dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, August 13, 2018


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about confidence and how central it is to riding and training.

Before Carmen I'd always had young and green horses that, while they didn't know much of anything, were pretty naturally trusting and confident. So when I faced it first with Carmen I didn't recognize it at all. Even when Johanna said 'she has no confidence in herself' I agreed but didn't really think about it too much.  I saw it as a spooking issue, an evasion issue and/or a trust issue.  And of course, because life is never simple, it was also those things.
a few days after she arrived home in 2015. Man, she has filled out since then.
Here she looks like a startled fawn.  

Only now that we're approaching the other side am I seeing how truly lacking in self-confidence she was. She also lacked all confidence in me, the rider. She had zero faith that what I was asking her to do was possible.

And so she would fight me. On everything. And I would either give in or join the battle.

Confidence is a fragile thing. It's easy to chip away at it and that's what happened in the beginning with Carmen. I began to doubt everything. Slowly, with so much help I can't even begin to describe, we began to build a  confidence that is on a much stronger foundation.

I am more likely to try to figure out what she needs. I'm not always right and I'm not always that thoughtful. Sometimes I'm more 'for fucks sake horse, just canter into the corner'.  And frankly, sometimes that's warranted. Like I say, ad nauseum, it's a line between being in charge and joining the fight.

t's been fun seeing Carmen's confidence grow. We have set backs (looking at my last show) but we get it back more easliy. I am less likely to fall down the rabbit hole of doom. I don't know if I can describe how it's different. It just is-  in the way she carries herself and how she wants to check out new things rather than shut down or run away.

I know that I have a tendency to treat every ride as though it's of utmost importance. Even if I just want to relax. I'm sure that this is very irritating. For god's sake, Teresa, it's just a ride. Lighten up! I'm not saying whether this tendency is good or bad. It just is.

One of my biggest worries has been what will happen if Carmen is scared out on the trail (mostly if we're alone).

I found out on Sunday.

We finished schooling in the ring and I dropped the gate to go for a hack (note that I only do this on my property and when Ed is home. Maybe someday I'll feel okay with going out on my own). We were fine at first walking by the field, but she was more alert than usual in the woods.  When we were walking along the edge of our property there was a loud crashign and banging in the woods on the other property. Carmen spun away but stopped when I asked. We were surrounded by trees and brush and I didn't want a mad bolt. She was rigid and was dancing in place.

In my head I assessed this for several minutes but I'm sure it was just seconds. I decided that while I could (possibly) ride this out, I knew that Carmen would be much braver with me beside her than on her. I hopped off which surprised her (note to self- practice this next time when conditions are controlled). But she stood with me, clearly agitated and looking but not trying to get away. I spoke soothingly to her and kept my body relaxed. I figured that if she did get away she would run back to the barn since she knew this trail very well. But she didn't even try to run away. While clearly worried she stayed on a slack rein (another note to self- maybe bring a lead line with me next time).

Finally she let out a breath amd we started tp walk along the path. When she was a bit relaxed I found a spot to get back and we walked some more heading towards the barn. Down close to the edge of the property I could feel her getting agitated and I hopped off again. We walked home and up to the barn and she stayed behind me in perfect step. She didn't try to step on me or pass me.

By the time we made it back to the barn she was completely relaxed. In the past she would have been tight and reactive. Instead she was completely chill.

I don't know what frightened her but I'm going with it being a deer (it was large so it was either that or a bear but I don't think it was a bear).  I remember when Irish was green I would hop off and walk him.  Heaven knows we've done enough groundwork on this. I have no worries about hopping off either- I believe that doing this helped boost her confidence that I'm there for her when she needs me to be. Even better was that we didn't have any bolting. So far I've managed to keep the hacking out safe and fun and I want to keep it that way.

What about you- what struggles and triumphs have you had with your horse's confidence? Or has it been there all along and you just need to help it grow?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Small Adjustments

It's been a good week with Carmen.

Easing things back has helped us to get back on track. It's been really humid which helps to take the starch out of her. I've been keeping our sessions short and really trying to reward the try. I know that Carmen does not respond well to lots of pressure and I might have been pushing her a bit. I ignore the little spooks (not new) but whenever she did a big spin/bolt I would put my leg on and ride it forward until I got her back and then returned to what we were doing.

I even hacked her out solo twice and it was great. The second time I let her choose our paths and she just kept going and going.

I had Rachael out to check her saddle. Carmen's topline has developed more and required the flocking to be adjusted. It felt much better after so I was glad that I had it done.

Today I had a lesson booked and I wanted to help Carmen figure out the lengthens. She goes faster rather than lengthen her frame. I know that she thinks she's doing what I want and I needed some help  showing her what we were looking for.

At the beginning of the lesson Carmen started off slow and sluggish. Which was kind of good- I've been working on not letting her start off tight and speedy. However, slow and behind  the leg or fast and behind the leg is still behind the leg.
trying to get her to reach forward

 I remember joking to Shanea- where are those birds when I need them? We did lots of trotting and bending to help her to be supple. The humidity had broken but the sun was still warm and it really was beginning to feel like work. We came across the diagonal and she was starting to stretch into the bridle when she gave this big prop and ran sideways. It caught be totally off-guard but I sat up, put on my legs and got her going forward in the circle. I wanted to use her energy to make her go not to be evasive. After 3-4 canter circles, I brought her back to trot and then headed back to complete the diagonal. This was a total evasive spook not a genuine one and I have to make sure that those are never successful.

While we were working through this, Shanea was setting up poles spaced five feet apart across the diagonal. The exercise was to come out of the corner and ask her to go forward into a lighten. The poles were to help her stretch not speed up. The first few times were not so great- she would raise her head and drop her back and then trip. Shanea explained that I needed to let her head out to look and keep my legs on to encourage her to go forward even before and after the poles.

approaching the poles
you can see her trying to figure out what the heck to do with them so far apart

I could feel her start to figure it out. I gave her a break every time she really tried. And I was happy with how she did. 

I love her reach here. She could definitely stretch her neck but it will come 
I was really happy with her try. I love her steady tempo in the video

I wanted to work on some counter canter as well. I needed Shanea's advice as to whether we were ready to tackle First Level 3. I picked up the left lead canter and after a circle tried the loop. It was no big deal. to the right the first time she became confused at the middle  and wanted to do a flying change and then broke to trot. Totally my fault because I had my thighs too tight. The next few times were fine. I then asked her for the canter lengthen and holy crap- it was unbelievable. I could barely ride it. It was a great way to end it. So at our last show we will be trying First Level 2 & 3.

It's funny but I  can always tell if Carmen was pleased with herself after the ride by her manner in the barn. She always looks cute and perky like I was good wasn't I? I should get lots of carrots. 

Are these enough? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Succeed or Learn

I want to thank everyone who gave me kind and supportive comments about my show experience- both on FB and on blogger. I do recognize that it was just one day in a show and I really do need to put it in the perspective of our whole season which has been very successful.

I can get a little driven in things I pursue (shocker I know). When I was in University and saw that I have made 95% on an exam my first thoughts were 'what the heck did I miss?'

So it's not surprising that I viewed my inability to get Carmen on track as a failure. But my rational brain knows that it was a learning experience. That is what I would tell myself.

So I've been thinking a lot about this and not sure how much sense I will make.

Because I don't think our test ride was about fear. The incident in the warm up was based on fear. For whatever reason, she found the walker with his dogs super unnerving. While I will concede that she was definitely wary about the open door in the ring she is not afraid of the ramp or that corner. We've ridden by it so many times and I can stand her there and she is totally relaxed. I honestly think that she spooks when she doesn't really want to work. If I get too reactive it escalates but I also can't have her bolt so it's a fine line and one that I don't always get right.

I have to be okay with not having it right all the time.

When I said that Carmen's 'nope' is dangerous, I wasn't really meaning in the ring. My biggest fear is that we will experience something like that when we're out.

I do recognize that she is far more rideable then ever and that sometimes regression will happen.

I do want to focus on the fact that I was able to address it and show her that this behaviour is not the answer.

I took Monday off. While I don't know that Carmen needed a day off I really did so I had a nice and lazy day visiting with family and puttering around. Monday night I set up a small course of obstacles in the ring to play with.

It's hard to tell from the photo but I set up cones for weaving, an L to back through, a landscape rail for side passing, two jump standards to pick up a water bottle and bring to the next one, three cavalettis 12 feet apart, a rope gate and my bridge. Julia joined me to play and despite the heat we had fun. Carmen started off a bit spooky but I ignored her and played around the ring. When she would get distracted and trip over the cavalettis (at walk or trot) I just supported her and let her figure it out. 

Backing through the L was interesting. I can back Carmen up with little difficulty but as soon as there are poles involved she gets really frazzled. And no, I don't think it's me- I honestly feel relaxed. I tried to break it down to step, halt, step halt but she began to fizz and spin. So I put her in a trot circle until she settled and then offered the halt. After about 10 minutes I was able to do the back 1 step, halt, repeat through one part of the L and I gave her a ton a pats. She looked at me as though to say 'is that it?'. 

Honestly, I think she gets frazzled if she's not sure of the answer or if she thinks I'm going to get after her for not doing it. After we went for cool down hack in the woods and she was on a loose rein and relaxed. 
she stuck her face in the spray, note the tongue. 

Today Carmen was back to her old, calm self. I'm sure the heat and humidity helped with that but it was nice to ride a horse that met me half way. We played at schooling and then incorporating the obstacles. It was fun. We even cantered the cavellettis- twice! It was so cool to get into 2 point and let her go through. I could feel her adjusting her stride to make it work and she didn't even get frazzled or annoyed with me. 

I decided we were done so we did the rope gate and stood on the bridge waiting for Julia. I felt Carmen begin to stamp her feet and was surprised because this is not like her. I looked down and saw a bunch of wasps coming up from under the bridge! 

CRAP! I walked her off and she was all 'meh'. Which is surprising because I would view a bunch of angry wasps as a legitimate excuse to run away. 

Someone explain my pony to me please. 

We hacked off into the woods, again on a long rein and she was as mellow as could be. 

happy, relaxed ears

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Crash and Burn

Okay, so the title might be a little dramatic.
happy photos from last week's show to brighten things up. 

I should also warn that there may be swearing in this post.

This weekend Carmen and I headed back to Five Fires for a 2 day show. I have to say I was my most relaxed heading to this show. By now I had my packing to a science (well a really thorough list, which is sort of like science). That morning I took her for a light hack and a short ride in the ring.

We arrived in great time and Carmen settled in well. I rode her that night in the ring and she had some concerns about an open door and the freaking ramp (oh the irony that I could get her to walk on that ramp but not go by it), but it really wasn't a big deal and we had a good and short session.

Saturday we had early ride times and our warm up was pretty good. I was happy with both of our tests. While they were not brilliant they were steady and calm and netted us a second and third place in our class. She could have definitely been more from behind and I wanted to build on that for Sunday.

Sunday morning was rainy and still warm. In the warm up ring Carmen was pretty relaxed and I was focussing on getting her marching and staying relaxed. It was going really well when I saw a gentleman walking his dogs down by the ring and into the woods path. And he had an umbrella. I felt the hamster falter on the wheel in Carmen's brain. Carmen saw him too and I called to have him speak so she could know he was a person.  We went back to work when she spied him further off and the hamster started to fall off the wheel. I kept working her trying to keep her focus on me and stick the fucking hamster back on the wheel. Sort of successfully.

Then he came back.

Carmen's brain

Carmen began to spin a bit and I tried to bend her but it was no go. 
aaaand we're bolting  I said. I was surprised by how calm I was but I wanted to give the other rider a heads up that my steering had gone to crap. She was great and gave us space and said 'tell me what you need'.  I rode it out and got her back and then decided to hop off and walk her over to the guy who was kind and let us walk up and talk to him.

I headed back to the warm up and tried to talk the hamster back on to the wheel but it was not successful at all. We had a number of bolts, some spins and general lalalala-I-can't-hear-you.  In the end I headed up to the ring for my test thinking maybe being inside would be better. And it was. Sort of. We had a couple issues at the door and ramp - but to be honest she was not scared of the ramp while she was genuinely nervous of the door. But we rode through it.

I dismounted and grabbed my lunging equipment to head back to the warm up. I only had about 30 minutes before my next ride and I needed to get her brain back. So I lunged her and got her back to focussing on me. I then mounted and we had a really good warm up ride. She was listening and on the aids. I felt much better going back for test two.

Carmen hit the ring and was done with this shit.

At the end of that clip I am telling the judge that I am scratching but I really want to ride that circle. She was great and coached us on working through it. She also said that sometimes it's better to cut the circle and lose the point then have the battle.

Which is true. But I know my mare and I know that if I caved at that corner it would get bigger and bigger until we couldn't go past E. I explained that and she looked skeptical but I know my mare and I know that once she gets an idea in her head you need a crow bar to get it out. In the end we rode our circle and it was time for the next person to come in.

I was bummed.

Believe it or not it was the first time I had ever scratched from a class at a show. It was the right call but I was still bummed.

I did some thinking and went to the show secretary and asked if I could take Carmen in the ring over the lunch break. I was done all my classes but I wanted to tackle things again. She agreed and when I went in announced to everyone what I was doing so that they didn't all pile in or think I was taking advantage.

I started working her in hand getting her focus and then I got on. By then I had gathered a crowd of supporters cheering us on. I wasn't sure how I felt at first but I then just focussed on Carmen and we went to work. She wasn't easy but not at her worst. In the end I rode my test through because, by god I wanted to finish it. I have no idea how it looked but at the end of the day the judge came up and said 'you did much better at lunch time'. That was because I could work through it. The steward gave me a hug and said I did great. Everyone was so supportive that it was uplifting.

I had earned a blue ribbon for my first test (second out of two riders lol, but I worked hard for that ribbon and was proud of it).

On the way home, in the quiet of the truck all those voices in the back of my head came out to play.

You know those voices. the ones that whisper:
you suck as a rider. A better one could have dealt with all that 
You will never get any better as a pair
See, I know she hadn't improved. 
Last week was a fluke. 
sometimes we don't suck

I let them have some play but the drive was awful in terms of weather- torrential rain for the first half which is totally not fun when you're hauling a trailer.

I got home and unloaded Carmen. Who immediately started throwing her weight around trying to graze and run by me and push me around. I was having none of it. I needed to hose the dried sweat off her and she was fucking going to stand still and not shove me while I did it and I didn't care that she was starving. It didn't take long for her to be very quiet and still while I finished. Ed came out and was so very supportive. I headed in to take a shower (nothing feels better than a shower after a horse show) and he cooked supper while I fed the horses. After he helped me empty and clean the trailer. I do love this guy.

So I have to figure this out. Carmen has a 'nope' in her and it's dangerous. It's getting more and more rare so I hope that this means it's on it's way out. I also see a pattern that she's less willing on the second day of the show and I need to figure out how to help her with that. Maybe maturity. I don't really want to go to showing just one day. I'm not sure that that's the answer. Now I'm wondering if I should go to the show in September.

Thank you for listening to me vent. This blog is useless if I just talk about the fun stuff and not the shitty stuff.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What We Do

Thank you everyone for your kind comments on my show post. I have purchased some photos and am waiting for them to arrive. In the meantime, if you are suffering from insomnia here's a video of First Level Test 2 that I rode on Saturday (thank you Karen for taking the video).

There can be a lot of negativity in the horse world: younger riders are 'entitled', dressage riders should only show if they are perfect, etc, etc. I'm not naive enough to believe that horse world is all sunshine and people holding hands singing 'kumbaya'; but the truth is that there are a million acts of kindness in the horse world that goes largely unnoticed. This post coalesced for me at the show last weekend and I think I'm ready to put it down in writing.

When my friend Paula first floated the idea of Carmen and I going to the show I was hesitant. I explained that it would require me to get a hotel room which makes the show even more expensive. Next thing I know she has messaged me that she has a tent and it's in her trailer for me to use. Julia loaned me a sleeping bag and next think I knew I was going to the show and camping!

my home for the weekend, it worked pretty good- well once I figured out how to stop it from
collapsing (which I figured out at midnight.....)
Before the show another competitor messaged me and asked if I could spare a bale of hay (she didn't have hers in yet). 'Of course' I replied and threw it into the truck. The weekend was going to be hot and I tried to find a fan to buy for Carmen's stall but none of the stores had any. I figured she would be fine but once I told Paula that the next time I came into the barn Carmen was enjoying the breeze from the fan set up for her stall.

Tanya was also camping and made a lovely little set up outside her trailer and was giving out yoghurt in the mornings and beer in the afternoon (seriously- always stay near Tanya, that's what I learned!).

I give both horses a magnesium supplement and the only place I can find that carries it is in the same town as the show. I called ahead and arranged for them to have the bag ready for me on Saturday morning so at 8 a.m. I was there bright and early to get it. Unfortunately, no one could find it's special hiding spot and I had to get back to the grounds. No problem, one of the workers was going to the show on sundae to help a friend and would bring it with him. Sure enough on Sunday there he was with the bag and a nice smile. Huge shout out to Clarence Feeds in Truro. It's a great store with excellent customer service!

During the show I saw many other competitors helping each other: reapplying fly spray, reading tests last minute, wiping rain off of boots. I both received and gave this help and it made everything so much easier. One young woman went back to the show committee because she thought that they had given her an award that she didn't earn.

 Around the barn and in the warm up ring you could hear:
I picked out your stall. 
THANK YOU so much
I can feed him in the morning
Do you need some fly spray?
Here, have a drink of water

On Sunday Paula was riding her mare in the ring when she gave a huge leap and bolted across the ring. It was very scary to watch.  I leaped up out of my chair. I don't know what I thought I was going to do (here Paula I will catch you!)  but the instinct was there. In what can only be described as excellent and gutsy riding skills Paula got her mare back under control, headed back to where she went off track and completed her test. I returned to the barn and then saw her limping in with Susan (her coach) leading her mare. Paula had been hurt in the bolt and had to scratch her second test. She was in a lot of pain and I could see that Sue was torn between Paula and her other student who was needing her help. 'here give her to me and I will look after her'.  With a grateful look, Sue handed the mare to me and I took care to hose her off and cool her down carefully. I brought her back and Paula was feeling much better. (FYI, Paula won her class which tells you how gutsy and good a rider she is!)

After the show I was packing up to go home when Sue pulled up beside me in her truck.
Thank you she said
For what?  I asked, genuinely confused.
For the help you gave earlier
Oh, that! I shrugged it's what we do. 
Sue gave me a long look, then nodded. yes, it is was all she said and then drove away.

Helping each other, it's what we do.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Celebration Time

As you may recall Carmen and I headed off to a show this weekend. I was looking forward to it : many of my friends were going and it was a place Carmen and I had never been. Because we had no history it seemed like a great place for us to see how we were doing.

We arrived early Friday afternoon and I settled Carmen in her stall. The layout of the grounds was great: the barns, warm up ring and show ring were all close together. Everything is so convenient.
taken from the Central Nova Horse & Pony Club website
I walked her about so that she could see everything and she was totally chill. I made sure that in the warm up ring I let her check out the fence against the tree line. She didn't care and happily ate the grass. Later when I tacked her up and mounted she decided that she probably should be worried about those trees but I was 'you were fine 20 minutes ago with those trees so I'm not buying that you are scared now'. I just rode her forward and she became fine again.

The warm up ring became a bit full as other competitors came in so I made my way over the show ring (we were allowed to ride in it the night before). She immediately relaxed. I swear that she recognized that it was the show ring and was all 'I know what to do here'.  Carmen was a bit confused about the trailer at the end (for the judge).
Carmen: do I go in? I think you should duck then
Me: 'no, it's okay, just take a look at it. 
Carmen: 'ooookay.... I looked, now what?

We rode about 20 minutes and I dismounted.

The next day my rides were to be at 10:24 and 10:59. I figured to be on her by 9:45. She was a bit stiff in the warm up but slowly came out of it. Later I figured out that she was in heat but at first I wasn't sure what was going on. However, we warmed up and she was doing well. Even Jane (you remember Jane or 'my yoda' as I call her) commented that we looked good. Then it turned out that the rides were behind and in the end I started my first test at the time I was to start my second. We were definitely over warmed up given the heat and humidity. I find it hard to keep Carmen  soft and warmed up without getting her tired or thinking that she's done.

Anyway we went in and I walked around, making sure that she saw that there were now people in the trailer. Carmen found this curious but in a 'humans are weird' way not an 'oh my god are they armed?' way. I struggled a bit with her bend but over-all I was pleased with how we went. Our final score (I learned later) was 62. 96 with scores ranging from 5.5 to 7. Mostly what hurt our score was our lengthens. I really need to get on those.

After the steward's inspection I put her quickly in her stall to have a pee and a drink. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Karen came to watch us. It was wonderful to see her. I got Carmen ready again and went out to find out that we were on deck. Eek. The times were so mixed up I had no idea. Anyway I hopped on her and we went in to the show ring. I did a few quick walk-trot-canter transitions and the judge rang the bell. I squared my shoulders, picked up the trot and in we went. I say that because our entrance and halt at X earned us a 9! I've never gotten a 9 before. Carmen felt tired but she tried her heart out for me and we ended with a score of 64.219.

When it was time for the ribbons I had earned a 3 and 4th. I was a little curious about the 4th and went to check the board. That's when I saw that they had me down with a score of 57. I went and got my sheet and showed them the error. I honestly didn't care about the ribbon but I did care about the score. I haven't made a score below 60 yet this year and if I have one recorded for me I want it because I actually earned it not due to error. I felt bad and the show crew were very apologetic and got me my proper ribbon (third) and fixed the score.

That night I had reviewed my tests and wanted to improve my scores. The morning dawned misty and cloudy. Around 8 it started to pour buckets. It sucks to show in the rain but what are you going to do? Scratch? Not me.

While  I was braiding her I overheard Jane talking to another person who voiced what I was thinking. And she said something so incredibly wise. I won't get it all verbatim but the idea was that riding is the one sport that the moment you decide to try really hard is the moment that it all goes to shit. She said that if you wanted to do better you had to be softer. Riding is not like running, it's like yoga.  This immediately resonated with me and it helped me make a plan. Essentially, my plan was to focus on bending being soft. To stop trying to hold Carmen and to let her go.

Just as I was tacking up the rain stopped.
I took it as an omen
I was also determined to not ride for so long in the warm up again so I double checked the ride times. We were pretty much running on time and I had opted for a 30 minute warm up. I figured if she was hot I would just deal. Carmen started off really behind the leg (it was the morning cleaning out her stall that I realized she was in heat. I blame the cute gelding name Vinny who kept flirting with her. She was just as flirty back). I actually dug my heels in and told her to get going. She leapt forward into canter and I gave the rein and urged her on. I don't know which one of us was more surprised by that.
Carmen: Wait, we NEVER do this!
Me: I know!

I rode her into the test and it felt wonderful. Not perfect but it really felt that we were working together to the best of our ability. And it showed in our score: 64.815. Which was a full 2 percentage points higher then Saturday. I was thrilled. And we won the class so that was cool.

I had just enough time to put Carmen back in the stall to give her a chance to pee but she didn't. I think it's because I left the saddle on but there wasn't time. I had a few minutes to warm up for our next test and we went in. It was a bit of a struggle. But I didn't push her. I asked her to try and she did. Frankly  I think she was just out of steam. It didn't feel balky to me - it truly felt that she was giving me what she had. The score was 60.938 which felt a bit harsh. We netted third again.

But the judge did her job and I'm not going to argue. Judges score how they score and we can't expect them to all be the same.

Nevertheless  I was thrilled with our show. Not because of (or even in spite of the scores). But because we had an entire show with no shenanigans. Not one spook or evasion or argument. I never felt at risk or frustrated.

This is me, sitting on Carmen with my feet out of the stirrups and loose reins
chatting with the steward completely relaxed. (PC Karen P)

Because we felt like a real team.

I let go and let Carmen do her thing and she did it with style.

The rest will come.

In the meantime let's celebrate. Drinks are on me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

On the Muscle

I consider myself a dedicated rider. This means that I obsess am diligent about training and making sure that I work on the things that have been taught to me. It is important that Carmen and I practice and that we are fit.

It's been a few years since I had a horse to train and show so I have been really putting a lot of time into it.  My thoughts have been along the lines of 'yay, training, riding, showing is fun! Let's do more!'

As a result Carmen is becoming very fit. To the point that a day off leads to all sorts of energy.
I had a lesson booked for today and it has been really really hot and humid. I know that my southern readers will laugh at me but once it gets into the 90s with humidity we all melt. I wasn't going to cancel today. We have a show this weekend and it's going to be hot so I figured it would be good to see how we do. 
I also had this idea that it would take some of the starch out of Miss Energizer Bunny. 

I was wrong. Essentially Carmen's perspective could be summed up with this: 
I am a horse of southern climes. The soul of the desert runs through my veins and I cannot be conquered by this heat.' 

On the plus side she was going to the bridle pretty much the whole ride. The tricky part was channeling that energy in a positive and not-bolting sort of way. Which is where Shanea is so awesome. She can talk me through and gives me confidence to let the hell go. 

The biggest improvement is in our canter work. She is so much straighter and our transitions are sharper- both up and down. It's so easy for her when she's mentally there. Here it looks like we're about to do a flying change but I'm just asking her to come back with my seat in preparation for a trot transition at X. 

She's understanding the work and, when focussed, it's so easy. Our lesson have been on the fine tuning of our rides. 

When I compare us with this time last year, her topline is clearly better. I'm pretty sure I'm riding better as well. 

from July 30, 2017

from today- we might actually be able to do this dressage thing

For the first time in a long time I had to ask for a few breaks. We rode through one of our tests and it went pretty well. By the time we were done I was sopping wet. Shanea looked at Carmen and said ''she's not even breathing hard!' And she wasn't. There was still a ton of gas in that tank. Mine, however was totally empty. I don't think I need to worry too much about her this weekend. 

After I hosed her off (something she really enjoyed) I went into the house and went right to the laundry room. I took off my clothes and threw them in the washing machine. They made a splat as they landed in the washer- they were sopping wet. 

I'm looking forward to the show this weekend. I am camping on the grounds with a few friends and that will be a new experience.