dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Clinic Weekend Part 2: Persistence

Where was I?

Oh, right- I had eaten two breakfasts and taken Carmen to the outdoor.

 I spent the morning chatting with others. This is why I enjoy horse events. As much as I love having my horses home I miss spending time with other horse nuts enthusiasts. I was really enjoying watching the others have really good lessons. I have ridden with Jane a few times and I love her teaching style- she is tough and positive all at the same time.

Carmen and I were scheduled for right after lunch which was perfect- I could lunge her and get warmed up before the lesson. I grabbed a quick bite and then got Carmen ready. She was pretty focussed during our lunging. Jane came out as I was finishing up and watched us for a bit. She asked if I ever used side reins. I have never used them with Carmen - before I'm not sure how she would have taken them. Jane thought that they would help Carmen stay focussed. I didn't explain that Carmen was being brilliant compared to other times. But I can see her point and I may try them. I will confess to being a bit on the fence as to their usefulness.

I brought Carmen over the mounting block and Jane asked if I needed help. I told her I didn't and of course Carmen shuffled away when I stepped up. I hopped off the block and brought her back and she stood still.

And then we worked our butts off. Jane noted that when Carmen was being looky to the outside I turned my body to align with her rather than for the way I wanted her to go. It took a long time for me to align so that my shoulders were turning towards the inside instead of the outside. As with anything new, it felt like far more turning then it actually was.  As I was improving I could feel how this helped Carmen to turn and not do her bend-to-the-outside-and-spook thing.

Also, stay off the inside rein- I could ask her to bend but then release (not a new lesson for me but hard to get embedded). Other then the shoulders (which was huge by the way) it was repeat of things I know but forget to do: keep my legs at the girth, don't push her above her paces and give to let her follow the bit.

The arena at Five Fires is beautiful- light and airy but there is a lot to look at. And Carmen was being quite spooky about the ramp and  the observation room and somewhat spooky about C (there was a strip where she could see outside). Other areas that came and went were the opening between the kkckboards and the wall and other things that I couldn't see but were a concern to her.

And we weren't allowed to avoid any of it. Jane helped me to understand that Carmen locks her jaw and neck and then can pretty much go wherever she wants. I had to keep the outside rein and get her to bend o the inside and move forward- not faster or slower but at the same pace. This came in handy down by the ramp because she had decided that 'hell no, I'm not going there and you can't make me'. Turns out I can; but I wouldn't have been able to without Jane coaching me that I was doing the right thing I just had to stay the course. That's  hard to do when your horse is freaking out and you are demanding that she bend her neck and move ahead. I tend to second guess myself that I'm doing it all wrong and ruining my horse. But I trust Jane and I followed her instructions and it worked.

But do you know what? She didn't bolt and we worked through it. I'm making it sound more confrontational then it was (I think). We worked up and down the ring and addressed issues as they arose but didn't drill anything. As soon as she improved we moved on to something else. We worked on getting her to stretch to contact and not be inverted and to use her hind end and step into my hand. We did lots of patterns and changes of direction which were good to keep us thinking.

Jane had me alternate between sitting and posting trot to the right and then asked me to cue for canter and it worked really well: instead of the fussing about the first canter depart she just popped into with no fuss. And she stayed straight. To the left, the first time I asked she kicked out but that's because I asked to hard and she (rightly) lodged a protest (or a 'mare-pinion' as I've taken to calling them).  I asked her again (lightly) and there were no issues. Cantering to the left up at C created some issues so we were repeating what we had done down by the ramp. It was interesting to feel it working. Up to now with our canter she would be all over the place but establishing the whole 'inside leg to outside rein' was really helping us.

She did do one big spook as we were cantering by C but that was totally my fault. I felt her suck back and I totally dropped everything so she had no direction. I was able to regain it and carry on and I called to Jane 'that was my fault- I let everything go' . Jane said 'that's right but it's great you realized it'.  Love that she didn't call me dumb because it was a dumb move. But that was a small bobble and we carried on. I need to drill it into my head that Carmen needs me to ride every stride with her - not holding but with intention. If I drop everything and expect her to carry me she won't. She doesn't know how. At some point I might get away with it but not now.

Our lesson ended soon after that and I was thrilled. Carmen and I schooled in every part of the ring despite our bobbles and I felt like I had some tools to use when we return to show. I didn't become frightened or frustrated or any other negative emotion. Jane is so calm she helps others stay calm but I also think that I have made strides in that direction.  I also established some patterns in the ring that I hope will help us school through issues (if they arise). Because that is my goal in the show- to do the best we can but not be afraid to school when I need to and not care about the score.

I cooled Carmen out and then put her in the stall while I packed up. Nancy helped and I simply threw everything in the dressing room. It was NOT as neat as it was when I arrived. I thought about asking for help to load Carmen but decided to not assume I would have an issue. And she walked right on as cool as a cucumber. The drive home was uneventful and I was much more relaxed then I had been coming there. I'm hoping that my anxiety is getting under control.

When I got home Irish was inside being fed supper and he started yelling his head off as soon as I pulled in the driveway. Carmen answered him but waited for me to back her off and was very calm.

I am thrilled with this first trip off the property and how we both handled ourselves. We are not anywhere near perfect but we're not the train wreck we were last year and I will take it.

33 comments:

  1. Sounds like an amazing clinic and a really great experience for both of you!

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    1. It was very good. I think you would have enjoyed it.

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  2. A great lesson. Interesting that your shoulders sort of form a box that points in a direction that your horse will tend to look in. When I trail ride, I'm all over the place, turning in the saddle to watch a hare run off or whatever, and Rock tends to look at whatever I look at, and vice versa. I don't know if I'll ever have lessons again, but I hope it would be with someone who is calm and focused. I had one coach who was always yelling about stuff, and on one ride both my horse and I tensed up when she yelled, "I see you! I see what you are doing, you little sh*t!" Turned out she was yelling at a ground squirrel. It was so hard to keep her on task. Another coach just talked about his problems for an hour and I had to pay him to be his psychologist. I stopped taking lessons from him pretty quick.

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    1. It's not always easy to find someone who meshes. Trust me- I have had that experience.

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  3. it sounds like you and Carmen did a great job together. More pieces of the puzzle fall into place and there are more tools to rely on. I'll bet you're really proud of Carmen and her behavior on the trailer and at the clinic. Good for both of you. The show should be a lot of fun.

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    1. You are right- it was a real test of our relationship and I feel that we not only passsed- but that we got an A-

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  4. Great clinic experience and a lot of helpful learning points.

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  5. Excellent outing and it sounds as though you gained some valuable tools! I think it was a great idea to clinic where you have your first show (I did the same with my green mare last year and it worked well!) Yay! :-)

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    1. I was happy to have that opportunity.

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  6. Wow so much improvement and lots to work on as well. Great choice taking her out!

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    1. You are right- I left with more then I came with, that's for sure.

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  7. I just started using side reins on the ground. It is helping Leah round up and build new muscle. I only use them for a short session, then I take them off and continue the same kind of work in saddle. It seems to help her get a feel for what I'm asking. I chose side reins that have a little elastic and I use them on their longest setting. It sounds like it was a very productive clinic, on many levels.

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    1. I may try them- first to dig them out. :D

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  8. My guess is that you will always, always have to ride every stride with Miss Carmen. I still do with Lucy and if my attention roams at all, she immediately turns into a llama.

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    1. I think that you are right- at least for next little while. I think that's been my biggest learning with her. I wasn't aware how much I was 'dropping' her.

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  9. The arena does have lots to look at, even the stalls can be seen at the gates, with people coming and going, etc.
    Jane had Rogo and I working on the same exercise for the neck. It's hard! But very helpful. You rode through the resistance beautifully. I wouldn't have known it made you nervous if I hadn't read it. I haven't seen Carmen before but what I saw on the weekend was great - she's definitely building trust in you.

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    1. It's making me a lot less nervous now so I'm glad that it didn't show. :) Thank you for your kind words.

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  10. Great job Teresa! And aren't calm, knowledgeable coaches worth their weight in gold? I love it when I can be talked through an intimidating exercise or scary corner that would have taken me longer to get through on my own.

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  11. I second guess myself about corrections all the time, always wondering if I'm letting slide things I shouldn't, and making a fuss out of things that should be nbd. Such a struggle! Sounds like Jane had wonderful insights about keeping Carmen with *you* vs sacrificing your ride to go with *her.* What a great clinic!!!

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    1. That's a good analysis. Second guessing is in my wheelhouse for sure!

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  12. I love this. Sounds like a good trainer. For me, I am so hard on myself, I do not need someone to add to that by putting me down. I am so happy y'all had a great clinic and are now prepared for the show! So much accomplished in one weekend! Go out there and have fun at the show. Do your best and forget the rest. It is all a learning experience to get out there and exposed. I always find that I am less anxious driving home than driving there. It is the driving coupled with what I am about to do. Then, when its over, it kinda all dissipates.

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    1. I have taken many lessons from Jane over the years and they have all been very good.

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  13. Jane sounds like a great trainer. I think she really pinpointed stuff with Carmen well for you. It sounds like you had a great clinic. And I love that Carmen handled the new venue better than she has in the past! Best of luck at the show, too! (I just caught up with all of your last three posts.)

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    1. She really helped us. I'm looking forward to this year going off property and doing the things.

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  14. Sounds like an awesome clinic and away from home experience for you both! Congrats on a successful outing

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  15. Riding every step is a difficult thing for me to remember because I'm not used to riding a baby. I expect a horse to idle at the speed or in the direction I've cued. It's nice to see I'm not alone.
    Jane telling you to bend Carmen when she's spooking or worrying about trolls is what my trainer tells me to do. If I keep the baby working, thinking, and asking for a bend then she can't worry about the scary stuff or get too stiff from it all. It's a great tool but one that I also forget about when I also freeze about spooking. lol!

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    1. Yes- exactly- we want an automatic and they are a stick shift. LOL

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