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.