Monday 13 Dec
Today I decided to revisit leading (thanks Carlos). Leading is a basic concept and a basic requirement of horse handling. Maz leads fine, but has been a bit bargey and forward, heavy and only just in control on the line since coming home. Unusually so. So there are obviously issues that need addressing.
In the round yard, she was tense, stressed, as I expected. She was tense beforehand, being groomed at the tie up rail. I expected this as well, but also expected her to settle. She didn't. I am dealing with a brand new horse, one apparently that has little human handling in her 10 years of life with me. Uhuh..
I spent 20minutes working with her, getting her to lead quietly, head at my shoulder, responsive to my length of stride, my body movements. Normally she settles quickly and tunes in. Instead she was like a radio that wouldn't quite catch the station clearly. There was a fair bit of static that was hard work to get through. In fact there were a couple of major tanties, which was disappointing, but we dealt with them calmly and safely, as I pushed her flailing front hooves away from me. Working from the offside was challenging for her, but also captured her attention more, as she tried to work out what the hell I was doing there. I felt clumsy and awkward, but we did better work in the end on the "wrong" side. I was pleasantly surprised however, at her lightness off my shifts in the rope to halt, back, flex left and right, move her hindquarters left and right. It's somewhat ironic that her main issue is going forward ie we have too much forward. Ironic, because you want that much forward in dressage, but with control, of course. Currently control is a fine line tripwire on a trigger(un)happy horse.
It was interesting to watch (and confirm) her lack of confidence, and consequent confusion and fear from that lack of self belief and confidence. We have some work to do. I have some thinking to work through, some observations to record and note, and need to create well defined, safe opportunities for the mare to get that confidence and trust back before I can do anything else. If she can't/won't lead safely, then there is not much else she will do in a calm, relaxed and safe manner until she can lead lightly, rather than attempt to take control all the time.