dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Lesson Recap: Installing Adjustability

In the vein of filling the weekend with all things horse, I arranged a lesson for Sunday afternoon. In the morning I dragged the ring and then Paula rode. Her mare was excellent. While they rode I picked rocks out of the ring (it's been a bad year for those smaller rocks that can bruise feet).

Shanea was actually ahead of schedule so she texted me and I hurried to get ready. I was happy that Paula offered to take video (which is why this post is so late- I was struggling with getting clips of the ride). I have some clips from the ride and hope to make more for other posts.

I told Shanea that I wanted to figure out what level we were going to show at. The first show is June 9-10 and I wanted to get my entries in before it filled up. She thought that showing First should be doable. I had concerns that we were going to crash and burn in the ring. Shanea then pointed out that Carmen does better when her brain is busy which is an excellent point. I also shared that our rides have been a mix of 'great': forward, soft and listening and 'awful': spooky, bolty, stiff.

We started at a the walk and getting Carmen to be forward. The idea is to use her nervous energy in a positive way. I get that. I really do. Riding that is a different kettle of fish, especially when the energy wants to flow backwards. Carmen took exception to the chair that Paula had brought up and flew sideways a few times. Other spooky areas include the mounting block (you know, the one that has been there for three years and the one that I just stood on to mount her. Yes, I am being sarcastic), and  the small velociraptors birds flying in and out of the trees along the ring (because finches are not to be trusted, clearly).

Here we are heading into 'Troll Corner' and clearly Carmen is not keen about that idea. She kicks at my leg when I asked her to go forward and everything tightens. Riding her forward is the answer but she can also spin and bolt sideways so I have to talk my body into it. I know that I tense too but at least I'm not grabbing. Look at the difference in her body between tense and relaxed- it's quite marked.


As we worked she began to relax more and more. On our leg yields I was riding her haunches first going to the left. I couldn't even feel that so it was something that I had to work on to really feel it. I found that every time we came up by C she would tense her whole body through the turn and it made the leg yield more difficulty. I finally brought her to a halt and said 'Can we please get the brain back in the head and not in the field?' After that things got better.

 Honestly, it felt more like habit then fear. I am not accepting that there is anything in or around the ring that she should be afraid of (excepting Ed popping up with a sledge hammer or other unusual occurrence).

I'm making this lesson sound like it was a struggle. But really, only parts of it were. Most of it was quite nice. I'm really happy with how her canter is coming, especially to the right. It's feeling less like mad flailing and more balanced:

We practiced some lengthens. These are not great yet but Carmen is definitely getting the idea of stretching her topline. Being an Iberian horse she's not going to have the same lengthen as a warmblood. And I'm okay with that. But she has potential to do so much more - it's just a matter of practice.


Things really improved as we progressed. I love this lengthen trot across the diagonal to shortened trot and then canter transition: 


Shanea had us do an exercise to help Carmen understand a half-halt. We did trot-walk-trot transitions. As we progressed the walk part was progressively shorter until it 1 stride then almost a stride. I could feel how this was helping her shift off her forehand and into her hind. And this was our trot at the end. 

I felt a lot better about sending my show entry after this lesson. I'm also feeling that I'm getting into the swing of things in terms of a training schedule. I've been able to ride a lot in the past 10 days and we're both getting fitter. Carmen is getting far more adjustable in her strides and in her mind. I'm feeling less floppy and grippy (although there are times when my left hand should be removed). 



16 comments:

  1. nice videos!! she really does seem like a neat mare, and like she's made so much progress! glad you're riding more and exciting to be thinking about first level! it makes sense that a more complicated test might be an advantage for carmen's busy mind

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    1. Thanks. The work is not so hard for her as long as she’s there mentally

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  2. Looking good! The video is great, you can see so many good moments, and how quickly you get her back after the not-so-good ones. Super job! You're going to have an awesome show 🙂

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    1. Thank you- I've been following your work with Cinna with interest- I can't wait to see what you get up to this year.

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  3. Busy minded mare! They can be so tricky to ride and I think you are doing a terrific job with her.

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    1. Lord help me- it drives me a bit nutty at times. But it's getting better.

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  4. Wow, she’s a sweet little mover!! I have horse envy. What a dream. 😍😍

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    1. Thank you! She does have lovely movement when she relaxes- it's like riding a cloud.

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  5. You guys look great. She looks like she's really with you and paying attention. Even at troll corner she jumped a step, but kept on going.

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    1. You are right- I need to stop focussing on the 'we're not perfect yet'!

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  6. Great videos! Great lesson. She is really a beautiful mover.

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    1. Every lesson with Shanea is so useful.

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  7. So tough keeping that Andalusian brain working for good instead of evil!

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