Fall seven times, stand up eight
~ Japanese Proverb~
No I didn't fall off Carmen.
But after the adenaline got me through Sunday, the last thing I wanted to do was to ride Carmen on Monday. Even incidents that 'end well' can carve away at our confidence. And the reboot of old, long dealt with behaviours (the backing up) and the new behaviour of not standing for the dismount had me a bit worried.
I did it anyway.
I know some of my readers are concerned for my safety, and not without reason. I wasn't being over-confident. I didn't feel resilient or brave or any of those things that build character. I was actually feeling pretty fatalistic. Carmen is my horse and I need to ride her.
Which all sounds like I had a philosophical think tank with myself and came to a conclusion.
Of course I had done none of those things. Instead, I came home from work, changed my clothes and did my afternoon chores. And then I saddled up Carmen. Ed was making dinner and had a meeting to go to. I said that I wasn't planning to be long but I might be so for him to not wait for me.
I put on my safety vest (sorry Paula, I know I should wear it every time but it's so hot!). This time I was very careful in my lunging. I have been interpreting her being lazy on the lunge as her being quiet. I think I was wrong to accept that. I think it set up the idea that half-assed is okay. So I made sure that I only accepted and rewarded sharp transitions and forward movement. Running away was shut down. Not that she really tried to do that- just one scoot. When I thought she looked pretty good I lunged a little longer.
Then I took off the line and started to walk her over the block. She gave a big spook. Which was what had happened Sunday too- but then I figured it was a one-off and she would settle. This time I was not getting on until she was tuned into me. So I did more work in hand. I had a talk with her that went something like this:
I hear those people too on the other side of the trees. But the truth is that there's always going to be shit going on (birds, butterflies, ATVs, flapping things) and none of it is relevant to what we are doing right now.
I swung a leg over and honestly, felt a little ill in my stomach. But we marched forward and I was determined to frigging ride my horse.
She got a little tense in one corner and I had her bend in a circle until she gave. I need to NOT give up on the bending. If it takes a pony club kick so be it. We walked one way and then the other. Another corner caused some consternation and we worked through it. I then picked up the trot and then the canter.
Honestly, it was nothing to look at from the outside. But I never gave up on my 'ask' and only rewarded the try. I used my voice a lot. I praised her when she was good and growled at her when she wasn't. I cantered everywhere in the goddamn ring because it's mine and she's 8 and we can totally do this thing.
And we did it. As we got going she beacme more tuned in. When she tuned me out I insisted she stay with me. When she got tight I used everything to stay in the saddle and ride her forward. Especially in the canter. She can get strong and tight and bounce me out of the saddle. I sat deep and back and used my thighs to slow her down. Then released and rode that forward. I never let go of the outside rein and the inside was just to make a point and move on. Once I had to tap-tap-tap her with the whip to get into a corner. She became pissy but I figured that she wasn't paying attention to the corner anymore so that was a plus.
In the end I was able to get us to point of softness and listening. When I dismounted she never moved until my feet hit the ground. We spent some time getting her back to where I had put her. I sent Ed a text that I was done. I'm pretty sure that he was watching out the window.
I would love her to love the work we're doing. For now I will settle for obedience. Because once she let's go she can figure out that this actually fun,.
What about you? Have you found yourself not wanting to ride even though you didn't have an accident? How did you get through it?
I get into that trap of thinking lazy is good, at least it feels safe! But I'm trying to force myself to require more.ReplyDelete
Yes, 'safe' is the perfect word for it. And it is a trap!Delete
Your feelings and mine, today, exactly..ReplyDelete
Yeah, I ready your post and saw that. At least Mag is being all grown upDelete
Yes, yes, and Yes!! I wear my safety vest now for every ride...and I ride dressage and trail. Fear and confidence. Fear is so quick to rise to the top, and confidence falls away so quickly. Yes, I have said a prayer for safety before I ride, Yes, I have made myself ride when I didn't want to for the same reason,...she is my horse, I need to ride her. I've had 3 falls, broken ribs or broken arm each time. Now I lunge with a bridle and full gear, no short cuts. Full attention on me. You are doing everything I am doing. My horse is/was a bolter and spooker too. I think we are both on the right track. I look forward to hearing about your progress. Best Wishes!ReplyDelete
Carol, she sounds like a handful! Fortunately I haven't broken anything.Delete
You are exactly where I was a year ago. Pony Club kicking and all. Feeling hesitant and scared when I got on and doing it any way. Good Job!! I know exactly how hard it is. Good for you for staying with it.ReplyDelete
thank you for that. I would never have guessed that you were there a year ago!Delete
I finally decided that instead of working on "things" we would work on being obedient (since submissive is always going to be a struggle - he is a strong willed horse). We did nothing unless he was on the bit. And he had to listen to what I was asking. He was mentally ready at that point (sometimes I think this is more of a struggle with young horses). There were days when I stood and waited for five minutes for him to finally relax and be on the bit. That, plus no longer allowing his stubborn intimidation tactics to scare me into quitting. (Having my trainer emphatically enunciate into my ear "more leg" and "don't let him talk you out of that" and "don't fight with him up front, because then he wins" during moments of disagreement helped as well.)Delete
Lol. I think we have the same instructor!Delete
Yes. Every single ride in June, half of July and then again last Wednesday. Extensive ground work gets me past it now, but a mix of forcing myself, vodka coolers and calling in a trainer saved me from selling the horse. Good luck Theresa. I know at the end of the day we all just want the fun to outweigh the struggles. Only you can know what tips the scales for you so for any of us to judge what you should or shouldn't do with Carmen would not be fair. Hugs!ReplyDelete
Saying that I'm glad i'm not alone sounds wrong but I hope you know what I mean. Thank you for sharing with me.Delete
So much admiration for you! This is me, on a lot of horses. Even Bridget now and then after a particularly difficult ride. Some days it's tough to push through even though it has to be done. Good for you!ReplyDelete
Thank you from the bottom of my chicken heart. :)Delete
good for you for pushing through it!! gotta go riding, or the terrorists win, right?ReplyDelete
God no, not the terrorists! I think of you being so brave jumping cross country and figure that I am just a big chicken.Delete
I went through a stage with Phantom where I hit the ground before I even got on. She one day decided that the saddle I had been using for 5 years no longer fit and must never be used again. I put my foot in the stirrup, took my other foot off the block to swing over, and she'd pull sideways violently, not really bucking, but definitely hopping. I didn't have a chance of staying on since I couldn't get my leg over and actually be sitting in the saddle. I cracked my helmet on the first fall, and had another couple after that.ReplyDelete
I was this close to sending her to a cowboy, or selling her as a project for whatever someone would give me. But I determined that it was specifically related to my jumping saddle, so stuck just with my dressage saddle thereafter.
It took months before I didn't hesitate before putting my foot in the stirrup before every ride. Like close to a year. She has been perfectly fine since, even after switching to the treeless saddle, but I'm still constantly looking for the telltale sign of a potential issue, which is that her head comes up when I put my weight in the stirrup. Thankfully she's always been pretty good under saddle so once I was on I was okay.
Celebrate your little wins, even those ones as simple as getting on to walk her off after she was a twit on the lunge. Those little wins do add up over time.
That is scary! And you are right the little wins do add up.Delete
I used to have a lot of trouble mounting Dusty. No matter what I tried she just wasn't having any of it. She actually flipped over onto her back one time during mounting, luckily I wasn't on her, she'd take off as I swung my leg over and sometime I managed to get in the saddle or not, she'd run backwards etc. So for ever after I have a slight hesitation no matter what horse I'm getting on, even my steady eddy Blue, who stands like a statue. It's always at the back of my mind what could happen at the mounting block.ReplyDelete
I usually longe Rosie before I mount and ride and it seems to work out pretty good for us. I've never had a horse refuse to let me dismount so that could be pretty dicey I think. You and Carmen will work it out. I once read a quote that said " courage is being scared to death to ride and mounting up anyway" or something to that effect. Hang in there, I'm sure her attitude will readjust and she'll be fine.
That would be scary on the mounting. I haven't had that happen again so I think she figured out that that was not a good idea.Delete
I have finally healed up and need to get back in the saddle with Leah. She hasn’t been ridden in over two months. It will be scary, I’m sure. I now know how breakable my body is, but how that awareness will translate in saddle, I’m not sure. A vest would have helped me that day. Sounds like Carmen is responding to your resolve.ReplyDelete
I wish it wasn't so hot. Those vests do not help at all. Good luck with Leah but I am sure that she will be great.Delete
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
I am so very very sorry- I removed this by mistake- I hit the wrong thing by mistake!Delete
Proud of you!ReplyDelete