Maisie had just had her trim and new front shoes this morning, so I wasn't planning on doing much, but just wanted to get on and ride. We took a short walking trail ride - she was able to stay on the grass on the sides - and despite fly and mosquito spray were beset by many biting insects including deer flies, mosquitos and green-headed flies, which are slow but have a wicked bite. Luckily, no B-52s (our name for those huge deadly black horse flies) made an appearance. She got a rinse off too and I put her in a small grass paddock to dry.
Then Dawn got a little work. She's in heat - not raging heat yet but just coming into heat. She was very vocal when Maisie was having her feet done and when Maisie rejoined her in the pasture. Maisie's in heat too although it's not as obvious. But Dawn wasn't too distracted, so perhaps the Mare Magic is making a difference. My goal for today was to work on a verbal whoa with Dawn, which also allowed us to work on our downwards walk/halt transition. Until this is solid, and the verbal whoa is well-established, we won't move on to trot work. Getting forward with Dawn is never a problem, but getting downwards transitions and relaxation at any time often is. Before I got on, we did a bit of lungeing/one-rein ground driving to work on the whoa from the ground. We got a couple good ones in each direction, and then I got on.
I wanted the walk/halt transition within 3 steps using the verbal cue, as well as my seat and then hands, and without having to up the pressure on the reins above a 1 (where 0 is no pressure and 10 is the most pressure you could use), and without her bracing or inverting and putting her head up in the air. We got there in both directions - I'd like it to be cleaner but it'll get better as we work on it. This verbal whoa would be a perfect use of clicker, but Dawn's neck is short and thick and I'm pretty tall with back trouble - getting my hand with the treat to her mouth requires contortions on both our parts that aren't very comfortable.
Then we did some walking over single poles. For such an athletic horse, Dawn sometimes isn't sure where her feet are and has trouble placing her feet to walk calmly over the pole (there's some mental/emotional issues with poles and jumps as well due to some history). This causes her to worry and rush. I'm working on allowing her to find her way over calmly. We've made a lot of progress. She struggled over one pole - coming in with her feet too far away and tripping - and when we approached the pole again she balked and started to back. I didn't up the pressure - I don't do that with Dawn - but just turned away and we did several other poles before coming back to the one that worried her. That time she did just fine and we stopped there. The flies were terrible but I was very pleased with her for sticking with the work. Then she got a well-deserved rinse.
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One of things that irritates me about blogs is how hard it is to get an overview of what the person has done and written about over time. When you start reading a blog after it's been going for a while, your only options are to look at sidebars and favorite posts and labels. There's a new feature on Blogger that lets you add separate pages, and many bloggers seen to be taking advantage of this. These pages can be either static or indices to other things, as I understand it - I'm still figuring it out. I'm thinking of trying to put together some pages or referenced short posts with some of the exercises I do with my horses, both on the ground and under saddle. The descriptions of these things are now buried in the blog's history, and included in posts that often cover other things, and I (ahem) have a tendency to be somewhat verbose. So I'm thinking succinct descriptions of exercises that I can refer to myself and set up so other people can find them too if they want. We'll see if I can pull this off!