After a solid sleep I was ready to tackle Sunday. It was rainy and cold (again. sigh. when will this end?) and I had the first ride of the day at 8:30. Before I got ready I took Carmen out to the arena to free lunge and to let her just move around. She was super mellow about it all.
Cute story: at one end of the ring is divided into 3 sections: a space for people to watch and two 'stalls' that hold all kinds of equipment. It is, objectively, a spooky area so I on Friday I worked with Carmen (in our groundwork) that this was were all pressure came off and she could relax. As I was asking her trot around the ring she made a beeline for this area and then stopped, looking at me: see, this is where we have breaks. It was adorable how pleased with herself she looked.
I saw some large balls in one of the stalls and I took it out to play. She was curious and nudged it around a bit but really was not worried.
|is this a large apple?|
|nope. Not an apple|
I put it away and left her free to wander around and I went over to the corner to chat with Julia and Dominique (her sister). Carmen came right over and stood with us. I will hang out with you guys. This warmed my heart on so many levels. I expected her to go and roll or to go over to the gate to look at the grass (like she did on Friday). Instead she chose to be with me (*heart swells two sizes*).
I then tacked her up and started warming her up before Johanna came. Her walk was not rushed but she felt a little stiff. When I asked for a trot she was a bit uncomfortable. I realized that she was in heat - not surprising since there are two stallions at this facility. I just let her trot around nice and relaxed so she could warm up.
When Johanna came she asked (as always) what I wanted to work on. I said that I wanted to keep working on the soft seat and hands but add in transitions so that I am supporting her properly through them. Carmen can get a bit stuck in her downwards where all her energy seems to go into the ground rather then carry forward into the lower gait.
Here's a short video of our starting out. You can see the stall area I was speaking about. You can also see her ask me a question about the jacket on the mounting block and her responding when I tell her it's okay (this is important for later).
One of the many 'aha' moments for me was on day 1 when Johanna explained that you can use the outside seat bone to help the horse turn on the circle. As the outside hind comes under you move it ever so slightly towards the inside ear in time with the horse. And it really works (also helps me to stop using the inside rein to turn). You can also hear me ask a question the role of the seat bone during shoulder in. I probably should have known the answer but I wanted to be sure. :)
As we began to trot and work, the jacket on the mounting block became an issue. I tried to help her relax about it but, in hindsight, I put pressure on to go by and I should have backed off. In any event, despite the fact that I could get her to go up to it and sniff it, trotting by it was far too big an ask. I know that when she is in heat she is far more aware and reactive to things in her environment. I am actually impressed that, while it was an issue, it wasn't a huge issue. Johanna decided to take the jacket away. I protested a bit (because I'm stubborn) but she explained that we would be spending our time on the jacket and not on what she wanted me to learn. Which was valid.
|practicing our halts|
We then moved up to the far part of the ring and I circled her many times in trot but she was getting more revved up and less listening.
Here you can see her resistance to bend and forward and could I just please piss off.
But I didn't piss off, I persisted. Finally, I started to drop into walk, got the bend and the bend and softness and then went back to trot. A few times like this and she settled into work again.
While it was not as good as the day before it was still really good on a lot of levels. I was able to get Carmen back without a huge battle. Once we settled things down she was trying to listen.
At the end of the lesson I spoke to Johanna about what I need to remember when I get home:
- soft eyes
- following hands
- my pelvis needs to be relaxed in order to be effective
- remember to loosen my hips.
- bringing her back down to establish what I want
- when I tighten I straighten my leg
- Now that Carmen has self-confidence and can be calm it's time to ask more of her.
When I brought Carmen back to the aisle to untack her she immediately squatted and started to pee. Which she's never done. I quickly put her in the stall and she no longer peed. So either it was heat related or she really had to pee during our ride. Since itwas right outside the stallion's stall I'm thinking that was heat related. Anyway I informed her that no one was having sex this weekend.
I have to say that I was absolutely thrilled with our clinic this weekend. Here are the highlights for me:
- there was only some teeny spooking at the jacket, otherwise she was fine
- overall her manner was calm and relaxed
- it felt that we were truly communicating with each other.
- she has grown in her self-confidence and it really showed.
- we can fun together. I truly believe that both of us enjoyed the time together.