When I told Lilly that her plan failed and I was going to work her anyway, she seemed unimpressed.
|"What? But mom, I'z missing a shoe!"|
We mostly worked on things relating to backing. I put some ground poles down to practice what I consider to be the "rein-back up a hill" exercise. They say if you don't have a hill, having them step over poles backwards works similar muscles, so that's what we did. I had to put the poles along the fence to keep her from backing every which way but over the poles, but once we got past that, she did a pretty good job. Then I used one of the cavalettis and tipped it on its side so it wasn't completely flat but gave her a bit more to step over. It was a bit more difficult for her, but she eventually got the hang of it.
I debated setting the cavaletti upright, and after a short discussion with Lilly decided to give it a try. She did so well the first time that I decided to do it one more time before calling it a day.
Bad idea. I should have quit while I was ahead, but she made it seem so easy the first time!
She planted her feet and threatened to rear, so we did a few circles around the arena to focus our little pea brains elsewhere, but when we got back to the cavaletti, she decided she was done going backwards. By now I've decided we HAVE to do it, so I had to get after her a little bit.
I invoked the "you better back up right now or you'll get it" technique, which is great in a pinch and always works. She put it into reverse and backed until I told her to stop, then she rested her back leg and licked her lips.
That's right, mommy's got the power!
We went back to the cavaletti and she backed over it without issue. I praised her like crazy and I took her back to the barn for some cookies.
I think she's a horse that lacks confidence and when she struggles with something she loses confidence in herself and gets frustrated. Being determined to finish the exercise was just as much for her as it was for me. I'm hoping that by doing some of these kinds of exercises with her, not only will she get stronger physically, but she'll get stronger mentally and gain more confidence.
I'm also hoping that once she gets stronger, she'll pick her feet up higher and actually step instead of sliding her feet over objects. Then I can start teaching her the word "step". I think it will come in handy with the other issue we have: backing out of the trailer. We'll be able to take things one step at a time and she'll be more confident going backwards.
My wonderful farrier is coming out at 8am tomorrow to put her shoe back on, so I'll work with her again on something not related to backing. Maybe a nice trail ride is in order. :)