I haven't been able to ride for the past week-and-a-half because it's been raining a lot (which is good! It means there will be a very green spring and central Texas will be coming out of it's drought! But it's supposed to be a rainy winter, which will mean wet and cold for several months. Yay.) and that meant lots of mud which Greta is always a weenie about. It's really not that bad, but it was impossible to get her out.
I spent about three hours the Sunday before last trying to convince her to come out of the pasture. Another two hours Monday, and I realized we had a problem. Thankfully, we weren't the only ones, and another gate that had been wired shut was reopened and that did solve a lot, though if there were any patches of mud Greta would freeze. Weenie.
But nonetheless, with lots more convincing she came through! We realized that A) I needed to re-establish some ground manners (check!) and B) we needed a less muddy place for Miss Nibs (check!). We started our first session of Ground Work 101 today and it went nicely. With the help of a resident trainer, not our riding instructor, we worked on some basic round pen skills, as follows:
- Greta goes when I tell her to go. I must refrain from saying "Good girl! Good job! You got it!" then entire time because then she'll tune my actual commands out.
- Greta changes direction when I move away from the center and towards her front. She must learn to move around me and learn my body language. She will canter no more than five minutes one way around, and no more than five minutes the other. This will also help to get some of the energy out if I haven't ridden her for a few days and reestablish that I am the boss mare. Sorry Greta!
- When I put down the lunge line and tell her to whoa, she whoas.
- Her reward is not only when I tell her she can stop, but also when I invite her back into my space and pet her and tell her good girl.
We also rode and did a little trail ride around the barn, and she went right over the footbridge that leads to her paddock! Yay! We did a lot of walking and trotting, and a lot of focus-on-me "rein bumping", and those worked really well. We cantered for a few steps, I bumped her with the reins to get her to focus on me and not the mare running through a pasture, and then she did a flying lead change. Okay... what did I do? It was cool, but not exactly what I was looking for. She has also done a half-pass on me with a couple of other riders watching. I had this bewildered look on my face, but then I saw than and I acted like a totally meant to do that. Oh, yeah, they understood haha!
We're both still kind of awkward right now- absolute noobs - but Greta has proven herself to be quite a smart cookie these past few weeks, and she is learning just as quickly under saddle. I'm still figuring things out myself. I love that girl! What a worker!
Pictures soon, I promise!