Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Matter of Trust

With Maz going so well last week, something had to give and as always with green horses, it's two steps forward and one back.

In some areas Maz continues to improve. I now have a light, responsive leadable horse, but one who is not so thrilled to be "working". I am not sure if it's boredom, being overwhelmed or something else, but the look on her face when I put the bridle on a few days ago said it all. I have started to begin long reining, as well lying across her back. She is coping well with these activities, although I feel she is really not 100% convinced that she is safe/secure. She is definitely standing on the edge of her comfort zone, and when moved into a new venue (ie front most yard on the property rather than the most back paddock) she loses all focus except for potential bogeys (of which there are apparently many). There is no point working a horse whose focus is scattergunned all over the shop!

So I have taken a step back,  to work on consolidating her total trust in me (which will take time of course), rather than pushing the need for her to be under saddle and under my butt! I am also working on total acceptance of having the bit put in her mouth (instead of no! no! no! oh, okay then) and complete acceptance of being girthed. Currently we walk in circles until the girth is secured by some holes. Then we may have a little more circling over 2-3 periods of tightening the girth to a secure point. Once she is "fully" girthed up, I can move the girth holes up and down as I like without her moving. I can remove the roller/saddle and regirth without Maz feeling the need to physically leave. Only on the initial girthing do I get a version of "well, I ain't hanging around for this!". Interestingly, on the 2nd and 3rd girthings last night, she simply glazed over and zoned out, mentally leaving town. That was sad to watch. I find it curious, particularly as the need to walk away is not accompanied by any aggression, adrenalin, high tension etc, just a simple "I don't feel comfortable standing here while this is happening." This followed by a mental shut down (just as dangerous as a physical objection) has me thinking. Again it's a security/trust thing and I need to find a way to resolve this quandary before I take her too much further forward. If I don't,  it's likely to pop back up bigger and brighter, and at a most inconvenient time!

So some lessons, like the one last night, may only be 10 minutes long. Others may be 20 - 30 minutes (but no longer), which includes walking from one end of the property to the other, and back again. I'm not sure what happened to the mare who was confident to check out what's in that otto bin, to one who is becoming insecure and introverted. Obviously there are some memories attached to mouthing and mounting that I need to work through, to help Maz understand she is going to have an ok deal with me, and be rewarded and appreciated for her smallest efforts in helping me help her.

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