Up until today, most of my bridleless riding and practice has been with the safety net of a rope hack or bridle on my horse. I've tied off the reins, but didn't trust enough to remove all head gear. Today, for the first time I can remember, I walked the rope w/o the safety net. I even had a moment where I thought to myself, "what's the worse thing that can happen?". And that's when I realized, I can ride whatever Z offers. It's possible she could catch me off guard and offer a buck, but I think the odds are very slim. And if she did? I could probably ride it. It was a very liberating and empowering moment.
This is where we needed to go next. So, patterns - figure 8 and corner game the most. She got a little "up" at first, so I cantered her doing PPL, waiting for her to think slower was a better idea. We did the figure 8 at the trot with no head gear. I did some with the neck rope, so with just the carrot stick. I focused very hard on riding her with only my body and she was typically with me. There were times when we circled on the side closer to the barn and her circles were bigger, pulling in the direction she wanted to go. Otherwise it was pretty good!
This is where we need to go to get our Freestyle taping done. I watched a few auditions on youtube and realized we aren't far away at all. I watched one that passed with a 3++ and I felt very confident that Z and I are nearly that good and will be with another month of practice. Whoo-hooo! I have to progress to jumping bridleless - that's next. We've started doing more jumping in general and her confidence over jumps is better all the time. Now we'll practice jumping with reins tied off, then bridleless.
I've also been working on loading her in a 2-horse straight load. She's not an extremely confident trailer traveler and I doubt she's ever been in a 2horse straight. We had our 3rd session of trying to load, each session progressively better than the last. She's going in as far as she can w/o putting her back feet in. It's cool - it's a big challenge for her. I have to keep raising her confidence level with trailers. We may battle that for years to come. I don't know.
I have to find more ways to progress our groundwork. I'll start looking at the L4 stuff and start advancing. I've been watching more Parelli vids on horseanality and I think I might sometimes be mistaking her behavior for right-brained when it's actually left-brained on adrenaline. I might get some video today to watch later so I can analyze easier.
Z and I have gotten to a new high in our relationship. I'm so tickled and I want to keep being a better and better leader for her.
At the end our sesison, I wanted to ride her to the front pasture. Z is very wary about leaving the property and I find that I have to ride her very consistently to have her leave the barn and herd without losing her confidence. I haven't done that with her in months - leaving the barn alone and heading out for a ride - and she was quick to tell me that was a mistake. :-) So we did what I know - I didn't brace against her, asked her to disengage when she pulled back to the barn and then rested. We didn't go far, but she never got emotional, she only showed her opinion on things. And I did not push her - I've known that pushing her doens't work, but it's only recently that I have the insight and patience to break the pattern of pushing her anyway. This is what approaching L3 completion has taught me. I'm slowly realizing what partnership on my part means... truly.