dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Dry Run

After a wonderful and warm weekend the temperatures dropped to below normal again and the cold north wind returned. I had no plans to ride Tuesday so that was fine. Wednesday I did a groundwork session with her (I don't want to lose that piece) and finally I rode on Friday.

Cynthia brought out Julia- a young friend of Ashley's who had ridden Irish before. She was needing some horse therapy so Cynthia graciously gave up her ride so that Julia could.

I didn't need to do much on the ground to settle Carmen so I mounted up shortly after we got up there. As we walking off I started to give Julia some advice- Irish was being short strided and heavy on her hands. As a result she was getting stiff and tight arms and no one was happy.

As  I was talking to her and walking beside her Carmen was trying to do her normal I'm stiff and worried and might spook at any moment.  I completely ignored her and kept riding beside Julia talking. I had one hand on the reins and the other was gesturing (because I can't explain stuff without gesturing).
hey, are you paying any attention to me? 
hmm, what? we're just walking. I'm helping Julia right now
but I might spook AT ANY MOMENT
Nah, there's no point. 
humph. 

I then returned my attention to missy and realized that we were just walking around on a loose rein with no drama.  I started our warm up and then asked her to trot. She was resistant at first- I find that when she's in heat she doesn't want to trot at first. Those of you with mares, have you experienced that? I picked up the crop and asked again and then gave her a tap. She kicked out but trotted out and I praised her. One more tap and I had settled the whole 'let's go forward' thing and I could drop it.

After our warm up I decided to run through one of our tests- Training Level 1. It's not hard to memorize and I figured that if I ran into an issue I could abort it and focus on that one issue. But we were able to run through the whole test. There were a couple bobbles on the transitions to canter but I was able to get her back and moving forward. To be honest, although it wouldn't win me any great scores I was pleased with how she stayed with me through the whole thing and we could work together.

I loved that I could ask her to relax her neck and reach for the bit and she did without any fuss. It's hard for her to maintain it- it's a strength issue but it will come with persistence and patience. I loved that when I took her to the spooky corners she would still listen to my leg asking her to bend and carry on. I gave her lots of praise.

Near the end of our ride she alerted to something in the field next door and I saw Chester, our cat, bouncing around the tall grass and then sitting to watch us. In the past that would have had her completely freaked out. I let her look at him and then, when she stood quietly, I clicked and gave her a treat. (I have been introducing clicker training with her to help her understand and feel positive about things). We went back to work and she was completely fine about the cat.

We finished up with me playing with some trail class obstacles- moving a jacket from one post to another (doesn't care) and then walking over the bridge (that's fine too).

 I love riding when it's so much fun. In fact at one point Cynthia said "When you are done smiling I have a question for you". I hadn't realized that I was.

I love finishing a ride where we both feel happy and positive about it.Letting her eat the green grass helps too of course.
Love this mare




24 comments:

  1. Mares - always thinking. I love her inner dialogue. You ignoring her seems like the best tactic. I had someone once tell me to ride Gem like the horse I want her to be. If I ask her to do something pretend she did it and ignore all her antics. Easier said than done!

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    1. It is way easier to talk about then do- unless you are telling someone else what to do. but it helps me to see what works - it gives me confidence.

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  2. When I first started Topaz in regular work, she would get very spooky when she was in heat. I started her on raspberry leaves (which is what Mare Magic is, just cheaper), and I never had any more issues. Because it's so cheap, I started both Ruby and Cinna on them before I even started working them regularly. I couldn't tell you if it actually works, or if the placebo affect makes me think it works, but either way, it's cheap, and I'm happy... haha.

    At any rate, sounds like an excellent ride and that you're prepared for your show! Hooray!

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    1. hmm, I should see if I can locate a source of raspberry leaf here. How much do you give them?

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    2. Well when I tried it first, I bought an actual bag of Mare Magic, and just kept the scoop when I was done 😂 it's not a large amount - maybe 2-3 tablespoons? I'm rather inexact in my measuring, lol.

      Now I buy organic raspberry leaves from Amazon -- a pound usually lasts me well over a month even with both horses on it 😀

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  3. Yes, I have experienced that with my mare in heat, and yes, I have experienced that smile! It's amazing when we realize just how happy we really are! That's awesome for you AND Carmen.

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    1. It's good to know- I always worry that it means something terrible.

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  4. that pic is amazing! What a team you two have become <3 <3 <3

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    1. Thank you! I'm starting to feel it.

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  5. I'm always amazed at how horses can get their act together when they understand the purpose behind some activity. So, like when you were helping Julia, Carmen stayed with you. I think I first noticed this when I was riding Bombay and I got irritated with the mares for pestering us, so I lured the mares into a pen and then shut the gate from horseback to keep them out of our hair. Bombay totally understood what I was trying to do, even though neither of us had closed a gate together before. It does seem that talking with a trail riding buddy also helps most horses relax and focus. Dressage is a series of intricate maneuvers, and if the horse can't make the connection between something going on in the environment and why it is being asked to do something, it's lack of understanding can probably lead to anxious feelings. That's why I like trail obstacle courses. The connection is obvious to the horse.

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    1. I thinks that Carmen has developed some habits and I'm trying to break them down-it's hard to not buy into it unless I am distracted.

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  6. What a great post! You two have really developed as a team! :-)

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    1. Thank you! and welcome to the blog. :)

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  7. You guys look great! <3 Such a happy post :)

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  8. You two are really building a great partnership. I'm so happy for you!

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  9. Hooray for making it through the test together. Lucy is sluggish when she is in heat also. It is the only time I need to nudge her to get her forward.

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  10. Finally Carmen is on the same page as me that bouncing cats are not a recipe for disaster! Unless they are my cats in which case.... Yea they're probably up to something ;)

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  11. "I then returned my attention to missy and realized that we were just walking around on a loose rein with no drama." YES! And YES YES YES to just watching the cat and not reacting.

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  12. <3 nah, there is no point in that lol love it. Ignoring the behavior and just working through it, not buying into the drama. Way to go! Good for you for working through the test and yay for contagious smiles!

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