dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, June 20, 2015

On Perseverance

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop ~ Confucius
I do not kid myself that I am a horse trainer. In my mind a horse trainer works with many horses all the time and has tons of experience bringing them along. What I am is a horse owner who has a strong desire to do the best by the horses entrusted in my care. I actually don't worry that there are other people who could ride my horse 'better'. Of course there are better riders than me out there. That's not the relevant piece. What's relevant is that these are my horses and I need to do the best I can with them.

What I do have going for me is that I consider what I'm doing. I don't engage in false modesty- I know a lot of things and I am a capable rider (on most days). I also like to think about what I'm doing and figure out what I can do better. I would love to have some regular coaching to help but that is not working out for me right now and I need to carry on as best I can.

What I also have is perseverance. If I have a goal I will stick to it and I do not give up easily (or ever, says Ed).

Which brings me to Carmen. I'm working on a regular work schedule with her, even if it's just lunging and it is working. The truce with Troll-Corner is still holding. While I would like it to be like the truce with between the Federation and the Klingon empire- eventually leading to acceptance and friendship, Carmen is of the opinion that it should be like the truce with the Romulans with a clear and well maintained neutral zone.**

(***yes, I did just use a Star Trek metaphor for my training. I am truly that geeky***)

Thursday I wanted to ride so after work I got her ready and we went to the ring. It was a windy day with lots of fluttering leaves and grasses. She was pretty 'up' and we worked through a lot on the ground. I then put on her bridle and we started with the mounting block. Something spooked her so it took a lot of patient work to get her to stand. I was okay with that. I figured if we spent the next hour on just that thing, that was fine. Fortunately it didn't take an hour and I was able to mount while she stood.

It is clear that we need to work on transferring her confidence with me on the ground to me in the saddle. She was pretty spooky about stuff and I had to keep riding her. I worked very hard to not get frustrated and then I realized that I just needed to ride and let her figure it out. I don't want to be trapped into this tiny spot of my full size ring because that is the only spot where she feels secure. But I am willing to work from there. I realized that I had to accept that she was going to spook and be willing to risk coming off in order to get on with stuff.

So I set a goal of a 20 meter circle and off we went. Parts of it were lovely and parts looked like a giraffe being ridden by a monkey while tap dancing sideways. I was 'whatever. We're still going that way'.

I finally got my circle with only a small spook and called it a day.

I felt a bit discouraged.

Yesterday (Friday), I was off and it was going to rain later so I got her ready in the morning. My plan was that I was going to stick it out and we were going to work in that ring. If I came off I was getting back on.

We repeated from yesterday with the ground work and the mounting block (but not as bad probably because it wasn't windy). I went to work on us covering more ground. I like to use the exercise of 'moving circles' so that I do a series of 20 metre circles down the ring. I find it helps with bend and there much less chance of a big bolt that way. I focussed on being clear on what I wanted. I also made sure that I had a firm (not hard) hold of the outside rein and gave room on the inside.

I find that if I praise her for doing what I want she tries really hard to do it again (she loves praise), so I tried praising her at a good point at the circle and keeping it up as we came to the 'danger zone' parts. It worked - she was much better. Finally I got her to the point where we were doing figure 8's and she was changing her bend easily and truly listening to me and not looking for danger.

We then went to work. In the past when we have gotten to a good spot I have done a bit and gotten off. I decided that not today. Today was the day we were going to add to what we do. I carried on with the figure 8s, we added in 10 metre circles and transitions. None of it was 'hard' but it was all about her carrying herself in a training level frame (hate that word but you know what I mean). We finished on a walk with a long rein and I got off down in Troll-Corner.

She was tired and sweaty and not-stressed. Me too.

tired princess after her workout. 
I know that there is a calm, confident horse in there, because I see glimmers of it. We will get there, I just need to persevere.


  1. Giraffe ridden by a monkey describes a lot of my rides, actually. It gets better. Then it gets worse, then it gets batter. Training is really more of a circle than a linear thing. We are all trainers, whether we have one horse or 20, in that every interaction with our horses is training them for better or worse. Calm, confident horses come from a lot of time spent with calm, confident riders and you're well on your way to that!

  2. "giraffe being ridden by a monkey while tap dancing sideways" - love that description! I identify with it, hahaha!

    Lovely when you get those glimpses of something great :)

  3. I like the Star Trek reference; those romanulan controlled territories must be avoided.


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