dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Head and Shoulders

 I had the best lesson on Monday. Unfortunately there is no media because my phone stopped recording after 10 minutes.  I always do my best to remember but we were doing some new things and seeing it after would have helped me. 

a shot of our warm up

What is nice this year is that we are not spending the majority of the lesson getting Carmen to cooperate and stop spooking. I have been timing our rides to see at what point in the warm up does she begin to loosen up and feel ready to work. The time is about 30 minutes. Knowing this I made sure to be up in the ring 30 minutes ahead. Most of my warm up is at the walk, changing directions, circles, leg yields and transitions. 

This was the lesson where we really tackled straightness. Carmen has a habit of keeping her shoulder out and hind legs in- especially to the right. Asking her to bend and she tries to keep an eye outside and tilt her head. 

Turns out that hanging on the inside rein is not the answer to that (*sarcasm font).  It took a lot of outside rein to keep her from becoming crooked - especially on the circles. I've gotten so used to this way of going that I don't notice it when it's subtle. But when I got moments of it, I could feel the difference.  I know Carmen could too and I also felt how it really loaded the hind legs. 

Carmen was not a fan and felt I was violating our terms of engagement. For one thing, it prevented her from keeping an eye on what was happening outside of the ring. 

Carmen: clearly one of us has to pay attention to potential hazards. 

We worked on this at all the gaits- walk-trot and canter. Then Jane had us work on our counter canter. We picked up a canter on a circle and then counter canter the next one. Carmen was convinced that we had lost our minds and kept breaking or switching leads (not clean switches). So then Jane had us walk down the long side on the inside track, pick up a shoulder in to the outside and ask for the lead. Then walk. Carmen began to figure this out and was really trying hard.  When we got one where she really tried hard to canter-walk without diving down and I asked if we could stop. It felt to me that she had given us a lot and pushing farther would not be a good thing. Carmen is not a horse you drill with- it makes her irritable and she'll begin to act up. I do my best to not ride to that point. 

When I dismounted I was happy with that decision- she was clearly tired and needed a good hose.  

grazing outside the tack room post ride

I will usually ride the day after a lesson (if possible) because I find that she's can be tight and sore. I don't make it a hard ride- most of the time we just walk and stretch. I really wanted to ride again to practice the work from the day before but just at a walk.  It was good for me to play with it and see if I could replicate it. I think we had some good moments and I could feel us both starting to understand it (at least I hope so). 

After the lesson, Julia and I took Quaid up in the ring. I wanted to practice working through distractions. I've done a lot of work with him with flags, plastic bags and other things. But the problem is that it is me controlling the things and he knows. We started with me just working with him as per usual- leading, lunging, walking/trotting on cue etc. I took the plastic bag on a stick and rubbed him all over. All of this is 'old' work for Quaid. He totally get this. 

growing up and shedding caps (baby teeth)

I then gave Julia the bag and stick and asked her to go to the end of the ring. The plan was for me to continue to ask him to listen and 'work' while she walked around the far side of the ring casually waving the plastic bag.  

At first he was quite distracted by what was happening down there but quickly settled. I then asked her to slowly walk closer and while we continued to work. When she was able to walk close by us will waving the bag and he didn't even react we stopped. We'll keep doing this work because it's going to be so helpful when he's under saddle. 


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