dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, February 15, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole

( Warning: this post may get a little transendental)

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Carmen and I playing with liberty work. We had also done a little bit back in August. There was a marked difference between January and August. The difference, I think was me. In August I had a lot of idea and direction and probably put a bit of pressure on her (not that that is necessarily a bad thing). 

I've been wanting to try this again, tackling it the way I did in January- with zero agenda and more about being with Carmen then directing her. The weather took a marked turn towards bitter cold and I didn't even think about doing anything until it began to warm a bit this weekend. Not that we were as cold as out west. At -40 I think I would just become a whimpering blob on the floor.  Our temps were more like -15. Cold as hell but not the ninth circle of hell. 

The farm is pretty though and I'm wondering now, how many literary
references I can put in this post?

Monday is a holiday here in Nova Scotia and since I don't work fridays, it made it a four day weekend for me.  Friday was still pretty cold so I consoled myself with baking a cake. But Saturday was a lovely day. I wanted to exercise Carmen a bit as well since she's not terribly motivated to run around the field on her own. She was eager to go to the ring and seemed to enjoy stretching her legs. I then slipped the halter off and decided to play a bit. 

Guys, this is so cool. Carmen had complete and utter freedom but she stayed with me. Wherever I walked she did. I even played with small circles and large ones. I would turn to her haunches and she would yield her hindquarters. If I 'leg yielded' to the right she would go that way - which makes sense because I was going towards her. But she also followed to the left. 


Carmen's attention was grabbed by something in the next field and I walked up to take a look. She followed behind me. We stood there and she raised her nostrils to sniff. I lifted my head too and sniffed. She looked at me, then totally relaxed. 

Willow hung out with us as well

We went up to the mounting block and she lined right up. I hopped down and left but she didn't follow. When I turned to her she was looking at me with a 'well, are you getting up or not?'. She stood there for the longest time so I went back and stood on the mounting block. I hung over her back and she nudged me with her nose- no, that's not right. stop fooling around. So I tried to get on. But my 50-something body, Carmen's height and the height of the mounting block make it impossible. I did really try and then fell. Carmen just looked at me and sighed. 

We played some more and then I went to the gate and offered the halter so we could head back to the barn. And Carmen said 'no'. Every time I offered the halter she turned away. I walked back to the middle of the ring and she followed. Clearly she wasn't ready to head back to the barn. We did a little more and she finally was ready to go back. 


Sunday I did more with her. I could have ridden but I was just curious to know if the day before had been a fluke. And at first it seemed like it was- she seemed more tense and less engaged. I then realized I was being tight and so I took a breath and began to relax. It was like flicking a switch. She became instantly tuned in. I set my phone up to take a little video. I am sorry for the poor quality but you can see her stay with me. 


I sat down to see what she would do. All she did was drop her nose and hang out with me (you can see Guinness too trying to join in the fun). 

Today was a stunning day weather wise. It was sunny and close to zero with no wind. It felt glorious. This time I tacked Carmen up and we went to the ring. I played with the liberty first and asked her to line up at the mounting block. This is what she did: 


She simply stood there. She didn't leave and she didn't get tense. She napped.  I did more walking around the ring and this time when I came back she lined right up. I didn't even pick up the reins when I mounted. The footing was a bit slick from the melting so we were just able to walk. I spent most of it on a long rein seeing if she would stretch into it. Carmen got a bit excited once by something down in the woods but settled right back. I don't think I rode for long but it was nice to just sit there. 

I never tire of this view

Honestly, I look at the things I'm dong with Carmen and I wonder 'who are you?'.  I feel like I took the red pill and am in a strange new world (at least that's a movie reference this time). I am exploring territories I never really knew existed. And it's so much fun.

 I literally have no knowledge of liberty work. None. All I'm doing is looking at Carmen and reading her body language. I am offering her some things to do but it is totally up to her to make a choice. Right now she's choosing to stay with me.  (Although, I wonder if she will be so connected once the grass comes in around the ring.) I'm taking a leap down the rabbit hole and I have no idea what's at the bottom. 

wish me luck



 





34 comments:

  1. ❤️ lifted my head too and sniffed. She looked at me, then totally relaxed.
    Jump my friend. The only thing you can fall on is a big pile of snow. 💗

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    1. LOL, jumping in fluffy snow if almost as much fun as jumping in a leaf pile.

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  2. This is so cool!

    I played a bit with Jet doing liberty work in my big grass pastures last summer and fall and was surprised by how much he seemed to enjoy it. I think because he can always choose whether or not to engage. Interesting stuff.

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  3. Love it. Who knows where it will go, but one thing is for sure, it will be a good place--hiccups or not. I think these things have been done by great horse people, in one way or another, one name or another, forever and ever, but for some reason modern horse people have gotten away from it. It could be boarding them away from home or that horses aren't used for everyday work. When you think of a cowboy out on the range all day--3/4's of their time or more would just be hanging out with each other or the horse waiting, ground tied, for the hand to finish a job. 'Being' is a forgotten art in horsemanship.

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    1. There is a lot of wisdom in your words. I recognize how much I have learned just by having my horses at home.

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  4. Cisco loves the being near me part, but I have to figure out how to get him to do the send away part. He will happily lunge around me without a lunge line, as long as we stay in the safe end of the arena!

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    1. Maybe you could do a slow creep and retreat towards the spooky corner?

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  5. Sounds like a perfect way to enjoy each other’s company <3

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  6. Sometimes I think horses think we are dumb and I wonder why they put up with us! They are truly a gift from God.
    That connection you have is wonderful. The older I get the more interested I get in liberty work. I watched a demo with Jim Anderson and his bay gelding Maverick that he won Road to the Horse with and it was beautiful. I have also enjoyed seeing Dan James liberty show at the Calgary Stampede. The level of connection and horsemanship they both have make me realize just how far I need to go yet in my horsemanship journey. But it sure is fun trying!

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    1. I remember Walter Zettl saying that the more we work with horses that more we realize what we don't know. I am certainly feeling that these days. But I'm loving it.

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  7. Love this! I always feel a little extra special when they want to stay.

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    1. I know, it's all very 'black stallion-esqe'.

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  8. How awesome!!! The bond you two are building gives me chills. I want to try some liberty work with Eeyore once the arena fence is back up. He always chooses to be with me when I enter the pasture, even if I reenter it after he was put out after a ride. He comes right up and stays with me, so I thin he'd enjoy the liberty work

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    1. I bet he would. He would enjoy the puzzle I think.

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you! It was cool! Literally and figuratively, lol.

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  10. It's such a good feeling when they choose to be with you isn't it? I actually did the same thing over the weekend with Rosie and she even followed me over the jumps and never left my side. We had fun like you and Carmen.

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    1. That would be fun- did you jog the jumps? I think when the snow melts I'll set up poles and see how that works out.

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  11. Sounds like a lovely way to bond!

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  12. Sounds lovely! Every time you do one of these posts, I think of the author Judith Tarr, who I follow on Twitter. She does what she calls "horse yoga," where they just go out and hang out with the herd (sometimes with an actual yoga instructor, sometimes not).

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    1. Hmm, I wonder what my little herd would think if I started doing yoga in the pasture? lol

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  13. I love this!!
    Sounds like such a lovely way to spend time with your horse and strengthen that bond.

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  14. Sounds like a fun way to enjoy a snow day!

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  15. Welcome, my friend. Keep at it keep exploring. Go on the journey.

    Have you ever heard of Warwick Schiller?

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