dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Whistling in the Dark

This weekend Carmen and Irish returned to work. The weather was not perfect but Cynthia and I decide that it was good enough.



a beautiful frosty morning but I want it to be warmer

Saturday was cool but calm. When I went to get Carmem I saw that she was in heat. Oh fun. The first heat is always interesting. In the barn she was wired and started to act all tense and reactive. I decided to not join her in this mood and kept to the program. In the barn that was her standing, ground tied, while I got her ready. A couple (minor) corrections and she was behaving. Still tense but behaving. On our way up to the ring she was a bit bargy and tried to pass me. I just repeated the ground work I had learned from Royce- this is where I expect you to walk and I set the speed.

In the ring I focussed on me being calm and clear in my intentions. I didn't let her tenseness create my own. Instead of being a mirror reflecting her tension I decided that I was a sponge absorbing her tension and letting it flow away. I know that it sounds a bit 'new agey' but it helps me.  I had a plan and I wasn't going to be derailed by a dramatic spanish mare. And this is what I love about ground work- all the practice that we had been doing really pays off in these moments- in very little time she was settled into a rhythm and tuned in.

When I got on the tenseness returned but I'm used to that. We started working and, again, I kept to the program. It was kinda like this:
Carmen: oh my god- what's that?
Me:  it's Chester (cat). We're bending on our circle
Carmen: but if I bend I can't see- LOOK AT IT, IT'S MOVING!
Me: nope, not trotting. Walking, with bend. 

Whistling in the dark. 

And this really works. I work hard to not tense myself or start gawking at the same things wondering which one was going to create the big leap-spin-bolt. And because I kept with the program she really didn't have a choice but to join me. In the end we had some beautiful trot work- leg yield, changing across the diagonal. She was taking contact and moving forward in her lovely floaty trot.

cute puppy photo to break up the wall of text

Sunday was cooler and there was a raw wind. But Cynthia and I decided to persevere. Carmen was definitely more tense and required more careful handling in the ring.

No.
Not more careful.
More focus.

I could see that she really wanted to bolt- but other than a stutter, flail, ack moment she listened. I mounted and we went back to work. The more success I have with putting on a brave face, the easier it is to be brave.

Whistling in the dark. 

It's not the same as lying.

When Carmen's walk would get really quick going by something that was clearly very dangerous and why was I not paying attention I thought 'if we were not worried we would have a slower, more relaxed walk'. So I slowed the walk. I figured if I couldn't get her to walk slow because she was worried, maybe I could get her to be not worried by walking slow.

I hope that makes sense, because it worked. Not right away and not without some, ahem, discussion but it worked.

When I felt that things were going well I asked her to canter. That was a bit of a flail - I think because of her being in heat. I gave her some rein and laughed, asking her to come forward. And she did.

I cooled her out and then hopped off.  She stood there and closed her eyes while I rubbed her neck.

There's a lot to work on but I'm pleased with her taking of contact, her transitions and her willingness to listen. I didn't have those things last year so this is a good place to start.
it must be the tiara. 



22 comments:

  1. Tiaras fix everything. When I first had Gem I was taught the only good thing to come out of the fake training situation I was in. I was told that the horse and rider should always equal 10. If Gem is up at an 8 then my own body better be at a 2 and likewise if she is sluggish and a 3 then I better bring it at a 7. It really helps me focus on bringing to the table what I need to to balance her. Not that it always works. But it is better than my typical flail and get tense which does no good at all.

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    1. it really is too bad that the 'get tense and flail' thing doesn't work because it's pretty instinctive on my part.

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  2. I like that puppy tail, how it tapers to a little wisp.

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  3. Great work! It's definitely the tiara. Looking regal equals acting regal. What a difference from last year. All your work has paid off. Guinness couldn't be more adorable. Keep the pictures coming.

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    1. I have to go back and re-read some of my posts to compare.

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  4. I love this metaphor! I am going to use it with my students. What a great visual! As always, I love your approach to her difficult moments. She'll be a better horse because of your deliberate calm and focus <3

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    1. Thank you. That is high praise coming from you - it makes me feel good about how we're dong.

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  5. Sounds like your plan is working. And the Tiara must be helping as well ;)

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  6. "Instead of being a mirror reflecting her tension I decided that I was a sponge absorbing her tension and letting it flow away"
    ____________
    LOVE the analogy; new agey or not, the visual is memorable.
    I've also heard Sara's 'add up to 10' tip & have used it successfully plenty of times.

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    1. Thank you. I was trying to find a way to visualize it myself.

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  7. yay for getting back to work and having a horse that could stay with you even when maybe she would have rather not!

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  8. Big difference from last year. Hard to believe how far you two have come when you look back on it. It'll be fun to see what new things you accomplish together this year.

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    1. I'm really hoping that we don't backslide!

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  9. I'm glad you're getting to ride again. I wish I had your patience. I know it's paying off.

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    1. Really? Because I have long admired your patience with Nilla.

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  10. "Dramatic Spanish Mare" should be on a shirt that we Spanish horsey girls can all wear. Because it really explains so much.

    Sounds like Carmen did well for her first heat cycle!

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    1. I agree- it would make a great t-shirt!

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  11. All my mares in the barns are starting their heat cycles and they're NUTSO!

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  12. <3 Dramatic Spanish mare for the win. Can we start a club? I am just a groupie until I get my Spanish mare one day. One day it will happen. Keep up the great attitude!

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