I had posted a shortlist of what I would be working on with Z. She is now going calmly at walk and trot under the saddle. I think the rushing was due to the roundpen work she received when she was gone to the trainer.
Horses can easily start to believe they are just supposed to rush around in a circle – whether that be on a lunge or in the roundpen. And I simply do not like it. It’s one reason that I am very careful when I lunge that I start the horse off from me and onto the circle at a walk.
I also usually have my whip on the ground so I can adjust tack and not thwack the horse in the eye with it while I’m messing about. It’s not uncommon for a horse to see you pick up a whip and then suddenly bolt off! This is another thing I do not like. So again, I am careful to train my horses to accept the whip all over their body, not to fear it, and to be okay with me picking it off the ground.
I mention these two things because they are common mistakes beginners make, and even I have caught myself letting the horse take off sometimes a bit too sprightly then they should have.
Z has calmed under saddle and is doing quite well at walk and trot while being lunged without the saddle. Today, I started her lunging with the saddle immediately, skipping the warm up step of being without. Now that she seems calmer under the tack, I’ll most likely be skipping the pre-saddle warmup unless she shows she has a lot of energy (which I expect we’ll get once the weather has a cold snap).
The next thing I am working on is her lining up to the mounting block AND relaxing until it is time to mount. She deliberately places herself just far enough out of reach so she cannot be easily mounted. I am dealing with that now with giving her time to position herself, and if she does not, tapping with my whip to move her up or over.
While she is in a good position, I work the reins with the signal I’ve taught her to relax her head downwards (Mark Russell Riding in Lightness). Yesterday, was a better result as she truly relaxed, with softened eyes. Today, was okay but not as relaxed. This will take a bit of time and why I am working on it is because I want her not to anticipate energetic work and get herself wound up – this was a problem with Dear One especially when you were at a show.
My shoulder has become much improved since injuring it and my upper arm last May, but yesterday I wrenched it mounting up (it was like a hot knife being plunged into my shoulder blade) so I am still a bit awkward. The right hand is also weaker – my left now stronger, so I need to work it more when I’m brushing her.
We did a bit of walking under saddle today – getting caught up to where we quit work in August, but I still have a long ways to go to bring myself up to speed.