dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, May 26, 2023

Carmen the Magnificent

 While I was away on my trip Jane sent an email out to her students to do a test riding clinic at the show grounds on a Tuesday in May. I had to think about it for a bit but, after chatting with Tanya I decided to sign up for it. 

The truth is that, since signing up for the show to do Second level, those nasty voices were muttering in the back of my head. I was talking about the clinic with Ed and he asked why I was doing it. I explained that ofter Carmen gets pretty reactive in the ring and it disrupts my test. 

Ed "so do you think riding in the ring again is going to make a difference?'

Now I know Ed and know that he didn't mean that question the way it landed. But the voices in my head grabbed on to it with glee. They were saying things like:

You're not ready to show second

Carmen is going to be horrible

You will ride terribly

It's gong to be a disaster. 

It didn't help that right before Carmen came into a bad heat and our rides were very very spicy. 

I almost bailed. But Julia was coming and Quaid was going (see last post) and it seemed cowardly to back out. 

I was riding last in the day. It was nice to watch others have wonderful and productive rides. I felt pretty good until it was time to tack up. I took Carmen into the warm up ring and immediately fell back into my hold habit of babying her along and negotiating what she was okay with. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly fine helping her when she's uncertain but there's a difference between her feeling afraid and feeling like she just wants to call the shots. Julia came in and helped but I was not feeling sure about anything. 

I was pretty sure that I sucked though. 

I walked in the show ring and walked her around. 

screen grab from the video Julia took

She was actually pretty good but I was kinda frozen. I don't know if Jane recognised that or not but she began to put us right to work. And as soon as that happened I could feel us both begin to breathe. 

And I remembered how to ride. A theme for the lesson was to give with my hands, keep my elbows at my side. I need to tattoo it on my wrist- when she feels tight I want to hold. Carmen did a spook at A. In the past it would have derailed but instead I put my leg on, rode her back and carried on. 

That was a boost to my confidence. Also Jane was very positive about our riding. 

"You really worked hard last week"  she said more than once. Here's a video of it. 

Our warm up was a lot of trot  and shoulder in. Jane then asked us to do some half-pass and that felt really good. 

Watching the video I was quite happy with how rhythmic Carmen was and how she was not fighting me like I feared but actually tuning in. 

We ran through Second Level test 1 and 2. I had 1 memorised but not 2. Fortunately Tanya read for me. 

And guess what? The tests were not a disaster. We're not heading to FEI anytime soon but the work was solid. 

Halt at C and then rein back 

nice canter but please could I stop leaning forward? 

As we rode through Carmen became more and more powerful. Our trot work was lovely. Here's a video of part of test 2: You can see slight bobbles at A but only if you look. 

At the end I was very happy. I shared with Jane that my plan had been that if the clinic was a disaster I was going to scratch. But I am not scratching. 

Carmen felt very proud to me of the work that we did. Not sure how else to explain it. 

What is clear is that I need to figure out the warm up at the show. I freeze and then ride without confidence or a plan. In the rush of adrenaline post lesson I told Jane that I couldn't warm up without her. 

While that is probably true, I knew on reflection, that this was not fair. Jane is also showing. Plus why am I more special than her other students? So we built a plan for my next lesson: I'm not going to warm up and the lesson will be about warming up Carmen to get her ready to show her magnificence. 

Carmen: you should trust me more

I do like having a goal and a plan. 

But this weekend, Julia, myself, Quaid and Carmen are off to a trail clinic. It's time for some fun. 


  1. Sounds very productive and like you have a good plan! Those voices can be very undermining and are so hard to ignore or change to the positive track. Good that you are aware though.

    Didn't get a chance to comment on Quaid's post but I love how you are introducing him to being out and about. Some nice horse training going on.

    1. Thank you for this. I really appreciate it.

  2. Those self doubts are a bear aren't they. I have them too and I don't even compete or ride in the public. Yet.
    Yes Carmen you are indeed Magnificent.

  3. The two of you are doing fabulous !! Your hard work got you to this point. I’ve seen the kind of pride you’re talking about, and I know it’s real. They know when they’ve done a good job.

  4. I think it's always hardest the first time out after awhile. Now that you've had this wonderful experience, hopefully your subconscious will remember it and the little voice will be suppressed at the actual show. You both are looking great! All that hard work is paying off!

    1. The voice has been quiet. Hopefully it stays that way.


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