Written by Jenny Barnes with quotes from Mark Langley
Following the lesson yesterday, we were all hoping she would come in soft and calm; that she had gained more confidence in Mark. Sure enough, as Mark walked into the round yard, she just stood there: still, head lowered, and calm. For all the stress that she must have felt as she had Mark riding Henry above her, she must now be starting to understand that Mark was okay to be around. Inseparable to her obvious stillness was a trust and acceptance in Mark that you can see in her eyes. Just heartening to watch.
As Mark took his time getting her halter on and moving around her, she wandered off, and once more showed her dismissive side. The dogs, thinking there was more action to be had, keenly kept an eye on things from their only vantage point – peering in from under the gates, Mark’s avid spectators.
She is more relaxed with Mark, but still weary.
“I started ponying by just sidling up to her, to rub her with my hand. She stood well and was calm as I rubbed her over her back-line. I was very happy that she accepted this from both sides as she was better than how she finished yesterday.” Mark took her straight out into the bigger yard. She ended the last lesson leading softly, but would she still brace and pull away today? The dogs were excited, Henry was a bit toey – there was almost an expectation of action.
It all started off well with Mark reminding her of his flag rope again as he went. “She led well and I managed to travel around quite fast in the big yard.”
Then, a rush forward and up she went. It can all change so quickly. “When I applied more pressure, she still had a tendency to brace or rush away from the rope. This is just still her trying to escape when frightened.”
Calming her down again, bringing her to a stop and a moment to know standing is the right option…
Then Mark takes her back to the round yard. “I let her go to see if we could remain connected without the ropes.” Before Mark moves on to the next lesson he is careful to remind her that he needs to be able to touch her and that that it is okay.
She is attentive once more and watches as Mark unsaddles Henry.
Mark shows her the saddle blanket. A prelude of tomorrows lesson?
Back to ground work. Mark has to watch she doesn’t nip him and has his hand ready all the time.
Now Mark wants to get her to move around him slowly, not rush. She is uncomfortable, so she trots and canters around him. It takes a bit of careful positioning by Mark – watch as he works her on both sides, and look how close she gets to him!
When she slows, she calms again. Mark wants her to walk around him, on both sides. She has come a long way from yesterday.