dancing horses

dancing horses

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Clinic Report Day 3: Mind Melding

My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts. ~ Commander Spock

Yes, I am using a Star Trek reference to illustrate this post. I'm a nerd, remember?

No one would be surprised to hear that I spent the rest of the day /evening/night reflecting on my rides and how to get my crap together.

I tend to be fairly logical and it was bugging me that she was throwing her haunches in again. I wasn't arguing that my hip was tight- I have bursitis in that hip and I spend a lot of time stretching it and I go to massage therapy to keep it loose. My thoughts were that Carmen should be well used to that by now. However, since I was sitting 'deeper' in the saddle maybe it was bugging her more. Which led to the thought that my hip is my hip and it may not ever be really good because of my physical limitations. I decided that I would broach this with Johanna on my sunday morning ride.

Over dinner my friend commented that I should be happy with my rides- that she had seen a change in Carmen's way of going and my riding since July (she was at the Centred Riding clinic with me). That made me feel good but something was still bugging me and I needed to let it percolate.

At 3 a.m. I woke up with theory. Of course.... I thought and then drifted back to sleep.

Sunday morning I arrived at the barn and Carmen called a greeting. I let her out while I cleaned her stall and hooked up the trailer. When I brought her back in I went into her stall to groom and spend some time with her. After I groomed her I stood beside her and rubbed her withers. She flapped her lip enjoying the scratch. I quietly and gently ran my hand down and under her belly. Her ears pinned and she snapped at the air (not at me at all). That was my confirmation- she was feeling ulcery. Which made sense- with the travel by herself, leaving Irish and then the new place were causing some stomach upset. Even though there were no outward signs of worry it obviously was affecting her. That explained the balking at going forward- it causes discomfort and she doesn't like that.

I took her outside to lunge and warm her up before my ride. She was completely tuned in. I decided that I would be better off letting her graze and get some roughage in her belly. So that's what I did- grazing as a warm up: it's now a thing.
now this is training I can get behind
When it was our time I came into the arena and mounted. When Johanna came in I started by explaining about my hip. She listened very carefully as I explained about my hip. 
Does it hurt?  she asked. 
I had to laugh because I know that wasn't what she meant- she explained that she meant that now that she knew that we could figure out how to work around it. I then explained about my thoughts that Carmen was having some stomach issues. Again she listened carefully and respected my thoughts. 
What do you want to do? 
I said that I was fine working at the walk and maybe trying some trot but I didn't want it to be worse for her. 

And that's we did. I had to work on my breathing again but this time I could feel it resonating with me and her. 
As she would stiffen I would breathe in and (try to) not tighten my body. As a result she walked around calmly and her ears were little satellite dishes going back and forth. 

We practiced Shoulder in some more- I realized the I was not asking for enough bend and that was setting us up to be wrong. I was to get the bend and then just let the shoulder in happen. 
ta dah
We tried a trot and, while Carmen did move forward she was chomping with her teeth. I stopped. I don't want to do this to her just for a lesson I said so we went back to walk.  

The goal was to have Carmen lengthen and shorten her stride. The first ask was a disaster. She thought that I was asking for a trot and reacted. You know I'm not asking for that, just walk okay? 
noooo, you're asking me to trot and it huuurtts, meanie! 
calm down 
Johanna had me take a deep breath and bring it down a notch. 
This time when you ask for her to take a longer stride don't do anything. No, that's not right. She stopped trying to figure out how to help me understand. 
Don't do any drastic I ventured helpfully. 
Yes. don't be drastic.  she agreed. 
So I'm walking along trying to figure out how to help Carmen take longer steps without getting her to overreact. What I did was centre myself in our walk rhythm and then visualized me taking longer strides in the the rhythm. And she followed my thoughts and took longer steps. 
That's it!  called Johanna. 

We did that a few rounds. I stopped by Johanna- which was Carmen's favourite place the whole session and that was adorable. 
I don't know what else we can work on Johanna said. 
And I completely agreed. 
Although I had a whole ride in walk it felt like we had made quite a few breakthroughs. Mainly- that was the first time I ever could ride her at the walk without her getting frazzled and wanting to spook at things. The next was learning to use my seat and breath in an effective manner. I felt so much better about everything. 

Going home Carmen had a second thought about getting on the trailer but walked right on on the second try. When I got home there was no one at home so I undid the butt bar and walked up to back her off (which is how I do it). At that point Irish screamed and she began to pul back before I could undo the trailer tie. It did what it's supposed to do- breakaway (love these trailer ties). Unfortunately I didn't let go of the lead line soon enough and got some major rope burns on both hands. As soon as she was off she stopped to graze. I picked up the lead line and we spent the next 10 minutes going on and off the trailer like a civilized equine. She resisted at first but I was firm. I was also completely calm and unflustered by this. After she had gone off and on a few times I brought her to the barn. 

It was good to be home.


  1. That sounds like a great end to the clinic! (except the rope burn when you got home!) That last photo is amazing!! :D

  2. Ah, what an excellent lesson! Sometimes a quiet, thoughtful lesson is the perfect thing.

  3. Poor baby but, she's so,fortunate that you realized what was up. Really enjoyed reading how you lengthened her steps. I tend to untie then butt bar.

    1. Yeah. I didn't want her to fly off but in retrospect, I shall try that

  4. Minus the rope burn, sounds like a really awesome learning experience and trip!

  5. Sounds like great clinic with lots of progress. Sorry about the rope burns.

  6. Sounds like a nice, quiet end to a good clinic. That was smart of you to load and unload her once you got home.

    1. oh yeah- there was no way I was having her fly off being the last thing she remembered.

  7. Sorry about the ulcers, but at least you figured it out before it got worse. The last clinic lesson sounds great though.

  8. Yay for breakthroughs! Sounds like you got so much to take away from the clinic, definitely the ideal situation! Re the trailer, I always untie first too. If they're going to fly out, mighty as well avoid the added drama of a potentially broken halter.

  9. Its always good to be home. I love when I can get a lesson at home because it so much less stressful for Lucy. Unfortunately, that is difficult to do -- I'm sure you have the same challenges.


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