We continued to work on our transitions, halt/walk/halt and walk/trot/walk, trying to use the concept of momentary transitions I talked about in yesterday's post. This time, of course, she had to pay attention to me in a different way - to what I was doing with my body and energy as I halted, walked and trotted with her on the trail. We did our work on a loose lead - she already knows how to lead well. We had a blast - at least I did - I think Maisie enjoyed the variety, too. When I walked, she walked; if I walked faster, she picked up the pace; if I trotted, she trotted; if I trotted faster, she sped up. If we were trotting, and I slowed down, even for a second, she would slow too! It was delightful! She was a little late on some of the first trot/walk transitions, but a few more fixed that. She would instantly halt when I halted. She and I were really tuned in - it was if we were the same person.
The only thing she struggled with at all was backing in hand - she doesn't give to halter pressure (I was using an ordinary web halter) as well as to the bit - but after working a bit on getting her to first drop her head and then back - making sure we got a proper two-beat diagonal back - and a few repetitions, she got the idea and the next tries were better.
Then, since the Scary Large Pieces of Plywood were still lying in the middle of the trail, we used this as a good occasion to work on our obstacle training, using the one-foot-at-a-time technique. This was a really good way for us to pay attention to each other - she had to respond to the very smallest cue I could give to move one foot at a time onto and then off the board - and I had to be sure not to overcue and to release as soon as she commenced to move so that she didn't move more than one foot at a time. My objective was to have her move one foot on and then off the board, then two feet, to stand still with two feet on the board, and then walk slowly and calmly across - it was too narrow for her to stand with all four feet on it. It couldn't have been easier - first she did some sniffing:
Then some pawing - which is a common horse response to a new obstacle - I think they're checking out its texture and solidity:
Then she easily and calmly walked across. We also did some backing off the board, again with no difficulty. I'm pretty certain that she would attempt any obstacle I asked her to in hand - she's a little less confident under saddle but is already pretty brave and getting braver all the time.
Maisie got a break and we had a lot of fun!