"Seriously! Can you not see that RUST?"
Tonight we re-worked the backing out of my space lesson, and she was sticky at first, got a little upset, blew me off, then quickly caught the curve again. We also determined that Journey has a very "creaky" braking system. She stops, but immediately steps forward into the walk again (under saddle). So I want to work the whoa from the ground and under saddle this week and make sure we are communicating well and can handle a one rein stop before we set out into the woods. I'm transitioning her to the s-hack (I don't own a bit) She picked up on horizontal bend in a heart beat. In fact she picked it up so well she was doing it without a cue and looking at me like see (bats eyelashes) I can do this, you don't even have to ask. I was amazed, mortified with this horse walking around with her nose at my boot...and couldn't quit laughing. I determined yesterday that she has a temper, and you have to be careful "how" you ask. Too much pressure unravels her "sense of fairness" I think. She is slow to process right at the beginning, but as pressure increases she suddenly gets it and I have to be careful to stop, right then and there. It is a learning process for me because her horse-a-nality is so different from Phebes' testing behaviors. I tried some free longing and had difficulty with that. She would give me the clue to back off, by lowering her head, but as soon as I did, I'd lose her attention again. I switched off and worked her on a longe line as I think the current configuration of my round pen, which is no longer round but a big oval gives her to many ways to evade, get stuck, and drift off. The longing exercises were just trot, whoa. Reverse. Trot, and whoa. Then back up when I wiggle the rope. She did great, we just have a lot of it to do before she will be convinced this is how we do it all the time. As I led her into the barn tonight she promptly forgot the lesson and crowded in close (eager for the chow waiting), but with a reminder of wiggling the rope she stepped back. It is just getting her to the place that reminding is the exception rather than the rule. I also saddled her up and did some backing up, again zero vertical flexion/softness, it was very disjointed, and side passing forget it. She just doesn't understand the communication for that one, so that will have to be another ground exercise. My little brain is clanging along trying what worked on Phebes only to determine that Journey is wired way "different." She will get a day off tomorrow as I'm working my twelve hour day. If weather cooperates on Thursday we'll repeat all of the working exercises, and then I want to try and ride her off the property if I feel I've got enough of the safety features working. I need to see if she's going to resent leaving the other two screaming horses, handle a solo trail session, but also need to be prepared to deal with a melt down should she have one! I would rather do that on a non-sweltering high humidity day as it could turn into a long, long session. I'm voting for an uneventful walk into the woods. ~E.G.