I took Tina and Z with me and started the day with Tina. We had a great 1/2 day of groundwork and riding. I was amazed at how calm she was in this new environment with bizarre things such as llamas (4 of them!), run-away horses (multiple times), plastic bags on the end of ropes and sticks, lots of sticks and strings flying as others worked with their horses... she was such a champ!
In the beginning, she started off tense. I learned from the instructor that a great indicator of worry instead of dominance is the lower lip. A tight lower lip looks like the horse has an overbite. That's a great way to know if Tina is scared or just not "in the mood" to cooperate. It took her all of 5 minutes to relax (better than Z!) and then we got some great ground work going! Sideways without a fence is coming along beautifully. Her circle game is great and relaxed and gait transitions (w/t/c) are soft and supple. I played at the very end of the 22' as much as possible. She could probably advance to the 45' line, but that doesn't mean much for her future so I probably won't go there.
When I mounted, she was calm and cool. She sidled to the mounting spot beautifully (got some nice kudos from the instructor). She stood perfectly still and was a great partner. We worked on softness to the reins and getting acquainted with the environment. She was comfortable and responsive the entire time while I was mounted. There was some silliness going on around us, like a couple horses getting away from their owners and some noisy equipment being managed. She seemed to just take it all in stride. Wow, what a great testament to where her brain is!
Before lunch, we sat in a group circle and debriefed on our morning. Tina stood right next to me, leg cocked, head low, lower lip hanging down, and just soaked in the quiet time. All the students commented on her progress since they say her 3 months ago. Pretty great.
After spending all morning with Tina, I tacked up Z for some freestyle riding. We were planning to video each other for the afternoon and I wanted to show what Z and I can do bridleless. She was tense and tight and her trot and canter were choppy and her ears were back at times. She was sometimes listening, sometimes just feeling impulsive. Our jumping felt good over 2' and our serpentines were nice, but our canter stop wasn't there. Z does not do so great in new environments and it takes her quite a while to relax. However, I was confident enough to ride her in this open pasture w/o headgear or reins, which proves that I trust her and we are partnered.
I struggled with the riding in front of everyone AND on camera, but I started to relax after about 10 minutes. Z was letting me know where she needed help and I was trying to accommodate. We're getting better about being in front of others - an important skill for me to develop.
It was a great, great day and the girls loaded up w/o a single concern for their journey home. I have a tough week of travel ahead, so I hope to get 2-3 sessions in before the weekend with Tina. Still trying to organize a trail buddy for Tina and I to hit the trail for the first time mounted. Otherwise, we have lots to work on in the arena.
Side note: surprised to see that several horses look like they need trims already!