dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, October 1, 2021

Back to Schooling

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. 

14 comments:

  1. So awesome that things feel like they’re clicking into place! I love how Jane always seems to zero in on the simplest but most effective tactics. Like, oh yea, rhythm and straightness. Who woulda thunk LOL! I swear the hardest part of riding are the “basics” haha

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    1. The basics are forever and ever amen. But TBH when she’s spooking I’m not really thinking ‘ooh she’s not straight, I should fix that’. 😁😁

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  2. Tools are a great thing! It sounds like you are making so much positive progress. Fall is my favorite as well.

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  3. I love autumn, too. It’s our gift of having survived fire season. Rhythm. Ah, yes. That’s what I’m seeking with Tweed, but have a long way to go. Our riding is more like a grunge band…or maybe some wonky tonk hillbilly music. 😂 I’ve seen your floaty work with Carmen, and you’re on the verge of a grand symphony.

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    1. Never diss a good hillbilly song. 😁 I have great expectations of both of you.

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  4. Can you explain elastic outside rein? Is it just softness on the way you hold contact so that you aren't using a bracing contact?

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    1. It’s like a taut bungee cord so if she ducks it goes with her. The aim is always to be soft but if she is resistant it’s a stronger elastic. My tendency is to lock the arm which eliminates the elasticity

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    2. Oh ok. In western riding terminology we call that a following hand (with light contact) and locking the arm, bracing.

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  5. Jane seems like a really good fit for you and Carmen. Seems like you're both reaping the rewards every time you all get together for a lesson. Way to go!

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    1. So far we're fitting quite well together.

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  6. I remember when I finally had more tools to work with Gem. She never changed but I suddenly had ways to work with her and different tactics to try. It made such a big difference

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    1. I love this. Carmen will always be Carmen but these tools are helping.

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  7. Tools are so helpful! Happy things are starting to come together.

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