Sienna has made some excellent improvements since we took a little extra time with her groundwork training. Our friend Joel Conner felt that Sienna started out training holding so much trouble inside of her that once she started to free up her feet, her residual anxiety started to come to the surface. This may explain why she did so well in the first months of training and then became so sensitive in her hind, especially near the back-cinch.
Since August I have been diligent with her groundwork. I have been taking her through all Buck Brannaman’s “Groundwork” exercises and paying close attention to her “feel” or emotional state. Her ability to hold her feelings inside and hide her fears can be deceiving. It is crucial to not expect her actions and responses to be mechanical. I have to be careful not to stop before she reaches true acceptance. Leaving just a little trouble in there, especially if it is allowed to build up, can make her very reactionary and frightened. I have seen big changes by drawing her troubles to the surface and supporting her so she can let them go and find true freedom, balance, and peace.
When I went back to riding her again, everything felt different. She was much softer, she would “feel back to me;” that is, when I asked for her to bring her head around, she was reaching for me as I asked for her. Most importantly, she was connected to me in a way that she had never been before. I am continually in wonder and fascination with how well this style of horsemanship helps troubled horses find peace. I am thankful we have the tools to help horse like Sienna. Through this work, she is able to partner with humans to experience a trust and friendship that she never experienced before.