- Longing nicely. This is still a work in progress. Today we had some disucssions about it. However, at this point I think it's more a question of boredom. She knows what she should do, and just lets me know she doesn't feel like it.
- Saddling. She's been ok with this from day one. It no longer really fazes her, though she's still a little less keen on having the girth tightned. Ketah is too though, so as long as it's not a big deal (biting, kicking, bucking) I'm happy with it.
- Accepting a bit. This is pretty much done. She's fine with me bridling her, she no longer constantly mouths the bit. She even gives to it...some.
- Working on the long lines. This is really the hardest part for both of us. I've never done this work with a horse before so I'm sure I confuse her. She's doing very well though. I can ask her to walk-trot-walk, whoa and turn. What we don't do well is go in a straight line. I think that will be easier when I'm in the saddle and can use my legs too.
Along with all of these lessons I have been doing one other thing. Nearly every time we work, I take her into the small arena and ask her to stand while I lean over her back, rub her everywhere I can reach, stand up (on a block) at her side as if I were mounting, and just generally desensitize her to the whole process.
At first (months ago) she was a little - very little - weirded out by me leaning over her. She would sometimes take a few steps away. That was it though. She has never once got really upset. I have had to force myself to take this part slowly. It's tempting to just throw your leg over and sit there! What else did I get this pretty girl for if not to ride?! Pushing her too fast would have made training more difficult though. Horses need time to mature emotionally and mentally too and she was very much a baby when I got her. She still is, but she's matured quite a bit.
Well, today I did all our usual ground work. Including asking her to trot over poles on the ground (helps her learn to pick up her feet), and work on the long lines (moving foward, stopping, turning). Then I took her into the small indoor arena. It was one of those rare days that there were other people around so I decided today we'd take the next step. I prepared her by standing on the mounting block as usual and putting weight in the stirrup, pulling the saddle back and forth and then just draping myself over her. As usual she didn't pay any attention, but stood nicely anyhow.
So I stepped up and over and there we were! She wasn't in the least concerned, just a little off balance. I asked her (leg pressure) to move forward, when she didn't I added voice command (she's learned this from ground work) and she walked forward! I let her for a few steps, then asked her to stop. I asked her to walk for a second time, without voice command and she did it right away (yikes she's smart!). I let her walk for a while. Asked her to stop, got down. Got back up and then quit. She'd been great and it's best to end on a good note.
Now I'm really going to have to work to not push her too fast. This is going to be so much fun!!