dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Doing More with Less

 Since my last post I've really been reflecting on how to keep things short and focussed. 

One thing I've noticed with the use of my 'bubble' is that I'm better able to reflect in the moment. I signed up for a free 6 video class from Noelle Floyd on fear. Not that I think I'm a generally fearful rider but I do recognize how my tension feeds in to the dynamic. The videos I watched were by Jenny Sussman (as an aside, she was here a few years ago to do a clinic and I really regret not taking it). In one video she said that (paraphrasing here) when we are engaged in a fear/defensive response we lose cognitive ability. She had a breathing exercise that I've been practicing. 

Putting this together with my bubble I realized that because I was emotionally stable I was better able to problem solve in the moment rather than fall back into old habits. It's interesting how stable and consistent our rides are. I find I'm riding a lot in my new saddle and loving how balanced we both feel. 

Each ride I try to figure out what is the 'big thing' and then tackle it.


Now that spring is really here so are the blackflies. Tuesday was my  birthday  and I managed to squeeze in a short ride after work. Short because the black flies were awful. Poor Carmen was barely holding it together. When she's uncomfortable, Carmen will get tight and off balance. Being off balance makes feel worse and she's far more likely to explode (big spook and/or bolt). My goal is to keep her between the aids and straight. But the flies were insane,  so we rode a short time and I called it. Since then I've been planning rides around the black flies. Early in the day or, if it's warm, at noon is the best time. 

Total time: 27 minutes

Focus: attention to me and balance. 

I took a couple hours off in the morning. Julia joined me and we started in the woods with a hack followed by schooling in the ring. She was pretty keen and with me. We worked on lateral work and adjusting her stride. It was a ton of fun to play with her transitioning forward and back with my seat. 

Total time: 56 minutes
Focus: lateral work and suppleness

I took the afternoon off to enjoy some perfect spring weather. This was the first ride Carmen and I had without company in the ring in a while. I wanted to make sure she stayed with me and that I didn't get tight. I really had to call on my bubble but it worked. Her transitions were really sticky- especially the down ones. She was blowing through the aids and falling down into them rather than carrying herself. While I understood the increase in tension because of being 'alone' (even with Irish watching from the field); it didn't mean that she couldn't try. Lots of half-halts and praise for trying. In the end she was able to give some lovely transitions off the seat and without being angry. 

Total time: 56 minutes (including 20 minutes of groundwork) 
Focus: transitions
In the news I have help in the barn now. 
She's kind of slow but she's very thorough. 


We rode early, but not early enough because half-way through the flies found us. She was definitely engaged but too forward. When she gets like this she pounds her legs down and stomps around the ring. This is not only not comfortable but also hard on her joints. The answer is to shift her weight back on her haunches and carry herself. I played with my seat to figure out how to help her. I found if I could lift the front of my pelvis a little she was able to come up in her withers. Then her HI/SI were so light and fluffy. As well as her transitions. 

We celebrated by having the first bath of the year. 

Ride time: 40 minutes
Focus: lightness and self-carriage
I love the first bath. I promise, she's not as chunky as she looks here. 

Rode early again. It was a beauty of a day. Up in the ring we settled into work pretty quickly. She felt a little tight so we worked on bending and multiple changes of directions: serpentines, circles, transitions. 

Total time: 42 minutes
Focus: Bending

I opted for a late morning ride (10:30). A little groundwork and I hopped on. Everything was right there. In fact our canter-trot-canter transitions on the right were the best we ever had. After a couple I stopped and hopped off. I realized that this was my 6th day in a row riding. 

Total Time: 25 minutes
Focus: check to see if all things were there

Later, Julia messaged me and we decided to hack out in the afternoon. Carmen was not so impressed but I reassured her that it was not the same old thing. We spent about 25 minutes in the woods with her leading the hole time on a loose rein. Then we could hear thunder in the distance and decided to end it. 

Poor Carmen she had a ton of rides this week but she seems to be thriving on it. I turned the horses out in the riding ring to eat the grass around the ring. I joined them later and sat in the corner on the mounting block. Carmen moseyed over and hung out with me. When Irish came over she got between me and him. I won't lie, it warmed my heart. 

Irish is really enjoying the warmer weather


  1. Sounds like a great week of riding! I agree with Irish, this warmer weather is fab!

    1. I am loving the warm weather, even with the bugs....

  2. omg Irish laid out in the spring flowers <3 <3 sounds like a great week of riding! i actually got out early for rides this weekend too (to avoid interrupting charlie's mid afternoon snooze, the horror!) and it was kinda nice and refreshing lol

    1. I love early morning rides. I find I am fresher and it gives me the rest of the day to do what I want (or, you know, work....).

      Irish laying in the flowers is so adorable.

  3. Sounds like a series of good rides. The first part of your post about your bubble etc sounds like a true breakthrough for you though. Instead of Carmen setting the emotional temperature you are staying in a reasonable and calm place that helps you stay on track and problem solve. A big deal with an emotional horse. Good job!

    1. The bubble has been a real game changer. More than I realized at the time.

  4. What a lovely week with such productive work (but also plenty of fun!).

  5. I quite like this. Your SUnday morning ride is it <3

  6. Happy birthday!
    Your Carmen sounds so much like Gussie, she's a very emotional mare and being a redhead she made sure I knew all about whatever her current issue was. However she is superb on the trails! But bored with schooling.
    Love how each ride ended on a positive note.

    1. I think horses like this have busy brains and need to be engaged in the work or else they get themselves into trouble.

  7. You are so good to get that many rides in. Consistency does pay off, and the rotation of hacks in the woods probably kept her interested and happy.

  8. That part about being forward but not yet engaged and stomping so hard - I absolutely feel that! My baby Friesians are like that for a while before they develop real balance, lol. Nothing like a gigantic Friesian flomping along as they try to find their balance!

    1. I have a friend who rode a friesian. He sounded like a 100 horses charging over a hill at times. :)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.