dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Simplify

I was so excited after my lesson on Friday to ride again on Saturday. The weather was crisp but sunny. I had a lot of chores planned so decided that riding first would be a good idea. I brought Carmen in and she was quite snuggly in the barn. As we walked around the ring she walked by my side and was mellow and calm. Her focus was not on the outside of the ring but on me. Even when Irish started to fool around in the next paddock.

I mounted and we began to work. My brain was whirling with everything that I had done the day before. As we kept going I felt things started to come apart bit by bit.

I thought more desperately so that I could put it back together.

Carmen gave a big spook and then threatened to do more. I was losing her. As my brain began to work harder I heard Johanna's voice in my head as clear as bell: You are making it too complicated. Keep it clear and simple! 

Aha, in trying to recreate the lesson I was being too complicated and she didn't know what I wanted. Carmen does not like to be confused and she reacts by becoming spooky.

I took a deep breath and cleared my brain. What do I want? 

I want a 10 metre circle with bend. 
Done.
I want to stay straight on the quarter line. 
Not so good but understood and she was coming back to me.

We practiced some walk-trot transitions on the circle and she began to breath out softly. I kept my mind in the moment and what was needed and it all improved.

I headed up the quarter line and asked her to leg yield. On the second line it was soft and obedient and not worried about the corner. As soon as we hit the corner I halted and jumped off. We were both very happy.

Today Cynthia came out to ride. As we got into the ring we could hear ATVs in the woods. Then two shots rang out. Sounding really close. That was it for Carmen. She went into high alert and was quite worried. So was Irish but less so. After a bit of ground work with her I decided that I was not going to ride but instead to focus on keeping her calm and listening from the ground.

And it went really well. She stayed with me fairly well. A few times she tried to run off (once again birds in the brush). But mostly she listened. I spent some time helping Cynthia to get Irish relaxed (I've ridden him through that stuff a million times). While I was talking Carmen just hung out with me relaxed. We went back and forth from work to resting and she stayed with me.  Even though there were lots of ATVS and noises in the woods. I will be happy when hunting season is over.

I knew that I had to be clear with Carmen but this weekend really brought it home to me. This horse cannot tolerate me if my brain is whirling or not focussed. I guess that this is my next life lesson.


24 comments:

  1. Maybe singing would help quiet your thoughts? One of those ditties that get stuck in your head forever!

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    1. I never think to sing but I do talk :)

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  2. Count me in as another who likes to make things overly complicated. But why is simple so hard!!

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  3. It's so hard not to over think and over ride sometimes!

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  4. Good advice. Maybe that's why the loose rein has helped Leah so much. I was trying to incorporate all the information from my "lessons" and it was making her very nervous, too. On a loose rein, she only gets pressure if she shifts into another gait--thus simplifying everything--which is probably even more imperative on a green horse who is still getting used to carrying a rider. What Camryn said about singing--I do that and it does help my quiet my thoughts and my hands.

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  5. I second the singing idea. It simultaneously suppresses the mental chatter and regulates your breathing. Out loud, and something silly is the best!

    My trainer's strategy was to visualize what you DO want, not what you don't. Horses think in pictures, not words. If you focus on what you don't want to happen, that's what you'll get.

    Being in control of our bodies is difficult enough, but controlling the mind as well... so hard.

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    1. When I remember to visualize what I want it gets a lot easier.

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  6. You're going to be a zen master :)

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  7. Horses challenge us personally in the most difficult - but rewarding - of ways! Mares especially it seems... This resounds so much with me as I've had to reach similar epiphanies with my Q mare (currently off for a year (or more?!) due to suspensory). You and Carmen are going to be on the same page so often in the near future!

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  8. I used to hum to get myself back down to Earth again.

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    1. I'm not sure I can hum but I will try!

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  9. It is just like meditation (which I suck at) and sounds so simple to pick one thought, focus, be soft, breathe. Ha! I really struggle not to be too busy in my head too. Maybe I need a headset playing waves crashing and a soft voice saying "now right leg softly behind the girth...feel you're pelvis move with the horse and breathe..." lol.

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    1. you know you could make money with that idea!

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  10. I like the singing suggestion! I am excited for hunting season to be over too.

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  11. I love figuring out these little buttons they have. It's interesting that Cathryn said she hums, I took lessons with a friend for a bit and when things got rough she would steadily sing "row, row, row your boat..." The rhythm of singing would help center her while riding. Kinda kooky, but it worked!

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  12. Aaaannnddd I just read all the other comments and apparently singing is a common thing! Lol I really need to start reading comments first...

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    1. No worries. there seems to be a theme here. I shall have to try it out and see if it works for us.

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