Log 6, 09/17/2012
I went out to the barn today after work to see Raina. She didn't run from me in the pasture! She didn't come up to me, either. But she knew I was there. I walked up to her, turned so I was facing the direction she was facing, and hooked my hand around her nose. She stood there for the halter. She also didn't bulk from coming in from the pasture either. She normally stops once or twice and I have to ask her to walk again. But she stayed with me in-step and didn't bulk once.
I tied her to the wall and she stood like a champ. I did the necessary grooming (and looked for swirls since we had a swilr discussion a couple days ago and I was curious). I only found the one on her forehead I knew about, and one under her throatlatch. I'll look that up later!
I wrapped her legs up in polos. Two diagonal turtle shells and two diagonal reds...representing the TMNT
She still doesn't like the polos, but she's getting used to them.
I started the session out with walk/halt transitions like normal. She does well with them and responds to the bit. There were 3 other horses in the arena with kids on them so I made sure to keep my distance. We stepped it up to some trotting and she trotted rather calmly and easily, and neck reined while doing so.
Then the kids left the arena and she became tense. The relaxation was gone and thus, so was the rhythm. We continued to work at the trot, but now I was focussing on trot/walk transitions to keep her attention. We did well neckreining and she was listening to my bilateral halfhalts fairly well.
I asked for the canter while neck reining and she just started to trot faster. So I brought her back down to an even trot, picked up both reins to rebalance her, and asked again. We cantered the arena 3 times before I brought her back down. She still wants to dive in with her inside shoulder, but there were times where she was holding herself properly so I let the support on the reins go.
It was about time to go in the other direction. She was doing well at the walk/trot transtions when the girls who were in the arena before brought their horses back out to put in the field. You have to travel through the outside arena to get into the field. Raina thought about having a meltdown, and I thought it was then or never to force her focus and make her concentrate on her job.
I had worked on softening with her before and she is much better going to the left. So I asked her to soften and instead, she was ducking her head up and down like a moron and running through my halfhalts and positioning rein, so I said "Sure, you wanna run through those? Lets canter"
So we cantered around for a bit and when a brought her down, she was more responsive to softening and flexing. Still upset that she couldn't go into the field, so I made her focus on something I haven't made her focus on...softening while at the trot. I insisted, she fought for a little bit, and then finally settled into a beautiful working trot, poll and jaw softened and stepping straight into the bit.
We got through her "meltdown" without actually having a meltdown. I was proud of her. I decided to stop for the day and just play with her in the inside arena to try and form that bond I feel we need. Unsaddled her, inwrapped the polos, took the bit out and lead her around by the halter. We worked on leading without any contact on the leadline. She stayed right by my side, her inside ear pointing in at me, her big eye watching my every move so she could respond to what I was doing.
We walked, stopped, turned away, turned in, and finally jogged. The leadline was slung over her back the entire time and she stayed right with me, her attention was glued.
I stopped her in the middle of the inside arena and swung myself onto her back. With just the leadline connecting to the bottom ring on the halter, we moved around the arena very sharply. Everything I asked, she responded to in a heartbeat. I put my leg on and touched her neck with the lead, we'd turn in an instant. We'd turn the other way without issue. I'd lean back and sink my seatbones in, and she'd stop or slow down. I was having MORE success directing her with a halter and leadline while bareback than I was having in a bridle, under saddle!
How does that work out?
While under saddle, if we were trotting and I'd put my leg on for the turn, she would speed up. Bareback, I put my leg on at the trot for the turn, and she would turn like an Ace.
I adored her then.
I decided enough was enough and I walked her over to the gate to open it while still on her back. This was going to be a test. Would she fight me? Would she figure it out? After we had the gate open, would she take off with me through the outside arena until we got to the field gate? Only one way to find out.
I walked her to the gate and made multiple attempts to lean over and open it. She was uncomfortable standing parallel to the gate and then have me lean over her, and kept walking off. She began to fight me about it until I finally stepped her up to the gate and just had her stand there. We slowly krept forward and I unhitched the gate and swing it in towards us. She moved out of the way.
And there we were. Open arena, field gate in sight. What did she do? She walked into the arena...towards the OPPOSITE side of the field gate. I was a little stunned. I directed her towards the field gate and we had another little confused bit. Again, she was unsure about having me lean down and unlatch the chain. But we did it, and I shoved the gate out of the way. While in the pasture, I dismounted, gave her a treat, and unhooked her.
She ran off towards the herd.
I was very, very pleased with today. But a little perplexed at the saddle-v-bareback thing. She will continue to perplex and surprise me until the day she dies, I think. She's an awesome little mare.