Today, I began our session with just letting her run the arena. The horses have been cooped up for two days due to rain and muddy pastures. She raced the arena and bucked and leaped, farting with each large frolic! Rob was quite impressed and felt a deep connection with her. Cats don’t quite have the same accoustics. Here’s that video (with me impersonating “horse play”).

That video doesn’t capture it all. She lapped the arena a dozen times, showing off flying lead changes and all. So I had to walk her down for close to 15 minutes for her to catch her breath. This next video shows me working with Gugi before getting in the saddle. Basically, it’s my way of getting our worlds connected. I want her looking to me for the next signal, the next direction, and when she does, it really translates nicely to a successful ride.

After about 10-15 minutes of groundwork, we were ready for me to get on. I’m not sure if the next few videos are in the order that they actually occurred, but I’m not entirely sure it matters. You’ll notice me working on keeping her mind occupied on different obstacles–the most recent one being what I like to call “trotting the diamond.” Basically, poles and cones are set up in the shape of a diamond. We practice extending he trot over the poles (which can also be set up to be little cross poles or X’s), and then contracting or collecting the trot around the cones. It has really helped me get comfortable with feeling Gugi extend her trot without getting nervous. I have the cones to circle around to get her slow and collected again before moving on to the next set of poles. Here they are:

Aside from a couple of trot-walk or trot-halt transitions where she braces herself and I need to work on finding that “forward into the hands” halt, I think this might be one of our finest trot sessions. In order to really see our progress, here’s a video from last December at another barn. She really looks like a different horse now compared to then: