dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, July 2, 2016

One Ringy-Dingy




Let me explain.

Carmen's sessions with Royce are going amazingly well.

Sessions with Carmen and I with Royce moderating are going well but I am not the master of his timing.

Working with Carmen on my own is a work in progress. We're miles from where we were but I'm dealing with replacing the way we used to work with a new way.

This is actually not frustrating for me- there is a plan and method and I just need to stick to it. Up until very recently listening to me was a choice that Carmen could make. Or not. She could also choose to tune into any of the many distractions aware around us.

Today was a good case in point. The weather was cooler and windy (who's surprised by that?). Cynthia was riding as well. What I noticed was that if I asked Carmen to do something and it fit with what she wanted her response was prompt and accurate. However, if I asked her, say to turn left when she wanted to go right there was a definite lag.  Sort of like this:
Me: turn left
Carmen: your call is important to us. Please hold. 
Me: left, turn left. 
Carmen: All our operators are busy at the moment. Please stand by. 
Me: LEFT!!!!!! 
Carmen: *elevator music* Please sit back and enjoy the scenery as we go to the right. 
Me: No. No. We are going left. 
Carmen: This call has been disconnected. 

Obviously it's not like that all the time. But I'm working on getting rid of the lag.

I'm definitely starting to recognize the 'spook to get out of work' maneuver. It's interesting because I'll ask her to do something that is difficult (say trot to left lead canter without throwing her haunches in and her head to the right). Immediately she's get tense about the trees. I keep us going and then she'll give a spook. I stop and back her up and she stands there. Before she would be definitely worried. Today we were working on our left canter departs and she spooked. She stopped immediately and backed up and then cocked a leg to rest.

A few of these and it dawned on me- she's figured out that spooking leads to resting. Sigh. So now I had to make sure that if I backed her up I made her go forward right away and back to work. I said to Cynthia I can't wait for her to use her intelligence for me instead of against me. 

Carmen was not pleased with this No, you're doing it wrong. The little man said that you have to back me up into what scared me and make me stand there. Here, let me show you. 

Me: That 'little man' is not here right now and I'm changing the rules a bit. 

Carmen: That's not fair. I'm going to tell. 

It took about 45 minutes of work and then she softened and tuned in. Now I had a horse I could work with. You know, on actual dressage stuff. We practiced 10 meter circles in the middle and then either a haunches in or shoulder in down the quarter line. She really tried to figure out what I was asking and how she could do it. I kept it at a walk - I just wanted her to figure it out. And she did.

I can't believe how far we've come now- I have a horse that has a desire to figure out what I'm asking (admittedly at times just so that she can reject it) and that I'm not worried is going to seriously hurt me. We've had no bolting for while- the odd scoot and flinch in place is what she does now. That I can work with.

la la la. I can't hear you....

18 comments:

  1. Brilliant Iberian mares will always keep you on your toes!! Carmen reminds me a lot of a mare I owned named Topaz, who I always said was too smart for her own good. But you're right, when she uses that intelligence WITH you instead of against you, it will be amazing!

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    1. I shall keep on working on it. :)

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  2. Ah, the challenges of an intelligent mare...

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    1. tell me about it. It's kinda like having a teenage daughter again

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  3. I like your phone analogy! I definitely have those moments with all my horses hahah, they enjoy putting me on hold quite a bit it seems like!

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  4. Laugh out loud! Oh, the challenges of trying to not be out smarted by our four footed friends. Horses, dogs, cats.

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    1. It might be a losing battle but it's keeps me on my toes.

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  5. I will remember the phone anoalogy when I walk with Samson, who behaves just like Carmen did. I love how patient you are with her and how far you have come. It must feel so good.

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    1. Thank you! Yes it does feels good.

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  6. I was going to ask you a while ago about the backing - if she's spooking to get out of work, then the backing might become one of her other tricks. I thought of this because in the 90s I tried to teach a horse to stop whinnying at a horse show by backing. He just said, "Oh, if I back, I get to neigh." And he'd back up all over the place on his own. Agh!

    I tried teaching another horse that balking leads to circling, which is more work than going forward. That horse just chose to circle, on her own. Circling was preferable to forward. Agh!

    I am sorry she's trying that trick but you seem to have outsmarted her: )

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    1. There's always something with the smart ones.

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  7. Oh man, I love the hold message analogy. Glad to hear you're finding new ways to outsmart her.

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    1. It's a moment by moment kind of thing. :)

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  8. ya know, i bet she'll really thrive when she starts playing along well enough to actually start working on more and more complex work without trying to exit the premises all the time. she might actually find the work really interesting and engaging! (since she clearly likes to keep her mind occupied with something lol)

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    1. I believe that to be true. I'm still trying to convince her though.

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