For the first time since Christmas I gave Sora a good work out yesterday. I knew there would be fireworks since it's cool and she's been itching to have an excuse to bounce around =) There were quite the fireworks but it was my fault because I was overthinking things. Over the winter I've been thinking alot about Sora's progress over the summer and trying to figure out what I can improve on. I decided that I should push her a little harder not roughly just in clearly getting my point across and making sure that I didn't let her get away with anything.
The problem is that I was actually doing a great job with her in the summer and had figured out exactly how hard I could push and when. I started yesterday by pulling her into the barn and putting her saddle and boots on. She was a little jumpy but that was to be expected with the long break. Everything went well until she decided to freak out going to the left on the longe. This is normally her better side and I still can't figure out what was going on. She was scared enough that she basically jumped sideways all the way around the circle. Because of my plan I gently pushed her with vocal encouragement and by slapping the end of the longe against my leg. However she just got worse and worse. I couldn't tell whether she was being naughty at this point or scared so I kept trying different techniques but just kept pushing. By this point I was using everything I had to try to get her moving in the right direction. Finally I gave up my plan and let her stop because I could tell she was now getting scared. I made her stand at the end of the line quietly and calm down. I waited until she lowered her head and let out her breath. Then I took her back to the beginning as if I was teaching her to longe all over again and we ended with her walking around me quietly a few times.
Lets just say I learned my lesson all over again. I should have remembered that this horse tries her heart out for me and is very rarely actually naughty. Today I remembered and we had a great session. I took her out to a different pen which should have been scary. She was bouncy hyper, fast, and feeling playful but despite that she didn't put a foot wrong. She didn't buck on the longe (even though she wanted to). She didn't step into my space. She slowed back to a trot or walk when I asked. All of this brought out how well she was behaving especially because she did want to bounce around and go fast. She did well today because I waited for her in little ways. For example, when I first asked her to go to the left she just stood there and looked at me and I just waited for a minute. When I asked gently again she sighed and went perfectly as if saying "See, just be gentle and respect me and I'll do what ever you want and be happy to work for you". Needless to say she got tons of vocal praise, petting and some treats when we were done.
I LOVE this horse!