Some weeks one horse or another from the field gets brought in, practices staying in a stall, gets worked with several times. Usually Jin or her brother Whiskers. This week it was Jin.
Now, Jin has been so introverted. I could tell you all about her bottom of the herd place, about how it took some months before she could acknowledge a shoulder scratch as a pleasant thing, about how cantering seems to be exceedingly difficult for her. Not physically. Physically she is a glorious specimen. But letting go that much. Meeting the world at that pace.
Then I could go in to the seeming fact that most horses I ride seem to have some issue going into canter. Yeah, not right now. Besides, it's improving.
So here we are. Sometime she'll offer canter at liberty. Sometimes she'll maintain a whole circle at canter on-line. We can canter a couple times around the arena. Simple changes are usually fairly simple. We've even done a flying change or two. She can trot a tiny jump and canter off usually. She can do the riding part of that stuff with other horses, sometimes even a lot of other horses, around.
Where she used to always be alone in the field, sometimes now she's with a horse or two, often Rock. Who I swear I drool over Rock -- he is just gorgeous in that classic little QH way with the softest brown eyes and he might be next year's project. Used to you'd turn her out and she'd just see if you had a carrot for her and when you left her, she'd walk off picking. Used to you'd never see her cantering in the field, even coming TO grain. She might trot. Her favorite ploy was to walk so as not to draw any attention and thus get to eat in peace until the others caught on. But canter? I almost never saw it.
Until this morning. We rode last night and she went out with Belle. I brought her in, let her eat, then turned her out. That field of horses were not in sight -- likely they were at the creek which is the furthest corner of the field and that's a big field. I took her halter off, scratched her belly button, and went to the gate. She looked at me. "I don't have a cookie today." She looked to the horizon. Nickered. Belle nickered back from the barn, and then CC or somebody from another field. Jin nickered again. Then trotted away from the nickers and toward the unseeable creek.
Then teetered up to a canter. Nice, easy, canter. Then someone nickered and she broke back to a trot for a few strides, then back up, other lead. Kind of just like we've been doing it except effortless of course.
And then she was over the hill.
Next week's concentration should be on Zip.
But I'm kind of thinking of trying to do a level 3 freestyle audition with Belle. And needing to see where I am approaching level 3 online and liberty with Jin. Or somebody. That could be Zip really because he's so free with himself when you aren't on him. I just haven't worked with him a lot.