We did some good work last year, and then took a break for winter. And now we're trying to get started again. The connection isn't there again yet - Dawn is perfectly capable of "looking through" her human partner even while she's paying some attention to what is being asked. The more direct and intense locking together of the two minds and bodies, horse and human, in furtherance of a common task, isn't there. I do think it's possible for us to get there, although I don't know how long the road will be - it'll be as long as it is.
Today was one of those days where the lack of connection was apparent at times, although we kept working and made some forward progress even after some difficulties. I groomed her in the parking lot, ground-tied. We work a lot on patience, and exercises designed to improve her ability to be patient and not always moving, investigating or reacting. She's doing pretty well on her ground-tying, although I had to remind her a few times not to sniff the ground but just stand there. Then we went up to do a little lunging on the field behind the barn. We worked on her walk/trot/halt transitions - she's doing pretty good on those with voice commands.
When we reversed to go to the right, she was pushing her nose to the outside, which meant she was doing more looking out than focussing on me - she has more trouble going to the right and often does this. And there was a lot going on - horses coming in from the pastures, kids riding by on bikes, Charisma in the arena, some prairie burns nearby - we could see the flames from one - and a family working in the vegetable garden. She's also in heat, so even with the improvement due to the Mare Magic, she's still more distractible then. All of sudden, there was just too much and she overloaded - there'd been a tail flagging a moment before which was a warning sign - I got a couple of circles of squeal/bolt/lots of bucks and galloping. I brought her down to the halt - she was snorting and very high and pretty oblivious to my presence. I led her down towards the barn to chill a bit - she was thinking about bolting right over me and I had to firmly correct her and remind her to hold it together, which she did. When we got close to the barn, and she calmed down enough to work, we did some "crazy walking" to refocus her mind a bit, and then did some brief walk/halt work on the lunge to reestablish that we were working. Dawn isn't one of those horses you want to run around, either in a round pen or on the lunge, when she's excited - she doesn't work down and loves to run and just ends up mindlessly running, which isn't at all what I want from her. So slow and calm work is the better choice for her.
Then we went and stood around for a while in the parking lot so she could calmly observe all the commotion. She was able to do this well, and we ended on that. I asked her to do a moment of "shoulder rest" - she does this with my daughter for long periods of time by her own choice - she rests her chin on your shoulder and relaxes her neck and almost falls asleep - but she only wanted to to it for a moment. I also held her face a couple of times for a few moments in a "head hug" where I wrap my arm around her face and hold her head against my body - some horses find this calming. She still wasn't really connecting to me, but that connection is going to take some time to reestablish. It wasn't a bad day's work, all in all. (Oh, and Maisie and I got in a brief, pleasant trail ride, too.)