dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, June 18, 2016

We are Not Amused

First of all, let me say that I am approaching my 500th post and I have something special planned so stay tuned!
Now back to the regular programming.

Since my last post Royce has been here two more times. Bit by bit he is chipping away at Carmen's fears and resistances and new pony is emerging.

He called me on Wednesday and we arranged for him to come on Thursday evening to work with her. The plan was for him to do some work on the ground and the saddle, then  I was to do it while he picked me apart gave me coaching.

It was, as seems to be typical for this June- cool and blustery. I could tell just by how Carmen was in the barn and going up to the ring that she was not in the mood to play. It's not that she was disobedient in any way- she wasn't. So I can't tell you how I know for sure, I do know. And since I wasn't doing any of the handling I'm pretty sure I wasn't transferring my feelings to her.

During the ground work Carmen started off fine and then she started to pull backwards. She does do that to me (I always thought that something frightened her) and drags me around the ring. However, for a small man, Royce is like a rock and he didn't move. He then spent some time getting her to give to pressure. When she comes against the rope she's to move forward right away. I should also mention that I had tied a plastic bag to a post in the ring at C the day before when I was doing my homework on Wednesday. Since she was doing fine with the plastic bag inside the circle I wanted to put one outside.

When she was listening he got on- and that's when the fun began. Carmen decided to show Royce exactly what kind of princess he was dealing with.

Every single resistance that Carmen has ever done with over the past year she threw at Royce. She tried to bolt, she stopped, she shied, she kicked and she bucked. And he rode all of it. I can't describe it in detail but here's some highlights:
1. Carmen does not like to be touched by the whip. Except that's not exactly true- she doesn't like to be told to go forward. She will be annoyed if you just sit there and cluck at her to go. With the crop she will kick at it. So Royce just kept tapping her with the crop and let her kick and carry on. He would reach back and just place the crop against her side and it didn't come off no matter what she did.

2. when she shied at something he stopped her and backed her into it. And then turned on a small circle and rode by.

3. the plastic bag was a huge issue but he kept working and gradually it became the resting place.

4. When she planted her feet and refused to move he disengaged her hip and had her move.

5. He had me rattle the plastic bag while he side passed to it.

At the end he went around the entire ring banging on boards with his crop and she never shied once.

The entire session lasted 3 hours. Most of it she was walking and trotting. Some cantering. She was sweaty. I was sweaty. Royce looked fine. I realized that Carmen was used to simply outlasting her rider. I would have given up well before. I have given up well before.  What's even more interesting is that at the end of all this Carmen was sweaty, tired but not stressed or upset.  Not even a little bit.

Royce dismounted and handed the reins to me.
You can get on- he started
No. I'm good I said
-but I wouldn't recommend it.
I didn't want to get on her after all that had just happened. She needed to process this.
This is huge. The 'old' Carmen would have been in the next county

I hosed her off and put her away. It was past 8;30 and I hadn't had supper but I was too exhausted. So I poured myself a glass of wine and munched on Timbits (these are donut holes made at our Tim Horton's coffee shop- a Canadian icon). 

Friday I rode her around noon. It was sunny but very windy. Cynthia came as well. I thought that she and I had a good session- I rode her around- fallowing Royce's advice. I showed her what I wanted but didn't try to force her. He believes that a horse learns if you let them make a mistake and then show them what you want. So wasn't to, say, force her into the circle with a tight leg and hand but to see if she would come off the rail and then use my leg to go back. I'm sure I'm messing up the explanation but it made sense to me. She would resist but not for long and it never escalated. 

In the afternoon he called and asked to come out again. 
I don't know if you realize that she has a lot of issues. 
I laughed.  um, That's why I called you.
(aside- I think that Royce has an image of middle aged woman and doesn't realize that I can a)ride and b) be brave. that's okay- as long as he fixes stuff I'll be fine). 

So he came out and Carmen was much milder then the day before. He got on her almost right away and repeated a lot of the things yesterday. She was doing really well- her resistances were slight and there was no big fight. I watched him canter her on a loose rein while she stayed on the circle and he swung his rope around her. I saw the horse that she could be.  

Then Carmen decided that he had been on her long enough. Uhoh I thought. And she resisted. She even bucked a few times. For which she was spanked and sent forward into a hand gallop. She looked very surprised at that. But this time it didn't last long (not compared to yesterday). When he was done I got on to cool her out. 
Bad cop, good cop. 
It was neat to ride this horse that was soft and listening. I rode her around the ring steering using my seat and hardly touching the reins at all. She spooked at something but within a couple minutes she was walking by it relaxed and listening. When she was breathing nicely and cooled out I dismounted and brought her down to the barn. I hosed her off and and she was happy to return to her stall. 

You are on your own tomorrow but I can come back on Sunday

That's fine Royce. I am not worried. 


  1. When Spanish mares decide they are done working,they can really pull out all the stops, haha. So glad you have Royce helping you work through the shenanigans! Sounds like you're both making really good progress!

    1. Can you say "dramatic"? It's so much easier knowing the whys and wherfores

  2. Does Royce wanna free place to stay in Germany while he helps with my horse? : )

    1. I was a hinting of you guys. He's what you need. Maybe you could set up a clinic ;)

  3. That cartoon at the end said everything that I was going to say.

  4. Even princesses have to learn to have a good work ethic:)

    There is a trainer near here that I have sent numerous horse to and Royce sounds a lot like him. He gets the horses out into the woods and rides 2-3 hours a day 5 days a week. He is very kind and gentle with the horses and just works through whatever comes up, just the way Royce is. The horses come home tired, fit and ready to do anything you want with them. They have have an excellent work ethic and know they aren't allowed to just quit and get pissy, but aren't sour either. It's rare skill these days - better buy that Royce a bottle of his favorite poison.

    1. I keep my tack room fridge with a variety of beverages. :) so far he's just accepted the ginger ale.

  5. Its neat royce is so enthusiastic to help you both. He reminds me so much of someone we have clinics with here, so invaluable when you're having problems!

  6. So happy you and Carmen are getting the help you need! Royce is great.

  7. Can Royce come ride Nilla for me? You're so lucky to have such a great trainer working with you.

    1. Hmmm. I am seeing the 'Royce World Tour'. Of course he would need an agent.....

  8. He sounds fantastic and just what you need. Wish he was closer, Id like him to work with me and my ponies

  9. I'm so happy for you that you found such a great person to work with Carmen and you. I've really enjoyed reading your re-cap posts about how he works with her because Katai tries some of the same things, although she's not nearly as determined as Carmen is by the sounds of it. It's always good to have more ideas about how to work with her.


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