dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, November 13, 2020

Churning Away

 Carmen is always an interesting horse. She absolutely makes you be present or else. When we came back from our weekend away she was super mellow. I had a lesson booked for the Sunday and I was spending the whole time making her go forward.  But it was a great lesson and we worked on a lot of fundamentals. 

Me: Please go forward, pretty please
Carmen: you should relax more. 

We worked on transitions- keeping her straight and reaching for the bit going into them. Which means that I have to stop trying to hold her in place through them. And also to keep the hind leg active up and down and to not let her plow onto her forehand (riding is hard). 

We also did some half-pass. Our reach is improving. It works better when I don't over think (and micro manage).

Tuesday Julia came out and we went hacking followed by a ride in the ring. Carmen is doing well leading and was still quite mellow. I dropped the rein to take a photo and she decided she wanted to go exploring. Normally I would have gone along but it's hunting season so...no. 

Carmen: I want to go over there! 

Wednesday was Remembrance day so it's a day off. This year was different because we were all asked to not attend any ceremonies. The weather was also incredible- in the 20's. I rode Carmen in the afternoon and she had transformed from mellow-mare to tail-on-fire-mare. Shanea has been having us practice getting her to soften to the inside rein when she wants to pop up her head and hollow.  I realized I wasn't doing that and when I started she began to soften and then I could ride her into softness. We also did a lot of canter. Like a lot. I started riding a figure 8 with a simple change through walk in the middle. 

post ride she needed to be hosed off

Friday (today), Julia came out in the morning to ride. As we started to hack out Carmen was quite tense. Normally I would ask Julia to lead but I don't anymore. I side and ride her forward. This time I didn't give her a loose rein and I warned Julia that she might spin into her so she'd be prepared. But she didn't - I was able to ride her forward and have her soften.

 In the ring she started off quite tight and her focus was about 50 feet outside of the ring. I just keep asking for her attention. Carmen is really good at convincing me to back off the inside leg because she won't bend but speed up. Now I just keep up the pressure until bends. This is not really Carmen's fault - it's mine because I would back off the pressure and she thought that was the answer. So I can't get angry or frustrated, I just need to be consistent. When we had that established, I worked on her going into the bit- not laying on it or curling away. Once we were coming down by the back of the ring when her head shot up- which made her hit the bit and then get really pissed about that. But if I raise my hands she's gone. So I keep the hands where they are supposed to be and let her figure it out while I ask her to go forward. 
random photo: one of my chickens is laying freckled eggs. 
I think it's pretty and delicious. 

And then she was like butter. We worked on SI to HI and it was so smooth. Her ears were soft and listening and it was all so smooth. I then asked her to half-pass and she was just 'bam, let's go. It just flowed and we went from one side of the arena to the other. I stopped there and called it a day. 

Megan wrote this really great blog post on the importance of training. I loved it. Carmen will always be a bit, well, dramatic. She definitely trusts me but that doesn't make her easy.  The key is to put patterns and responses in along with the trust so that we can keep building.  I have learned that sometimes I just have to grit my teeth and do the thing. I have to trust that my ask is in her wheelhouse and help her figure it out. 

from the lesson but still buttery soft and forward


  1. I thought of you and Carmen when reading Megan's post! Not in a bad way, but in a "look how far they've come together". I have so much respect for how both of you have taken horses that some people may have just written off as too "hot" or "temperamental" and you've figured out what makes them tick and how to become a true partner to them, regardless of the time it takes. I love getting to see you reap all the benefits of the hard work you put in -- that trot photo is so lovely!:

    1. I thought of Carmen and I as well when I read that. You too hsve a spicy mare. 😁🦄.

  2. The last picture says it all lady! Not sure, but I think I see you smiling ear to ear?

  3. buttery soft + forward is my holy grail ;)

    1. Don’t get me wrong- there’s a lot of agitation to get that butter. Galloping cross country is my holy grail. 😁

  4. I love reading your posts even if I don't always comment. Love that last picture!


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