A change has happened with Sora and my relationship. Starting earlier this week I finally became a treasured member of Sora's herd rather than simply Katlyn. With that said, I am a very treasured, respected and valued herd member that never gets kicked at, bitten or run over. However that really isn't that strange as horses generally don't do these things to each other anyway except in extremely rough play or when vying for dominance.
Currently not much training is going on but there is a lot of learning happening with both of us. I'm learning how to be and remain congruent with positive and appropriate energy. Sora is learning how to read my body language and how much more delicate I can be than a horse which means that it does hurt me when she snaps and that I react with fear if feet start flying too near me. The thing is that right now all she needs as a correction is the fear. She backs off just as I do when she gets fearful and nothing more needs to be done since we respect eachother.
The more specific work that has happened has been working with the Cordeo and teaching Sora that I would like her walking next to me when we are "working" but that she can be where ever when we play.
I have come to a few powerful realizations. First, that working with/playing with a horse either at liberty, doing groundwork or on their back is not dangerous (at least no more than walking to your car) as long as there is respect from and in both parties and as long as both parties are fairly alert. Basically the things I always saw as impossible, dangerous or stupid simply aren't with the type of relationship Sora and I are working on. I wasn't thinking about the fact that riding, for example without a bridle, isn't dangerous at all if you are able to listen to what the horse is telling you. If the horse tells you something is scary or dangerous you climb off and that a horse that respects you just won't buck to remove you, only to show exuberant mood (if at that point you can't stay on that's hardly the horse's fault lol).
These are simple things but I am discovering that I tend to be fearful of everything in my life (the fact that my first few experience with horses were with horses that did want to hurt me didn't help at all). Sora is the same way and we are teaching and learning from each other. A good example of this is when I climbed on Sora for the first time ever bareback yesterday. She wasn't sure she wanted me there and I could tell she thought that feeling me move that clearly was strange but she didn't want to hurt me! She values my friendship and respects me. Even though she knows that I wouldn't hurt a hair on her if she expressed herself that way (natural fear response), she also knew that I would climb off the minute she needed me to. Because of that even though I had a rush of adrenalin and was shaky she stood stock still until I gathered myself a little and when I lost my balance (I haven't had a chance to ride all winter and am disgustingly weak in my core) she stopped and waited for me to regain my balance. All of this in a halter, on a windy day with completely loose reins.
Sora has been learning a lot from our time together as well and has never been calmer. I've realized that if I were to tell someone that something was dangerous and they ignored me it would only heighten my fear whereas if they responded to it and then ignored it I would feel completely safe. I've started to acknowledge everything Sora tells me is scary. I look, smell (breath deeply) and sometimes “shy” while remaining calm with an in control, leader sort of attitude, and most of the time after acknowledging the scary I go back to what we were doing. Between that and the increase in time I spend with her she is now calmer than any other horse I've been around. This is all because of trust. As a member of the herd she knows I'm looking out for both of us and wouldn't lead us into danger. She also sees that I respect her decisions and pay attention to the things she thinks are scary. Yesterday I went to save a rubber ball from the wind and when I tossed it over the fence into Sora's pen, the wind took it and threw it against her legs. She just stood there looking at it. She was ready to run but since I didn't and just smiled and waited she came over to me relaxed not even really looking at the ball. Very impressive (at least to me) from a still three year old Arabian filly.