dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meeting Expectations

I ended my last post by saying that I knew I was going to have a good ride.

About an hour after the 'parade' passed by Cynthia came we went to get the horses. Both watched us with ears pricked but waited for us to come to them rather than meet us part way. In the barn Carmen was a bit grouchy about me grooming her belly. It's quite sensitive but I do need to clean it with all the mud we have. She's getting used to it but did bring her head around once to say 'watch it'.

In the ring she started by looking for my guidance. This is  change from before where I had to insist on her attention, now it's on me if I lose it. I realized that I wouldn't need to do much ground work and I was right. I mounted after a few minutes of lunging.

Irish was feeling pretty good but was a bit stiff. It's harder for him to loosen up and he will start stiff and short strided. Carmen was flowing at the walk and I worked on changes of direction and then walk-halt-walk transitions. She was a bit sticky going up but nailed the halts. It made me think that I was being following enough with my seat. I asked for a trot and she moved out right away. No balking. We trotted down the long side. I didn't have to stay on the center circle and move out- we moved out right away. We did a little leg yielding and she was moving over nicely. Still leading too much with her shoulder but she has the idea and we will finesse it.

There were a couple places where she sucked back- the corners and the gate. I would ask with my legs and mostly she moved forward. A couple times she sucked back more and I gave her a little tap with my heels. Carmen broke into canter but since that was a good answer (forward) even if not the gait I wanted I let her canter for a few strides and then brought her back. Once she gave a start at some brush down by R but it really was just a quick half-step and then we carried on.

As I trotted down to the end of the ring that faces the road Carmen's head shot up. I saw that the parade they saw earlier was now making it's way back the way they had come. I gave a warning to Cynthia and then carried on but moved down the other side of the ring. I was very happy that Carmen turned her mind back to work right away and ignored the toy car, dogs and people making their way down the road. Irish was a bit more of a handful but Cynthia got him working through it.

The nice thing about it was it put a bit of a zing in her step. I started doing serpentines with her. Our switch of bend from right to left is to abrupt and I need to be better at the half-halts and cues. I asked her to do a free walk on a long rein across the diagonal and she did. It's good practice for our showing this year. As we approached the corner and she became tense I slowly gathered her back up. It's early for movement when we show but I wanted to build her confidence with it and you lose fewer points gathering your horse up early then you do if your horse spooks and takes off. While our free walk was not perfect by any means she didn't tug the reins loose from my hand and she stretched out nicely.

I began to ask for some light canter work. It felt a bit sluggish and she kept breaking. I thought that it was a balance and strength issue so didn't worry. We took a break and then returned to work. I started asking for walk-trot transitions but I wasn't getting them. It didn't feel like a lack of understanding, instead it felt like 'I'm tired and think we should just walk now'. I was using far too much leg so I asked Cynthia if I could borrow her whip. I don't usually carry one- partly because Carmen is seriously offended by a tap with a whip. As soon as I had it we had some very crisp walk-trot transitions and I didn't have to use it. Either she knew I had it (but she's not that experienced) or I was being more confident because I knew I had back up. Either way it worked. We did a few transitions and I let her walk out. She tried to snatch the reins out of my hand and I put my leg on and gave her a tap. She moved out nicely. I then went back to canter work. We picked it up at the centre circle and it was a bit laboured. As we rounded the circle Irish was coming up the long side and I felt her suck back. I put my leg on and she sucked back more so I gave her a tap with the whip. BAM. She kicked out, lost the lead behind, switched in front but was now on the wrong lead and became all discombobulated. I brought her back to trot and asked her to canter. And then we had a great flowing, FORWARD canter. I realized that my problems earlier weren't due to balance issues (not totally) but by a lack of forward impulsion. Now that we had that I could work with it. We cantered up the long side and it felt lovely. Now I had something to ask her to use her hind with. We cantered a bit more and then I sat up and stilled my seat. She immediately came back to trot, then walk. I patted her and let her walk out.

I was very happy with our work. Mostly because I was working on stuff. Cynthia and Irish walked beside us on the inside and we chatted as we let them walk out. As we walked by R Carmen gave a big spook and spun inside, scaring the crap out of Irish. I pulled her up with a one rein stop (it was only a few strides). She turned around to look back at what scared her. I couldn't see anything. I decided to stand there until she relaxed. Meanwhile Irish is losing it. Poor Cynthia, but she handled it well and got him working until her relaxed again. I did overhear her telling him that he was 'going senile'.  Carmen was a bit tense because of Irish but since she caused it to begin with I figured it was fair. I sat on her with two hands on the reins, keeping them short but relaxed. Finally she gave a breath and lowered her head. I then walked her forward a few steps and stopped when she tensed again. I suspect there was a 'critter' in the grass that startled her. When she relaxed again I hopped off and loosened her girth.

In the barn she stood quietly while I fussed with her and then I put her in her stall. Cynthia let them both out and Carmen stopped to greet her
Carmen: Hey, sorry about the excitement, I didn't mean to upset Irish. 

Not bad for a horse that was last ridden one week ago.

if you look closely you can just make out the halo


  1. Excellent, fun ride! The other day I was walking Lucy and she gave a big spook. I saw nothing and was chastising her when I saw Kersey's tail poking up above the creek bed. She'd gone for a swim and I'm sure that is what spooked Lucy -- so I apologized and chastised the dog instead. :)

    1. Poor Kersey, not even able to go for swim. :)

  2. Haha my horse spooked today at a horse laying down in the next pen! hes 9 and it was totally unexpected. Goofball. She sounds like a nice horse and that after a week of is super nice. I love it when they look to you for guidance, nothing like that feeling.

  3. Sounds like a lot of fun and some unwanted excitement. All is well that ends well though. She is a gorgeous horse in that picture. Snow horse.

  4. Sounds like she did great, especially with all that commotion! She's gets extra credit! As for the spook at the end, I think that's a spring thing. I had a ride last week with Cowboy, and he was jigging for the first five minutes or so through the woods. I was with a big group, and I think he wanted to be at the front of the pack, rather than in back--but it was also full of himself stuff.


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