dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, November 26, 2017

From the Ground Up

I am back from what was a perfect weekend. There were wonderful friends, beautiful horses, delicious wine and food. Oh god. So much food:


Saturday morning there was a Dr. Suess challenge thrown down and Chef Jim did not disappoint. 
yes, we even had a 3 layer santa gingerbread cake that Karen won at an event.
it was amazing
authentic Thai dinner. 

There was also shopping but I shall save that for a different post. 

I am sure you are all dying to know how Carmen and I made out. 

In short, we both had a wonderful time. 

In this post I want to talk about the ground work. Karen has the perfect indoor to do liberty work. I haven't done much of it with Carmen- my ring is too big and has far too much grass. I thought that I could use the ring to play. 

On Friday when we arrived there was no one there yet. I put her in her stall and unpacked. I then relaxed for a bit in the tack room before taking her out into the arena. I let Carmen get used to the place and move around as she wanted while I made myself useful by cleaning up some poop. 

I then picked up the lunge whip and we began to play. I know that I have done a lot of work with Carmen on ground work and lunging but I was amazed at how she responded to my body language. She stayed in a circle around me and moved with me as I moved. If I stilled my body (like a half-halt) she would slow down. If I pulled back from her she would stop and turn in. I was blown away. 

I did a short video. It was hard to get because with the phone between us she was much more uncertain. She went from Canter to trot and to halt all from body language. 

I spent time each day 'playing with her in the ring. 

Practicing our ground tie. I was able to get 20 feet away and
all around her. 

Karen has a large ball she uses as well with her horses. I got it out to see what Carmen thought of it. She walked right up and sniffed it. She seemed to like rubbing her nose on it. I asked her to play catch with me. Based on her facial expression in the video it seems that she figures it much easier to just humour me. 


I set up some trot poles to play with when we were riding. I asked her to trot over them. The first time she went around on the rail. Which was perfectly fine. The next time around I drew back from her to bring her off the rail and with just a brief consideration she trotted right over. 

On Saturday evening I wanted to tackle the wash stall. Carmen would not go near it any time I was there (she was the same at Stacies). I tried to get her in before but I failed. I was also disappointed with how I tried- there was far too much pressure. That was last year. I had done some thinking and decided to tackle it like I would trailer loading. I decided to do step by step and not move ahead until I had relaxation at the step I was working on. 

I started with walking her by it a number of times. We then stopped by it. I then walked in a step but let her hang outside just looking. Each time I released pressure by walking away. The whole time I didn't care if she went in or not. I was totally chill. I would ask her to come in a little bit but didn't fight if she didn't want to. I just assumed it was too much and backed off. In about 15 minutes she walked right in and stood there totally relaxed and checking it out. I wanted to do a happy dance but thought that might be a bit much for her. I praised her heavily and put her back in the stall. 

I was so impressed with she and I connected over the weekend.  I was able to see how much she has come to look to me for direction and how much she trusts me. I have learned so much from her on how to control myself. 

That would have been enough to make the weekend a success but the riding was pretty spectacular as well. 

31 comments:

  1. Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. I admire you so much for taking the time, putting in the work, and giving Carmen a chance to shine. You too, of course. Shine, I mean. I rode horses most of my life, mostly English saddle, both dressage, jumping, and just riding for fun. I should post something on my blog about this as most people don't know.

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    1. Thank you. It was a great weekend. Here in Canada we had our Thanksgiving back in October. :) I would love to hear about your riding adventures.

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  2. Sounds like a super successful weekend! I can't wait to hear about the riding (and also the shopping, because, you know, it's me haha).

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  3. What a great way to spend a weekend!! I love how in tune Carmen is with you and how exciting you guys conquered the wash stall, too!!

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    1. I was really happy about the wash stall.

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  4. I’m amazed. That is some great at liberty work. She is very tuned into you. I know you were doing this while taping, which is very difficult, so I’m doubly impressed. That’s what it’s all about.

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    1. It is really hard to record and do it at the same time. without the phone between us it was even better!

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    2. Believe me, I know it and I believe it! Whenever I try to tape, it breaks the bond between the horse and I. The feel between each other is like a rope of energy--and the phone disrupts it.

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  5. Your relationships with Carmen is amazing. I say t every time but it is worth repeating. I love her expression with playing catch. Ha!

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    1. It has been a lot of work but totally worth it.

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  6. Bahaha--her expression with that ball made my morning, lol. I'm with Linda, completely amazed. When the tack is off, that's when you see the truth. Great work Teresa!

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    1. It's pretty hilarious with the ball.

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  7. oh man, i was never ever able to get isabel into wash stalls.... it was kinda embarrassing lol. carmen looks great in the video tho! how fun -- i love playing a little bit with ground work bc it tells us so much about how the horse is actually communicating with us and understanding us. tho it's a little tricky with charlie in some ways bc .... he's not much for the whole 'freely moving forward' thing lololol. canter while lunging? inconceivable... such a wild and crazy ottb, that one.

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    1. I wonder what it is about wash stalls? I wondered if Carmen had had a bad experience or if it was just her 'nope'.

      I wonder if Charlie would like to play ball?:D

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  8. Sounds like a fantastic weekend! I love your approach to the wash rack (and the ground work too of course!) :)

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    1. It was a fantastic weekend. The groundwork stuff I owe so much to so many people!

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  9. OH MY GOD. She is so friggen sweet hahaha. Her expression with the ball is the cutest thing I've ever seen <3

    And your guys' work at liberty is so inspiring!!

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    1. She really is showing her sweet nature.

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  10. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, so glad for you! :-)

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    1. Thank you! It was a lovely weekend.

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  11. Those eggs are REALLY green, lol. Sounds like well deserved wonderful weekend!

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  12. Wonderful! She’s such a beautiful girl, loved the lunging and her playing catch!

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    1. Thank you! I was surprised by how well she did!

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  13. Congrats on getting over that major hurdle!

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  14. I love all of this. So much. Your relationship with Carmen is serious #goals knowing what you've overcome to get where you are. It's so cool to see how she looks to you now!

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