Even though I haven't had a lot of time to ride Lilly, I've been going to the barn almost every day. It seems that she has enjoyed the past few weeks and we've managed to get ourselves into a bit of a daily routine. I can't remember exactly when it started but for the last week or so, she's become very predictable. I drive by her pasture when heading to the barn and I'm pretty sure she recognizes my truck. Sometimes I have the window down and I holler to her as I go by. By the time I'm parked in my spot, she's waiting for me at the gate and when I get out of the truck I say hello to her and she nickers to me. I walk into the barn, put my stuff down, grab a cookie, and head out to her pasture. By this time she's impatiently pacing back and forth in front of the gate. I grab her, bring her inside where I cross tie her and scratch all her worries away with the curry comb. Usually when I'm done with her, I fill up her hay bag and put her in the stall for the rest of the day to give her a break from the bugs and the heat. I'm not sure which part of that routine is her favorite, but she's always happy to see me drive by and it warms my heart.
Today I switched things up a bit because I wanted to get some pictures of her with my new lens, so I pulled off her fly sheet and mask and told her to do something pretty for the camera. She wanted to know why the heck I wasn't taking her inside and refused to get far enough away for me to get any pictures. She's so uncooperative when it comes to photos! After I gave up on the pictures, I took her inside and worked on her hooves a bit more.
I had some extra time today so I started getting my tack ready for a nice ride. Shortly before I was done tacking her up, the owner of the new horse showed up and we ended up talking for quite a while. (We'll call her N...) During our conversation about ourselves and our horses, she kept referring to Lilly as a pony. I do the same thing, but I call her a pony as a term of endearment and I was pretty sure N really thought Lilly was a pony. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I worked into one of my sentences that Lilly was actually a horse and she was very surprised. She and her trainer both thought Lilly was a large pony! I think Lilly was offended, but I made sure to set N straight so Lilly's feelings weren't hurt anymore.
N was going to be getting a lesson but said she didn't mind if Lilly and I were in the arena so I finished tacking up and headed out. Lilly and N's horse, Gabe, have a bit of an affair going and Lilly nickers and whinnies to him all the time. She's also been a bit flirty with the other geldings and I'm not sure what she's up to... she's not in heat, so I guess she's just having fun flaunting her position as the farm's only mare.
When we walked past the other gelding pasture on the way to the arena, both of them came running over to the fence to see her, all of them nickering like fools. Once Lilly and I were in the arena, they boys ran over to the fence that separates their pasture from the arena. So as we walked along the long side of the arena, both geldings following us from one end to the other, nickering to Lilly, and she nickered back to them. How disgusting!
Once Lilly and I were on the other side of the arena, the boys got mad and took off running and bucking and having a grand old time. By this time, N and Gabe had made it into the arena and it was impossible for her to get on. Poor Gabe was beside himself with all the commotion and the goofy geldings ran around for quite a while. Lilly didn't seem to mind, but the whole show was quite entertaining. It's been a really long time since we've been in the arena with other horses.
Once things calmed down, I was able to get in a really nice ride. I'm not sure what's gotten into my girl, but she was SO SOFT today. She was really soft last time I rode her as well, but today she pretty much stayed nice and soft unless she was distracted by the geldings. Normally we have to have a few conversations about staying soft, but not today. She made us look really good for our new friends!
Her left lead lope is coming along really nicely. The technique I've been using with her seems to be sinking in. She absolutely prefers to have a loose rein, so when she's soft and slow, she gets her head, and when she speeds up, I lightly hold her back until she's soft and slow, and then she gets her release. I was impressed with how well she did today, especially considering how little she's been worked the last couple months. Her right lead lope is coming along, but it's quite a bit more difficult for her to lope in that direction. The transitions still take some effort because she doesn't want to stay soft, but she's getting it. I wonder if there are any classes we can enter where we only lope on the left lead?
After we were done with our workout, N's trainer asked me if I compete with Lilly and I told him about how we show mostly hunt seat but that I'm trying to get her ready for western pleasure. He exclaimed that he thinks if she's not ready yet, she must be close. N and I had spoken earlier about showing and I mentioned how I think western pleasure horses don't get the recognition they deserve. I think it takes a lot of work to get a horse to stay soft in the bridle on a loose rein and told her that's really what Lilly and I were working on. When we got back to the barn she said she thought Lilly stayed really soft and that we looked really good out there. They're new to the barn, so perhaps they were just being nice, but it was really nice to hear such wonderful compliments given to my sweet girl.