dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Team Building

You know those 'Team Building' exercises where you're supposed to fall and let others catch you?
I've never done it but am sure that I would totally suck at it. I am self-aware enough to know that I might have a few control issues. So I probably would only fall if I was either drunk or didn't care if I got hurt (which might relate to being drunk come to think of it).

If we were in one of those sessions you would be all "fall Teresa we'll catch you" 
And I'd say "no I'm good"
And you'd say "come on, trust us"
and I'd say "last time I did that I was three years old and my brother didn't catch me and I broke my arm, you carry on and I'll go grab my camera"
At which point, awkward silence would ensue until someone suggests we try drumming instead.

However, I'm realizing that if I want to be an effective partner with Carmen I have to give her freedom. Otherwise we will end up in a tight little ball of tension and no real flow. However, it's very very very very hard to give enough freedom to a horse that not only has the athleticism to spin on a dime while going 0-60 in 2 seconds but will do so when she's frightened by something.  I realize that this is what I must do  in order to advance.

We're making progress on it. I had to go away for work so Carmen had yesterday off. Today was beautiful but very windy. Funnily enough my first thought was 'good, I can see if we can still progress when it's blustery'.  She was definitely excited for the first part of our ground work. There were lots of blowing leaves and grass. Also, now that it's fall, some leaves are flying through the air AND another patch of asters has appeared by the mounting block. However, I kept to my plan that she has to be focussed on me and I will do what I need to to keep it- transitions, moving her away from me when she falls in and asking her to bend to the inside when she's looking out. It was funny, I could the switch flip in her brain from OH MY GOD SO MUCH WIND to oh yeah I know this exercise and I'm rocking it. 

I mounted up and immediately asked to stay focussed on me. I no longer let her look around when I first get on- this gives her too much opportunity to find things that will bother her. Initially she finds this quite annoying- like a teacher asking you to stop looking out the window and focus. I find if I focus on praising when she listens and not getting upset when she doesn't but just keep asking she stops looking for a fight and settles into work. I really focussed on keeping my seat loose and giving her rein to stretch into, rather than hold her tight. I had contact but I wanted her to stretch out, not curl up. With Andalusians, it's very easy for them to curl in and set their neck. I don't want that.
She gave two rather large spooks. Of course my body reacted with hers but I was able to let go immediately and then go back to what we were doing while giving her the rein and not worrying about it. When I realized that I was focussing on whether we were doing a correct 10 metre circle rather then staying alive I started to smile.

The reality is that I'm asking her to let me catch her while giving her the opportunity to catch me as well.

If that makes any sense at all.

from my lesson a couple weeks ago. 


  1. I'm with you, no way would I fall over either:)

  2. Makes perfect sense. Temperment/sensitivity wise I think Carmen and Lucy are much alike. Except that Lucy is 13 so a bit more settled. So, Carmen will always be sensitive but she will gain trust and maturity and be awesome. In the meantime, I read your posts and am thankful that I didn't have Lucy when she was Carmen's age. You handle this stuff so well; better that I could for sure.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.