Carmen and I were off to an 'Ultimate Trail Clinic'. We did one last year and had a blast (well except for the food poisoning). This year my friend Cindy (not the one who rides Irish) brought her pretty cremello morgan mare. I stayed at Cindy's and we brought the horses to the clinic each day. That allowed them to stretch their legs in the field in the evening and be close to home. Summer finally decided to show up this weekend and it was hot.
I really enjoy playing with obstacles and I was excited to attend the clinic again. I really like how Mike and Nikki approach training. It's all about rewarding the 'try.'
The morning of the first day we all talked about our goals and then worked on groundwork. Nikki helped Carmen and I work on establishing 'focus'. The idea is that Carmen was to have her attention on me and not on all the things that could distract her.
That afternoon we practiced the obstacles in hand. The second morning we reviewed the in-hand work and then did it mounted.
|look how hard she's concentrating here|
|This platform rolled when you walked on it and off it.|
she didn't care at all
I was blown away with how well Carmen was. Like totally blown away. She was completely calm, focussed and willing. She enjoyed the obstacles so much and as the weekend progressed began to 'hunt' them. It helped that we used them as places to rest, not just things to practice. Even the tarp curtains blowing around were a non-issue.
Here's Mike explaining how to make the obstacles a great place to be.
So once we established how to do the obstacles I would 'work' in the ring and seek out one of them to 'rest'. Once when Carmen and I were standing on one I asked her if she wanted to step off . She started to and then said 'no thank you. I'm good'.
Her favourite thing was pushing the flintstone car. She really liked making it move and watching the barrels turn. In the far corner there was a 'well'. It was a barrel with a winch attached to a bucket. In the bucket were fake flowers. I would turn the winch and Carmen was intrigued. Then she tried to inspect the bucket. She was sure that there must be a treat in there. I was afraid she would pull out the flowers and wreck it so I quickly lowered it back down. Carmen looked at me:
Hey, bring that back!
No, you are going to eat the flowers.
There's something in there, I tell you. Bring it back, I can find it.
|yes, we are pushing a car past a blowing tarp towards trees|
There was a man with a lovely chestnut mare who had a melt down in the ring. She was quite determined that she wasn't going to one end of the ring and nothing was going to make her. I watched the man ride her and (with a ton of help), deal with her. After I went up to him and explained that Carmen had presented with all the same things that he had dealt with. He looked at me in surprise. I think it gave him hope.
What I realized is that Carmen is no longer the spooky, uncertain horse she was. She was confident and happy and really relaxed. Despite being in two new places. The location of the clinic was next to a mill- full of equipment, machinery, piles of wood and strange contraptions. She didn't even blink. What she did take exception to was a large granite rock outside the ring. (she still is Carmen after all). That's what people saw.
On Sunday afternoon we all did a mock show. I asked someone to video our ride. I was surprised to see that it was just 2 minutes- it felt a lot longer. Carmen and I tied for third. :)
I am so happy with both of us right now.