dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Firm But Fair

Once the poles were dry I moved them up to outside of the ring. We had saved some rubber pallets and I grabbed one to hold them- it worked perfectly.

The first time I rode Carmen I made sure that she saw the poles and had a chance to inspect them. However, she decided that they were a whole other kettle of fish once I was mounted.

In fact she decided that going anywhere near them was not in her job description. In the past I would have been discouraged that, yet again, something was interfering with my training. Instead, I realized that this was an opportunity: given that at the show she was resistant to going to certain places (like anywhere near the evil sunbeam) this was my change to practice getting by such things in a safe location. So we did.

It's also easier to be brave when Cynthia and Irish are in the ring with us.

Princess was not so happy about it but I refused to let myself get drawn into the drama so we were able to work through it. There's no magic- just understanding and persistence.

from a lesson early in May. Note: none of the photos are from that ride)

I don't make her confront the poles but I don't shy away either. But she's starting to realize that I will persist the same as I do on the ground and that my expectations are the same. Carmen started to be calmer and then it started to rain.

Heres's a good time to point out that Carmen used to freak out being ridden in the rain. Whether it was the rain hitting her delicate little booty or the sound of the rain on the leaves and trees or some combination I do not know. But to be honest I had avoided riding in the rain.

But not this time. This time I decided to keep going. It wasn't a cold rain and it wasn't blowing like crazy. Carmen again had her doubts. Especially going by the trees. But I didn't have any doubts and we worked through it. I was quite pleased with her.

The next day when I mounted up we walked around the rail and she walked without hesitation by the poles. Until we got beside them. It was like she suddenly realized 'oh right- those evil things'. She cocked her head at them and slowly (probably so I wouldn't notice) walked 2 steps sideways and then halted, quite pleased with herself. I couldn't help but laugh at her. I gave her a pat and that was it for the poles.

She was so calm and collected through the whole ride. I finished with working on the stretchy trot circle. The first time she didn't stretch too much.  But as I repeated the exercise she seemed to suddenly understand what was asked and stretched out beautifully. I halted her, gave her lots of praise and hopped off.


Carmen will probably always be a bit reactive. She's teaching me to be not-reactive but not back away. And she's responding to the discipline. It reminds me of one of the many things that Royce taught me: that you have to be firm and clear. Horses, he told me, don't mind if you're firm as long as it's fair'.

It appears that Carmen agrees with him.

22 comments:

  1. ugh yea, firm, clear, purposeful. disciplined. all those words, always and forever. bc it turns out 'tacit avoidance' doesn't work at all for horses. like carmen with the rain, or charlie with the gate. it really does sound like she's become so much quicker to trust you tho when you tell her you're serious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish, sometimes, that tacit avoidance was a the perfect training tool.....

      Delete
  2. I feel like Carmen and Cinna are long lost sisters 😂 but patience and persistence (while being firm, fair and consistent) will overcome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it's an andalusian mare thing...

      Delete
  3. That's a good quote. People aren't much different. Very good work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It really seems like she's coming around from a year ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is. I've established expectations of behaviour and I don't back off like I used to.

      Delete
  5. Nice work! Patience and persistence pay off every time. Good for you and Carmen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They really do. Wine helps too....

      Delete
  6. Just like my toddler! Only I think horses are more reasonable ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup. And I can throw them in the stall and walk away....

      Delete
  7. I love that quote from Royce. It's the same motto my own trainer tells me and it makes so much sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does but it's not easy- some people watching me may be thinking that I'm being 'mean'.

      Delete
  8. Love that quote, I try to abide by it when I transfer over into riding my mare as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see that it's already paying off for you.

      Delete
  9. My next blog post is all about this!

    Firm but fair is the only way the dramatic Spanish horse is ever going to come to terms with horse eating objects. lol. I do find it mildly funny that things are less scary when being ground worked by them than when being ridden. Aria has that same problem.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ya I like that quote too, seems like it would fit a lot of things

    ReplyDelete
  11. That is such a great mindset. I think horses mostly find comfort in a clear, consistant leader. I have seen it in pasture as well with different groups of horses together. Their behavior and general level of relaxation changed with different leaders in charge, and the best scenario for 'pasture peace' (i.e. less nervousness in general) was with a herd boss that ran a tight ship without overdoing kicks and bites. Facinating stuff to watch and learn from.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.