Dawn and I worked some more on our preparations for ground-driving. We used the fuzzy-nose halter and two lines. I started with making sure she was OK with the ropes on her back, rump and around the butt, starting from her left, which we had done before, and then doing the same from her right. Ho, hum, how boring, she said. Then we refreshed our turns to the left and right using one line with me standing by her neck, doing it from both sides. She remembered everything perfectly. Then I asked again for the outside turn away from me, with her starting and ending in a halt. This time I started from her right so the turn would be to the left, which is her easier direction. Last time I was standing to her left and asking her to turn right - going to the right is harder for her and she was struggling with it. So I stood about 10 feet off her right side, holding the right line in my right hand, and the left line which was looped around her hindquarters, in my left hand. I use the method of letting the lines trail behind me - it makes it easier to adjust the length as I go and there aren't any loops to get tangled in. I asked for the left turn by pulling gently on the left line while playing out the right line. She did it instantly, and well. We repeated this several times in each direction. She was soft, calm and responsive, even though there was a lot going on - people walking by with dogs and Scout and Sugar leaving on a trail ride. I was delighted and told her so! I think we're about ready for some ground-driving with some patterns.
This morning was chilly - not quite freezing. All the horses were excited and delighted to go to pasture, although everyone was very well behaved when I asked. Apparently Fritz and Fred gave their handler some trouble yesterday leading out - boarders do their own turn-out on Sundays - Fritz was pulling and Fred was doing little half-rears (he used to do big ones, but his hind end is too weak for that these days), so I did some special exercises with them. We stopped frequently so momentum didn't start to build up, and I reinforced with Fritz that he was to lead on a loose lead somewhat behind my shoulder, and with Fred that he was to give to pressure (making sure I gave a release as he softened). While we were stopped, we did "head-to-the-ground" to improve their relaxation. They both did great. All the senior horses were in good form - there's nothing more delightful than to watch Joe at 27 and Noble at 29 gallop at top speed to the end of the pasture, doing lead changes on the way!
And, finally, a request. Those of you out there with particular expertise in training lead changes, please respond if you can. (Jean, I'm particularly thinking of you, but I know there are others out there with knowledge that could help.) In yesterday's post, I mentioned that my daughter is having trouble with Miranda's right to left lead change. If there are any specific exercises you could suggest that she could try, we would appreciate it!