dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Riding the Wave

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm ~ Publilius Syrus 
The Picton Castle leaving Lunenburg

After all that I've been writing about how winter has forced me to stop riding I was able to ride this weekend! The weather was mild this weekend and dry. Yesterday the ring was too hard to ride on but today it was perfect. I dragged it to make sure but the footing was lovely.


Cynthia came out to join in the fun. I spent a little bit of time lunging Carmen but she was pretty calm and tuned in. When I mounted she immediately stiffened and began to rush her walk- her head was stuck up like a giraffe and she was clearly ready to bolt.

At one time that would have made me worry and I would have either started to direct her or hopped off.

But not now. I wasn't really bothered by it. I knew that she wasn't as freaked out as her behaviour would suggest- 20 seconds ago she was very calm. I think that I have finally found how to maintain my calm when she's losing hers. A bit chunk of that is the tools I learned from Royce if the shit hits the fan and others from lessons on having my seat in the saddle and be clear in my instructions.

So I took a deep breath and asked her to walk a 20 metre circle slowly and with bend. How she felt about it was up to her. When she jerked her head she would hit the bit but I did my very best to not be the one pulling. I let her find me.

I asked her to trot and she did her salsa dance - hips in, hips out, front legs flinging. I just corrected the straightness and asked again. And again. I was upset or worried or even frustrated. A few times I laughed at her- not in derision but at her silliness. Once I asked her to bend and she ignored my leg. I asked again. She pretended that nothing happened. I took my inside leg off and gave her one thump with my heel.

Insulted she leapt into canter. Fine. I let her canter a few strides, brought her back and then asked for a canter. Well- that was some drama and then more drama and then we cantered. I warned Cynthia that our steering was not to be relied on. Once she got into canter she didn't really want to stop- I let her go and we circled up and down the ring.
I found the on switch I called to Cynthia,  but the off switch is broken.  I could have muscled her into a halt but I wanted her to figure out that my asks are actually good things. I know I can stop her if I need to - now I need her to learn that what I ask is okay. So I let her canter on for a bit and when I asked her to come down it was soft and easy and no big deal.

After that she was much more relaxed. I think that Carmen will be one of those horses that will question the work if she's given time off. Last year it would have taken many rides and/or a ton of work to get her back into work mode. This only took about 20 minutes.

My goals for any rides I get in this winter are not to work on new things but to just reinforce old learning. I want her to travel straight and listen to what I'm asking.
Even I told her If we're leg yielding towards certain death. 
BUT I'M TOO YOUNG TO DIE
No one is going to die

In the end I had a horse that was maintaining her straightness through the transitions and it felt really nice. I finished up with playing with the turns on the forehand again. I found with Irish that working on these fiddly things at the end of ride made them fun and part of the relaxation. All I had to do was lightly touch her behind the girth with my leg and she would turn as nice as you please.

I hope that as we progress on our journey she won't think that the work is up for discussion. But for now I'm gaining confidence in my ability to ride her.




21 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you were able to work through everything and get the good quality work that Carmen knows how to do, especially in better weather. I seriously read this post and thought that I could almost post it as my own. I still can't believe how much alike Carmen and Indy are, but I must say it's nice to have someone out there who truly understands what life with a horse similar to mine is like. I hope that the milder weather continues for you.

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    1. I agree- our mares are so much alike it's uncanny. But we're living to tell the tale so that's something.

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  2. I'm so glad you had nice weather and were able to ride! Sounds so productive.

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  3. Man sounds like a pretty excellent ride!

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  4. I really loved reading about how you dealt with her behavior. Katai has been acting like this for my last few rides and I agree that just staying relaxed and going with it is key. I especially liked how you handled her just wanting to stay cantering and it was good for me to read because I probably wouldn't have let Katai go like that but it was clearly the answer for you guys. Something for me to try next time :)

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    1. If it had been really out of control I would have shut it down but it wasn't- she just wanted to move forward and since she was behaving I let it go.

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  5. Sounds like a lovely ride. I have found that a lot of it depends on what our attitude is and how we approach it. To not get frustrated and get worked up when they do.

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    1. That is true- it's also recognizing when our own emotions and being honest.

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  6. I got a good giggle out of the salsa dance imagery!

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    1. I was giggling as it was happening!

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  7. Carmen sounds exactly like my horse Dusty used to be. She'd act out and I'd just let her get it out of her system. Then we'd have a decent ride and relax. Nice work. She probably just had lots of extra energy from the time off. But it's good for her to know all her antics aren't bothering you anymore. :)

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    1. Yes I think it is good that I don't buy into the drama anymore!

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  8. She sounds like fun. And nice to not have to worry about her doing something stupid, you can deal with it.

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  9. Just letting her know you're willing to go with her probably makes a huge difference in bringing her down. Our reactions sometimes betray anxiety that makes things worse. Seems like the two of you are much more comfortable together now.

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    1. Yes that is exactly true - the trouble I ran into was that I was worrying about making it worse which made it worse and then caused more trouble.....

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  10. one two three, cha cha cha. I'd definitely venture to say you're a very solid rider to push through her shenanigans. Nice work!

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    1. It's much easier now that the saddle is adjusted!

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  11. That footing made me drool. I'm very jealous! I love the way you handle her antics. Calmly asking for the right answer time and time again is the way to go!

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