First for the day was Gemini. I've been wanting to take him to a show and walk him around. I wanted to see how he'd act and expose him to the show environment when we have no agenda, no time limit, no worries. There were two shows going on... one was H/J and the other dressage. There were horses everywhere and people, dogs, flags, excitement, just a great place to take him to let him experience things. He was so calm and cool! He did call once in a while, but I can't help but think that would go away pretty quickly. He was great and I realized he'd be great in that environment with me. I will definitely try some dressage shows with him next spring.
He loaded in the trailer both coming and going with ease and confidence. Our work together is really paying off! Now, we're going to start filming our L3 ground stuff.
When I got home, I did some chores and started next with Tina. I tacked her up with my treeless endurance saddle (great for the young ones!). We went to the round pen some ground work. She's trying very hard and I'm doing my best to reward her slightest tries and mind her sensitive nature. I can make mere suggestions and she's doing her best to accomodate my ask. I want her to be careful about assuming so I gently ask again if she's given the wrong answer. I don't want her to feel wrong and I don't want to stifle her thinking process as much as possible. We're developing quite a language in a short time.
I got my horse play ball out and played with her confidence. We started with just stick and string friendly and she tried to move her feet to shut it down. When she realized if she calmed down the stick would too, she quickly made that part of her plan moving forward. Staying calm! Smart girl. With the ball, I asked her to put her nose on it. She was already curious about this huge ball, so that was easy. Then I rolled it while we followed it. She licked and chewed. Then, I started bouncing it and she thought moving away was wise. However, she quickly learned that, like the stick, the ball calmed down when she did. :-) Then, I challenged her to have the ball in zone 3 and finally on top of zone 3!! Then, with the ball on her back I asked her to walk around. She was trusting that I wouldn't allow this ball to devour her and she took one step, then another, then it was a breeze.
At this point, we'd been playing about 45 - 60 minutes and it was time to put a foot in the stirrup and get her accustomed to the practice of mounting. I asked my husband to help by supporting her in zone 1 with calming words and strokes. At first, my foot in the stirrup was strange for her and she got tight and tense. I stayed there, stayed with her until she got more relaxed, then I rewarded the relaxation by getting my foot out of the stirrup. That made sense to her quickly.
We practiced mounting, rewarding with retreat, relaxation, calmness, and after she seemed ok with mounting, I laid on her back. She was getting better and more relaxed. We got to a point where I thought she was unsure so I stopped kneeled in front of her and waited for her to lick and chew. It took her about 90 seconds. Ahhhh... she needed a minute to think about things. Then, when I want back to mount and lay over her some more, she was a pro. She was fine with it, calm and accepting.
I found a good place to stop the mounting practice, rub her all over, retreat, retreat, retreat. She had her head low, her confidence was high and she was super. Later this week, I'll throw a leg over and make sure she's ok with that, then we'll start the teaching of being a calm, smart, brave mount! She took a huge step forward today. It was a great session.
I will take some more time to shape up her feet this week. She's looking good!!