dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Focus on the Positive

 Sometime, between spring and now, Carmen has gotten pretty fit. Which is, of course, a good thing. 

Most of the time. 

However, I find a fit Carmen who's also in a snit quite difficult as she's very will to canter all day and bounce around like a fool. Not that she's doing that a lot but I can definitely feel the muscle there. 

On the other hand, when the work is good, it's amazing. As long as I can keep my core engaged and my seat following we do well. But it's tiring. 

Sometimes I feel like all I need is a lance

Last week Julia and I had a shared lesson again. I do enjoy this format- it gives me time to think through things and try them on my own. Plus I get to see Irish go and that's always fun. In the end we had been riding for about 90 minutes. Before you mount a rescue mission- the first 20 minutes were spent hacking in the woods and then 10 warming up in the ring before Shanea arrived. 

warm up trot

I'm trying to make sure that I identify the things that are going well. It helps to create the positive, forward flow rather than being stuck in the 'I suck swamp'. In riding it's easy to focus on what is not going well. Especially if you received lessons from those who believe that teaching was all about the yelling. Shanea is good at helping me see progress. 


Funny thing is that research shows that optimism has positive impacts health and performance wise. Here's a link if you want to read more. 

So as we go into summer here are the things that are going well: 

1. Carmen's canter is much improved. On the left it's light and fluffy and very malleable. On the right it's straighter, and when it's not, she responds to me straightening her. 

2. I am riding in my bubble and, 95% of the time, it's successful. I do not fall into the emotional whirlpools that were so easy in the past. 

I love her current weight right now

3. Battles are short(er). It's not that Carmen does not argue or have opinions. To be honest, if that happened I would think that she was dying, or I was. But I'm so much better at dealing and dropping it. For example, the other day we were hacking out and I asked her to lead. She balked a bit and then tried to spin back to go home. I just turned her in a circle and released the pressure when she was facing the way I wanted. I didn't then put Irish in front. I just sat up and rode forward. 

Irish: they'd be lost without me

4. I'm more consistent: in my riding, my direction and in my expectations. I have dropped 'hope' as a strategy (as in 'I hope she doesn't spook by that bush') and am more like: 'we're going forward and by that bush and then leg yielding to X and then halt'. 

5. I'm riding better- my shoulders and hands are more following and I'm vertical much of the time. In fact, at Karen's she noted that I was leaning back too much. 

6. I'm learning to feel when she's on her hind end and when she begins to tip forward. 

What's going well with you? 


  1. Love this - so many things to appreciate in a ride even when it isn’t all “perfect.” Right now I’m appreciating that I can recognize that when Charlie is bulging thru one shoulder or another (grr) it’s bc he’s not in front of my leg - boom, a fixable (?) problem lol

  2. Hmmm are you somiling in that second last photo? :0)
    Stay positive and keep riding! Or as Ted's troop master said, "Up and ride!" Looking good.

  3. Oh I love this post! It's so important to see all the good that is happening so the less good stuff doesn't take over your mindset. I'm getting better at listening to my horses, but also knowing when its their turn to listen and expecting that courtesy from them.

  4. I was just listening to a sports psychologist state we should ask ourselves 3 questions after a ride: 1) What went well? 2) What could have been better? 3)How am I going to improve this?

    They emphasized that having a positive mindset while formulating the answers will improve how we see our rides and relationships with our horses in the end.

    The brain is a fascinating place.

    1. Our brain is our best asset and greatest enemy. Depending on how we use it. I like what the psychologist said.

  5. It’s interesting how a positive list like that even lifts the spirit of the reader. I could feel myself happier going through your positive assessment.

  6. You and Carmen are looking good! Like you're positive attitude, it seems to be working out really well. And of course I love Irish and his comments.

  7. I'm getting so much value from your posts about the mental side of riding. You're so intentional about it!

  8. Yay for positivity! It is one of the secret keys! Always good to have the reminder. It is something that I am constantly trying to keep my mind on.


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