Saturday was sunny but had a bitter icy wind. I opted to just lunge and I was glad I did because Carmen was lit. It was good to work her through her profound fear of blowing trees (that are only really scary in the ring, otherwise they are mildly alarming).
Sunday I went to the curling rink in the early afternoon. Our office is going in a fun bonspiel and two of the women have never curled in their lives. It was fun showign them what to do and coachign them through it. I had decided to take a break from curling this winter but I realize that I miss it so will go back next year.
After having fun on the ice I went home to meet up with Julia and Ashley. The original plan had been for the three of us to take turns riding the horses. Carmen was a bit grumpy in the cross ties but I wasn't too worried about it.
I mounted up and we walked off. As we approached the far side of the ring she began to jig. I asked her to slow up and walk and she exploded. Suddenly she just could not horse. Not even a little bit.
|she felt like this- only with a saddle and rider on
She tried to take off on me and I pulled her into a one rein stop. It took a long time for her to stop circling and just 'whoa'. I won't go into the nitty gritty of everything but essentially she threw a major tantrum about being ridden and was trying run off and spook and generally just being pissy. I did consider if it could be the saddle (and I will get it sorted) but I don't think so. It felt more about wanting to do what she wanted to do and how dare I have another opinion on it.
Ashley watched us for a bit and then asked if I wanted her to get the lunge line. I said sure. But in the end I never used it. I needed to work through this and having people there helped me to feel braver about it.
Essentially I kept my legs on (not clamped but always there giving directions). This prevented her from being able to leap sideways. I would not let her bend her head out to gawk at nothing (but really scary nothings). I stuck to my plan of the work. Which really at this point was just walk a freaking straight line. I asked Ashley to watch and let me know if I leaned forward (my old response to feeling insecure) but she never had to. I caught myself a few times starting to lean but then reset myself.
I was also periodically calling out things to Julia who was riding Irish. I like doing that because it stops me from buying into Carmen's game. She would be acting like she was going to fly sideways and I would just put on my inside leg and half-halt on the outside and carry on talking.
Irish gave a spook in Troll Corner which was just what Carmen needed- she exploded into a bolt towards the gate. I had no brakes but I did have steering and I was ready for this anyway. So I simply rode in a circle. Many many circles. I didn't even ask her to slow down with my reins- I kept my seat in the saddle and rode the circle. Ashley said 'that canter looks really good'. And it was nice and forward (the glass is half-full). When I finally felt that I had some brakes I kept riding the canter. Then I felt her want to break to trot and I pushed her for two more canter circles before bringing her back to trot and walk.
And after that the battle was pretty much over. Not that she didn't get tight or act all 'oooh I'm gonna blow' but we could actually work on things. Our leg yields were great. We did some shoulder in -she's getting much more malleable when she throws her haunches in to get them back out. It's clear that she understands the work.
|I also did way better and not lifting my hands depsite her being just like this
I wanted to practice some lengthens so I put her on the right circle and started asking for walk/trot transitions. Carmen was sure that I was going to ask for a canter and kept offering it. I let it go for a few strides and then brought her back. Given how hard it was for her to have a balanced canter not that long ago I was happy that she's becoming a cantering queen. Finally I just let her canter a few circles to get it out of her system. We then went back to trot and I asked her to shorten her stride and then move out. I could really feel her begin to stretch out over her topline with the ask. Which is perfect- that's what I want. I don't want her to fling her legs or speed up- I just need to her stretch out over her back and take slightly longer steps. The rest will come with time. I was happy with that and ended it there. I decided that it would not be fair to put anyone else on her (fair to either one of them to be honest).
|kind of like this only not overbent
Every now and then Carmen has to have this battle and then it's over. Looking back over the three days I could see it building. I honestly don't know if I would have kept riding if I was alone but I also am not going to let her intimidate me out of the saddle. She knows what I'm asking and this is her third year in our ring. We will get there. I am sure that I accidentally taught her that I would back off if she got really agitated. Then I woudln't back off but would end soon after she improved. Now I'm staying with her until I get it done. Part of me wishes she could understand that she can choose between 30 minutes of work or 30 minutes of shenanigans and then 30 minutes of work.
I am feeling pretty good about my stability in the saddle. I'm doing much better at being an active rider rather then one who freezes. I've decided that doing something is better then nothing. I would rather make a mistake and fix it then just be a lump. I used to be afraid of the mistake- not anymore.
|I need a pink polka dot ribbon