The posts I want to write are sort of colliding with each other so I'm going to mix up the chronology a bit so I can make my posts semi-coherent.
Friday I had a lesson booked with Shanea and, miracle of miracles, the stars aligned that it wasn't cancelled (weather or lack of critical mass to make it worthwhile for her to come here).
The morning dawned sunny and frosty. Our whole farm was sparkly (seems to be a theme these days. Carmen was quite mellow and I spent some time grooming her and enjoying our time. I spent some time doing ground work as well. Our focus is on learning to relax when she's tense. That has been an interesting process and changed what I do with her. By the time Shanea arrived we were quite relaxed and ready to start.
There was a transformation when I mounted and we walked off. Carmen became tense and appeared to be looking for a fight. My theory is that she was anticipating that we would argue about things (like where we go) and that she was going to evade to the best of her ability.
My new approach is to avoid a fight while not also giving in and letting her call the shots. This is really hard.
Like REALLY HARD.
First of all I rarely back down from a fight. With anyone.
Second of all what I'm asking doesn't seem that difficult. You know things like trotting, straight lines etc.
Third, neither of us win a fight. I might get her to go where I want but then she is so tight and tense and miserable that neither of us is happy.
I have had to push all my drive and goals to the side and work on us achieving harmony and relaxation. So when Carmen starts off appearing to spoiling for a fight (yes I know that she's really not, it's just history) everything I do needs to say 'hey, no need to argue. I'm not arguing'.
We started off just walking forward with me keeping my reins at a length for her to reach but to give me control if I needed it.
|see- tight, braced neck, short back, stiff gaits|
The first trot transition was terrible. She shook her head, threw her haunches around and I worked really hard to keep the ask the same rather than increasing the pressure. Finally she went forward and we were riding.
She clearly had some issues with the far side. Shanea had me pick up a circle. When Carmen wanted to bend to keep her eye on the side we decided to make it a gymnastic: circle at trot, as I cross the center line ask for the counter bend and ride it around, then ask for the right bend and carry on. As we did it I was able to make the counter bend strides fewer and fewer.
Go ahead and roll your eyes at me. I honest to god am not scared but I don't want 30 minutes of her arguing with me about bend and me hauling on the inside rein and spurring her guts out. The spooked a few times, I simply rolled my eyes and kept going.
Here's a really good example of what we were doing (also really boring so if you have insomnia I've got you covered):
We then started going down the far side. I like this clip because you can see that she's with me and on the aids, until she's not. I wish that Shanea had kept filming because what you will see is that I just roll my eyes (well you can't see that but it's in my body language) and ride forward. You can see how quick she can be. But I'm happy that she's not spinning and bolting. The jumps I can handle.
And it's worth it because she's starting to trust me again. The ears are on constant swizzle. Which is way better than locked ears.
Honestly, we're doing nothing spectacular and yet it all feels like new territory. I've gone from 'please behave' to 'by god you're going to behave' to 'it's all fine but hey run away if you feel you must'.
|so much better- stretching through the base of her neck, relaxed |
backand reaching for contact and her stride is free.
And neither of us feel exhausted and drained at the end of our rides.
That has to be a good thing.