dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Getting Our Heads in the Game - Part II

Writing a whole post about a warm up to a lesson seems quite indulgent so thank you for not calling me out on it. But it seemed like it was significant to me and the post was going to be horribly long if I kept going. I'm also thinking that I may have found my approach to warm up at a show. We shall see.

Anywho...

Shanea arrived and I gave her a rundown of what we had been up to since she was there last (not much because of the weather) and our warm up. She asked if I had been all over the ring yet and I said 'oh yeah. I'm making sure that we go everywhere from the start' (which is true, however, I might gradually make my way to the scary end and I don't drive her there from the beginning).

I talked about how I'd been playing with the shortening and lengthening her steps and my talked about my worry about Carmen's head carriage. Now don't jump on me- I'm not talking about head set but with her conformation it's very easy for her to lock her neck and look engaged when she's not and it's easy for her to curl behind the contact as well. I want her stepping forward and reaching for it. Add in her tension and her diminishing but still there tendency to root at times and it becomes quite complicated. I can't give her too much rein because it makes her more nervous and more likely to spook and I can't hold because that makes she tense as well.

It's a work in progress.

We started by practicing our walk -halt-walk.
I'm not sure that this is the safest place to halt but okay
This a photo of one of our halts. She's square but not really reaching- see the loop in my rein? Her instinct is to halt and then lift her head to scan the environment. However, as we progressed and she began to relax into the halt and stay lower. My struggle is to give the support but not over do it (can all those who over-do raise their hands?).


In our trot work it's clear that reaching for the bit and that elusive 'acceptance of contact' is a work in progress. She can definitely go above the bit and I tend to let her do it because I don't want her to curl. She can hold that and then she tires, if she doesn't go up she goes down:

rooting down and then gaping her mouth because I'm not letting her go lower. And of course I'm looking down. 
On the plus I'm not pitching forward and not rigid in my shoulders. She's stepping through with her right hind.



This is the same spot a little later - we've just come through troll corner with all it's associated drama of stiff neck and bulging in but look: we're getting it back together and neither of us look horribly flustered. In fact as we worked away the outside of the ring disappeared and both us were focussed on the inside. Carmen's attitude shifted to really trying to listen to what I was asking and then giving it to me. I like how her neck is soft and I don't have a death grip on the inside rein. It's a bit loose but she's starting to reach for it. 

I like this one- she reachign for the bit I have a steady contact. I've moved my elbows forward to let her come around the circle. While she's thinking that maybe right  would be the better way to go she's listening to me. 

I love the next two photos for the overall impression and demeanour. She's accepting contact and we're acting as team. 




the magical browband of  peace and tranquility is totally woring here. 
Shanea remarked that every time she comes we're more relaxed and calm. when we finished Carmen was loose and relaxed and ready for a good groom and lots of cookies. I felt the same way.
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29 comments:

  1. She is just so beautiful. You've put time into her & its showing in a good way.

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  2. You two are looking good!! Great photos. I think we're all trying to find the balance between too much and not enough contact. I'm sure there's a huge variation from horse to horse and day to day. Leah used to need a lot of contact support on the trail, but yesterday she rode on a loose rein and, at the start, was really connected. However, We got to a big water puddle and she lost her mind. I had to take the reins back, which may have elevated the emotional reaction. Not sure. She stopped tuning in to me for the last 1/4 of the ride and tuned in to a yearling being ponied instead. I'm taking my trainer with me next time to help me find that balance when she loses her confidence and switches to flight mode. Obviously, whatever I did was wrong. :(

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    1. You are right- there is no one answer- it's a constant conversation. I think that you did a good job with Leah.

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  3. Great work! I find that lessons are very helpful. You and Carmen are doing really well.

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  4. Love this post and your dissection of the pictures. It helps me to see what you are talking about and working through. She is beautiful.

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    1. Thank you. I find the photos very helpful to review.

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  5. So much progress, and so much fun to watch <3

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    1. Thank you! I'm really looking forward to this year.

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  6. She's looking really good. She looks so much more relaxed than last year.

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  7. Great lesson. Those last two pics are fantastic--soft, reaching and light.

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  8. She looks SO relaxed this year!!

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  9. It's good to have pictures illustrating the lesson. It makes it easier to follow, I think.

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  10. I love all the pictures - she's just a lovely horse and it's great to see her working so well!

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    1. Thank you. I find her quite lovely as well. :)

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  11. Great lesson! She looks so relaxed at the end.

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  12. Love this. You two are such a great team.

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    1. It's a work in progress but becoming very rewarding.

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  13. Not self indulgent! The warm up is the most important part. If more people paid more attention to their warm up, they might have less issues. I love this post. Sounds like a good lesson. I thought of you this weekend. Our arena had a troll corner on Friday or Saturday. I can't remember which day, but all the horses were goobery and lookey in this one corner. I said, "it is not troll corner."

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    1. LOL I don't mind loaning you troll corner for a while.... they must have moved for the warmer weather.

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