dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Angry Birds

I have a much needed few days off this week. I want to use them to get organized for winter and to, of course, work with Carmen. The weather is becoming cooler but today was promising to be sunny. Cynthia wasn't sure if she was coming or not so I decided to ride first thing. If she came I would ride Carmen again and if not, I would ride Irish.

On the ground Carmen was tuned in a listening. She has been more wary of the woods side of the ring (opposite to troll corner) but worked well there. I mounted and we went to work. I started with the focus on a following hand and then my seat. I'm finding that having a soft, giving but there contact seems to make her more tuned in. As we warmed up in the walk and then the trot I could feel her coming more and more over her back. She would reach for the bit and then lose it and then find it again.

We were gradually working our way down the ring - I would push her to go a bit further but not to the point of where we would lose connection. After about 15 minutes of this I was going down the long side (next to the trees). My hand and seat were following and she was soft, her back was swinging and she was reaching for the bit. It was fabulous.

And then she was gone from under me and I was in the air.

I had time to think what the fuck? when I landed hard on my back.  I tried to hang onto the rein but she ran backwards, dragging me and I fell again and hit the back of my head on the ground. I sat up and she was standing about 10 feet away looking at me.
worth every penny but now I have to replace it. shit. 

I sighed and got up and led her around where I thought the spook happened but she was fine. I went up to the mounting block and got back on. If I was a perfect rider I would be calm and relaxed and able to let it go.

But I'm not perfect.  I couldn't figure out what happened so I was (I think understandably) feeling wary. On another horse I might consider to have been a dirty deke but I don't believe that Carmen has that in her. Something had definitely spooked her. I figured it was a deer. I decided to stay up at the top, safe zone, and work some more before venturing down the further way. Carmen was also different. We did some fairly crappy work at the top when she decided to check out. I completely lost all connection with her so I dismounted and put her on the lunge.

She was a total basket case on the lunge- trying to bolt. I don't believe in chasing on the lunge but I do believe in reinforcing listening so we went up and down the ring reinforcing the whole 'you must listen to me' thing.

When we were there I took off the lunge line and mounted again. The goal was to get her tuned in and listening. I wanted to get her back to the work we started with. When she was being a twit about the side where she spooked I stayed on task (bend means bend damnit). Finally I had a real back-front walk, trot and canter and some smooth transitions.

We cooled out at a walk (but no I did not give her a long rein) in the area of the spook. Suddenly, she slammed on the brakes and lifter her head. I looked and saw what had spooked her- small little sparrows flitting amongst the brush eating the rose hips and chokecherries. I think when we were trotting by one must have flown out and gave her a start. Which is fine- except for the sideways leap.

Sparrows?!  I said incredulously. You were frightened by small woodland birds? What the hell
She was riveted.  You do know that you have military blood in your veins, right? 

I had her stand there for at least 5 minutes, watching the evil little bastards sweet song birds flit amongst the leaves.


So I realized that we will need to work on the spooking at things outside of the ring. I have the spooking at things inside well covered- she won't react at all. I have to figure out how to tackle the outside of the ring stuff. I may call Royce to come back and help me with that, we'll see. 

In the meantime, Cynthia called and she's coming out so I guess I'm riding again. 
Wish me luck. 



33 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry you fell! I kind of spook myself sometimes, when I'm cleaning up poop and suddenly a pigeon flies from a tree above me. It makes me think, how often does this happen with the horse? How often does he stroll casually by and the pigeons take flight? Every single day? Cuz it happens to me about weekly. They live in our oaks. I hope against hope that he'll be cool under saddle someday when a bird takes flight. We have nasty freaking swans near here.

    Great that you have a friend to help invigorate the military blood in your mare.

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    1. I get the startle. It's the launch sideways that is the issue.

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  2. Having been the recipient of one of those "everything is going so great hey wait where's my horse" moments, I feel your pain 😔 hopefully you won't be too sore. And thank goodness for helmets!

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    1. It's a bit unnerving because it came from no where.

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  3. You might find that inside the ring spooks are worse than outside the ring. I was watching Julie Goodnight last night--a bit of a marathon actually, and she was saying that much with horses is counter-intuitive. More restriction = more anxiety. Less restriction = less anxiety. In some cases. I'm writing a blog post about it now because it applies to the loose rein work I'm doing with Leah. Luckily, Leah is not the athletic horse your Carmen is--so I don't have to deal with fast departures--but I do have other things to worry about--like her falling over or tripping. :( You did good to keep going and finish it all out. Glad you're okay!! Thank God for helmets. Good luck today!

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    1. I agree with this- but we need to work in the sandbox. I had given up on finding a western saddle but I think I'll start again.

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  4. Ouch! Glad you are okay! And I'm very glad that I just have to try to train dogs and not horses :)

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    1. Dogs can be tricky too they just can't launch you...

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  5. Oh geez. All the spooking. I'm sure the cold weather isn't helping with that. Sorry about your helmet. I don't remember what helmet you got, but the Tipperaries can be sent in for a cheaper replacement if you have a fall.

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    1. It's a Troxel and they have a plan so it will be cheaper. But still a pain.

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  6. Ugh, I hate falling off. That sucks, it is worse when you are riding and suddenly there is just no horse. It sounds like you are okay, so that is good. Get back on and you will make her remember that you are the boss!

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    1. I did get back on (twice). i can't wait for her to grow up!

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  7. Yikes! We've got birds of all shapes and sizes here, and it did take a while to get my horses to stop spooking when they'd fly out of bushes along the trail. The last time I dealt with a bird spook was when a raven flew up out from behind a bush in front of Bombay's face. I knew it was there, because I saw it hop in there, but I spaced it as we were approaching. The ravens share the barn and water troughs with the horses, so they don't scare the horses unless something like that happens. I'm so glad you were able to get right back on and didn't get the wind knocked out of you when landing on your back or a concussion when hitting your head.

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    1. It is surprising that I didn't have the wind knocked out. Maybe the rubber footing helped me bounce. :)

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  8. Those birds could've been shouting horrid things at her. Funny the odd things that can unglue horses. Though I admit I've been being spooked by sparrows lately myself, so I understand. I pass a tree in our yard umpteen times a day heading for the barn. Every evening a group apparently roost there and come flying out as I pass under it. You'd think I'd know by now, they always get me still.

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  9. Ugh those kinds of falls are the worst :(

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  10. Make sure you wear a helmet and not the one you fell on. I'm a big believer in helmets. The unexpected happens especially on horseback and helmets do save lives.
    I'm really glad that you were only shaken and not hurt. It takes real guts to get back on after an unscheduled dismount like that. If she feels a bit spooky, keep her busy with transitions, patterns and direction changes to keep her entertained. Keep her wondering what you're going to ask her to do next so she's too busy concentrating on you to notice anything else. Not good when they want to entertain us!
    Years ago I watched a video with a German dressage rider training and a huge sheet of newspaper rolled across the ring in front of the horse. No indication that horse or rider had noticed it even when it hit the horse across his front legs, finally landing in the hedge along side the ring. This is my dream to have my horse so focused on me that nothing breaks our concentration. Dreams...

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    1. Thanks Sue. I do try to keep her busy- especially when she's a bit tense. The transition from total relaxation to LEAP caught me off guard.

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  11. Sorry to hear of your fall Teresa. These horses can spook for the silliest reasons, can't they? The sideways launch is the hardest one to stay in the saddle; I know from experience :)
    Ground work has worked well for me and I am thankful for Parelli. It has helped me immensely in calming down the spooks. Best of luck to you.

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  12. Glad you are okay. She is a sensitive thing, isn't she...

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    1. sigh yes.I can't wait for her to grow up

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  13. Glad you're OK, and bravo for getting back on and making her give you some decent work. I wonder if she was listening so hard to you that she felt like the birds came out of nowhere? and then of course it was obvious that they were actually small velociraptors after that ;)

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  14. I'm sorry to hear you had an unscheduled dismount. Glad you're ok. It happens at the stupidest things. Birds? Actually that happened to me once riding my warm blood Erik years ago at a show. As we came over a jump a flock of birds flew up from the ground right in front of him. He went sideways ... I went down. Couldn't blame him for that though. Maybe Carmen needs a cage of tweeters in the barn by her stall so she gets to love their sweet songs and flitting ways or,um, maybe not. Just kidding. Glad you're ok.

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    1. ha! that's not a bad idea. I was thinking of getting one of those toys that's a ball with a feather boa attached and it moves randomly around. :)

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  15. Agh! Stupid fall (as in the time of year all horse brains fly south). I hope you are okay!

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    1. Yes- I will love fall once Missy grows up. :)

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  16. I used to have a big TB/perch mare who was a lot like Carmen. I was riding through a field and some baby turkeys came out of the grass. All of a sudden I was hanging in the air and it was just like one of those cartoon moments when the coyote runs off a cliff and pauses to look around and wonder how he got there. Those baby birds are just brutal:) I am glad you are OK.

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  17. Gah. The things they spook at are so ridiculous. Q is the same way about nonsensical things. It's the worst.

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