dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Doing the Cha Cha

I've been having some excellent rides on Carmen. We've had moments that were not so hot, but overall our work has been very positive. Our ground work is going very well too: 

grazing under flapping laundry without a care
However, Carmen is still what I consider a green horse and it's fall. There was a storm due later that day so Cynthia and planned to ride early. The weather was cool and very windy. During our grooming and groundwork Carmen was her normal self (the new normal that is).  I mounted and we started to warm up. Things quickly went to hell in a hand basket (to quote my mother). I worked through a few spooks, scoots and dekes. I would get her settled for a second and then lost her.

Things began to spiral and I realized we weren't getting anywhere. I brought her to a halt and dismounted. She actually jumped when I hopped off. I put her back on the lunge and she was initially I have no idea what you are talking about. 
She refused to go to track right.
I don't go that way. 
Yes you do. 
The part where you don't go to the right. 

It didn't take long to remind her that she does, in fact, lunge to the right. And by that tree, that patch of grass and away from Irish. In the past if I got off to lunge her more she would be a complete and utter basket case. But not this time. It took about 5 minutes of work for her to get her brain re-booted. I got back on and had a productive ride. Not a great one, but there was no more spooking.

I figured that it was a fatal combination of the impending weather, the shots we were hearing in the distance, the cooler temperatures and the wind.

On Saturday I rode her by herself. I left Irish in the field and he began to run around like a fool. I have to hand it to Carmen, she did not react at all to his shenanigans. However, she was VERY spooky a the far end (opposite to Troll Corner). Hunting season has started and I heard a few shots. I would be surprised if there was more movement in the woods. I decided to do most of our work up that the other end. Things started well and then the wheels began to fall off. By now Irish is settled and grazing (I love older horses- they can be as silly as young ones but for not as long). I thought about lunging again but decided to work through it. I pushed her to go forward and not balk at everything.

I realized that I was getting really tight. Fair enough- she was being quite tight and ready to bolt. Like at the wheelbarrow that's been there since she lived here (I really need a sarcasm font). I kept telling myself to loosen up. I picked up a canter and we began to circle up and down the top half of the ring. I use the term 'circle' to mean a squiggly-not-square-sortof-roundish shape

yeah. like that. 
She stayed with me but wasn't too thrilled about the idea and wanted to keep looking to the outside. We did a few trot-canter transitions which were not terrible. Once I asked for a right lead and got the left (the way she was looking), I asked her to trot but she did a flying change, then a flying change back to left and finally to the right.

I suspect tha tempi changes are not going to a problem for her if I can keep myself together. Overall, the ride took about 90 minutes before we could finish. I am cutting us both some slack for the ride yesterday because learning is never a straight line (no matter what we want).

Today I was determined to be relaxed and calm in our ride. I didn't have a lot of time to ride so I wanted to be careful. I left Irish out again but this time he was not running around.

why are you maligning me? They all know that I'm the good one. 
While you can't really run a hot horse to being calm, it did help that she had a work out the last two days. On the ground she was great. I got on and we walked around. She was a bit looky but I focussed on keeping my seat following and maintaining consistent contact with my hands. I realized that I wasn't paying enough attention to this and it was creating an off and on contact that Carmen hated. I made sure that my contact was the same pressure no matter where her head was (unless she tried to root).  She gave a scoot and I managed to keep both my seat relaxed and not grab with my hands. This made an immediate connection with her and she began to check in with me frequently.

And the result? I hopped off after 20 minutes. Not because she was awful but because she was good.  We even had a couple trot leg yields that were the best yet. That's when I hopped off.

I realized a few things from this weekend.
1. My belief that there will be some testing rides for a while yet was confirmed.
2. I don't have to always feel completely relaxed and calm to ride well. It helps but almost impossible when Carmen is a hot mess. The trick is to not fall into being rough or harsh.
3. She's not as dedicated to being spooky as she used to be
4. I MUST make sure that I have a following hand at all times.

while this looks cute, let me tell you- it's NO  FUN to ride. 


  1. I agree that she looks cute in that picture but I can see cha-cha- girl would be no fun to ride. It sounds like you made progress in your last few rides. She will eventually give in. I have a lot of hunters around here too and I don't like them. They make riding interesting for sure. At least the ones around here are mostly very early shooters.

    1. It's a bit nerve wracking because I think that they hunt far too close to residences!

  2. You have me feeling so lazy with the Mini's. You guys have really progressed so much.

    1. You have not been lazy at all! Those two minis are quite the handful.

  3. omg that last pic haha - what even is that, Carmen?!?

  4. Sometimes quitting early (or while you're ahead), is a GREAT training tool!

    1. I agree- if I made it hard then there's no reward and she might feel negative about riding (which is already a problem).


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