dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Today's Ride is Brought to You by the Letter 'L'

I've never really thought about it but "L" is a very important letter when it comes to training/riding horses (same as P: http://journeywithadancinghorse.blogspot.ca/2015/08/putting-3-ps-into-practice.html).

I've been working pretty steadily with Carmen (and subjected my readers to the details). I'm now at a point where we have a good routine going and we're both pretty comfortable with it. I'm getting a handle on what it is that she'll do when upset. Because I know what to expect now I'm not as worried about it and I'm prepared for when she spooks and/or bolts. Her bolts are not what I consider 'true' bolts. She's pretty aware of what she's doing and can be brought up (although she resents it). I don't like riding a horse that has lost it's mind and that is not Carmen- she always has her mind.

Today Cynthia was coming to ride and as I watched Irish I realized that she was in for some fun. He was running up and down the fence line and generally kicking up his heels. Hunting season has started and I've moved them to the front field. They won't go in the back fields now until spring and Irish is not pleased about that. I warned Cynthia that his mood would likely make him stiff and distractible.

Both of us were working on L words today. The first one was 'loose'. When Carmen is worried she tightens poll to tail, her gaits get choppy and she's difficult to steer. On the lunge I worked on getting her to soften and bend even through transitions and generally relax. We worked on the same thing under saddle. However, it's getting easier and easier to get her to bend on the circle. I'm staying pretty clear about what I want and I'm wiling to give a stronger aid if I have to get the bend and then immediately soften. But while we are getting the bend and softening in the gait, we lose it on the transitions. Carmen thinks that it's outside of her contract to bend going from walk-trot or trot to walk (don't even get me started on trot to canter!). I know however, that it's the key to everything else so I stay persistent.  While we were riding we heard a couple shots which got Irish's and Carmen's attention. However, I figure a horse born and raised in Virginia as well as in the Southern U.S. has heard a shot or two and she didn't really get freaked out.

During our rides I have to frequently return to work that gets her loose and relaxed. That's just her and it's getting easier and easier.

The second word is 'listen'. Carmen likes to pay attention to lots of things: rustling grass, flying birds, keeping an eye out for squirrels with grenades, what Irish is doing, the car going down the road, noticing that the lunge line is in a different location then it was before, etc, etc., etc.,. She gets a bit annoyed that I keep intruding on her and asking her to attend to me. But I'm pretty insistent and tell her that listening will make it so much easier for her. Sometimes I feel like the teacher in Charlie Brown
The last 'L' word is 'learning'.  Carmen is very smart and very talented. She does better when things are complicated then when they are simple. For example, I was asking her to go from a trot to a canter and she was a bit resistant but we got the transition. Until we went by the tree with the squirrel. She broke every time (except for the time she bolted but I simply sat up and went with her and then got her back under control and then carried on). Finally I got her to canter a full circle in a relaxed way and it only took 3 tries (go us!). As we came around I half halted and asked for a trot. She came to a perfectly square halt. From a full canter. One second we were cantering and then we were stopped. And she wasn't upset. She just thought she'd done what I asked. She shouldn't be able to do that but she did. I decided to accept it.

The problem is that with a horse like this it would be easy to fall into the trap of training higher level things and ignoring the basics. Like staying bent through a walk-trot transitions. It's easier to keep her attention on those things but she needs the A,B,Cs or else we will hit a major fail in our work and have to start over.

So even though it's simple and it's hard for to listen when it's simple we need to focus on learning the basics.

Once we have that the rest will come and be correct.

stretching into the bridle- a basic that is hard for her

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