My girlfriend Kat came out with me today to see Maia for the first time.... and somehow I ended up riding both Magic (my client's horse) and Maia and she gave me lessons on both of them - it really opened my eyes as to just how valuable another person's eyes on the ground can help your riding! I made strides with both horses today, and felt the need to share!!
Up to this point we were walking fine in the small pen, turning figure-8's and stopping well. I could get her trotting a few steps, but that was it - she would get nervous and stop, no matter what I did.
Today, I lunged Magic both ways for a fairly lengthy warm-up. She still listens well to my verbal commands, which is good! I got a leg-up from Kat from the ground (I've always used the fence to this point, so that was new for Magic), which Magic was fine with - thank goodness!
Kat then put me on the lunge and we did a few circles at a walk; Magic was very weirded out about there being one person on the ground and one person on her, but got over it pretty quickly. Once she was fine with circling around at a walk, both Kat and I asked her to trot at the same time - her with her voice, me with my voice and legs so she could associate leg pressure with forwards. She was a little concerned about trotting with someone on her and threw her head up a few times, but settled into it without much fuss. Once she was moving well, we asked her to walk, then trot up again; she moved up well, so we did those transitions a few more times with Kat helping me from the ground, then (while still on the lunge) I started asking her without Kat's help. She was a little hesitant at first, so I employed the "ask - tell - demand" routine, where I would ask nicely for the trot by squeezing lightly with my calves, then tell, by kicking lightly with my heels, and if she still didn't listen, demand by giving her a fairly hefty kick. It only took a few times of the "demand" part to have her trotting nicely off pressure from the calves.
Kat told me to pet her for being so good with trotting, so I reached down to stroke her shoulder and she froze up. Since she obviously wasn't comfortable with me touching her while I was on her back, we asked her to keep walking while I touched her all over on her neck and shoulders. She kept wanting to stop everytime I touched her, so we worked for a while on her accepting my touch while she was walking, then after a while, trotting. It took a farily long time for her to decide that my touch was okay, which means I will have to re-visit this over the next few sessions to make her more and more comfortable with it. By the time I ended the session, she was fairly unconcerned about it.
She was going so nicely on the lunge line that Kat and I decided to take her out in the large paddock and make her really trot around. I didn't care where she went as long as it was trotting in a nice forwards gait. She did really well! Towards the end of the session, I added in a bit of steering to the equation, and she did really well!
Magic made leaps and bounds today, and I'm very impressed with her!
... I will add Maia's post in a bit!!