This will be a very rambling and long post, sorry. That's the way I'm feeling...
(And most probably there's been hundreds of similar posts, sorry for that too.
I just bought a horse. She's 5 years old and has a very basic riding background: all gaits, halting, turning. She's been ridden English this far. Her basic training from birth has been solid (mostly NH style, if you want to brand it) and she's very easy horse when it comes to everyday stuff like leading, grooming, etc.
I have trained and helped to train several horses before, but have had a few years off due to health reasons. My confidence has taken some damage. Especially groundwork gets me all iffy: am I getting it right, should I do this now... And my timing sucks (is getting better all the time though). I think I'm making her a Western horse (Riding, Horsemanship, Pleasure?), and if not, we're probably going Classical.
My mare tenses up very easily. It shows in her muscles: every single one has a knot or two. I've previously trained my mare's sister and she was just the same at this age -- until something clicked. Currently I'm focusing on getting her muscles unknotted with massage and stretching exercises from the ground. Her saddle hasn't been the best fit and am waiting for her back to be pain-free before fitting for a new one. So no riding until those things are sorted.
As she is starting to get better, I think I should start adding other stuff on our plate. We have been tackling the issue of staying in the box with the door open this past week and next I'm planning on standing still "come what may". Long reining is also on the list: she most probably has done it before but I haven't tried yet. I have tried Parelli's 7 Games and she's pretty good with those. Still going to work more on those exercises.
Things that rile me up and I need to address:
- her way of looking away from me even when she seems to be listening and doing what I ask (critical)
- not relaxing and keeping her head low
- wanting to take everything in her mouth
- reacting to rein by lowering head instead of tensing up and stopping (getting better: reaction due to existing tension in the muscles?)
- not loping in the pen/on the line (mostly due to my inabilities)
- "being quiet": getting to know each other better
Now, I'm looking for a nice book or two to help me out. To give confidence and in a way list out things I should be doing next. I have a trainer to give me a hand every now and then, but it's the rest of the time that intimidates me... I don't want my horse to get bored and her training to stand still/go backwards.
Also, advices/tips on things I should/could do with my mare very welcome!