|BTVS- best show ever|
What if, I thought, it's not fear. What if it's something else?
I began to form a hypothesis. What if instead it was learned behaviour? Horses are good a making associations. That's what we use to train them. What if I accidentally taught Carmen that being tense and running away was the thing to do in the ring?
Not on purpose, obviously.
So that meant I needed to tackle it differently. A fearful horse is somewhat unpredictable and difficult to control. But learned behaviour requires a different approach. I decided that the next day my approach would not be 'don't be scared it's fine' but would be more an expectation that all would be fine.
I hope I'm making sense, but it made sense to me so I decided to go with it.
I also tried an experiment of trying Omega Chill. I followed the instructions of giving it 30 minutes before tacking her up and leaving her alone to let it work. I'm not sure that it worked but she seemed calm when I tacked her up. I lead her out and mounted and she immediately tried to walk off. I asked her to stand still and she began to back up. She was clearly wound. I rode her forward into the warm up ring. I figured that she hadn't had her turn out since friday and was feeling a bit up. It didn't help that the weather was cool.
In the warm up ring Carmen spied a rope that was coiled up on the kick boards and began to spook and try to run away. I suppose I should have been frustrated but I actually welcomed this. It gave me a chance to work through this behaviour before I was in the ring. I immediately began to use the approach that Rachael showed - when she ducked away I began to irritate her and bring her back to the spot the opposite way to the way she spooked. As soon as she faced the rope I took off all the pressure and rode her forward. I am sure that the others in the warm up thought I was crazy. But after a while she actually put her nose up to it and blew on it. Which raised a bunch of dust with her puff of air and she jumped back. I couldn't help myself- I broke out laughing. After that she was much better about it. I ignored her giving it the stink eye- as long as she carried forward I was fine.
Before I knew it, it was time for our test. I marched her right into the ring and up to where the judge was. She spooked (as I predicted) and I repeated what I had done in the warm up ring. I managed to get about 3 trials of that before the judge rang the bell and we were on. Our scores were from 4 to 7.5. The four was because of her being tense in the corners and there was a photographer standing at B. I felt bad for the girl because I could see that she was trying to be unobtrusive but hey, that's what shows are about. I simply rode my mare, corrected when she was off and spoke softly to her when she was good. I didn't care what the judge thought- I knew I needed to get her to listen to me in the ring. This time in our collectives Carmen got a 7 on gaits (yay) and 4 for submission (not yay) but I got a 7 for rider (so yay again). Final comments: "some fairly good moments today, however tension issues in test reduced final score today". Yup. I agree. But I still felt good about the schooling.
Here's a video of the test:
Final Score 59.808
Once again our tests were close together. I dismounted for about 10 minutes and then got back on. In the warm up I focussed on getting her bending and listening to my aids. I wanted her to be supple and I wanted the response to my inside leg on to be established so that it would be more successful when I needed it. Just before I went in I did a few canter transitions and we headed back.
At X I saluted took breath and asked her to go. And do you know what? While there was tension and looking she did not try to scoot sideways. Well I lie, she thought about it but as soon as I put my leg on she responded. When we picked up our right lead canter and had to go from E to C I could feel her backing off and wanting to not go into that corner. I sat up and said 'oh we are going and it's all fine'. So we cantered through and I was so happy. We had so much momentum that we missed the trot transition at C but I didn't care. I had the result I wanted and it was worth losing that mark to get her to canter forward. We headed to E to do our stretchy circle and I was all 'here, have some rein to stretch into' and Carmen was all 'oh good now I can have good look around'. But I kept her trot steady and our circle round. I picked up the reins at E and we headed to A to turn up the centre line and do our final halt. I squared my shoulders, put a huge smile on my face and we trotted with purpose up to X and halted. I gave her a huge pat.
Our scores ranged from 5 to 7 (no 4s yay!) and we got a 6.5 on submission! Final comments: 'fairly good start to test. Fundamentals are in place. Keep working on improving accuracy of test. '
We have fundamentals!
Final Score: 63.63
When I picked up my test I did a dance of joy. I have spent 2 years slowly getting rid of our demons. This show I felt like I had slain the master. I can always get through to Carmen but sometimes it's a battle. When she's really tense or worried she is incapable of listening and goes into self-preservation mode. This time I asked her to come with me and she actually did. It's not perfect but this was a huge step for us. The demons are getting chased into the light one by one and shrinking into small little pests.
|do we look happy?|
That I brought home 3 seconds and a third was the cherry on top. But I can honestly say that I felt like I had won the championship.
|Next year Carmen we can go for prizes.....|