dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Well That was...Intense

I feel that I should apologize about the frequency of my posting but it's a constantly shifting landscape these days.

So far each training session has brought Carmen along a bit farther. I'm enjoying the rides and I can see where we're going. After a 'free weekend' Royce came out last night. I had to take some time off in the afternoon because the farrier was coming. At that point I wasn't sure if Royce was coming so I decided to ride anyway. It went really well and I was happy with everything.

Then Royce phoned we set a time for that evening. While I waited for him I puttered in the barn and then pulled up a chair and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the barn. It's been really hot but there's usually a nice breeze blowing through and so it's often the nicest place to sit. When Royce arrived I described where we were and we discussed the plan- a ride in the ring, then I get on and then head out to the field.

Fast forward 3 hours and I walk into the house and collapse on the couch beside Ed.
Wow. That was a long time. You look exhausted.
I am. 
What happened? 

And I told him.

Royce did a bit of ground work and then got on. I could see that Carmen was not impressed with this idea of working twice in one day. She was giving him some attitude but he, as always, dealt with it very well. Finally he had her listening and moving off the leg without kicking. He got off and we changed to my saddle. I got on but her attention was riveted into the next field.

Royce directed me to walk forward and then side pass up towards C (also the end with Troll Corner). She flatly refused and became very agitated. I could feel her ramping up and nothing I did seem to help. With a great deal of assistance and battling we got her up towards C when she freaked and bolted. I asked her to whoa and she tried, she really did but she was too scared. We finally got her stopped (Royce was hanging on the reins). I took a deep breath.
Don't take this the wrong way... Royce began.
Nope, totally agree I said and hopped off.
We realized that this was not resistance, she was blowing (as horses that are truly frightened do). We believed that there were deer in the next field. Royce put his western saddle back on and mounted.

This is a good opportunity He said. She needs to learn to go ahead and work even when frightened. We haven't had a chance to help her figure this out yet. 

And I watched him go to work. To be honest I was worried for his safety. It was quite the show as he slowly worked on her learning to 'follow the rein'. Royce believes that she has never truly learned to give to the rein and so when she jumps and hits it she doesn't know what to do so she panics. That seems to describe what happens.

It took a long time. But Royce was able to get her up to that end of the ring and not by brutality but by timing and feel and a level of tenaciousness that was admirable. She was walking back and forth and while tense he could have her on a loose rein. I was glad that he got to experience what I have experienced at times but couldn't deal with. He was glad too.

He left to go home and ride. Yup. The man is nuts.

He also directed me to ride today. To be honest I was nervous but I did what I usually do when frightened by something- square my shoulders and go do it. I got her ready and did some ground work starting up a troll corner. She was definitely worried. Yesterday had confirmed that this area was not to be trusted. When I mounted I started with the activity of getting her to follow the rein. It was pretty clear from the beginning that any area from the centre line up to C was a danger zone. So I went down to A and did most of our work there gradually working our way up. I would go up and then back. All rest happened up there. In the end we were able to work our way up to half way between E and C. I took it. In amongst the 'stuff' I was able to get clear and sharp transitions and we even worked on lengthening and shortening trot strides. If I can get her into an activity like that then she forgets about the other stuff. For a little bit anyway.

I'm hoping that this is a 2 steps back scenario. Royce assures me that this is what she needs to work through and it will make her, in his words,  'solid'. I am so pissed at the people that gave her a horrible start and have this mare having to learn to trust at the age of 6. I am happy that her breeder was responsible and took her back to give her a chance. God knows where she would have ended up (like in Canada with some crazy chick who thinks she's worth the work).

maybe one day we'll be actual dance partners


  1. Keep up the posting. Just rode my new "confidence builder" mare. She isn't lol. But, I feel she will be, right now she's the one who needs confidence.

  2. Although it sounds like a rough middle, sounds like you had good work at the beginning and the end! It really is a shame that whoever started her did such a poor job, but she is very lucky to be with you and working with Royce learning how to trust again! Love reading your posts!

  3. I like what you did working her hard where she's comfortable and resting her where she's more scared. I forget to do that, but I've been told to over and over. It's a good reminder. One thing for sure, she's a BEAUTIFUL horse. I'm glad you have Royce there with you to work through all this.

  4. A small step back, but you've totally got this :) If she's anything like my Ginger mare (and they do sound much alike) one day all the puzzle pieces will fall into place like "magic" and your hard work will be rewarded ten times over.

  5. You and Carmen will dance. I'm sure of it.

  6. Sorry it was so frustrating and feels a little like a set back, but glad Royce got to see the whole picture of how she can be - sounds like his approach worked too!

  7. Definitely don't apologize for posting! I am really enjoying this work you've been doing with Carmen. She's probably just going through a rough patch right now. She'll get back on track!

  8. I think it is great she showed Royce what you have been battling. It sounds like you both have come up with a great action plan to sort out the issue at its roots. It may feel like a step back but I think it is a step forward!

  9. She's only 6, so you have so much time to develop the foundation and trust you need. You're doing all the right things.

  10. I agree with the others, you're on such a good path there are just bound to be some bumps and breaks in the trail. It will just make the end result that much more worth it!

  11. Keep up the posting. I'm following your journey. And 6 is young for most horses, you have so much time to get where you're going.


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