Autumn is my favourite time of year to ride. The air is cool and the bugs are starting to go. So far this season has not disappointed. I'm also feeling good about the rides I've been having on Carmen. It's not that she's transformed into some magical unicorn (although I will always think of her as my magical unicorn). It's that I seem to be adding more tools to my tool box and they are the ones that I was missing.
|love September nights|
It's no secret that I've been working hard to up skill over the past few years. Carmen has been very good at teaching me about what I'm lacking. I believe that I've made more progress in my groundwork. Partly because I don't feel at risk which definitely helps with being able to pay attention. In my lessons Jane has been pointing out all the times that I'm not giving Carmen time to respond or recognize her 'tries'. And it's been so helpful.
Poor Jane- she's been very patient with me and she helps me to get Carmen straight and on the outside rein. I realize that we've been crooked for a long time but it has felt 'normal' to me and now I need to rebuild my feeling. This is definitely helping with the spooking. As soon as I find her tense I correct the straightness and, most of the time, she settles and carries on.
Yesterday in a lesson Carmen and I were heading down the long side and she was feeling tight. Jane was telling me to use the outside rein. It felt really solid and then Carmen, in a split second, ducked behind the contact and spun left. little bugger I muttered as I brought her around in a small circle and back to the rail.
well done Jane called. After we schooled through that I told her that I had contact but she ducked and then tried to bolt. Jane agreed and then said something along the lines that while I had contact it wasn't elastic and so she could duck out of it and leave.
It really crystallized with me about how that could work so the next time down that side when she was tightening I was focusing on keeping the outside rein but elastic so when she went to duck behind it I was with her. I felt her immediately soften and carry on. It was like she said 'oh okay then'
I find I am taking these new tools in our rides and they are working. In my lessons I'm beginning to feel the start of a medium trot. She lifting up through her withers and carrying herself. It takes a while and I need to be better but it's there.
Carmen is so much happier and forward. Which is fun. Today I played with a canter serpentine with simple changes across the centre line. We've played with it before and it's typically been a bit of shit show. But this time she was all 'I know this one!' and then did it easily and without fuss or flail. We've been playing with counter canter and she's balanced with it.
|Beth trying to drive the tractor. Unfortunately, |
the pedals were too far away for her little legs.
I've been trying to figure out what is feeling so good these days. And I think it' because I feel like I have tools to get us through any of the shenanigans. I'm feeling the same excitement I get from the groundwork clinics- that I'm learning things that can apply in many situations. I know I'm working on things like shoulder in and leg yields etc but it feels like it's more than just the movements- like a way of going. My frustration is so much less- when things go crappy (and they often still do) I can think about what is missing here. I did ask Jane because when things go really bad it's hard to know what to correct first. Her answer? Rhythm. So that's what I start with, and straightness. And, oh yes, is my outside rein there and elastic?
I clearly need to get some media to see if the difference I'm feeling is there. But in the meantime I'm going to keep working away and seeing how much progress we can achieve before snow shuts us down.