I was so excited after my lesson on Friday to ride again on Saturday. The weather was crisp but sunny. I had a lot of chores planned so decided that riding first would be a good idea. I brought Carmen in and she was quite snuggly in the barn. As we walked around the ring she walked by my side and was mellow and calm. Her focus was not on the outside of the ring but on me. Even when Irish started to fool around in the next paddock.
I mounted and we began to work. My brain was whirling with everything that I had done the day before. As we kept going I felt things started to come apart bit by bit.
I thought more desperately so that I could put it back together.
Carmen gave a big spook and then threatened to do more. I was losing her. As my brain began to work harder I heard Johanna's voice in my head as clear as bell: You are making it too complicated. Keep it clear and simple!
Aha, in trying to recreate the lesson I was being too complicated and she didn't know what I wanted. Carmen does not like to be confused and she reacts by becoming spooky.
I took a deep breath and cleared my brain. What do I want?
I want a 10 metre circle with bend.
I want to stay straight on the quarter line.
Not so good but understood and she was coming back to me.
We practiced some walk-trot transitions on the circle and she began to breath out softly. I kept my mind in the moment and what was needed and it all improved.
I headed up the quarter line and asked her to leg yield. On the second line it was soft and obedient and not worried about the corner. As soon as we hit the corner I halted and jumped off. We were both very happy.
Today Cynthia came out to ride. As we got into the ring we could hear ATVs in the woods. Then two shots rang out. Sounding really close. That was it for Carmen. She went into high alert and was quite worried. So was Irish but less so. After a bit of ground work with her I decided that I was not going to ride but instead to focus on keeping her calm and listening from the ground.
And it went really well. She stayed with me fairly well. A few times she tried to run off (once again birds in the brush). But mostly she listened. I spent some time helping Cynthia to get Irish relaxed (I've ridden him through that stuff a million times). While I was talking Carmen just hung out with me relaxed. We went back and forth from work to resting and she stayed with me. Even though there were lots of ATVS and noises in the woods. I will be happy when hunting season is over.
I knew that I had to be clear with Carmen but this weekend really brought it home to me. This horse cannot tolerate me if my brain is whirling or not focussed. I guess that this is my next life lesson.