dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, June 15, 2020


Julia and I made plans to ride again on Saturday. Which would mean that Carmen was being ridden 6 days in a row.

Carmen: my god woman. What are you thinking? Somebody send help! 

What with the shenanigans earlier in the week and the lesson the day before I figured that she might be a little body sore. So I decided that the ride would be just at a walk (unless Carmen felt differently).

I have learned to love these rides and I call them 'yoga rides' because they are about stretching and flexibility, not cardio or muscle building.

Carmen: well that doesn't sound too bad. Although, I do a lot of stretching out in my field you know. 
Me: reaching for grass and rolling are not the same thing. 
Carmen: oh...are you sure?
Me: pretty sure
Carmen: fine. *sigh*
                                                Carmen fulfilling her life goals right here

Not surprisingly, Carmen was borderline cranky getting ready. I checked her over carefully and couldn't find any soreness on her back or neck so I figured it was more about being pulled off the field. And expecting to work.

Julia and I planned to hack first, which is exactly what we did. Carmen was really mellow about the whole thing and I let the reins go long. There is this one spot on the trail with a fork and Carmen stopped for a rest. I left the reins long while Irish went to the left. I was curious as to what she would do.  Instead of turning left to follow Irish she headed right. I laughed, because I realized that she knew that if we went to the left and out the bottom of the hill we head back to the barn she was done. Sure enough, when we came out by the manure pile she wanted to go straight and was resistant to going left back up the hill. But she didn't fuss too much.

Carmen: drat. Foiled again. It was a good plan too. 

In the ring I really focused on myself- keeping my legs long, my seat soft and engage and my hands following. We started with some lateral flexion through circles and leg yields. Carmen finds lateral suppleness easier than longitudinal. As we worked, I maintained contact but invited her to stretch to the bit rather than me gathering her up. She gave a few hard looks at her normal spooky spots but didn't spook once.

I then worked on transitions walk-halt-walk with the aim of zero rein pressure, just seat. Of course, sometimes I needed to add rein but that was last. I also worked on shoulder-in/haunches in using just my seat. This was easier to the left than right but she was trying. Mostly, she responded to closing my outside rein to straighten up and not be  disconnected. sometimes we failed but mostly it was good. As I gave rein she stretched into the bit and everything felt so soft.

this used to be impossible for us

I played with the turn on the haunches and I think I got a few good steps behind. We finished with walk half-passes. Carmen felt lose, relaxed and over the back- exactly my goal.

That work done we headed back out for another hack. I had Carmen lead for a bit until I felt that she was too worried and then we let Irish take over. Immediately she went from ears forward and tight to soft and floppy.

Carmen: I like him in front, I don't have to keep so many eyes peeled for danger. 

This time we went to the right and past the manure pile and out the bottom of the hill. Irish went into high alert and, just as we went to turn up the driveway, a loud banging came from across the street behind the trees. Irish gave a huge spook and his eyes were as big as saucers. Carmen gave a jump too and I was thinking uh oh. 

I shortened the reins and then started to coach Julia through Irish's shenanigans. He really really really wanted to bolt up the hill and was not impressed with not being allowed to. Interestingly enough, as I talked to Julia, Carmen just relaxed and plodded up the hill while Irish jigged sideways.

This is what is so weird about this horse. This birds and trees by the ring as super scarey and she resists my input. But when things are genuinely scary and spooking is totally legit she listens to me and relaxes. Not that she would have done that 2 years ago- I'd have had to hop off.

It was a good ride, both of us had stretched and used our core and we felt good.


  1. Replies
    1. It was. I think if I had pushed it I would have a very different ride.

  2. I think the spooking in the ring at nothing is kind of a game to them. But when she's really scared, she is able to look to you for comfort now. What a smart girl!

  3. She's come so far and you two make such a fantastic team 😁 I love the halt photo at the end - it's so relaxed and harmonious and balanced!

    1. Yes, I was quite happy with it too (it was from the lesson on friday).

  4. turns out Carmen and i have shockingly similar life goals LOL! those hacks sound lovely - esp the part about Carmen chilling out while listening to you be calm for Julia. what a good mare <3

    1. Me too! She can be good some days and other days her tail is on fire....

  5. Just dropping by to say how much I continue to love watching your relationship with Carmen grow and evolve. <3

  6. Sounds like a very yoga-esque ride. Sounds like a wonderful day!

    1. It was. Trying to be super zen all the time is hard!

  7. You two have forged such a great partnership this year.


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