dancing horses

dancing horses

Saturday, October 15, 2016


The longest road out is the shortest road home. ~Irish Proverb~

I know that I usually don't post on Saturday, instead I wait for Sunday and summarize the weekend. However, I am too excited to wait. I have to tell you all about my day. Also, it saves Ed from hearing it in excruciating detail - I'm sure he'll be grateful to you. Also there is no evidence to corroborate this blog post, you will have to trust me.

I had made plans earlier this week to bring Carmen to my friend's place around the corner. I'd been there a couple weeks ago: http://journeywithadancinghorse.blogspot.ca/2016/09/operation-slow-and-steady.html and it went very well.

Now based on the last two days it may not have seemed like the smartest idea in the universe. In fact I had some serious doubts. However, the day dawned sunny (although cold). I realized that while I could back out I had no really good excuse. So I hooked up the trailer and brought in the horses. This time I closed the front of the barn so Irish couldn't see what we were up to and throw a monkey wrench in the loading. I groomed Carmen and she was, frankly, grouchy in the aisle. I did a sharp correction of her attitude and that was the end of it. When I led her out of the barn I did a bit of work with her before taking her to the trailer. She hesitated a bit getting on but I tapped her haunch lightly and she walked right on.

I pulled into my friend's place and there was someone riding her horse, someone watching and guy painting the house. It was quite busy. When I pulled up the person riding stopped and got off. I worried that it was my fault and I apologized when I got out of the truck. She said it was okay, she was done anyway. I had some help getting her unloaded (just someone to lower the butt bar) and Carmen walked off and looked around. She knew where she was and relaxed immediately.

I led her around the ring and she was curious but not worried. My friend has tiny Canadian flags tied on various fence posts. Carmen tried to eat one. She has cones and stumps in her ring (for driving around). Camren was curious. I tacked her up and lunged her up and down the ring. She was a bit looky at the far end- there are trees and grass and ferns and equipment so there was a lot to look at. However, she seemed so relaxed during the lunging that I got on.

We started with a small figure 8 around the stumps. That worked great. I need to get some cones or something for my ring. I just kept everything relaxed and I spoke to her (to make sure I was breathing). I refused to clamp my legs or my hands. Everything I did was to slowly and diplomatically introduce her to the various spots of the ring. The side that has all the trees I would start on the quarter line and asked for two steps of leg yield and then turn to the safe zone. Then it was 4 steps and then we were on the edge. At first, as soon as we touched the rail I would turn her off before she had a chance to swerve. Then I would ask for a few strides down the side and then a few more. Before you know it we were walking and trotting and cantering all over the place.

The painter guy drove down to the barn and set his ladder up against the barn. He climbed up and began to paint the trim. I let Carmen watch and then we returned to work. I hope he doesn't fall off I thought to myself that would spook Carmen and ruin all the work we're doing. Thinking this makes me the worst human being ever a careful and thoughtful trainer.

Carmen was so brave- there are leaves blowing off the trees and two oak leaves attached to a small twig blew in the ring and landed right on her path. Carmen took a deep breath and with only a minuscule hesitation kept going. Yup. That's right- my Carmen faced down the evil leaves and lived to tell the tale.  She was a bit tight in the canter but I refused to clamp my legs on give her a reason to protest, instead I just pulsed my legs and encouraged her softly to go forward.  In one corner she gave a sudden and big spook. At first I thought she had just noticed the cone but after circling around I realized that she had spied a clump of asters growing on the side.

yes, my horse hates small purple flowers.
Photo by my friend Leonara on flickr: https://flic.kr/p/8pRVas
Once I realized what it was I could help her relax by them- first at a walk, then trot and finally canter. I have no idea how long I rode and I wanted to keep going but she was being so awesome I decided to stop. I got off and untacked her while she stood quietly. 

I then put on her halter and we went for a walk around the ring and into the woods a bit. She was curious and a bit tense but fine. She wanted to sniff things she was worried about rather than stand all stiff and defensive. I put her back in the ring and then walked around the outside. I had a bag of carrot chunks. Carmen watched me and I shook the bag. That used to make her take off but now she realizes it means goodies and she came right up. Doing that I was able to get her all the way around the ring without having to lead her. She thought it was a fun game. 

 I went into the barn to talk to my friend. We chatted for a bit and when I came out Carmen was napping contentedly in the sun. She walked right on the trailer and we came home. This time I put her lead line on and unfastened the trailer tie. I went around she was leaning on the butt bar so I asked her to step up. I lowered the bar and she stood stock still. I moved the center divide over and walked up and we quietly backed up. 

She was happy to be back in the barn but not in a hurry to leave it. She hung around and I put stuff away. 

I am so happy with my girl. These short trip and back home are going to be so good for her. I have hope that she's growing up and seeing her napping shows me the horse she can be. 

There's the fire breathing dragon

and Carmen the serene


  1. Love hearing about the progress you two are making :D

  2. Replies
    1. I love these- they help me get through the 'not so good' ones. :)

  3. You guys are going so great - well done! :)

    I think it's great that you are getting Carmen used to standing still after lowering the bar. I have two horses and I travel alone, but with both of them. For safety (flood, fire, etc) as well as convenience, it's important to me that I can load and unload them both by myself. They are so used to that, I feel more prepared for needing to load them in an emergency situation.

  4. That is great!!! I am so happy that you had such a good outing! I have a feeling that you two may have just had a break through and that this is the start of great things! I love that you were looking to see what she spooked at :P it sounds like you had such a great day! I am so happy for you!

  5. I'm just so happy to hear how well she is doing!

  6. Sounds like she is maturing mentally, so glad she is doing so well for you!


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