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?