“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh,
Carmen has been slowly feeling better with her medication. I've been riding since the clinic- going slow and letting how she feels guide me in how far to push.
And, you guys, the rides have been so good.
I had no idea what was getting unlocked in me on the clinic weekend but it is paying off in spades.
What is this miraculous transformation that has turned Carmen into a magical unicorn you ask?
What finally made it home to me from the weekend clinic was that I MUST provide a relaxed anchor for her to grab onto when her brain is whizzing in a thousand directions at once. I do that by my breathing and making myself consciously relax. Obviously this is not a new thing- but it seems to have finally sunk into my body. Before, even when I was trying to help her relax I was tense and tight. Not so much from worry (although sometimes) but because when I'm really concentrating I stop breathing and tighten up. Which is fine when I'm studying for a test or writing my GREs but not so helpful when working with a sensitive, reactive princess.
Carmen has definitely noticed. When she gets excited and tight I breathe deep and drop my legs. I spend a lot of time sighing- making sure that my breathing is coming and going slowly. I use my seat to help guide her pace. I love how that is working.
What Camren is doing now is flicking her ears back and seeing what I'm asking. I am not trying to break through the white noise of her brain, she's seeking out my input.
It's not that she doesn't spook at all- she has. A grand total of twice in the past 10 days. Both times I was able to stay calm and relaxed so she could relax with me. We're not fighting- there are discussions of course.
I've also figured out that when I put on my right leg I tend to clamp my left as well. That's what was pissing her off. I've been figuring that out and also getting her to cut me a bit of slack. The first time post clinic that I asked her to trot right she would throw in her haunches but as soon as i went left that stopped. I spent some time asking for a bit a right but switching direction before she had a chance to really pitch a fit. That worked and she seemed to forget about it. But going by the gate she began to throw her haunches around- I reached back and gave her a tap with the crop and the discussion ended right there.
Tonight she was very mellow to start. We were working away - she would get tight- I would breathe and we carried on. I'm becoming very aware of my own tension and trying to relax. It's occupying my brain so I can't worry about what might be worrying her. We finished with a walk around the field- I hand walked her. I'm hoping that i will safe enough to ride her but I figure the hand walking will help. I have ridden her out of the ring and down around the barn. It was cool to be practicing 10 metre circles around a tree and having her blow out and relax as we did it.
We're starting to feel like dance partners and that is so cool.