One thing I stumbled across last week when I was giving my husband a bit of help was that playing the role of the instructor can really help to boost my confidence. I found that by having to think of how to instruct someone else through a situation, boosted my own confidence in my abilities, as when I instructed him to do something that worked, it helped me to realise that I did actually know how to do things myself! So, included in this week's plan was to give Charlie a lesson.
We went out on Friday evening and K was her usual joggy evening self.....either she finds the light a bit spooky or she's protesting at having to go out to work when she thinks she's been brought in for the evening to munch (I suspect it's the latter!!!). I asked Charlie to focus on repeating small patterns in walk, and set him a route through the poles and around a square, always coming back in to the middle to halt. K definitely had the hump, and was jogging and shaking her head in protest, and napping back up towards the gate. Charlie was starting to get quite frustrated by this and so I asked him to concentrate on his breathing and keep looking straight ahead, no matter what. After about 10 mins she had settled down and was walking round nicely. I also taught him how to do the small circles that Lisa had taught me earlier in the week, and how to ask her to take responsibility for walking forwards herself.
I then suggested that we try the same in trot, with the goal of having a consistent balanced trot on either rein for one lap of the schooling area by the end of the session. Well, this was apparently all too much for Kermit who proceeded to buck at every opportunity. We tried small trots, long trots, pattern repetition, everything I could think of, and still she continued to put her head down, shake it about, buck, shoot forwards etc. Charlie and I had both got the giggles now as it was so ridiculous but we were both determined to end on a positive. Rather than traditionally reprimand her (as I know some people would have told him to do), I suggested that we view her in the same way as we would our toddler, and ignore this behaviour and just keep asking for her to do the same thing. This went on for about 30 mins with various rein changes etc. and then finally they did it - two laps of a steady, consistent, balanced trot on either rein - result!!!!
Charlie was absolutely over the moon, as was I, and it felt like a really good team effort. He had been really brave, calm, patient and focused, and I had tried really really hard not to totally piss him off!!!!
We decided to leave it at that, and end on our positive, and walk back to the yard. Kermit, however, decided it would be much more fun to jog however, so we spent the next 10 mins asking her to walk back to the gate, and backing her up each time she jogged forwards.
What was great about today was the calmness about all of this, and the focus and determination. I just kept thinking back to the 6 week plan and really didn't want to fall back a day, but to stick with it so that I would be closer to achieving my goal.......