Maisie is a horse who will often tackle things in hand that she is nervous about under saddle. So I dismounted, and led her over. Using a few treats, I got her to first touch the court with one foot, then step on and back, and then two feet - just like trailer loading, really. Within a couple of minutes, she walked onto the court, stood there and walked off. Lots of praise! We walked around for a moment and then did it one more time - no trouble! So that was all, and we walked off down the trail - she's so big I had to find a rock to mount from, as my knees and hips won't take mounting from the ground any more. I expect the next time we walk up to the court with me aboard that she'll tackle it just fine.
That took a lot of time, so I didn't do what I had planned to do with Dawn, which was some mounted work in the arena reintroducing the bit and working on our backing, walk/halt/walk transitions off my seat and softening at the walk. It was getting late and almost dark, so we put that off for another day and did some quick scary object work. I got out my large black plastic garbage bag and hung it on the arena fence - it was flapping a bit in the wind. I let Dawn around near it and then up to it. She touched it immediately with her nose, even though it was flapping, and I clicked and treated. Then it started to slide down the fence - she thought this was a little concerning, but approached again on her own and got her click and treat. Then I stuck my hand under the bag and rattled it - the objective was for her to stand without being restrained in any way - it's OK if she spooks at something but I want the feet to stay still. After a few times she stood and was rewarded. Then I pulled it along the fence - same thing. Finally I took it off the fence and shook it, the first time gently and then a little harder. She got it the first or second try each time. Then I held it up to her and touched her nose with it. A few minutes later I was able to touch her nose and her muzzle on either side. Next we'll work up to my touching her with it elsewhere on her body, then rattling it and so on. We were done with our work for the day, so I dragged the bag off, rattling it as I went and Dawn followed along. We hung it on one of the paddock fences for me to come get it later - I didn't want to take it into the barn as there were horses on cross-ties. For her second scary object session, I was really pleased. Her eye stayed soft and calm and she was less worried than in our last session.
Dawn and I have also been spicing up our "crazy walking" leading exercise. On Sunday I added trotting and more quick transitions and turns. She really seems to enjoy this, and she's doing really fabulous trot forward to backing transitions on a loose lead - she's pretty agile. It's really fun and she seems to get into the spirit of things! We also got to do an important job together on Sunday. Fritz's owner was there with her little (I think 3 years old) daughter, who loves horses. She brought Fritz into the arena and wanted to lead her daughter around for a little, and asked if Dawn and I would stand in the center of their circle to help Fritz stay calm. Dawn stood rock still on a loose lead, with her ears up and a pleasant expression on her face - this from a horse that has often been aggressive towards other horses, even when they're not too close. Fritz's owner commented that Dawn looked like a different horse - happy and with a soft eye. I was really proud of her!
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This morning, I seem to have come down with a bug - some fever and chills, muscle aches, a sore throat, cough and a headache. The timing is right to have picked it up on my trip to New York. Those 1/2 mile round trips to the far pasture this morning weren't that much fun - at least the weather is nice. I doubt it's the seasonal flu, as I've had the shot, but it could be H1N1, but if it is I'm in the age group that should get off with a mild case (I hope!). I don't expect much horse work will get done today.