I brought her up early to get her warmed up. I was happy I did because she was a bit wired. To be fair there were ATVs in the woods and the sounds of young people having a good time. I don't mind it but she found it to be unnerving. All part of the learning I said to her but she seemed skeptical. Then a flock of crows started flying and calling (probably harassing the young people). We all know that Carmen hates crows.
But I just kept us working - by the time Shanea arrived were weren't so much 'warmed up' as we were 'nerved up'. But that was find, we went to work on the circle. In fact the whole lesson was on the 20 metre circle. It was all about the half-halt and rating her pace. We started at the walk and the idea was to use half-halts to get her to be under me and on the aids.
|you can see that her back is a bit tight but she's listening and trying
We then started working on walk-halt-walk transitions. The goal was for me to signal (with the HH) that we were going to halt so it wasn't so abrupt. Then Carmen was to soften in the bridle and step into contact. This is hard for us for a number of reasons:
- Both of us try too hard which makes things abrupt.
- Carmen is very very sensitive. As she loosened her back (yay) any wrong movement on my part would cause her to react (not yay).
- Carmen will anticipate locations if I ask her to halt more than once in the same place. Which lead to some sudden halts on the centre line later in the ride.
- Halts for Carmen are signals for her to raise her head and scan for danger.
So the trick was to get her in a swinging walk, ask her to step a bit shorter, halt softly in contact and then step forward into the rein without me doing anything drastic with my hands.
As a dressage nerd I found this fun.
On a good note, square halts are pretty easy for Carmen -
You can see that her mouth is a bit open here- that's because when she halted and didn't shoot her head up she would try to pull down on the bit. It was a fine balance between give and not letting her take.
Riding is hard.
However, I loved how she began to softly stretch into the contact as she went from halt-walk. I loved how soft in the bridle she became and how we were working together.
We then went on to trot and the goal was to get her reaching into contact and going forward.
But not fast.
And not curling behind contact or pulling (and me not pulling either).
With the improved saddle she was really stretching forward and her shoulders were so nice and free.
It helps me to see how much her saddle was restricting her.
Shanea had me work on getting her to slow her trot and not let it rush- again using the half-halt. Often I was too hard and she would fall into walk or halt. But with time I began to figure out what she needed and I could feel her come back to me.
We began to hit our groove and she began to try to anticipate what I wanted (or was going to want). I worked on anticipating what support she needed.
Sometimes we got it right and sometimes wrong but neither of us got too upset with each other.
She did have one 90 degree spook but came right back to me and continued on past that spot without too much fuss.
We finished up with some canter work. Carmen was getting a bit tired (and me too) so we didn't do a lot of it. Funny thing about Carmen- when she starts to feel like the pressure is too much she gets reactive. As we were flailing at the canter she suddenly began to worry about the bridge.
The bridge that is outside of the ring and that she had been grazing beside yesterday and working beside all lesson.
I laughed at her and told her that she would be okay and we then carried on.
|OMG is that the bridge
We are still very much a work in progress. My plan is to give her February off and then get back at it in March.
I am anticipating a fun spring and summer ahead.
And speaking of anticipation- I am heading out next week for a vacation in the sun. I am travelling to Cuba with some friends and I am looking forward to a week where my biggest decision is whether to go to the pool or the beach. I will be off-line and I can.not.wait.