(Photos from Sunday - Thanks Shannon!)
Sorry I haven't been updating lately. I've been pretty frustrated with how things are going and in all honesty, I have no reason to be. Today marks a full month from the day I picked Oakley up. She has come so far from day 1 and even though we've had some setbacks, I am still very happy with her progress. Sometimes it's just easy to focus on the negative when things have gone so well so quickly and then all of a sudden you go backwards.
On Sunday I took her over to Tracy Porter's farm for our breed demo practice. She was a ball of nerves for most of the time we were there. Before everyone got there TJ showed me some exercises I could do with her that might help her be a little less reactive. He also showed me how tense she was in her neck. That is something I knew about, but haven't really addressed. I am now working on teaching her to lower hear head and relax when we're just standing around. She's doing pretty good, but still has a long way to go. That is an exercise I've done with my other horses, not sure why I ignored it at first with Oakley. I did get on and ride her some but she wasn't herself. She was tense and flighty. When I got off TJ asked me how she did. I told him "OK" with disappointment in my voice. He got after me a little and told me she did great. He said there were a million things she could have done wrong (buck, crawl up the wall, bolt, etc.) and she didn't do any of them. It was her first time out under saddle in a big group and she did fine. He was right, of course. That's when I realized maybe my expectations are set a little too high at this point.
Anyway, that left me with a new outlook for today. And I needed it, because Oakley was back to testing me this morning. She has suddenly decided that one corner of the arena is not a good place so this morning when I rode her near the corner she took off bucking. I was ready for her this time. We almost made it around the entire arena like a bronc show before I got her stopped. As it was happening I was determined to shut her down so when I lost both of my stirrups I had to consciously remind myself to lengthen my legs. Then, when I reached for the horn with my left hand my rein went flying. I still had my right rein though, and that is what I eventually got her stopped with. I ended up pulling so hard the bit slid through her mouth, but I got her stopped. When all four feet were planted I dismounted, adjusted her bridle, and sent her around on the longe line for a few more turns. At that point I wasn't sure what had set her off, but it became evident at the end of my ride. So, we loped and loped and loped and loped circles down at the "safe" end of the arena. When she was about ready to stop I loped her straight into the scary corner and quit. It all of a sudden wasn't so scary...
So that wasn't even the good session, ha. I went back in the afternoon and set up the obstacles. I've done them on the ground with her but not under saddle yet. That was my task for the day. I wanted her to have something to think about instead of just going in circles and it seemed to do her some good. We went through them on the ground first. I had the big soccer ball, a tarp to walk over, cones to weave, barrels to back through, a box to turn around in, and the bridge. She did amazing. She is so sensitive to my leg and rein cues so sometimes she gets ahead of herself, but I really couldn't have asked for more from her. This is the first day since last Wednesday that I was able to leave completely satisfied with the things we accomplished. Of course I don't have any photos, but maybe tomorrow I will bring the camera out. Thanks for reading!