dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, June 3, 2019

Transformations: Clinic Recap Day 2

I know it might make more sense to put these all together, but honestly each day was so very different that I'm separating them.

Friday night we had an amazing dinner, thanks to Karen supreme husband picking power: grilled steak, potatoes, veggies and salad. There was even a choice of desserts! I slept the sleep of one who had done a lot of exercise and then gorged herself.

In the morning I did chores and turned both horses out to enjoy the sunshine. Finally, we had a glorious sunny day that was NOT rainy or cold (unlike Friday or Sunday or any other frigging day this spring). I loved that I could turn them out to relax and move around. It makes life better for them and easier for me.
Carmen is clearly basking. Irish was until he saw me watching. 

Karen was having a lunge lesson her mare with the goal of feeling the hind leg in the reins. Partway through the lesson she found that she could totally feel the hind leg in her arms even though she was not holding reins.

There was much nerdy dressage excitement. And I said I WANT TO FEEL THAT! LET ME TRY! Because I am 12, apparently and had no sense that this was not my lesson.

However, Karen was kind enough to let me get on when she was done. It was so cool to let go of the steering need and just focus on what was happening with my seat.

My ride on Carmen was at 3:00 and ended up being more like 3:15. That's because the clinic is very low key and we all had no other plans so things could be flexible.

As soon as I got on I could feel that Carmen was relaxed and easy. The rushing of the day before was much less. Even though Irish was screaming his head off in his stall. Karen offered to hold him for me outside the ring and I said 'thanks but no. She's fine with it'. And she was. Also, Irish is 19 and used to this happening to him (#problemchild). And she was fine. She clearly gave zero cares about Irish and his existential angst.
screen shot of a video. Love her
expression here. 

The goal for this lesson was for me to have soft and following hands (probably my goal until I die). When I was on Karen's mare Johanna took the reins and I was to follow her moving them- not do it on my own but let my arms swing free with the movement. Honestly, this is so hard to not hold or to move my arms rather than let Carmen move them (control issues I am sure). I need to have my elbows a bit in front of the vertical.

The cool thing about riding with Johanna is that you can decide the figures and directions. If she has something specific she wants you to do she will tell you. Otherwise if you want to transition or circle or change directions she is fine with it. She might ask why you did something or how did it feel. That took some time to get used to but now I just do it. Here I am practicing the softness with a leg yield. And it was so easy. Not perfect, but very flow-y.

And also breathe deeply, have soft eyes, soft joints and keep my legs under me. You know- juggling. I would focus on one and forget the others.

And the lesson was amazing. Carmen was the softest she has ever been. Ever. About half-way through I could feel her back come up underneath of me. All transitions simply required a breath. Breathe in and then release and she would trot. Breathe in and hold for a sec and she would walk.

I was having so much fun up there. It's not like everything was easy- it wasn't. And I would screw up my balance or pinch with my knees and it would fall apart. But Carmen stayed with me and listened to me every step of the way. The communication was fluid and clean. I would apologize and she would say 'fine, let's go again'.

Mistakes were because of trying to do not trying to avoid. And the difference this makes in training is transformational.

I didn't want to get off. But then I turned down the long side, shifted my hips oh so slightly and she went into the most soft and perfect shoulder in all the way down the long side. I halted, looked at Johanna and said I think we need to stop here. 
Okay then  she said. And I hopped off, with a few tears in my eyes. I have been dreaming of this level of communication for a long long long time. And to have it on this day, with my friends, made it magical. I could have kept going and she would have stayed with me. But it felt like we both had made such strides that ending it when we did was perfect.

 I don't even know how long I rode. And it doesn't matter. Because it was the perfect amount of time.

another screenshot. I love everything about this photo


  1. Fantastic! It's such a good feeling to get what you've dreamed of and finally accomplished it.

  2. What a wonderful series of entries to read! I am so so so happy for you and the level of communication you have achieved together! <3

  3. One of my favorite thing about following horsey bloggers is when things really start to come together. I can tell how wonderful things are going for you and Carmen, and it's so wonderful to follow along! Congrats to you on getting here, and I can't wait to see how the summer progresses for you both!

    1. I love reading about that too with others. I'm excited for the summer.

  4. Simply amazing. What a place to be in your journey. Congratulations!!

  5. Aw I just LOVE that feeling - what a perfect lesson <3

  6. Going through a lot of things and haven't had time to comment like I want despite reading lately, but I had to make some time now. I am *so freaking happy* for you and this mare. Like, tears down my face happy as I read this post. What a wonderful ride and a wonderful weekend. I hope the summer continues to provide more and more rides like this for both of you. <3


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