the 5th thing? Oh right - look where I wanted to go. 

When we came into the ring the far door of the arena was open and a tractor was parked there. Carmen reacted right way. I was asked if I wanted the door shut and I said, no, I wanted to see if I could use what I learned effectively. 

On the ground Carmen was pretty good but wanting to keep close to me. Johanna suggested that I get a cavesson for lunging. That's hard here because they are all very heavy and Carmen does not like them. She suggested that I look for a lighter one (like a serretta). anyway, she helped me to get Carmen out on the line and taking contact. Carmen started to mouth the bit- normally I would lighten up thinking I was upsetting her. Turns out that was a good thing- she was chewing and relaxing her jaw. Learning that was already worth the price of admission. 

I got on and Carmen was a tense (nothing new there). Johanna kept directing me to breathe and calm my body and I was REALLY trying. 

okay, so we're flowing and I'm soft in my shoulders but she's tight. 
Breathe slower
Calm you body

Goddamnit I thought If I get any calmer I'm going to fall of the freaking horse and be in a coma. 

I was totally sucking at this and getting annoyed with myself.
you are riding better Johanna said.
no I'm not! I can't even remember to breathe. 
No, you are doing much better, now we are working on details. 

I went back and tried some some.
And I then had a epiphany.

I wasn't being calm. I was being brave. 
Riding certainly takes bravery and I'm pretty good at throwing myself into things. So the message I was sending Carmen was that 'sure it's scary. Let's GO GET IT!' 

Being the sensible mare she is, she was reacting with 'HELL NO.'

I took a deep breath and tried to get myself into a calm state. And then I felt it. My body felt calm. Carmen immediately relaxed.

I asked her to trot and she leapt forward.
That was too strong Johanna admonished me.
Right. Regroup, deep breath, and trot. All it took was the lightest lift of my seat. Because she's in heat she was not so thrilled about the trot idea. But she didn't get too pissy about it. We trotted for a while and switched direction. I would lose it and then get it. It was coming together. I asked Johanna if I could work on transitions. They were so much lighter and easier then before. I was getting better on controlling her speed with my seat. I realized how light an aid that she actually needed. She was getting into the groove of it so I asked her to canter. She lifted into the lightest and flowing canter that we've had yet. I did a couple circles and then brought her back and ended it.

obviously lots to work on but still we're more harmonious


  1. So exciting to see your progress! The young ones are so. much. work (but so worth it ;)

  2. Look at the improvement in just three days!

  3. I had a lot of tension and fear when I first started Bodhi so I started each ride by stretching him and then doing yoga. It seemed to help get me in the right frame of mind before I rode. Sounds like great progress for you both and lovely photos. She is a lovely horse :)

  4. You guys look excellent! So much progress. Even when tense, she has a lovely outline. You're doing such a good job with her!

  5. Oh sounds like a good end on that canter! Way to go, I sometimes am too calm and not there enough for the worried ones, interesting how we are all different.

  6. Your list sounds like mine. If you can find that balance of strength and calm, you'll be able to accomplish anything together. It's good to have that balance in life, too. Your instructor sounds wonderful.

  7. Oh man. Breathing and calm are so hard. I have a bracelet (that I got in a contest) from Beka and it says halt at X and then breathe off in italics to the side. It's an important reminder. You guys look great in that last picture.

  8. It sounds like a great clinic and looks like you made a lot of progress. Can I just say again how gorgeous Carmen is? She really is lovely!

  9. Thanks everyone for the validation that breathing is indeed hard!:) I also think that Carmen is beautiful and will only grow into her beauty.

  10. Remembering to breathe is so hard haha! You both look excellent - Carmen is SO tall!!

  11. Very true - Riding takes bravery


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.