Yesterday, I decided to spend some different kind of time with Z. We went in the round pen and started to learn to kick the ball. She caught on immediately. I started to kick the ball and she began to understand to go to it and kick it with her knee. She is a super smart horse. She actually got a little playful and I have to say, I barely ever see her get playful. It made me giggle!! We worked some on her mirroring me and we also worked on sending to the right at the trot at liberty. Much better - we've made lots of progress. Then, I put the bareback pad on with a nice western pad and did some bareback riding at the trot.
I learned something. I keep trying to ride bareback and bridleless and it goes ok. However, yesterday, I skipped the bridleless part and just rode her bareback in the rope hack. I have to do that more often. I have a terrible tendency to bite off large chunks, versus working on smaller pieces at a time. We had some fantastic bareback moments and she was ears forward almost the entire time. My round pen is on a slant and so at times going downhill she'll start to leave the rail and I'll ask her back. I think I ask her to leave the rail inadvertantly. We just have to keep practicing. I felt great when I got off her back.
I then tied her for about an hour while the other horses were out in the front pasture - acres away. Her independence from the herd has gotten so much better! I started last month making a conscious effort to help her build independence by stalling her on the north side of the barn, keeping her in when the others are out, riding her solo and letting her out in the front pasture alone. At first, she really called to them and felt insecure. She's made huge strides and I have to keep her just slightly on her own. She needs herd time and she gets it, but she also gets time everyday where she's with just me or even on her own. It's made her much more brave and I realize that's the way she is. She bonds instantly to other horses and it's probably the reason she has bonded so well to me. She has an amazing "stick to me" game and I realize that's her way. Not discounting what she and I have built, but she also has a tendency to bond and stick to a leader - more so than some other horses I've owned.
Today, we'll ride - maybe alone. Haven't decided. Want to go between 10-14 miles today. The endurance ride is next week, so we're down to the final training days.