I have been working Rosie over the last week to prepare her for riding. It is my belief that Rosie must have been used in some sort of sport where she was asked to be very hot with not a lot of relaxation. This showed in a few ways beginning with her work the ground. She has a very difficult time relaxing at the walk along the unified circle. She was continually pacing into a jig or trot and not connecting to my energy. I did a lot of lightly asking her hind end to yield, making it a little more work for her to continue to trot. Once she came back to the walk, I released and let her move onto the unified circle. I also used the change of direction to help get her into the walk all the while keeping my energy even and low for her to feel my quiet walking presence. We had to do this for quite some time to find a quiet walk but eventually we got there.
We’re also working on not crowding me with her shoulder as we work. This is probably one of her biggest issues right now. She is learning to keep herself upright in the front and beginning to rock some of her weight onto her hind quarters. This is a very difficult thing change but she will gradually getting better. I can see some changes in our sessions and she is retaining a lot of the work we are doing. She is also getting into the routine and is trusting that I don’t ask too much of her and there is always a lot of praise and love for the work she is willing to give me. We will need to take things slow to successfully restart this mare. There are quite a lot of trouble and confusion from her past. That is what is great about this type of horsemanship. We truly have something to offer the horses and they are better because of the patience and peace that is at the core of the work.
Rosie was very easy to saddle and accepted the back cinch without any problems. We worked in the saddle the last two days and today put the bridle on without issue. Another issue we’re working on will be coming along side the fence for mounting. She was very nervous about this and pushes her shoulder into me while I sat on the fence to have her come “pick me up”. I was very sad to see how the act of preparing to mount gave her so much anxiety and she even shook when I gathered the reins and made the motion to mount. It’s going to take time and calm, easy repetition to make this something she can feel relaxed about.
Monday of this week brought a really nice surprise…The changes that we got last week really set in and she was MUCH more calm and relaxed into a nice walk right off the bat. She had a lot of releases and tons of licking and chewing. She was so relaxed with the preparation to mount, I felt comfortable sliding my leg over and sit in the saddle. I let Lori just lead me around for a few easy circles and that was enough for the day. Such an improvement! It also shows that taking things at her pace, not asking for too much too quickly, and tons of groundwork can make riding a uneventful non-stressful experience for our horses. I am hopeful that this gentle approach is the right path for this sweet senior mare.