I started off riding Tina today. We rode in the arena and I focused on riding with more contact and asking for a more forward trot. She's responding better and better to the bit. Our turns were quite soft. We rode for quite a while and I did some pattern riding using the cloverleaf.
Then, I brought Reka out to work on more haltering and getting her used to the tools I use. I just played with her, getting her more used to me and starting to introduce her to the things I'll ask for soon. I also started unwinding her, which is where I ask her to find the release when I wrap the lead rope around her body and over her hocks. She has to "unwind" herself by following the feel of the halter. This is hard for horses at first since they feel very confined and there is pressure on the hind legs. Reka struggled at first and felt afraid and claustrophobic, but she quickly understood that she would survive this and next thing I knew, she was eating grass immediately after unwinding. I liked to see that she could get worked up and afraid but come right down off the adrenalin and go to grazing. As she develops more understanding of the things I ask she'll find fewer reasons to think she's in danger. Before I put her back in the run, I started teaching her to have her feet handled. I'd like to put a trim on her in the next week or two.
Kris came over for a coaching session just as I was finishing with Reka. She put a trim on her horse and then we got to work. We played with Rio for about an hour and I used Gem through the session to demo. I wanted Kris to start understanding the elements of the circle game, so after she had Rio's attention she got started. Rio is very cool and responsive and sensitive. He's also learning to trust in Kris' leadership. I love to see the changes horses make when their humans start to make clear sense. We also played with the new obstacle with the hanging bottles and pie pans. Rio and Kris practiced walking through it calmly and found a good place to quit. Gem walked through it warily once or twice, then proceeded to eat the hanging bottles. He ripped the pie pan off! Silly clown horse...
Then, I pulled Gem out for some focused groundwork. I focused on transitions online. I'm looking for softness and responsiveness! I pushed him too hard at one point and he left me, but otherwise he was giving me some nice transitions. He still doesn't stay in the canter for more than a lap or two - we need to build that!
Chrissy made it out to play with her horse today, too. I was so glad to see her tack up Cowboy and get on! She hasn't done that much since school started and I know she's dealing with the changes to her schedule and being a student with homework. Cowboy always looks so calm for her and it makes me happy to see her spend some time with him like that.
Horses, horses, horses!!