Today she was more on alert and also more crabby about grooming and saddling - at one point I slapped her neck to make the point that "crabby mouth" wasn't an acceptable part of the program. She wasn't concerned, but stopped the snarkies. Once I got to putting on the saddle and fastening the girth, she wasn't snarky, but there was some concern as I tightened the girth. As soon as I got the girth mostly tight - it wouldn't have been tight enough for riding but was tight enough to keep the saddle in place for lunging - she started shifting her weight from foot to foot, more energetically than she did before. She also wanted to back up on the crossties. I took this as some worry about the saddle, which meant we were going to do more lunging rather than moving on to other things. My goal is for each step in the process to feel safe and comfortable to her before we move on to additional activities.
When we went out to the arena, she was more alert and watchful that she has been - part of this is that it was an owner bring-in day and she was looking for the horses who were still out to come in. But perhaps it was also the weather - it's cooler and cloudy with some sprinkles - real fall weather. My original plan had been to move on from where we ended yesterday - we had progressed to my putting my foot in the stirrup and bouncing - but her worry indicated that we should do more work to make sure she was comfortable carrying the saddle.
So we lunged. I worked with her on transitions again, adding some voice commands since she seemed to find those helpful. She could nail the halt from trot on a "whoa". Since her energy level was up, we added some canter. I'm glad we did, because the combination of the saddle and the irons and leathers flapping around led to some butt-hitches and kick-outs - nothing too big and she didn't do any big bucks or scoots. We worked on the canter, and the transitions to trot, walk and halt, until she was more comfortable and there were no more protests - it didn't take that long. I decided to leave the lunging at that - we hadn't moved on to lunging to the right but she wasn't all that balanced to the left and she was fairly "up" so I wanted to end on some calmer activities.
We went back to our mounting block training from yesterday. She remembered well the routine to approach the block and stand there. We did more shaking and pulling on the saddle - all was well - and I went back to putting my toe in the stirrup, rubbing her side - no biting this time - and then putting my weight in the stirrup and bouncing a bit. That went well, so we were done for the day.
I expect many days like this as we progress, where we need to retrace our steps a bit to be sure all is well. I want Dawn to feel completely comfortable with each thing we do, and once she does we can move on. We have no deadlines, and it doesn't matter how long we take as we move forward together.