dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Clinic Takeaways

I wanted to sum up the key things that I learned from the weekend so that I don't forget.

1. Carmen is easy to trailer. She gets on easily (the off I'm hoping was an aberration as it was the first time). When I'm towing she's quiet and easy. when we stop she's not sweaty or stressed.

2. I am getting more confident and relaxed with the trailering. I lost my nerve after losing Steele. It didn't make sense to me at first (after all it wasn't a trailer accident) but I realized it was more about vulnerability and my feeling of not being able to control everything. However, as I do it more I'm getting my mojo back.

3. (and keeping with trailer theme) I need to remember the basic safety rules and wear gloves when loading and unloading.

But I did actually take away some riding tips too:

4. despite appearances, travelling alone, being without Irish and have her schedule disrupted does impact on Carmen. I need to treat her for ulcers before we go away- I'm not sure but I'm thinking at least a week.

5. Breathing is key for keeping Carmen relaxed in the saddle. I tend to hold my breath when I'm thinking and that makes for tense muscles. I've been practicing breathing deeply at work, in the car etc. Lately I'm very well oxygenated.
gratuitous vacation pic illustrating fresh air 
6. I need to be aware of tension in my body. Here's what happens- Carmen sees something and tenses. I tense in reaction getting ready to ride out whatever is going to happen. And so the spiral begins.  Now frankly it's freaking hard to NOT tense when you think you might be at risk. Breathing (see above) helps. I've been practicing this in our ring and, OMG, it actually works. But it takes concentration to ensure that my seat, legs, hands, shoulders etc are not tensing.

7. Outdoor rings are not Carmen's favourite thing. I've now had her in 3 different outdoor rings and she's been spooky and looky in all of them. Strange as it sounds, it makes me feel better. This means that it's not just MY ring (i.e., I haven't ruined my horse). I can work on the rest. 

8. I need to ask by tapping my legs, not by squeezing. As she gets more tuned in to me she's more sensitive and i need to do less. sigh. This riding stuff is hard. 

And lastly, somewhere along the line this summer Carmen has decided that I am her human. When I was in the stall with her at the clinic Karen commented I love how connected you two have become


I stopped and reflected and realized that was true. And that was probably the best takeaway of all. 




18 comments:

  1. All good takeaways but the comment by Karen was the best. Love her face in that picture.

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    1. It did. I love her expression in the photo

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  2. Isn't it just the best when you know they picked you? <3! I've heard differing opinions on tapping vs. squeezing: that sensitive horses feel more secure with a little more consistent leg....jury is still out on it for me and Tesla ;)

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    1. I'm still working out the tapping thing- my problem is the letting go of the squeeze. I shall play with it and see

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  3. I think the communication and relationship between rider and horse are the most important factor to master, so the connectedness comment would make my day too. Lostine was super picky about her riders. If she didn't like someone, she'd find a way to get her off her back. She usually liked gifted riders with light hands and good balance, but if she liked someone who wasn't riding well, she'd teach her how to be a better rider. She spent the first few year I had her trying to buck me off, but eventually began to teach me what she wanted. It was hard to connect with her, because she was so aloof and such a horse's horse. Even when I fed her, she didn't want to have anything to do with me. Now we have this thing we do in which I spread my arms wide and say, "Hug!" Lostine looks horrified and pretends like she's going to run away, but then turns toward me and tolerates me squeezing her. She actually gets bright eyed and smiles when I do that. Back when I rode her, the friendship we had helped us get better connected from a riding point of view.

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    1. I think that the relationship is so key. I miss it when I'm riding other horses.

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  4. Aww! Great takeaways. #6 has been my nemesis. I do want to be safe and stay on in a spook, but obviously as you know, tightening makes it all worse. So, I have found some helpful things for myself: Sit up tall and look where I want to go (not at the scary bushes or shadow on the arena wall). Stretch my legs out and down thinking long spaghetti dressage legs (over and over if I have to, to keep the muscles from tightening). Smile (I know, sounds dumb but really psychologically shifts things!). All of this gets my body in balance to handle a spook, but in a more relaxed way so as not to 'cause' a spook! It's so awesome you and Carmen have come so far already in just such a short time!

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  5. Keeping my legs relaxed is a tough one for me. Great takeaways, ecspecially the last 👌🏻

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  6. Awww so happy you are her human, I love that feeling :) Also, I give my guys aloe vera juice and that seems to help a bit through stressful times (ie herd re-locating, teeth getting done etc)

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    1. Hmm. Haven't heard about aloe Vera juice. How does it work?

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  7. That connected comment would have made my day as well. Congratulations :-)

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  8. For regulating my breathing and relaxing, I sing. Out loud, whatever silly song I can think of. It forces you to breathe and distracts you from thinking about "what ifs". You look a little goofy singing to yourself, but it beats the alternative :)

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  9. Becoming "their human" can sometimes be harder than all the rest.... but once you are, it seems to make everything flow better. I'm not saying it will be easy, but as you've discovered, it's 100% worth it!

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  10. Rising is hard, sheesh. It's so nice though when a horse decides you're their human.

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