dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Shadow Dancing



Thank you everyone for your concern. My bruise spent a few days becoming quite spectacular. It still hurts a bit but nothing else seems to be an issue so I'll take it.
a small part of the bruise
Riding a sensitive mare is lot like chasing shadows. As soon as you shine a light on thing it disappears.

We were away at a wedding over the weekend so Carmen had a couple days off. I think the rest was good for me and, probably, her.  Last night I didn't get to ride until around 7. Typically this would result in Carmen spooking at shadows and things. I've been working on not reacting unless her reaction is a big spook/bolt. Otherwise I carry on with what I'm doing.

The last two rides I've been carrying a small jump bat so that if she starts to use her shoulder against me I can quickly give her a tap to tell her to knock it off. Otherwise she bulges the shoulder in and that can lead to her leaving to the inside.  I had to give her a few taps on Monday and she pitched a bit of a fit about it.  Today it was a non-issue and didn't need to be used once- as soon as I asked her to bend to the inside she complied.

The trick is to not get tense when she does but not get left behind if she launches sideways. Today she gave a couple spooks but I completely ignored them and carried on. I did take note of the spots where she reacted and used those spots to rest.

What I had to tell myself is to not change my plans because of how she behaved. Part of her spooking is learned- she learned if she does that I will back off. So today she spooked in the corner. I ignored it and continued with my plan of a shoulder-in to straight to haunches in down the side. In the past I would try to get her soft and then ask again. Not this time. So it was a pretty horrible shoulder in but I  didn't care. The work does not change because she spooks. The larger plan may change but the moment to moment plan doesn't.

 I'm also working on keeping my legs on through it all  because I've been letting her get behind the leg. I'm good about getting after her when she's slow behind the leg but not when she's fast. I tell her that she can take bigger steps but not faster ones. This helps her to use her hind end rather than speeding along stiff and braced. All of this means that I have take responsibility for riding her correctly and not letting myself be floppy.

I've also been trying to keep her mind busy so that there's not time to get horribly distracted. I'm also not backing down on the ask to flex to the inside. She does not have to look outside for monsters and she's gotten good at barely flexing but really looking out. I'm not a fan of 'headset' but her looking out is not doing either one of us any favours so it's become a non-negotiable.

On Monday after my ride I dropped the gate to walk down to the barn. She was quite keen to leave so we did some circles and then in and out of the ring so that she doesn't get the idea that she can rush out. I then made her stand half in and half out of the ring until she settled and seemed to be willing to stand there as long as I wanted. Then we walked to the barn.

Today when I dropped the gate she was calm and quiet. This time I took her to the right to do a small hack. She was a bit tight going by the tall grass. I just took a deep breath and relaxed. She stayed tight but kept going. As we went into the woods and on the trail she relaxed more and more. Which tells me that she's not a true 'spooky' horse. Because with the leaves and shadows not to mention going by a shed, manure pile, wagon and through a gate are all potentially spooky things. But she didn't even blink. Even though we were all by ourselves.

I plan to ride her each day leading up to the show. Experience tells me that she does better with that then being rested.

And guess what I picked up on my way back from the wedding:
I have never won a trophy showing horses before. But to be honest, my biggest thrill is what it represents. Carmen and I exceeded all of my expectations. It represents not only the work I've done but also that I kept the faith that we can do this thing.




30 comments:

  1. Congrats on your trophy!!! Wow! That is an impressive bruise also haha.
    I'm finally riding Apollo and Henry again and not getting tense is the hardest thing for me. Working on it! Sounds like you have a great plan of attack :)

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    1. Not getting tense is one of the hardest thing about riding a horse that could dump you. It's a work in progress for me and some days are better than others.

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  2. check out that trophy!!!! congrats again - that's so cool! also, your point about continuing with your shoulder in after she spooked instead of waiting her out for softness again - even tho it meant for a lesser quality SI - matches something i've been working on lately too. for different reasons probably haha.

    i find myself easily baited into fussing about some distracting issue instead of simply carrying on with my point and riding the movement i intended to ride. which maybe taught isabel that she could sucker me out of asking for hard stuff and change the subject by going rigid somewhere or popping off the contact or something else that would distract me into dealing with it. but it turned out with her (and now with charlie too!) that if i just stay focused in the moment, some of those distracting issues end up resolving themselves. go figure.

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    1. Yeah- I was amazed to realize how quickly I can get gotten off track. And it's not about force or not listening but about being insistent that this is what we are doing.

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  3. That is a gorgeous trophy! Congrats on that and glad you are feeling better.

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  4. That trophy 😍😍 a physical memento of the work you put in an all the obstacles you and Carmen have overcome. But hacking her out alone is just as big of a milestone to me. Hooray!

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    1. I know- I need a trophy for that!

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  5. Leah uses her shoulder against me, too. It's a cross between bolting and pushing, and I haven't come up with the correct word for it. She started it the day we had that fall--over a year ago--then she just got bigger and bigger with it. I finally carried a bag with me and threw up in front of her face to block her. Then, I switched to a riding crop, and I flip it in front of her to block her path. Sometimes, nothing works--or it happens so fast, I don't have any answer. Last week, on my 99th day, I rode the trails with friends. We were going up a narrow, steep hill and got to a hairy spot where had a tree had fallen to block our path. The rider and horse in front of me bolted up the steep hill side in a panic. Leah wanted to follow--she is not coordinated enough to have made it up that hill. I tried to block her, but I could feel her energy ready to bolt. So, I got off. If you find a way to work on this issue, please let me know. I'm afraid I may have to deal with it forever since I let it become so ingrained. On the bright side, she's usually a very willing horse--and she led the rest of that ride (I was NOT going to follow after that) totally solid and strong. I LOVE your trophy!!! Congratulations!!

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    1. I suspect that it will always be there for Carmen too but I'm hoping it will lessen over time as she gains confidence and I gain awareness to stop it before it escalates.

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    2. Stopping it before it escalates is key with Leah, too.

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  6. That is a very spiffy bruise and an even spiffier trophy. I doubt anyone ever manages to earn the one without the other:)

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    1. now that is an excellent point. :)

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  7. That is a super impressive bruise, holy cow!!

    I enjoyed your post - you mentioning how you are just carrying on with things despite what Carmen is doing (or not doing) is kind of what I have been implementing with Annie as well. It's hard not to get suckered into the "fights" sometimes, but it sometimes is better to just ignore the issue and keep pushing forwards (literally and figuratively, lol).

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    1. Yes it's better but harder because I fall into doubting myself.

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  8. Wow that bruise is dark. Sheesh. That trophy is so cool though.

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    1. It's the most spectacular bruise I've ever had.

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  9. Very impressive bruise. Congratulations on the trophy you earned it. I think your plan for tiding Carmen through her antics is a very sound one.

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  10. Congratulations for a well-earned trophy!

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  11. I am happy you are having productive rides! That bruise looks epic!

    Congratulations on the trophy!!!! That is just a little external reminder that even though things are not always "perfect" they are just the way that they need to be!

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    1. Yes- I need that reminder because i get caught up in being perfect.

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  12. WOW! That trophy! And I'm sorry about the bruise...

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    1. It looks very shiny in my tack room. :D

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  13. What an awesome trophy! and that bruise, ouch! But it makes so much sense to just keep going. I always figure if I am asking they are doing (or at least trying) even if I'm asking for the wrong thing lol its like fake confidence. Seems to work for me so far. And then I learn more and we go with that, lucky they are forgiving animals.

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  14. I love your approach, and the way it's been paying off. Bobbles - bruises - sorry to hear that, mend quickly.

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  15. That is one spectacular bruise! The worst part (ok, not really) of my fall was that I didn't get ANY fun coloring to prove it happened. If you're going to have a war story, you might as well have something to show for it! Seriously, though, OUCH!

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