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January 1, 2019

Back to work in the arena with Carlotta this morning.

I can feel how everything is starting to fall into place - fan-tas-tic! Most of the time, a small shift, a minuscule twitch with a finger on the reins or change of focus - and off she goes into the desired direction, changes laterals, does turns on haunches etc.

Being the badass smartie she is, she sometimes misinterpretes my cues, especially when she doesn't want to do what I am asking for (mainly backing), she offers something else instead. Quarter turns are soo much less demanding, hahaha. But, of course, no way, Madam, we are doing this now. And suddenly she do can do it promptly and softly.

All the many changes of direction with outside rein (most of the time, still struggling a bit to the left) make things so smooth by now, it's pure pleasure.

I still have issues with lifting my hip (ouch at times!), so working on making it smaller and smaller, so we are both happy.

We did a lot of stops upon just coiling my pelvis, without reins, worked in about 80% of the cases. For the rest, a tiny additional squeeze on the long rein did the job. Will experiment a bit with an additional voice cue over the next few sessions. Problem with this is that she immediately slams on the breaks from any gait when I say psst or aaaand (whoa), but on the forehand at the moment, so not what we really want. More time for trial and error.

Anyway, a great start of the year

January 4, 2019

Got my riding session in this morning at 7, when it was only 31°C :-D

And Carlotta and I are starting a new adventure: we are part of the Intrinzen Project Proprius.

https://www.intrinzen.horse/

Fascinating, but at this stage still everything to learn - will be an interesting journey. Another one....

Riding went well. I took a bit of video, which is taking time to process. And lots of empty arena in it. I need to learn how to use my camera effectively on a monopod (tied to an arena post)

January 6, 2019

Cliff adjusted my seat during yesterday's lesson. He said my left hip was too much up (and not enough weight in left stirrup) and my right shoulder too. Boy, did that feel weird when I sat in that position!

So, spent this morning's ride to practice this posture. Starting to feel slightly more normal.

Carlotta was surprised, for sure, about my fumblings! But I got some nice feeling of her tuning into me. Backing came very softly, and the turns are nice too. Then I just had to be baaad and asked her for a little spanish walk. Um... from then on, she wanted to do but that for at least another 5 minutes ;-)

Then some lovely laterals (remembering this time to look into the direction of travelling for shoulder-in, duh!), including half-pass. This is still a struggle for her, especially to the right, but even Cliff had to work a bit to get it right with her.

Once unsaddled, I asked her for the "crunch" from our new Intrinzen work. The first attempt had been... well... not very successful, but this time, I suddenly felt her withers, then her back, lift under my hand. Wow! Didn't expect that to happen so soon!

January 9, 2019

This morning was really interesting.

Carlotta worked nicely under saddle, but wasn't really sure what I wanted when I asked her for crunches from up there...

I did notice that her canter has been becoming very elevated and powerful the last few times, almost like a "panther walk in canter". Not the most comfy thing to sit, but she really seems to pick up on the Intrinzen idea of autonomy. And her turns in canter became easier for her as well, so increased agility already!

But then came the Eureka moment! After unsaddling, I just stood at her side, about mid-rump, very softly resting my hand on her back, and doing nothing else. And suddenly I felt her arch up, lift her withers and back into a beautiful crunch! She got biiig praise and hugs and goodies. I walked over to the right side, put my hand on her back and again did nothing else. And there she went again: lovely crunch!

Couldn't wipe the smile from my face.

January 10, 2019

Crunches under saddle are starting to work.... as long as we do them in her "comfort spot" on the north corner of the arena. I tried one somewhere else, and she just walked on.... :-D

And she can do them (me on the ground) now with my hand held in the air above her back or withers.

Smart girl!

January 11, 2019

Another lesson with Cliff today. Boy, do I have difficulties sorting out that lifting of inside hip!!! For sidepassing at this occasion. I kept collapsing my inside hip and at times looked like Sebastian the Crab from The Little Mermaid! ;-)

One day, it will work. And I have a week to practice now. Love the way Cliff picks one thing to work on each time, so we have all the time we need to process it.

Chris had brought her Vicente for the first time today. He was a very good boy and took it all in his stride.

January 12, 2019

Am I dreaming?

Today's riding session included quite demanding elements (for me to use my inside hip correctly and for Carlotta to learn sidepassing). So, in between, I took her to her comfort spot and asked for crunches. She was very happy to perform, after one or two even with me just sitting passively and no cues!!

A bit later, I asked her in another spot, also with reins on her withers and doing nothing. She thought a sec, then walked off. But at next try, she lifted both withers and back beautifully, and each time from then on.

Suddenly, I heard rattattatttaaaaa in the distance. Yes, the local motorcycle kids were arriving, about a dozen of them. Steinar's (Intrinzen instructor) remark came into my mind to allow the horse to be the master of her own fears and tensions. So I stopped in the middle of the arena (which is about 30 m from the road), dropped the reins on her neck and did nothing (no expectations at all). When the gang came noisily thundering past, Carlotta watched for a moment with high head, then suddenly went into a beautiful crunch! This was such a wonderful moment - feels like an enormous breakthrough.

Back in the paddock, Keldan came to greet me, so I decided to just play a bit with him, walked to his side and put my hand on his back and shifted my weight a bit backwards. I could see the wheels turn in his head, and then he started to shift his weight a bit back. CT! I changed position frequently (satellite crunches) all around him. Very soon, he started to lift his withers a bit. Being Keldan, he arched his neck beautifully. And then I started to leave some air between my hands and his skin, and he could do it too! I suppose here is a candidate for becoming a superstar!

January 15, 2019

Chris came over early this morning (it was already nice and warm at 8 a.m.) with Margaret and brought Vicente, so we could have a bit of fun with him and Carlotta in my arena. Another good opportunity for him to gain experience under varied circumstances.

Carlotta was not impressed - she immediately switched to Grumpy Bum and growled: This is MY arena! A lot of flattened ears, but she did cooperate with me after all ;-)

Vicente was just a gem, very unimpressed and calm and happy to do whatever Chris asked him (remember: he is still very green), be it walking or trotting, turning, doing nice bends and some more advanced stuff already. Very impressive, this horse.

For once, Carlotta and I felt small when standing at his side. Usually we are the tall ones :-)

I practised my stuff, as usual. Still being crooked here and there and dropping my inside shoulder, hggggnnnnn....

But from time to time, it worked quite well at least.

Margaret kindly took lots of pics and a few videos. And Greg came out and took one to: https://youtu.be/J-oxlonX2to

Too funny how Carlotta switched to a hint of school walk at the end of the video :-D

Thank you, Margaret and Chris.

Thank you also to our wonderful CJ, who built a rail into my tack room, so I can hang my horse rugs over it.

January 22, 2019

Oh what a beauuuutiful summer day, euh, I mean, how st*nking hot it is! And we had a riding lesson with Cliff. I was really half expecting to keel over and fall off my horse from a heat attack ;-)

Chris kindly let me ride first at 10 a.m., but I only held out some 20 minutes, then handed my steed to Cliff who gave her an intensive and impressive training session.

Even Rev was on economy mode today, so they didn't do the full hour either, but rather stopped after a couple of good performances.

Again, a lot of useful things learned and some progress made. Cliff, you are The Best!

January 23, 2019

Another Intrinzen session with Carlotta in the arena. She was happy to walk with me and offer Panther Walk from time to time. No significant improvement on PW since last time. But instead, the crunches were a lot more upward - yay! :-)

So I tried to point forward from a PW, and she did the same trick she had invented last time: going more and more forward and down with her front legs, until her chest almost touched the ground. She looked like a big dog, doing a doggie stretch, and with her front legs crossed on top. So hard not to laugh, and even harder not to reward her for such a splendid creativity!

We did most of our current programme under saddle. Her leg yields are becoming pretty fluent and straight, with very little help from her human friend. Seems I am starting to get my act together on this now.

I asked Cliff yesterday whether it would make sense to do the turns towards the fence from a standstill at first, as we both struggle with this. But today, when I followed Cliff's suggestion to put her into a slight travers position, then ask for the turn, it worked very well and fluently.

It is such a rewarding feeling when you notice that suddenly your aids are becoming so precise that your horse has no problem to react to them correctly! All of Cliff's explanations I can now feel - amazing when I twitch this muscle in my upper thigh, or lift my inner hip and keep my focus straight ahead, or put my knee in just the right spot, and everything suddenly is so easy for my horse and comes so naturally. Wow and wow and wow.

Wish I had known such an instructor some 40 or 50 years earlier - I bet I would be just brilliant by now!

January 24, 2019

Much too hot for whatever outdoor activity. Even the horses are hiding in the deep shadow.

But this morning at 8, it was just perfect, nice and cool and a little breeze. Was fun to play with Carlotta - we enjoyed our interaction, first on the ground, then with a quiet riding session.

Working on improving the crunches, and some of them are starting to look quite nice. She was less keen about the PW, so maybe I have taken the poolnoodle away and out of knee reach too early.

Towards the end of the session, she again offered a deep doggie stretch with crossed front legs and chest going far down towards the ground - caught it on video :-) But maybe not something to encourage her to develop and put into her tool box ;-)

Later nice leg yields, with only small cues, and turns towards the fence and other goodies. I sometimes did some stupid things with my inside hip again, but I was forgiven.

Thank you, Carlotta, you are just lovely!

2 videos (not ideal, as camera too far away) on my youtube channel. When I look at her in the riding video, I hardly can believe her transformation - she looks so incredibly beautiful and noble.

January 27, 2019

Nice progress with our Intrinzen work. There seems to be quite a mind shift in her (and me!). When I come into the paddock to halter her, she has now started to walk towards me! That from Carlotta!!!

And when she needs a break and a good stare into the distance during our sessions, I walk away and do something else, but now she almost immediately turns around and follows me. Each time. Wow!

Today I decided to do something new and put the saddle on her while we did our exercises. And she was a different horse. Much prouder posture. Tentatively, I started to speed up myself and, after a bit of hesitation, she copied me. Went into a slow corto and then, suddenly, she offered two (very low) steps on Panther Walk. But PW it was, definitely!

Jubilees from me, and big praise and cuddles, and goodies.

January 28, 2019

Interesting yet again today. I tried to combine the crunch with forward into the PW for the first time. Lots of puzzles to solve for Carlotta, but she tried so hard, the dear girl.

My attempts to animate her into "crunched forward" went a bit over the top, like hopping around like Bugs Bunny, haha. When she managed her first little tölt/trot ending with a creative hop forward and up, she needed a big break for processing. 3 and a half minutes, before she was ready to interact again.

I was very happy with her cooperation and tries and good will. I have made a number of mistakes, like too far forward at her side and target held too low, putting mental pressure on yet again, but she figured things out nevertheless :-)

The riding session afterwards was just delightful. She was overbubbling with energy and proud posture. Wanted to go into piaffe, but I just said thanks and asked for a walk. Very nice turns and leg yields to both sides upon just lifting my corresponding hip. And yes, I finally remembered to look in front of us for leg yields and shoulder-ins ;-)

She is now offering shoulder-in in corto on her own! After 10 minutes or so I asked for canter and slightly turned my body while she was cantering, and here she went, right into a shoulder-in. Wow! Dismounted immediately and ended the session on this highlight.

Carlotta Super Girl!

January 29, 2019

Backed off from the inadvertantly demanding stuff I had done yesterday and opened my mind to the desirable approach.

Waited for Carlotta to come to me. Tried to run around when she did, but she wasn't ready to follow me yet. No worries.

Stood at her side, asked for crunch with my body language (doing a crunch myself and slightly lifting one hand, palm up) and also introducing a verbal cue: "lift". She got the idea very quickly. So we proceeded to start walking in PW out of the crunch. She is becoming very willing to do this, i.e. go into PW right away.

I have to pay attention to use external focus when we are about to start walking, which means that I point forward with the poolnoodle (or my arm) and take my look off her and look ahead instead. And Crunch and PW myself. Which is pretty hard, especially trying to throw my legs forward. Working on it... but it definitely has a positive influence on the way Carlotta moves. Duh!

There was half an hour left before the hoof trimmer was due, so threw the saddle on her and we worked a bit. As the days before, she was overbubbling with energy, wanted to offer all sorts of fancy things and had lots of power and enthusiasm. I really love the way I can influence direction, bend etc. with just a tiny bit of "knee on", and she stays straight and on track a lot better by now. And when I get carried away, then suddenly realise to readjust my seat, I can see her ears play vividly.

January 30, 2019

My faithful friends and readers here on FB might wonder why I am doing this "weird Intrinzen stuff", so it might be time for an explanation what it is all about. Intrinzen is based on functional human movement (which is scientifically based) which opens new pathways in the brain (not only the horse's!!), in order to create new ways of learning and achieving things.

The goal is to help our horse become autonomous which will in normal cases, along with special work we do with motivation, empower our horse to make his own decisions during training. This does of course not mean that he will from now on be allowed to walk all over us and do only as he pleases. Via well sought-out exercises, the horse learns to use his body and mind in a very efficient way. Insecurities (as well physical as mental), lack of balance and agility are addressed in various ways, always giving the horse time and space to figure out the solutions himself. And allow him to decide when he wants to apply what he is learning. Especially in the beginning, he will very often appear "switched off", i.e. will stare into the distance and seem to ignore his human partner. This is a sign that he is processing (it is not a break, as his nervous system is working overtime) - it may look like a break, but it is not - also staring at something in the distance is not taking his mind off things, but also is processing Once this is done, he will turn towards his human and be ready to continue.

There is a great variety of exercises, which go from doing a "crunch", which is a lifting-up of his withers and his back, while coiling his loins. Then it is combined what is called a "panther walk" (PW), which is a collected way of walking, incorporating the proud posture of the crunch. It can vary in how it is carried out, but we want to see the noble, collected, upright posture, with front legs reaching out far in front, making room behind the elbow. And hind feet following, of course. PW can be done at the walk, but also become much more spectacular, showing very vivid movement, like going up into the air and forward, doing it at the trot, at the toelt (maybe even at the canter).

Once the basics are solid, there is a huge number of things we do with saddle weights, acqua bags and passenger lessons before we ride our horse AND the test is can our horse crunch (like an expert) with our weight - if not we get off and work more on the ground - this is something Steinar is very particular about.

The end goal is a horse that readily makes the decision to be proud and collected in any circumstances. Which means that he will stay sound for a very long time, as he has learned to carry himself in a very effective way. And he has learned a mindset and self-confidence which make him a very safe horse to ride.

You can see some videos here: https://www.intrinzen.horse/

One word of warning about the addressed "bad ass" behaviour. Bad ass can be running around free and proud BUT is more about being proud and having the proper core structure in place and capacity to do movement well - this takes the time it takes and a lot of people just go and do what they see and then their horse falls apart or they get hurt as they dont do the work they need to do first - and if a horse crunches and nickers THAT IS bad ass.

February 7, 2019

After 4 ride-free days, back in the saddle again today for a brief ride. But before, we did our Intrinzen session. I am trying to introduce the gymnastic mat, but Carlotta is still too worried to step on it. So, I am now trying to just put a feed bucket on it and let her eat from it, and decide herself when she will be ready. Which is what Intrinzen is about, of course.

Played with a bit of PW and crunches, which are improving a bit, but still too far back instead of up - ah well, takes the time it takes...

Today, for the first time, she responded to my body language suggestion to increase speed a bit: staightened herself up at the walk and increased energy into an almost corto. Click and treat.

She was full of enthusiasm for the ride, did lovely laterals and prompt, very soft walk-canter transitions, wherever I asked for them.

During one of the breaks (standing calmly with reins on withers and breathing out), there was a Eureka moment: she suddenly walked off in PW. Lots of praise (dang, I didn't have my treatbag with me!), then a bit of walking, and - bang - she decided to do it again! Felt heavenly. Biiig preaise and hugs and end of session.

February 8, 2019

Nele kindly brought Hanna here, so she could pick up her painting. And have a little ride on Carlotta. :-)

Nele's kids, Nelson and Ellie, provided some nice distractions, so we had a slightly modified environment to work in. We started with taking a video (thank you, Hanna) of some Intrinzen work, then Hanna was happy to give it a go.

Quite a challenge, as this was a horse she didn't know at all (and vice versa), in an unknown environment and the horse at liberty, not even a halter on. She did great, and Carlotta really seemed to like Hanna, as she affectionaltely licked her and gave her kisses.

And worked very nicely for her. Then riding time. I hopped on briefly, just to show Hanna the way she is ridden, then it was Hanna's turn. Very good rider with lots of feel and great seat, so they both clicked immediately. At the first corto, Hanna giggled in delight and said to Nele: I am taking this one home!

And she loved Carlotta's level of education and cooperation. But the absolute highlight was that Carlotta started to offer us (first to me, then to Hanna) Panther Walks under the rider! Once she even did a little hop, wanting to speed up, but wasn't quite sure whether this was desirable. I loved her display of raised energy! Julie saw the video and spotted a crunch (which I hadn't noticed!) while doing PW.

From then on, she kept doing PW, and we both laughed with delight when she did. It was SOOO much fun! Thank you, Carlotta, you are an absolute Star!

https://scontent.fmel2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/51825963_10217552227508100_6691401417573269504_n.jpg?_nc_cat=100&_nc_ht=scontent.fmel2-1.fna&oh=8941ec17486c6143766ee1d70711385b&oe=5CEE020E

Took Carlotta back to the paddock and asked her to lie down on hand signal, which she did. Hanna was amused :-D

https://scontent.fmel2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/s2048x2048/50801720_296117194419251_5093609377995161600_n.jpg?_nc_cat=104&_nc_ht=scontent.fmel2-1.fna&oh=6db3942866ba850e2e307a39d7055a0b&oe=5CFA5099

https://scontent.fmel2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/s2048x2048/51556244_2158809140846646_3527834331038875648_n.jpg?_nc_cat=102&_nc_ht=scontent.fmel2-1.fna&oh=7de59278fd921d45abd14c6146035627&oe=5CFA824A

https://scontent.fmel2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/51737947_2204430152948033_4727407993753174016_n.jpg?_nc_cat=103&_nc_ht=scontent.fmel2-1.fna&oh=ee21ca909943ac7a519fdf12e3025a6d&oe=5CB29DCC

Video of Carlotta's PW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLlTHRnNLDk

Notes form Julie:

going well and it is nice to see her moving- I think you need to click less for the most part - we need to let her go a little longer and wait for effort before we click - this is especially so in the crunches as she needs to poof up allot more and not use her neck - when you ask her to focus externally in the crunch - we need the stick long and we need her to crunch while she is doing it (so dont click if there is no crunch) - I am hoping we get some film of this from Steinar this weekend while he is in Denmark - it is linked up for him so fingers crossed. Also watch you are not chasing her - a couple of times you were way behind the 'riding' position so when this happens - do some turns - so mix it up and vary the direction allot and that should help maintain the riding position as it is easier for us to drop back than to catch up.

the reason we struggle here is because we want to click all the time - wait for more effort before you click but her neck needs to get out of the way - so no we dont want to bend yet - just askj her to look forward towards the pointer

a secondary reinforcer should not be a compromise it is the same as a primary so it is the same as a click when a click is not really deserved - she will have days where she does not want to do much so a couple of crunches where effort is clicked for and then stop will work wonders for her

February 12, 2019

Carlotta really surprised me today. Upon Julie's urgent suggestions, I finally gave in and decided to allow 2 weeks without riding and "only" doing Intrinzen. We played a bit with walking together, a few PWs (she wasn't overly keen on that today), and some crunches, trying to improve them. Got two really nice upright ones with chin slightly tucked in. Good I had some jackpots in my treatbag!

Then suddenly, while I ran at her side, she took off at a playful canter and then joyfully put in a kick - at good distance from me. Who would have thought that she had it in herself to play?! Wonderful!

February 15, 2019

Early in the morning, I had the first ride after 2 weeks off riding (for Intrinzen purposes). Princess was pretty hot and goey, no walk or stop possible for about 5 minutes ;-)

But did she look pretty (even from above) with her arched neck and collected posture. The laterals and the leg yields came fluently at the corto. She hasn't forgotten a thing :-D

When she offered me a very calm series of walks and transitions, we called it a day.

February 17, 2019

Have the feeling that she had bee trying too fast and too hard to please me over the last six weeks, since we started this journey.

She is going through a phase now, as I suppose, where she needs time to process. Today again, she didn't want to do PW and only hesitatingly some crunches. So I just asked for 3 or 4 crunches, but those with poofing up, which worked quite nicely.

Then briefly to the mat, and she put her front foot on a few times. Still worried it might move and eat her... . Never mind how long it takes. Will see if I can bring myself to just WAIT now and let her decide (at liberty) when she can approach it and walk on. Even if it takes forever. When I took some hay to the paddock a bit later, Carlotta stood at the gate, then went into a deep dog bow!

From Julie:

there is going to come a time when the mat is going to be poisoned - you need her to have the autonomy - I would recommend that you stop asking her to come to the mat - if she goes to the mat or even thinks of going to the mat click and treat BUT walk away do not take her to it. Often when our horses don't really seem to 'want' to engage it is autonomy at work and this is crucial that you respect this - I see it allot and we need to do exactly as you did BUT you dont ask for anything - see what she offers - give her a massage - then if she does something click and treat for it - this is the hardest part but it is really worth it and once we honour it - it will be done, but if we dont, it is going to happen again and again and with each time it will be harder as our horse will not have the confidence that we are listening. If we respect it straight off the bat and when we find a clickable moment we make a huge fuss and finish up, that process will go very quickly and it does not really come back again unless we start telling our horse what we want. There will be days when they say na not today and thats fine - it is their day of massage

it is hard and intrinzen is harder for us than it is for our horses! it is not really a demanding personality it is more about habits that we form when training - dont look at any of this as training, just look at it as releasing emotional and physical parking brakes.

OK hahahaha - no what she is showing you now is a test of autonomy - so she is asking you to put your money where your mouth is

- you see this is autonomy and 6 months ago you would not have thought she had this in her - so hang in there and trust me with this - I have been through it with Star and I have had contact with so many people with this same pattern

just my views and someone else would probably tell you something different - but it really works well this way - I think it was about the 7th month mark with Star because we were in the first next steps way back when this stuff was not really spoken about - hahahahahaha what have you got to loose...a couple of days of really checking ourselves will tell us for sure

February 17, 2019

Difficult day today, very hard not to feel frustrated.

She was packed with autonomy for the brief Intrinzen session, most of the time wanted to graze. Turned to me once or twice and was willing to walk along my side for a lap, then off again. Gave me one good crunch, so I left it at that.

Looks like my calm, relaxed riding horse has gone out of the window. Carlotta was pretty tense yesterday (first ride after 2 weeks) and tense she was today again. Stopping (which works on coiling my loin and no reins normally) was only possible in her comfort spots, and standing still was soo hard. Took me a lot of work to allow her to simmer down to panics, as Chris calls it jokingly. When she finally managed to give me a good stop and breathed out, I dismounted and called it a day. Oh my, poor girl, this is so hard for her, as it seems.

I know that there is a lot of stuff going on underneath, but I am not (yet) zen enough to allow it without feeling worried and somewhat frustrated.

So, I hear you, and I hope she will be OK and not hold a grudge against me.

From Julie:

these days happen and there is no need to feel frustrated - you respected her choice she gave you a good crunch and you left it at that - it is these days that will really make a difference - embrace them - when you come out the other end you will understand

Ok so you rode her as well - the stuff with Cliff is important to you so you need to weigh up what is best for you and her as I am quite sure riding her with Cliff is not providing any autonomy and the difficulty for her is that one day she has it and the next she is under control - even Steinar with a fully autonomous horse would get off if he had any hint that the horse was not happy - so you need to make the best of the situation and accept that she cannot be provided with autonomy - see the problem is that she was starting to feel empowered but it is not fair to her for her emotions to be up and down like this. You probably have to think about what the trade off can be - I will give it some thought and when I next speak with Steinar I will see what he can suggest (other than what I know he will LOL).

So, I had some thoughts about this:

Cliff is a brilliant rider with perfect timing and very good hands, but there is zero autonomy for the horse when he rides.

It didn't seem a problem for Carlotta to switch between autonomy and being ridden before she had that break. I used to do Intrinzen, then let her graze a bit while I got my gear out, then rode her for 20 to 30 minutes, and she seemed fine with it, all soft and happy to go. Now it all seems changed.

Yes, I will have to weigh what to do, and yes, I understand she must feel betrayed by switching between autonomy and obedience. I wonder whether this is not too much for her and maybe I should postpone Intrinzen until I can give her really several months of break from being ridden, i.e. when I have her bred toChris' Morgan stallion and she gets around 5 or 6 months pregnant until the time the foal is ready for weaning.

I would really love to continue, as in general she seems to love it and showed a lot of enthusiasm in the beginning. Thank you for asking Steinar what he thinks.

When I ride her, I can give her some autonomy and I am soft wherever I can, but there is a programme I am working on, and I just cannot let her "off the leash" while riding her. I do put in frequent breaks, allow her to stand on reins on withers, take deep breaths etc., apply minimal cues and let her think about things for a couple of minutes. But in between, we are doing work. I am absolutely passionate about becoming a really good rider, and this takes hard work at times, and my horse is asked to cooperate, even though asked gently, wherever possible. And it was starting to become very possible very often.

Here is an example of a riding session from end of January (just before the break):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXb8O-NQejQ&t=286s

February 18, 2019

After feeling so miserable all yesterday about the whole thing, I decided to change things today. Asked for a crunch before saddling, then had about 5 minutes of practising our stuff, then stopped in her favourite corner and did nothing. She sighed and then did a crunch (her own decision). Biig praise and goodies (have now your little bag hanging over my shoulder, which works well). Then did nothing again, and she walked off purposfully, then started doing PW!!!

Another big praise, then I let her decide what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go. She happily wandered around, then started to unroll her repertoire (shoulder-in, travers, corto, canter, and even a shoulder-in in canter). When she decided she wanted to finish and walked towards the gate (I ride with the gate open), I just let her and she went and lined up at the MB for me to dismount. After unsaddling, I took her to the arena, brought the mat (folded) and placed the bucket with her supplements on it, where she happily ate it while I took the hay to the paddock.

Julie:

dont feel bad about things - I know it is hard not to and we all go through these things - it is a very hard commitment to be 'all in' and it does not suit everyone and their dreams and goals. What your experience shows today is that autonomy is very important for her and when you give this to her she gives you all of her repertoire by choice - and that is the best feeling for us and for our horse - I think your approach is great - aside from a little bit of a parking brake in her left hind area (and the fact that I do not believe she has the capacity I now believe to be true after all these years with Steinar) her parking brakes are more emotional AND the only way these can be released is through autonomy - I think it sounds like you had a wonderful morning

Me:

Yes, I did, and Carlotta did as well, which is even more important. So I will let her decide what she wants to do during our rides most of the time and not ask for anything from the ground for now, apart from a few crunches here and there.

I can't be "all in", was already very hard for me not to ride these 2 weeks! But I can try to work around and give her as much autonomy as possible. Maybe we can meet on this ground.

Julie:

crunches need more effort so you do need to ask for these on the ground if she shows you she wants to do them - so more effort will give her more capacity and go with it in the PW if she offers this as well, but remember again to ask for more effort - you only have to get 1 or 2 good ones. yes I think that it is a good compromise

February 24, 2019

All going well with Carlotta. I have dropped the liberty work for now and decided to incorporate Intrinzen/autonomy into our riding sessions, so she can have a say and not become frustrated by "obedience all the time".

This seems to work very well. After a few laps on long rein, we do a bit of work. At the moment, Cliff is teaching us counter-bend work, i.e. how to use my hips effectively and smoothly. Carlotta was starting to respond very nicely this morning, was a real pleasure.

Then reins on withers, do nothing, and let her decide. Usually, she now does a crunch or two then walks off and wanders around in the arena, sometimes adding some PW.

An interesting moment was when she suddenly decided to walk through the scary bottleneck between the pedestal and the labyrinth. :-)

Then pick up reins again and continue with some more work. Her general tasks have improved a lot, I feel. Much more suppleness and agility in her movement.

And I think I have improved myself, also for my posture. It can still be hard at times, but there has been a biiiig leap forward. Great feeling!

Thank you so much, Cliff!

The canter can still be sticky at times, especially her tendency to drop the right shoulder. Cliff showed me what to do in this case and it works nicely.... IF I do it correctly! ;-)

She still loves to come to me in the paddock, nickering or whinnying. Sweet! :-) And she is starting to nicker while doing crunches. I can see the connection between us - wonderful feeling.

Love my proud, noble horsie!

February 25, 2019

This about the dogs:

Something extraordinary happened today.

While I was clipping Leo's toe nails (with clicks and liver treats in between), Niko came into my office. He is the one who used to be terrified beyond belief by the idea of having any of his nails even touched by the clippers, and it took a lot of patience to get him over it.

He stood close to me for a while, but I was busy with Leo, so didn't pay attention to Niko. Suddenly I heard a "plop" behind me, as Niko lay down on his bed and waited for his turn to have his nails done!!!!

This was so suprising that I could hardly believe it. But I turned around and did Niko's nails, while he enjoyed his liver treats after each nail.

Turned out that Greg had sneaked up from behind and taken some photos.

February 27, 2019

Very pleasant lesson with Cliff yesterday. We worked more on counter bends, adding some canter too. Carlotta was very cooperative and is now gliding into the movements very gracefully. No photos or videos from it unfortunately.

Got some high fives from Cliff about what we achieved together. Yayyyyy! When I ran out of steam, Cliff took over and did a few minutes of canter work with her. And - tadaaaaa - she once (very calmly and beautifully) gave him a flying change! The first one right at the beginning of the video, and there was another one a bit later too. Wow!

For the warmup, Chris grabbed my umbrella (which I had taken for sun protection) and did some elegant moves with Rev.

Then Renae was having her baptism as a jouster on Paco, teamed up with Chris on Rev. Cliff coached from the ground. All did very well and had a ball on top. Great job, girls and horses!

This morning, Carlotta and I practised at home, adding cortos and canters, as well as switching from counter-bend to half-pass. Once she got the idea, she very happily performed for me.

She was so engaged in the process and hyped up that she couldn't stop at times, especially when we had worked on some collected (school) walk. I didn't force her, but instead gave her the reins and let her show initiative. Which mostly quickly turned into Panther Walk and some crunches. This seems to be a concept that really suits her.

March 2, 2019

Anyway, had my extra-lovely b'day ride this morning at 8. Inaugurated my new air vest (a Two Point Softshell). Boy, sits it tight (or am I just fat?!). I hope it will stretch a bit over time. But I like it a lot better than the Hunter. I think that one will be up for sale soon...

Princess Carlotta was at her best, just one stare-freeze-growing-in-withers moment when neighbour's cat had the audance to walk around their lawn, haha.

Our combos of counter-bends, half-passes, shoulder-ins, travers etc. came fluently and softly - much fun for both of us.

I often see the benefits of our Intrinzen work (even though it wasn't much yet), as she is willing to be brave and walk through the scary bottleneck between pedestal and labyrinth, all by her own choice. Or the repeated crunches she did today and some nice little PWs as well.

It seems to me that her posture has become a lot stronger already - I feel so much more "elevated". And it is easy for her now to respond to my request to lift her inside shoulder.

We had slightly different opinions about canter work, as she thought it was too hot to go through too much effort, so started to canter, then slowed down after a dozen strides. OK, back to walk, and canter transition again. She finally gave in, being the wiser one of the two of us. So, I tried a flying change. After all, Cliff got two, so why not me!

I looked into the opposite direction and lifted my new inside hip, and I could feel the "jump" under the saddle when she changed lead. Her feet got a little bit muddled up, but she did it. It was a premiere for me too. Yay, thanks, Lolle!

March 5, 2019

At today's lesson, Carlotta had the honour to be the first one to set foot on the luxurious new layer of sand in Cliff's arena. Not completely, as we discovered various footprints of small animals who had tested the terrain already.

Of course, Carlotta saw gremlins, sharks and who-knows-what in every corner of the arena, but we managed eventually to get a bit of work done ;-)

When I ran out of steam, Cliff took over and got some canters which looked really nice.

Oh, and I love my new Point Two Softshell vest.

http://www.lemis.com/yvonne/photos/Photos.php?size=2&dirdate=20190306

March 8, 2019

We are having a visitor over the weekend: Bindi, Vago's daughter.

The boys (Leo and Niko) are delighted about the female company, and there is a lot of happy running around in the garden. For the moment, they are all a bit pooped and having a nap.

Oh, looking into those Vago eyes, she definitely has her dad's head. *sniff*

But before she arrived, Carlotta and I did our daily half-hour in the arena. She still has problems with half-pass to the right and canter to the right, where she tries to do sharp turns and at times drops her shoulder. More work to be done.

Her canter to the left was very vivid today, and when I tried to get a flying lead change, we somehow got a bit mixed up with our intentions and almost landed in the fence. Narrow escape. It can get tricky when your horse reacts in the split of a second to your slightest cues and even (in this case undecided) intentions... ;-)

The lateral work is becoming lots of fun: very fluent and soft most of the time. And I am trying to keep my leg position where it belongs. I am adding a little video from Wednesday.

To finish the session, we did a bit of school walk. Feels so good when she becomes all proud and arched and upright and floats along with so much controlled energy. I automatically adopt a very proud posture myself! Then a few steps of piaffe attempts. At the end, she went into a bit of passage! Big jackpot and end of session.

March 9, 2019

Can't stop laughing with delight. Carlotta has made PW her default behaviour, as it looks like. We spent at least half of today's session in it, haha.

She is becoming very comfortable with it and offers it all the time. But today she started to lift herself really, really up in the withers, arching her neck so proudly and coiling her loins - all of her own making! That little bit of Intrinzen we did was apparently enough for her to change completely in her attitude and capacity.

She must have looked like a very noble alta escuela horse.

And when she heard my delighted giggles and jubilees, she lifted even higher, and her legs flew out straight in front of her. She is so light in the front end now that levades come almost automatically. As I didn't ask for this, I didn't encourage it, of course.

Backing is very easy now, with chin nicely tucked in and back lifted. The canters were animated again, she seemed to get carried away by her own beautiful movements ;-)

Such a pity that nobody was there to film my Carlotta Superstar.

From Julie:

YES now we have the proud movement that will change her nervous system - we speak about this in the video - I am sooooooo HAPPY for you and we also speak about the social engagement and how that also alters the nervous system which is what your joy is sending her. I would not worry about the crunches they will come when she wants to show you - yes the passage will come also after the PW - and gee we dont even have to train it!

and see all this is is giving her the opportunity to do something she is proud of - yep I understand how you are feeling

remember all horses regardless of their breeds begin with a great posture and it maybe that she is now rediscovering her true posture

maybe - for me it is really more like a proud behaviour that shows us they feel 'alive' this is why they are doing this in the fear situations - when their reliance is higher and the come down from the sympathetic state they do what makes them proud

I am not sure where all this will take me but I have wanted to work with Sarah for such a long time and at the present time Steinar has taken me as far as he can - I am grateful and I will help him if he needs it but I am pleased I am back where I want to be AND that this movement stuff is complementing it all OK so the video I am editing will help you see what she maybe going through - the three pathway model of the Autonomic nervous system is the key

our job is to get good at what is high and low and then support her


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