In the meantime Carmen and I had a clinic this weekend. Johanna was back and I've worked with her every year since I got Carmen. Each time I get a mini-breakthrough. We left around 9:30 on friday. Ed watched me lead Carmen out and then her just head into the trailer. I think that I could point her at it from the barn and she would get on. Ed laughed and said 'what does she need you for?' 'Closing the doors' I said and we were off.
I pulled into Stacie's around 11:30 and no one was there. I sent some texts and found out my stall. However, I put Carmen into the large round pen to chill while I unloaded things and got her stall ready. She was perfectly calm and chill about the whole thing. Remember last year when I worried that she fretted when turned out? That seems to be gone:
|totally chill mare|
Last year of 'doing all the things' seems to be paying off. Karen and her lovely stallion Kalimo arrived about 15 minutes later. As soon as Carmen saw him she went into full flirt mode. Honestly, young love is tiring.
For this clinic I had actually scheduled to do three lessons. Last year I would come the day before and get Carmen 'settled'. But this year I decided that it's time for us to up our game. We can now go places and do things right away.
I free lunged Carmen in the ring first and she was quite settled about everything. When it was my turn I spoke with Johanna about my goals. In my head I had three:
1. figure out what I'm doing that's interfering with the right bend and get a plan to fix it. Centred Riding is great for sorting out those details.
2. Work on getting Carmen to keep her attention on me even when she's convinced it should be elsewhere.
3. See if Johanna had any ideas about dealing with the extra spice that comes with her heats.
Johanna asked me to show me what happens with our bend at walk, trot and canter. Carmen's walk started off tight and fast. As per usual in a clinic situation I totally forgot how to ride and began to fuss too much with my aids. Also, as per usual, Carmen took exception to these aids (can't imagine why).
After watching a bit Johanna stepped out into the ring to help us both calm the hell down. Our first task was to slow the walk. That turned out to be really hard. However, Johanna explained that she needed to slow in order to use her hind end. This is not new information for me- I know that Carmen can be fast and behind the leg. I struggle with how soon to ask her to slow down- I wonder if I can let her settle. However, I learned that I need to tell her from the beginning what I am expecting and be clear. Of course that makes total sense.
|no media of the ride so here's a photo of a cat I wanted to steal.|
Her name was Buffy and I've always wanted a cat named Buffy!
Once I was able to get the walk slow I was then to use my seat bones to help her take longer steps behind. I could really feel how that worked. This is why I love these CR lessons- it's all about the fine details of the seat.
We then went on to trot. At first Carmen's trot was terrible - not unusual for when she's in heat. I really think that it feels uncomfortable to her. Once again it was all about slowing her down. Essentially I needed to be clear in my intent, use my seat bones properly and not over think things (who me?).
Funnily enough, working this way I was able to actually sit her trot and not bounce all over the place. I know that Iberian's are believed to be easy to sit but that's not completely true. Carmen has quite a bit of push in her stride that makes it difficult- especially if she's tight.
In terms of the right bend it turns out that I keep my right side turned too far back on a circle so that my body is opposite to the turn I want. So that became a focus. Honestly it was hard to fix- I've been riding like that for so long that when I changed it felt all off-balance and wrong.
I was really happy with our first lesson. I became aware of things and had a plan to address them.
We were off to a good start.