Well, it wasn’t pretty and it began with breakfast. I had the audacity to insist Ophelia wasn’t going to get her grain until she brought her ears forward off her neck. I should have taken the handy stick with me for the morning feed, but I managed to back Opie out of my space by shaking my hands and waving my arms in her face. Only when she brought her ears forward, looked at me with both eyes and lowered her head did I give her the grain. No more feeding her when she’s got her ears pinned back.
Lot like feeding a dog really. You feed them when they are calm and submissive. Why didn’t I connect these dots before?
After grooming and a minute of clicker target training, I sent Ophelia off at the canter. Boy, was she surprised! No walking laps. No slow trot laps. No warm up at all. Just get that fat ass moving! She responded by lifting her head and tail in defiance, but she cantered. I let her run a few laps until that head and tail came down a bit and then I asked her for a change of direction. She gave me her butt. 9 times out of 10, she gave me her butt.
Finally I managed an inward turn and I stopped her. She was dripping with sweat. (Cold morning, but she’s got her winter coat, and I was worried about her over-heating. Just how far can I push her before she has a stroke or something? It sucks being so horse ignorant.) I was struggling with the handy stick. It’s not the weight that’s throwing me off. It’s the length. It’s slightly longer than my old stick and I kept knocking it out of my hands.
She stayed out there on the rail, heaving and pouting, and not giving me the two eyes I needed. Time to get the halter and the lead rope. Once she had her breath back, we continued the exercise using about ½ of the 14’ lead. Small circles at the walk. Clinton probably would not have approved, but that lead rope is slick, (lively and wonderful but slick) and hard to manage right out of the box. I was also still having problems with the handy stick. The slower pace suited both of us. I got the inward turns from Opehlia and she got to breathe.
It took us a long time to get to this point and by then the rest of the lesson had almost completely slipped my mind. Ophelia wasn’t at all interested playing follow the leader and I forgot the yielding of the hindquarters exercise. So basically, all we did this morning was those inward turns. We did them badly, but we’ve taken the first step. I will watch the videos again and give it another go tomorrow.