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|
Keeping your horse from being an idiot is not being a bully. I have this same struggle (or did have - he's coming along) so I know the feeling. I just keep reminding myself that the toddler phase was not fun with my son, but boundries are important for growth. And they are both smart enough to figure out when that door has closed.ReplyDelete
Thank you for that! She is so much better then before.Delete
I second Karen! :)Delete
Carmen sounds like she was being a real brat. All your work with her showed her she’s not getting away with her past antics anymore. Nice riding. I don’t think you sound like a bully at all, just someone who is willing to stick it out and make her see the error of her ways with reasonable requests. I love the ribbon and think it’s just perfect for her!ReplyDelete
I don't know what got into her but I'm glad that I was able to ride it through and get some things established.Delete
Bridget had a 'moment' yesterday and my go to was still to freeze. I admire the progress you're making, and how hard you've worked to be able to think and act in the moment - it sure sounds like it is paying off :)ReplyDelete
It's a constant work in progress as you know very well. I am surprised at myself being able to stay active.Delete
charlie's preferred mode of battle is pretty different from carmen's (he gets mired down in place as opposed to carmen's need for speed), but he likewise has periods where you can feel him building up to a boiling point over a few days. and then... it's just gotta come out, and i just gotta stand my ground. bc yea, in the beginning he learned some wrong lessons from me backing off too early. over time tho, these flare ups have become less frequent (and not just bc he's been too lame too often either haha). seems like carmen is also figuring out that you're going to be consistent in seeing her through the moment and then still have expectations with her getting on with her life afterward.ReplyDelete
It's hard to NOT teach them that we'll back down because we worry that we asked too much and overwhelmed them. this time was easy because I literally had just sat on her and asked her to walk.Delete
Oh horses. Always gotta throw us a curve ball! Hopefully the next rides you can jump right to the work and skip the battle first 🙂ReplyDelete
Dramatic Spanish mares! sheesh.Delete
I feel like she's testing you when she does that--just to see if she's going to be the boss--and when it doesn't work, she goes back to work. Leah does the same thing, but she's not as athletic as Carmen. This time of year, there's definitely more testing going and, with the mares, hormonal things, too. Good job riding it though. That has to be kind of fun once it's over and you're safe!ReplyDelete
I think that you are right. It really did feel like a test.Delete
Personally, I think mares are worse about that than geldings. Plus, my mares are kind of serious and grumpy. They’re probably serious about wanting babies! 😂Delete
Oh, mares... only too willing to let you know their opinions on everything.ReplyDelete
Far too many opinions.Delete
It really does sound like she understands the work - and that's so wonderful! The lovely moments you describe sound incredible. Sounds like she's just going through something and needed to push the envelope to make sure you're still going to support her when she's not at her tip top.ReplyDelete
It doesn't sound like being a bully at all to me! You seem to return the energy she gives you in the proper way. If she's all bubbly and wonderful, you reflect that right back and build on it. When she's being a pissy little jumping bean, you deliver energy back in a way to contain hers and mold it into something constructive.
I like how you phrased that- the reflecting of energy. Thank you.Delete
I think it's super helpful to ride with someone with there's tension. Talking helps. I had a friend who would sing the whole time she rode.ReplyDelete
It's funny- they can't keep me safer but it feels safer. :)Delete
I think you did a great job explaining what the issue was and how you had to battle it out with Carmen. I think it helps that most of us have had the same experience. Sometimes, the horses just need to be ridden out of whatever it was that was bothering them. Active fighting rather than just dismissing their problems and moving on seems to make it worse. It's so impressive to read how you keep improving and moving forward with your confidence and ability to ride those days on Carmen.ReplyDelete
Thank you. She makes me think for sure.Delete
I love that you are feeling more confident, hopefully Carmen will get it and cut the crap sooner rather than later! Think back to where you were at this time last year and I really think you two are going to have a stellar year!ReplyDelete
I'm going to show her what you wrote so that she can see the great advice. :)Delete
So happy you are so much more secure in riding her shenanigans! They never learn it is quicker to just work, never, I have 23 years of App to prove that. But think of how much progress you are making, it is fantastic indeed.ReplyDelete
Nooooo, don't tell me that!!! :D :DDelete
Good job on working through it. Sometimes that is just what you have to do. They have their moments just like we do. It sure has been fun to watch the two of you come along. It is especially hard in the winter because the work has been so inconsistent.ReplyDelete