Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A Jewel of a Day
Yesterday I kept to my plan of keeping groundwork as part of my routine with Carmen. After dinner I took her into the ring to just work from the ground. She was a bit excited and was looking explosive. I kept my body language very low key but not wishy-washy. It took almost no time at all until she was listening and soft on the lunge line. In areas where she was more tense I was more calm. I was able to ask her to halt and I could walk all around her and she wouldn't move. I unsnapped the lunge line and we walked to the gate. I wanted to see if she would follow me (like she had at my friend's place) and get some carrots. However, all she did was stand at the gate looking tense and defensive. I walked off a bit and waited.
She never moved. She was as rigid as a statue. My heart broke a bit at how tense and defensive she looked. Was I ever going to get to her core?
Then I gave myself a shake. Feeling sorry for her or me wasn't going to get us anywhere. I needed to figure out what she needed to relax. I didn't want to free-lunge her. One, my ring is too big and two, I wasn't sure that the whole round pen thing was the answer. I am not confident in my ability to time it right and could end up doing more harm then good.
I needed a different approach. I spent some time casually walking up to her and lingering and then walking away. I gave her a piece of carrot each time. She began to show a bit less tension. I walked about 6 feet away and then crouched down. She looked at me and then slowly blew out and began to lower her head. She came a bit closer, but not too far from the gate. After a few minutes she came closer and then suddenly spun away and went on hight alert. There was something in the next field (deer? cat? grouse? troll? who knows). I slowly stood up as she blew a warning at the field. I walked over to the far end and looked. Nothing. Slowly, I turned and walked back and walked by her. She came with me. Okay then.
I walked a bit up and down and she stayed right with me taking a few nibbles at grass and starting to swish her tail gently. That felt like a breakthrough so I brought her back to the barn and gave her a good groom.
Today was forecast to be a beautiful fall day.
I also had some overtime banked. It was a no brainer to take the time and enjoy a ride.
Cynthia could come as well so we could ride together. I started with a hand-walk around the ring. This helps me to see which parts are going to be the trouble spots. Today it was up in our old troll corner. I mounted and we started to warm up in the walk. The whole focus on the ride was that we were working everywhere and I was going to stay relaxed and not fall into a spiral.
It's not that we had a great start and there were many areas that she was acting like she was going to blow. I kept my focus simple and myself calm. I refused to buy into any of her drama and kept to the task at hand. She gave a couple large spooks and those I dealt with by bringing her back to what we were working on. The spooking was not going to eliminate the task although I might bring it down to something easier (like walking instead of trotting).
She really wasn't sure what to make of all this but in the end I got some of the best canter work ever. We even played with lengthens and she began to enjoy it.
When we were done we left the ring and began to walk down around the field. She led the way. There's this one spot that has an opening onto the wood trail. We've been on it a couple times and I could see her looking at it. I gave her a bit of rein and didn't do anything else. She turned and walked into the woods leading the way. We went a bit of a distance and then turned around and came back out and down to the bottom. There we turned and went back the opposite direction. Irish was leading and I asked Cynthia to trot. We trotted up the field and she was perfectly fine. She did think that Irish was a bit slow (fair). At the top we stopped and walked back down. I gave her a bit of a longer rein.
The weather was stunning and the ride was fantastic. I was feeling deeply contented.
I might actually be getting the hang of this riding thing.