Fig has been inconsistent in her emotional state while training lately, so Sara and I decided it would be best to take her back to basics and make sure her foundation skills are solid. I had been working with her outside a lot, in the lane where all the paddocks are, because she was uncomfortable in the arena. But she is also very crabby about other horses in her space, or even them watching her with interest from the other side of the fence and that anxiety manifested as just a general tension in her body, high headedness, and ears back consistently, although not quite pinned.
She has been making beautiful progress in the cross-ties though, with almost no pawing at all, and offering lots of relaxed body posture with a lowered head. She offers her feet completely relaxed and LOVES having her face brushed and touched.
Today we groomed her first and then took her into a stall to review targeting.
She remembered targeting effortlessly, so we moved on to “backing in a square , an exercise that teaches the horse about maneuvering their bodies in a tight space and how to yield their shoulder, a particular problem for Fig. She did a beautiful job and was able to quickly learn how to yield backwards in a square, calmly and with precision. Success.
Fig is going to practice these lessons for a couple more days, and then we are going to add a walk into the arena for some “mat” training where she will learn to target a mat and stay there until released. She is doing well with head lowering and can do a 30 second to 1 minute version of “the grown-ups are talking” lesson easily. Over the next three weeks we will refine these lessons and assess her learning and emotional control. Today, Fig felt lovely, like a calm, clicker-wise horse. A glimpse of things to come.