dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Dragon Tamer

And all at once summer collapsed into fall
~Oscar Wilde~

The weather has become cool and there is a definite change in the seasons and the horses are feeling it. With Carmen it's not really evident in the paddock unless you look close. But in the saddle it's definitely evident. 

Today I had a lesson booked and I figured that lunging first would be a good thing. When Shanea arrived she suggested that she ride Carmen and I thought that was a great idea. I've been wanting her to ride Carmen and do some training. I also thought that today it would be good so that she can feel what I feel when Carmen is tense. 

It turned out to be a very valuable lesson for me. I still wore the ear piece and Shanea talked through what she was doing.  Carmen was clearly confused when Shanea led her over to the mounting block. I ran down to get a sweater (the wind was cool) and came back ready to listen and take photos/video. 

I'm going to share the videos but please, no negative comments as this is not me riding and it's not fair. 

Clearly from the beginning Carmen was not so certain that work was on her agenda.

 You can see that she does not think that Shanea is the boss of her.  When the initial resistance did not work she began to escalate. 

Yes, my horse broke my fence with her arse. And then became terrified of what she had wrought. 

  That is the backing up she does when she doesn't want to go forward. Well I wasn't happy about the behaviour, I was happy that Shanea was experiencing what I do at times. It may not look like much but it really feels like you are being flung around. In fairness about the fence, when I checked the post  was rotten where the board was so it wouldn't have taken much to pop it out. 

It was great to watch Shanea just stay cool and ride it out. She corrected Carmen when needed and always gave her a place to go. When Carmen gets like this the base of her neck retracts like a turtle and gets rock solid. Getting her to lengthen it out was Shanea's mission. 

I love how she was super clear and always giving. She also noted that Carmen gets really stiff and hard on the outside rein- like she's using it as a crutch to push against. She corrected initially by using shoulder fore and then as things progressed by flexing her lightly to the outside to get her to release and then asking for the inside bend. I would have been sceptical to try it but it worked. 

slight flexion to the outside 

riding shoulder fore to get straight

It wasn't like Carmen softened and then became all pliable and easy. It came and went. But as the ride progressed flailing Carmen became less and less evident. 

I wish I had that seat. And timing. And confidence

I was watching Carmen's eye and was seeing it soften and she began to tune into Shanea. Here you can see her react but comes back much quicker (I also put the board up so that it was not an issue).

Shanea is getting Carmen to flex her neck and relax. It seemed to really work.

In the end we had trot and canter work that was soft and flowing and in a good place. 

Shanea simply said 'she's so much fun to ride'. Well mostly. when she's like that for sure. The ride was well over an hour and Carmen wasn't even breathing hard. Neither was Shanea.

Me, I was exhausted. :)


  1. Beautifully ridden. Does Carmen ever threaten to rear?

    How wonderful to have a trainer you can respect and trust to actually help with issues.

    1. No she doesn’t. Thank god. It would be easy to induce it though so I’m pretty careful to give and boot forward if she feels ‘up’. And I am so grateful to have Shanea.

  2. That is some effective, calm, non-reactionary riding - especially in the first video. Well done!!

  3. Thanks for sharing. That is some great work. Bravo. 👏👏👏. She rode through it all so calmly, and kept Carmen centered, balanced, and forward.

  4. She is one calm cucumber through all of Carmen’s tantrums. Wow.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her lose her cool.

  5. Carmen is an athletic little shit, isn't she? I can't wait for the day she decides to use her powers for good instead of evil. lol Shanea has such an enviable seat and her cool nature is also admirable!

  6. Shanea seems like such a great coach for horse and rider - and seems like both she and Carmen each learned a thing or two about how to make a smoother path going forward haha


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