The last time I wrote, Cookie and I were taking a break I believe so it's time to catch up!
We are still moving the front independently from the rear. I have found that this is challenging for her as well as myself. After our break, I tried again the conventional way of moving her head and front away from me and pivoting on her rear. What I have found is she will either back up diagonally, step back or step forward instead of crossing those front legs over. How do you get them to figure out what you want? Baby steps and a whole lot of patience not only with your horse but with yourself as well.
Cookie and I have come to a point where we're not quite on the same page, and that's ok. It happens sometimes. I have done some different things to see which results come back the best, and I've added something else to the mix. Bending. First we warm up in both directions and get rid of the excess energy and then we bend. Bend in the neck, bend in the middle and flex at the poll. We've only been doing this a few days and even it is a learning experience for her as she is not wanting to really move her shoulders. She would rather plant them and swing her butt.
To get her to bend or flex in the neck, I have to put her off side against a fence to prevent that swing. We flex and hold on both sides and then to bend in the middle I stand at her side, pull her head in towards me a little and ask for forward movement. I become the center point kind of like going around a barrel. She has to bend around me and move forward to do it. Otherwise she will just plant those front feet and swing her butt. To flex at the poll, I back her up against the fence and gently push her nose towards her chest. I don't ask for an extreme flex, just enough to where her face is straight up and down. Hold it for about 10 seconds then release it. Doing these exercises a few times during your warm up will stretch the muscles and create muscle memory as well as allow your horses body to be somewhat pliable. It helps them to not be so stiff and to find their frame.
Cookie wasn't ever taught any of these things. She was taught to stand still for mounting, to go and stop. That is basically it. We are having to start nearly from the beginning and it's quite the journey.
She is still not quite sure about turning on her front, however in this process she is has decided it's much easier to side pass. Yeah me! You'd think I'd really be happy about that because that's where we're headed, except that's 1 step ahead of where we're at! lol That's ok, I'll take it though. She may be one that will learn to swing her front AFTER she learns to sidepass well. You really have to pay attention to your horse and sometimes take those little victories when they come. Even though this isn't what I wanted to work on right now, I'll use it to my advantage in her training. You may find that is true with a horse your working with. They may do something you're not ready to teach, but it may be easier for them to do that first, so go with it.
I have found that training means you need to be versatile in your thought and teaching patterns. Some trainers train one way and that's ok too. If it works for them so be it. However I'm willing to bet they have had horses that don't go by their schedule and they've had to re-arrange something in their training. It doesn't really matter as long as the foundation is set, then the sky is the limit.... literally!
To make a great horse, you have to have a great foundation and that means all of the basics are covered first and foremost. If you don't have a solid foundation, the rest of your training will be worthless. Why? Simply because somewhere along the way in training if steps omitted, there will be a problem later on when you sell this horse to someone else expecting a well broke horse that can do anything only to find they can't or they begin having problems somewhere along the way.
For now, we'll continue to flex, bend and side pass and at some point she will learn to pivot on those back feet.
*Note* As for her possibly being pregnant, no changes or signs of her getting bigger in the belly yet. Though if she wasn't bred until she was picked up, it could possibly be closer to August or September before we see anything real noticeable. She has had a change in manure consistency, so I'm giving her ProBios to restore good gut bacteria. Her coughing has subsided greatly and I think that is because of the hay I had before. She sleeps more with her fly mask on and is usually always in her stall during the day now except when eating. She is able to come and go when she pleases, so she's not "stalled" all day. I added vinegar back to her water again to give it another try to reduce the amount of biting flies and mosquitoes for her. She has had less around her which is good.
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