Thursday was a sunny day- sort of. It was one of those March days that goes from sunny to flurries to windy every 20 minutes. I had hopes to ride but when I got home the wind was fierce again. Carmen was positively vibrating in the cross ties and really struggling to listen to me. So I decided that a groundwork session would be time better spent.
I'm really glad that I made that decision. Carmen clearly wanted to listen but was wound tight. She had a few bolts on the lunge. I don't think that she was afraid though- more just full of piss and vinegar. I let her canter a bit and then asked her to slow down. She totally ignored me and was starting to get too wound up. I summoned my best 'Royce voice' and said 'WHOA'. She came to a screeching halt and faced me looking quite relieved. We had some really nice moments of her tuning into me and other moments of her coming back when I insisted. Overall I was happy with our session. I am finding that I get the same level of satisfaction in our progress in the ground work as I do with the under saddle. I so wish I had learned about this years ago.
|Carmen practicing her whoa- note how her mane is blowing|
(also not that I managed to keep her from getting too chunky over the winter)
Friday however fell firmly into the category of 'okay' weather. Julia arranged to come out to ride Irish and Ashley decided to come and take photos and hang out. I had been hoping for more sun but it wasn't simply breezy and not bitter cold so that was something. I just put on my layers and decided to get on with it.
I hopped on Carmen and we walked off. There was none of the shenanigans as our last ride. Not that there wasn't tension- there was but it wasn't like before. I did my best to not shorten the reins but instead put on my legs and asked her to walk into the contact. There were patches of snow in the ring but the footing was good. The snow was a great training tool.
I'm really making progress in keeping my legs on when she gets tight and asking her to do something. I've learned that I'm much better off doing something rather then nothing. Even if that something is a mistake. Like the poster says:
When she gets tight and feels like she's going to spook I simply wrap my leg around her and ask her to do something -bend through the corner, go straight, transition, leg yied. It doesn't matter what I ask. I will see what has her attention but I won't focus on- instead I say on the task at hand. And it's really working for us.
When she started to feel relaxed at the walk I asked her to trot. I could feel her whole body stiffen as she considered her options:
A. canter off
D. throw haunches in
E. all of the above
Me: Easy girl, do not do any of the things you are thinking of.
I kept my leg soft, I let the rein stay the same and I just rode her without fussing. She settled into work. Through the ride I could feel the tightness in her back and I just kept asking her to stretch out. I gave lots of praise (when warranted).
Funnily enough she didn't spook once. But she had moments of sass. Those I rather enjoy to be honest. I'm starting to appreciate her for who she is- sassy, opinionated, perfectionistic and easily thrown off her balance (she kind of sounds familiar but who could that be???).
|sassy Carmen- but hey look I'M NOT PULLING ON THE REIN!|
(ignore the leg that is too curled up)
We picked up a canter and it was lovely and forward. Well, until I asked her to go up through troll corner. Which also had a pile of snow there. That caused her to really sit back and I had to sit up and ride her through.
I love this photo: Julia and Irish are clearly having a ball. Meanwhile, in the background, Carmen is clearly reviewing her life choices that brought her to live with this crazy Canadian.
|hey look- I'm not leaning forward. Irish is ignoring our shenanigans and|
focussing on being saintly (yes he lost a bell boot in the ride)
It was a great way to end the ride.
Today was the return of bitter cold winds so no riding for us.
But that's okay because I got some riding in. And that's better than nothing.