dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we
make happen. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Spoiler alert: I had the best weekend.

It all started with my hack out on Friday.

Saturday was my birthday and I had plans for the day that probably only would seem great to fellow farm/horse owners. Things like cleaning all the old hay and poop out of the small paddock.  I put the horses up in the riding ring to eat the grass growing in around the edges while I did that.  They were happy to oblige and I was happy to get a winters worth of crap out of the way.

The other plan was, of course, to ride. I tacked Carmen up and took her up to the ring. We did a bit of ground work and it was clear she was feeling pretty mellow. My goal, as per my plan this year, was to see where she was mentally and then work from there.

and you know what?
She was right there.

In the past our rides would be like:
Carmen: let's see- the grass is moving so clearly there are monsters lurking...

Me: carmen

Carmen: crap, is that a pterodactyl? where are my exits?

Me: Carmen

Carmen: shit, I have to watch the grass, the trees, the skies. Danger lurks everywhere, better safe than sorry. 



Instead we had a ride that I can only describe as a conversation the whole time. She jumped once and then walked up to see what it was (a bird). Once she stopped to survey the next field. I looked too and said oh look carmen- it's a bald eagle! Isn't it beautiful? (yes, literally I said that).
She looked and sighed and carried on. We went everywhere and she was great.

I found a spot that was perfect and decided to stop. I could have kept going (I had things I would have liked to school) but I'm trying to find a good spot to end. I find that this is helping her look to be good because it is rewarded (not sure if that makes sense, but it does to me). After I sat on the deck and cleaned tack.
strutting. I know she above the vertical but she's taking me
forward with energy and I will take it. 

Saturday night Ed and I went out to dinner with some good friends. It was so much fun to eat and drink and talk and laugh.

I had also booked a lesson for 8:30. Shanea had wanted 8:00 but I negotiated later because I knew I was going to be out late. The morning was windy and cold (although sunny). I was sorry because I figured that my ride would be very different. Shanea arrived early and I was still tacking up. I refuse to rush because it never works out. I was also a little tired from partying.

Carmen blew me out of the water: she was exactly the same as the day before. In fact, she was better.

She was walking around all confident and easy going.

Like who is this mare?

here she is doing a free walk down the side that created so much emotion in the fall:

Compare that to this from last fall:

We worked on simple walk-trot-walk transitions. Keeping her with me and supple over the back. It went very well. I was losing the bend in the corners and Shanea advised me to use my inside leg and my outside knee to keep the shoulder from falling out. It worked like a charm.

We found a good spot to end and stopped. Carmen was pleased with herself. I was pleased with her and Shanea was pleased with both of us.

I love how much fun riding is becoming. I love how relaxed and affectionate Carmen is getting. I can place my hand on her neck and she immediately relaxes.

 I know that treating the ulcers was a major piece of this. But taking the pain away was only part. I needed to work through the loss of trust and habits that have been in place for a long time. I credit working through the TRT stuff with a lot of this. I can see her confidence growing and it makes my heart glow.


  1. First of all Happy Birthday! And secondly if you have Mother's Day in Canada Happy Mother's Day too.

    Carmen's attitude has taken a dramatic turn for the better. I believe it's because you've changed too. I like that you stop when you both have come to the spot where it all went well. Whenever I ride I always try to end on a good note even if the ride isn't as long as I would have liked. We call it a day when I get what I wanted and we both feel good about what we accomplished. Nice ride!

    1. I would agree with everything you said. It's been a year of growth for both of us.

  2. This is just so amazing, on so many levels. I believe that contentment comes from embracing the difficulties and calmly working through them. Deep breaths.

    Your work with Carmen is wonderful and I often see so many similarities with my Q. The conversations, the happy forward momentum, the occasional trust issues. I am ecstatic that the ulcer + TrT has worked out so well and I am thinking of jumping in to TrT this summer to tackle our tarp/plastics/flag issues.

    One thing that surprised me in Vienna is that the stallions of SRS are worked for such short periods of time, but many days per week. Warmup, a few movements, lots of sugarcubes, cool down. I think we might all accomplish more if we tried for less, more often. With lots of treats. The stallions just loved their jobs because they knew the exertion would be short lived.

    Its a bit like Stacy Westfalls cycles of training. When the SRS stallions go for their vacations every 6-8 weeks they get plenty of cardio and conditioning on long hacks, but the intense mental work of learning new movements or practicing difficult airs above the ground are reserved for the 10 minutes of hard work a day when they are in the arena.

    Keep on leading the pack, on the buckle with those “lets-go-forward-mom” ears!

    1. This comment warmed my heart. Thank you so much. That is very interesting about the SRS. I need to look into Stacy's cycles of training.

  3. Loving these recent posts! Also happy birthday to us ❤️😎

    1. Me too. :) Was it your birthday on the 11th too?! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

    2. Mine is the 12th - and we're the same year 😉

  4. happy birthday !! what a great feeling to have Carmen finding that consistent calm mental space !! :D

    1. It really is. I know we'll have some bobbles but it feels like each step is building on the earlier one.

  5. Happy Birthday! Sounds like a great weekend!

  6. Happy birthday! What a great gift, too. Looks like all your changes have come to fruition and now you can be that boring old pair that just have fun for the rest of your lives. That’s a good place to be.

    1. I doubt that were done. I do expect some bobbles. But it feels like the right track. Carmen says that she can never be boring but I can be old....

  7. Oh yay she is looking so look great!!! Keep up the hard work breakung through both of your layers -- it's obviously working!


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