So today's exercise was to go to the barn and work with the horse I have right now. To really be with her and see what it felt like. Here are some observations about today, in no particular order.
1. She nickered when I came in the barn. No, it was not breakfast. No, I did not give her carrots. In fact, I have ONLY been giving her one carrot in her feed bin at the END of the ride. I passed by her stall four times before I actually took her out and EVERY time she nickered at me and pricked her ears. Previously I had believed Trainer #1 when she told me that she was just nickering for food. Now, I'm thinking my pony *might* actually be nickering at me!
2. She was so quiet in the cross ties. She pinned her ears when I brushed her belly but I just ignored it and kept doing my thing. She gave up quickly and I moved on. We both exhaled.
3. Her lunging was better today, with more transitions and more attention. She has learned so much about lunging in the month she's been doing it. Our lunge sessions have gone from 20 minutes of crazy town, to two minutes each way of smooth transitions.
4. She's standing better at the mounting block, even if she did walk off today. She stopped right away and let me fuss with reins and stirrup leathers.
5. Our trot was more forward today. I worked on being lighter and more relaxed and helping her move forward and into contact.
6. I got frustrated with her being spooky (she actually spooked at her own poop because it was steaming...seriously, how Arab is that?) and started to yank. I was tense, frustrated and heavy handed. The pony took it all in stride, protesting by flipping her head and swishing her tail and going completely upside down for half of a circle. We were probably both making the same face. But you know what? She didn't take off, she didn't do anything naughty, she just told me I was being tense and heavy handed. Fair enough.
7. At the end of our ride, I let her walk around on a loose rein and go wherever she wanted. She went down to the other end of the arena a few times at a nice clip. I then used that pace and that relaxed walk and took the contact back up. We were soft, forward and relaxed. Done!
8. She practically fell asleep as I groomed her after her ride. Even on her back legs.
9. She let me clean out her girly bits (though not her teats quite yet) which get dirt and crap collected in the folds. I have never met a horse so filthy in this particular area. But she just closed her eyes and let me clean it up for her. Good pony.
10. When I put her back in the stall she went to say hi to her next door neighbor and then came back to say hi to me. She even let me give her a hug and bury my nose in her sweet, pony smelling neck.
I think the Heart Horse discussion was good for me. It has made me realize that when we both trust each other, the question of perfection is no longer a question. It's just our journey that we're on together.