dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, October 17, 2016

Taking It Home

I had plans to ride on Sunday. I know Carmen well enough to know that she was very likely to be spookier in my ring then at my friend's. By now it's part of her habits. I was determined to keep it clear and simple and to not fall into the spiral of tension.

Cynthia came out to ride and it was a beautiful fall day- sunny and warm (but not hot). This time it was the end at C that was scary spot (the last time it was down by A). I didn't lunge, just walked her around. Cynthia dropped her yellow jacket on the ground and I decided to pick it up and hang it on a post. Carmen inspected it while I did. I explained to Cynthia that I had some ideas in mind with that jacket.

Carmen and I started out walking around. Sure enough, she had her spots that were very dangerous (in her mind). One of those was the jacket (you know the one that we just hung up). I let her check it out from each direction and then we were done. It was time to work. I want her to check things out but not use that as an excuse to always stop.

Seriously this mare makes me think. But I'm so much less tense or worried then I was even a few weeks ago. It feels to me that this behaviour stuff is shedding off and the real mare is emerging. In spots where she would get tense I would relax my legs and seat (it's so hard to not tense in response!)
Once we were coming around a corner at a trot and a strong gust of wind rattled some dry grass- it gave a loud rustling sound and she scooted forward. I brought her down and informed her that that was a legitimate reason and that we were going to go back and take a look. After that she was able to not react.

Near the end of the ride I was able to go all the way around the ring practicing walk-halt-walk transitions. I know that sounds pretty basic but a few weeks ago this would have led to a tense and excited Carmen. Walk-halt was just not enough to keep her brain busy. We went both ways around the ring with a free walk across the diagonal. We then picked up a canter and tried some lengthening along the long sides. Not that it was a real lengthen- but it was longer and she tried. I'm getting better at a following seat at the canter.

As her engine became more engaged I asked her for a shallow counter-canter loop down the long side. She was a bit surprised that it wasn't a change across the centre line but she listened. It was a very shallow loop but also very balanced. I was thrilled.

Now it was time to play with Cynthia's jacket. I started with her standing by it and I picked up and put it over her withers. We walked to the next post where I hung it up. We did this a few times with me moving the jacket more and more. She really didn't care. Then I walked away and Cynthia moved it when she couldn't see to the other side of the ring. Carmen noticed right away (she notices everything) but instead of being worried she marched right up to it to check it out.

We then dropped the gate and went for a hack. Carmen led the way while Irish walked contentedly behind. We finished our hack in the field walking around the dead tree and walking over it. She was not even remotely concerned.

It really is coming together.

Look at that lean- maybe we could try barrel racing? 


12 comments:

  1. I'm so glad your hard work is paying off and you're having such productive outings!

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    1. Thanks! I know that we'll have some bad days still- she is a mare after all!

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  2. All your work is beginning to pay off.

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  3. So good to read! She definitely likes to think about things haha, but seems like she's starting to dedicate that brain space to actual training now instead of... Literally anything else. Way to go Carmen !

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    1. Yes- she's always needed room to think. she gets really upset if she doesn't get the chance

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  4. All the work you've done is paying off in spades! So fun to read along as you both get more and more confident in each other and make such incredible progress!

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    1. Yes- it's nice to making strides forward

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  5. Maybe she wants to be a "hacking" horse! Love to see how it's coming together for you both.

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  6. Sounds like she's learning to get over things faster. And you should totally take up barrels racing. It'd be so fun.

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