Tuesday, March 10, 2015
This morning River learned something new, and again she had the help of another horse - this time it was Prado (my Azteca gelding). If you remember, Jessi's mare Sombra helped her get familiar with and learn to play with the ball a few days ago (which, by the way, River is doing by herself now!). One thing that is so remarkable about River (among so many other things) is how well she gets along with every horse she meets. Whether they are actually with her, like her pasture time with Ellie, or lesson times with Sombra, or Prado.....or even if she's just sniffing noses through the fence with a stranger, she is so welcoming to everyone. So many horses (both geldings and mares) squeal, or strike, or show some sort of sign to the other horse. Not River - she just smiles.
Got side-tracked there - on to the lesson for the day. River learned to be ponied today - something which has many beneficial purposes. Ponying helps young horses with their leading skills, gets them used to a human up above them on another horse, helps them learn to move their feet (more on that later), and can be a method to get young horses who are not ready to be ridden out and about to see the sights out on a trail, for example.
Right from the start, River did a great job - and loved her handsome companion.
After she got comfortable walking with Prado, I wanted to work on an issue she has - her right side. We can do a lot on that side, compared to when she came here. We can groom her, put on the bareback pad, throw the rope over her back, and bounce the ball, but when we ask her to move to the right on the line from her right side, she gets stuck. What I did with Prado was to place him on her right side, and move her around - keeping her head towards me, so she had to cross and uncross (or unlock, if you will) her hind legs. Then we would walk off, and do it again. After a few times she got smoother and smoother with this exercise. I think it will really help her get better balanced left to right.
Getting rubs and hugs from above her instead of next to her is a good thing to get her used to eventually having us on her back.
After doing the unlocking exercise, she was able to trot with Prado. She was a little sticky at first, but loosened up quickly. I look forward to doing this with her more, and taking her out of the round pen next time.
In case you didn't notice, River is not wearing the leather halter anymore. It took awhile for her to totally trust us with this, but we can now catch her anytime we want - no more halter on all the time! She even let Lauren - someone who has not done anything with her before - catch her today, tie her up to the post, and groom her from stem to stern. We are making progress!