Hind quarter porcupine
I noticed in the stable the other day that Filly did not want to yield her hind quarters when I asked her to move over with my fingers. Did not want to included lashing out with her hind leg, running around me in circles, and generally acting a bit disrespectful.
I felt I needed to fix this for safety of myself and the staff, but also to improve her inside leg isolations when ridden. She cut herself on barbed wire a couple of days ago, not badly but bad enough not to ride for a few days. This then is an ideal opportunity to fix some ground work problems without wasting riding time.
I decided that the confines of a stable were not a good place to deal with a kicking horse so we went to the indoor school.
First a check that it was not a physical discomfort, so I scratched her good and hard in the area I was asking for the porcupine. She didn't like this to start, but gradually seemed to real enjoy it with a curled lip and a look of "please don't stop".
Not physical then, so it must be a mental brace. I like to use my hands for this exercise, although Parelli advocates the use of a carrot stick. The stick does allow you to keep your distance and is probably safer, but with my fingers I could more accurately apply the pressure and also feel for any muscle tenseness in her sides.
As soon as I applied my fingers with an intention to move her she reacted. She did move away from my fingers, but it was an escape not a yield. It was also accompanied with lots of tail swishing and attempts to bite me, blocked by an elbow. Despite the fact she had moved away this would not have been the time to release the pressure, it would teach that this attitude was what was required as well as the movement. Thus I just held the pressure and around and around we went. To be honest I got very giddy, but stopping would have been a huge mistake. I could also feel the muscles under my finger tense into a massive brace. I was intently looking for signs of any relaxation on her part so that I could release, but it felt like an age until it came. Not complete relaxation, just a slight softening of her body, more fluid motion and the tail not actually hitting me.
During this first session she had also thrown in the odd rear as well, which is fun when you have your fingers pressed into her sides :( . By staying close she had no space in which to actually attempt to get me with a leg but it was uncomfortable all the same.
After that first release I went to the driving game with a stick and flag to try and help get the brace out of her body, which did work, but this was the driving game and it was porcupine she was reacting to.
Second round of porcupine and she tried the whole range of evasion to get of the pressure, other than a yield with good attitude. But it took less time to get the attitude I desired and with a sigh of relief I could release again. Of course this whole process was repeated on both sides.
By the end of the session I could give her a good hard friendly game scratch on the porcupine spot then lighten up, add intention and get a yield with half decent attitude, then back to a good hard friendly scratch again.
I guess this was another step in her acceptance of my leadership over her, one of the last I hope, and she was not going to give this precious control up without at least discussing the issue with me. No hard feelings on my part, I would probably have reacted the same. The trade I offered was that nice scratch, followed by a few seconds of control and back to the scratch again. Eventually she decided that as a trade it was not a bad offer and preferable to running round and round in circles :)