The time is beginning to run together. Yesterday was switching the hollow snaffle to a french link and seeing the head tossing stop.
Today I decided to work on CiCi standing at the mounting block. I thought the issue was that she would not stand and then walk off before I got my leg over. I admit I got into a straight line thought process.
I played with her on the ground, I groomed her, I went to put the saddle pad on and up came the head. I was in the outside ring for the duration. So we walked around flapping the saddle pad up an down. And up and down. And she would start back about 4 or 5 feet and then be walking with her head at my shoulder. But when I'd turn and face her and raise the pad up would come the head. So of course right now, as I am writing this, it is making perfect sense based on what I much later realized was the issue. But not at this point in the play session.
I finally was able to put the pad on after lots of rubbing and taking the time. Saddling is not bad, stilling hearing Pat "its like a hug". So I make it like a hug. She didn't have any issues with the bridle. I left the halter on as I didn't want to be leading her around off of the bit just yet.
Girthing was done in pieces, lots of games and up a hole, more games, up another hole. All seems fine. Quiet and focused on me.
I walked her over to the mounting block and she stops 1 step before. I am standing on the block and ask her to walk forward one more step. Nope. So I get down and walk her around in a circle. Play stick to me. Stop at lots of places in the circle, walk behind, around, in front of the mounting block. Stop after it, before it. I even add a couple of plastic jump blocks that I can use as mounting blocks in the circle. I am now doing a step class, as I am walking up on the blocks and down. Thinking maybe its the sound. So lots and lots of up and down, lots of walking the circle, lots of stops. Still no willingness to stop at the "right place" for me to mount.
Now I think maybe I've trained her to be at my shoulder. And when I mount I would be at her middle. So I stop one step ahead of the block and then I walk back one step. She walked back on step with me.
Back to playing games porcupine and driving and backing. Back to circle walking. I glance at my watch and realize we have been at this for about an hour and the light bulb finally, at long last, goes on. ITS NOT ABOUT THE MOUNTING BLOCK!!!! DUH?!?!?!?
Its her Zone 3. So that explains the saddle pad, the spook when I toss the electric tape off the gate (it soars past her Zone 3), the not wanting to stand at the mounting block, my inability to get a good circling game because she keeps me in Zone 1 & 2. Gee golly gosh. LOL!
When I walked her back to her paddock we did some moseying. She was eating grass greedily and I asked for head up and twirled the rope at her hind end. I misjudged the distance and it hit her. Not that hard, but she spooked. And then walked head up to her paddock. When she turned to face me in the paddock she was head up and clearly very worried. Oh my god I have clearly broken our newly forming trust. I hang my head in shame. And take the time to reengage with her before I take her halter off. Lots of scratching and rubbing.
Later when I come back with the muck fork and bucket she is still concerned about me. Breaks my heart, we had come so far so quickly. I wait for her to come to me which she does slowly. I let her sniff me again, give her a treat and she now follows me and supervises my poop removal. When I leave she walks with me to the gate.
Today I learned the pitfalls of straight line thinking. I found out how sensitive CiCi is. I realize I need to give her more thinking/dwell time. Neutral. And I need to focus on Zone 3. Hmmm how interesting.
She is going to teach me soooo much. Hope I am up to her standards.
There is always tomorrow.
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