dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, May 27, 2024

Small Steps

 Riding a green bean is definitely an experience. The last green horse I rode was Steele.

Quaid reminds me a lot of Steele in many ways. Both of them are pretty easy going. Quaid worries more than Steele but tries really hard and has excellent concentration skills. Like Steele he has an 'old soul'. 

the apple trees are blooming

I've been working with him regularly just quietly building on the skills. Linda has been doing a lot of posts on what makes a horsewoman. One thing that stands out for me is to work towards being better not perfect. When I used to try to for perfect I did a lot of drilling. Now I aim for whatever I'm working on to be a bit better. I find that this pays off with a happier horse who tries (even Carmen). 

When I first started riding him at home I started on the 20 metre circle at the top of the ring. I then added in the centre. Each ride I tried to expand it. Why like that? I didn't want him to be worried about the various parts and to be tempted to gallop off. Now I can get on and walk him all over the ring. And this week we trotted the entire ring. Green horses are so honest. Not that trained horses are NOT honest. But there are lot more layers to things. With Quaid I know right away when he's trying, tired, distracted, happy, etc. He really tries to figure things out. 

Halting at X (ish)

Straightness is always fun with a green horse. I've been taking Jane's teaching to heart and making sure that my reins are not unbalancing him. I've started to introduce walking on a straight line on the quarter and center lines. It really helps him to figure out that the legs mean more than just go and to balance himself. I'll introduce trot on the quarter line soon. 

One thing I haven't done with Quaid is canter. I've been waiting for our balance to improve and to feel like we won't be flailing too much.  I wasn't worried about it, I figured the time would come. And it did this week. We were working and he was being great. It was a hot day and he had more whoa than go, which I don't mind. We were near the end and were trotting a circle and it felt right. So I sat up, grabbed a bit of mane and said 'and caanter'. He flicked an ear back and trotted faster. I stayed balanced (as best I could) and asked again with a kiss. He picked up a canter and we did about 1/2 a circle when I asked him to come back and I hopped off. 

Each ride we are building our confidence. In ourselves, in each other.  

It's fun

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Hissy Fit

 On Sunday I had 2 lessons again- 30 minutes for Quaid and an hour for Carmen. My friend Stephanie offered to come and help which was great. The plan was to lunge/groundwork with Quaid and then ride. I had them both tacked up and Stephanie held Carmen while she grazed.  The weather turned cold for the weekend (of course). Sunday was a bit better but it was foggy, cold and windy.  Because of the weather I didn't set up my Pivo so there's no media. 

the pasture is doing great

Quaid was a bit up and required more lunging and moving out then is typical but I felt he was in a good place when I went to mount, just as Jane was arriving.  I lined him up but as I started to mount he walked off. I hopped off the block, brought him around and lined up again. This time he walked off as I swung my leg over. With the high cantle of the Spanish saddle I hit it with my leg and he got a bit upset as I tried to find my balance. Fortunately, he didn't do anything and I got him to whoa. I hopped off and lined him up again. For me, standing while being mounted or dismounted is a non-negotiable for me. I hate feeling unbalanced and I'm not nimble enough to just go with it. This time he stood and we did our usual stand there and flex to the rein before walking off. 

He was tight and because of the mounting issue I was also tense.  When we walked down the long side two blue jays burst out of the brush screeching.  I got to experience his spook. Which turned out to be a sudden jerking stop, splay of the feet and then breathe and carry on. So that was nice.  

Jane was getting on my case to follow with the reins. I thought I was but she said my elbows were moving too much and if I'd just put my elbows at my side they would move naturally with him. Turns out that as soon as I did that his fussiness in the bit ended.  We worked on the circle at walk and trot teaching him about the outside leg and steering. I was also to ride him forward, especially at the trot. I was riding him too slow. As soon as we got forward everything smoothed out.  I could definitely feel things falling into place. The 30 minutes went really fast.  

I untacked him quickly and turned him out. I then put on Carmen's bridle and hopped on. You may recall that I said she was being challenging lately. When she was a bit a strong to start I honestly didn't think anything of it. Until we went to walk down the long side and she began to throw the haunches around. 

interrupting the wall of text with
Me and Mini Me

We went on a circle working on bend and half-halting. Carmen totally blew off my half-halts requiring me to get quite strong. But about 5 minutes in when I was supposed to leg yield down the long side Carmen threw a massive hissy fit. She tried to bolt, throwing her shoulders around. When that didn't work she began to spin. I did not feel safe. I asked Jane to come in and hold her so I could get off. I apologised to Jane and said that I needed to lunge her before riding and it was okay if she had to leave. 

I'm pretty sure that there were a few things going on with Carmen,. One was that she's now on grass which always gives more energy. But the big thing was that she was in a massive heat and frankly didn't want to fucking do the thing. What she wasn't was scared. Before I got on she was grazing calmly and without issue. It was a big middle finger at me. I put on her halter over her bridle and brought her down to the end of the ring she didn't want to go to. She immediately picked up this relaxed jog. 

Nope I said. You had energy and you are going to move your ass. I worked her butt for a solid 10-15 minutes at a trot and canter. She was to go forward with energy and when she tried to be lazy I chased her. I was, understandably pissed but I wasn't looking to punish her. I was looking to match my energy to her resistance. As we worked I was able to begin to use softer and more subtle aids. And she was not ignoring those. When she did (at first), I raised my energy and got after her. Carmen is really good at giving me half (or less) of her attention. If she was human we'd be talking while she scrolled on her phone. 

Jane was still there when I mounted again. This time we were able to have an actual lesson with Carmen. We worked on getting her to bend and maintain it while half-halting on the outside so she wasn't blasting off. She was not allowed to bend herself into a pretzel to carry on a circle while looking out.   Only once did she act like she wanted to bolt. Fuck around and find out I growled because we'll go.  And that was the end of that. 

it was hot today so she had a bath

In the end it was a really good lesson and Carmen had some great work.  My body felt like I had done an intense workout. Which I guesss I had. My abs were actually sore.  

I usually give her the next day off or just do a stretchy walk. But I knew that I would obsess about the debacle of Sunday, and I needed to follow up. I tacked her up and went for a ride. And she was letter perfect. Not a hint of any hissy fits. That felt like vindication. I know we've come a long way and I've done a lot of work. Carmen will always be Carmen and at times her feelings overwhelm her. Add in her tendency to be dominant and she can be challenging. It helps that I don't buy into the feelings nor do I buy that she's frightened. She just, well, Carmen.  

Fortunately, Quaid is a little more easy going because I'm not getting younger. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The March of Time

 I realise it's been a while since my last post. Part of the reason is shortly after I wrote it I came down with Covid. Believe it or not it was my first time. I have to appreciate the irony of dodging it for four years and all the travel to actually get it after a single visit to the local rec centre. It knocked me on my ass for a bit and even after it was gone I had zero stamina.  Fortunately, it's all gone and I'm feeling normal.  I was happy that I was all better in time for my birthday. It was a big one: 

It feels weird to be 60. Like, I officially have more years behind me than in front. Which was true when I was in my 50's too but it felt different. Anyway, I had a small party to celebrate with my family and friends and asked that people bring donations to the local animal shelter rather than gifts. The balloons though- I kept those.  I don't feel old even I'm officially a senior. I guess that's the key.  

We also lost our OG hen, Beth about 10 days ago. She was such a lovely hen and my favourite. I believe she had heart failure. She lived to be 4 which is fairly aged for a commercial layer.  I will miss her hanging out with me. 

The weather has finally decided to cooperate and I've been getting more riding in, now that I'm feeling better. Carmen and I had a lesson last week. While I was sick I transitioned them to the back pasture. AS always, when Carmen is full time on grass she gets a bit strong and pushy.  In my lesson Jane commented that, while she was definitely challenging, she wasn't out of control and we worked through it. 

We had some nice moments

and some hilariously bad ones. Like what are we 
even doing here? 

After Carmen and I had previously worked through her going forward she's decided that she needs to do everything at speed. And still not stepping up behind. So we're trying to find that middle ground of a working pace and pushing from behind. It's hard work.  I realised that we've learned that if she goes fast when I put on my leg I'll take them off. Sigh. So I have to fix that screw up with the idea that my leg means more than go faster. We shall get there. 

Quaid, however, is being a superstar. Every ride is better than the one before. There was one day when he was quite up that I decided to not get on. I'm thrilled that it was just one. The next day he was great. We can actually travel in a sort of straight line. Our travel on the right rein is getting better. I love how he tries to figure stuff out. Most rides are 20-30 minutes. 

It's fun to see how quickly things can progress with a young horse. He reminds me a lot of Steele in that way. 

Cordelia is growing like a weed. She's very smart and sweet. Most of the time. Every now and then she gets overexcited and turns into a nipping/hyper puppy. It usually means she needs a nap. We're going to puppy classes and she's super smart. 

do you like her new tag? 

I can't believe May is almost over. There's our usual show the beginning of June and, as usual, I don't feel ready. But I'll go. I'm trying to decide if I should register Quaid for 1 or 2 walk/trot classes for the experience. He'll be there anyway.  We'll see.