Clearly there are some pretty significant issues that need to be fixed as soon as possible, but in just three short sessions, I do already see some progress.
Let’s start with “the ugly”: The rearing when asked for the lope. So when I first asked her to lope, on the first day, I had my reins fairly short – in case of bucking or bolting. I’m thinking the little bit of pressure, mixed with the cues to increase speed, may have been enough to cause a rear. You know how I frequently say my horses teach me more than I teach them? I think this might be one of those cases. I could be entirely wrong. I’m not a professional, and I’ve known this horse for a whole five days.
My first hopeful (and rather obvious) fix is to give her more rein and be extremely aware of my cues to her. You’ll see in this short clip that I remain calm and continue to ask her for the lope. I’m hoping that she will realize (sooner rather than later, hopefully), that this rearing thing isn’t going to get her out of work. The last time I asked for a lope, she did pick it up without issue and she continued for several steps before I asked her to come down to a walk.
Now on to “the bad”: She tried to bite at my feet again today when I first asked for a jog. I expected it after yesterday, so I was ready to steer her head in the opposite direction of my foot. After trying, and failing, a couple times, she stopped. She did try again a little later when I was asking her to bend (toward the end of this video clip), but didn’t seem like she had as much heart in it.
She also spooked today shortly after I got on – at our neighbors casually driving up their driveway. Motorcycles have gone by, the tractor has been running, and all kind of other loud (and much scarier) sounds – but a car driving up a gravel driveway was what did it. It wasn’t awful – she listened to me and didn’t take off with me. But, it was enough of a sign for me to see that she will need to get used to this thing called life a bit more.
My favorite part! The GOOD: There is progress. The first time I rode her (you know, so long ago), her steering was awful. I’ve put a lot of focus on how I use my feet, legs, body, and hands to ask her to go where I want her to. I’m direct reining, adding in the neck reining (hoping she will start to get the idea), and making directions crystal clear with pressure from the outside leg to turn in. You can see in this video clip that she is working in a pretty solid circle (oval?), and we even started with smaller circles at the jog. I frequently asked her to change directions, and she seems to be getting it very quickly.
The jog has also improved. She will hold her jog for quite some time without trying to break her gait, and seems to be relaxing a slight bit. While she pins her ears occasionally, and did try the foot biting game at first, by the end of the session she was transitioning into the jog very smoothly.
And, even though there’s the rearing issue, I was able to get her to hold her lope for several steps today before I asked her to come back down. The previous sessions, I never got more than a couple steps out of her.
We have a long road to go. I don’t know if she’s just testing me (if so, she definitely made it a HARD test!), if there’s some underlying issue I can’t see (the vet will be visiting next week), if she’s just super green and needs miles, or if she’s just got this sassy attitude that needs to be adjusted. Or maybe something else. The best I can do is to do my best (har har, you don’t say?). But, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to bring her around to the horse I want, and need, her to be.