The face flies have been horrible lately. I really hate them and how they sting. When I brought Carmen in her fly mask was covered with them. I had ridden her before with the fly mask over her bridle so decided to put it on today. In the ring when I was hand walking her by C she gave a big spook and bolted by me. Nope. Not acceptable. So we did some ground work getting her to yield her hind quarters and listen to me. Then I got on. As we progressed in our warm up she was becoming increasingly spooky. I did all my strategies with some success but she wasn't doing well.
Have I mentioned it was windy?
No? Well it's been the windiest summer I remember and today was no exception.
The neighbour started banging on a something metal and suddenly she was bolting sideways and I had no steering at all. I don't normally worry about that (anymore)- I just ride it out and get her back. Except that she was careening towards the cavallettis. And I knew she wasn't seeing them.
My life flashed before my eyes.
No, that's not true. My death flashed before my eyes. I was visualizing us crashing and falling into the cavellettis and being broken and impaled. I learned that my last thought before death is 'seriously?'
Fortunately, I'd been working on teaching Carmen to whoa when I lose my balance and grab her neck yelling 'WHOA' (Royce taught us that). This got her to slow up enough so I could steer her around the poles and get my breath back.
I put her into work and, while it was sort of working, it really wasn't going in the direction I wanted.
I had to do some thinking. My first thought was that I was so totally sucking in my riding that I was making Carmen regress. My second thought was that she was just always going to be this way. My third was that I needed to get Royce out. My bank account groaned at that idea and it wasn't my first choice because I need to ride her. Keeping her in training forever would not make sense. So I could either give her to Royce or figure this out.
Hmmm. I had an idea.
I rode her over to the gate, reached forward and unfastened her fly mask. I took it off and dropped it on the ground. She relaxed immediately. I walked her forward, she dropped into contact and marched forward. After that there was not one issue. We went everywhere in the ring with no drama. I was able to work on transitions and she was using her hind end just like I wanted. We did serpentines with no trouble switching bends, the trotting poles were easy. She was stretching into contact and sensitive to my seat. I was thrilled when we stopped. She was relaxed and willing for the post fly-mask ride.
The difference between the two parts of the ride was like Jekyll and Hyde.
I guess that the difference to her vision with the fly mask was enough to increase the scariness factor of everything. Once it was removed she could relax and work. I learned how important vision is for Carmen and she needs to 'see' to relax. That is probably why she reacts to blowing grass- she can't 'see' what is causing it.
I also learned that thinking is not always a bad thing.
|pretty girl in her tiara,|