dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Plugged in

I tossed around lots of titles for this blog entry and in the end settled on this one because it seemed to be the most relevant to our ride today.

After our very busy weekend I gave Carmen two days off. It worked for me too because I two very long days at work. Yesterday I spent some time grooming her. Today I came home from work with the plan to ride. It's been very windy (what a surprise) so I had a bit of an expectation that she would be a bit more spooky.

In the barn she was very mellow and when I started with her bridle she reached down and picked up the bit. We walked to the ring and I tried to keep myself steady and calm. When we got there I saw that a big piece of paper had peeled off one of the sonotubes. This was a big deal last year. I walked up and picked it up. She gave a snort and then checked it out. I put it under a rock to anchor it outside the ring.

 After my work at my friend's place I realized that I needed to give her space and not try to hold her too much. This is incredibly difficult as I know how fast she can spin and leap.

As we started our warm up I made sure that my seat was engaged and helping to set the piece. I find this difficult (although it's getting easier)  because it requires balance and just the right amount of tension to follow and support. Gah. the more I ride the more I realize how freaking hard it is.

She was starting to repeat our usual warm up of 'I'll be nice for about 3 minutes and then find what's really scary and start to fixate on that. From there I start to fixate on it too and then we start to argue.

Nope. Not gonna buy into this. Not this time. 

I decided to not engage and rather then tighten her rein agains the next I held it there but she had room- this gave her nothing to fight. Well not much anyway.  She gave a couple scoots and I stayed focused on following her with my seat but restricting the fast, choppy movement.

And my god. It worked. And it worked at trot and canter. It wasn't magic but it was pretty darn close. the more tight she got the more I tried to keep my seat plugged in to the saddle and follow the movement. When ever she stretched into the contact and lifted her back I gave her rein and let her reach. When she tightened and hollowed I shortened the rein but kept my hands on her neck so that I could give her some room but not be left with no escape.

The other aspect was that I had to refuse to fixate on things that she decided were spooky. Instead I stayed on task and kept asking her to transition/bend/go forward- whatever it was that I wanted to work on. Again, magic. This helped to break the feedback loop that we have.

And what do you know- we were able to do honest-to-god back to front transitions instead of spazzing leaps and leg yields that felt like leg yields and not drunken staggers.

We worked our way down towards troll corner. She was tight but walked right into the corner, giving a sigh of relief when we passed it.
that's my girl, they will write songs of your bravery. Songs!
hmm, I detect sarcasm
Who me? 
Yes- EEEK!  we scooted forward.
Well maybe they will write silly songs

possible trolls but checking with me as to what to do

We finished up on a good note and I dismounted.

I was happy that we had managed a stress free and confrontation free ride. Neither of us was freaked out or dripping in sweat. Instead, because I stayed plugged in I could get her to plug in too. 


  1. That sounds like it worked really well. Congratulations on a good ride.

  2. Sounds like a great ride! Everyone was on the same page - "plugged in" is the perfect title :)

  3. It's hard to teach and learn how to hold a good seat. I suspect it's one of those things in which you know it when you feel it, but it makes all the difference in the world. I guess the horse feels it too.

    1. yes exactly. I think you can teach it but then it has to be felt.

  4. Looks like you found that happy medium between too much control vs staying safe, and she likes it!

    1. I like that way of looking at it- happy medium

  5. Every positive ride is a chip in the bag. I'm glad you're cashing in right now!


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