Last week, S'More received her first rides here in the round pen. She had her first ride in the halter & every ride following has been in a Clinton Anderson-style lariat nose hackamore. I spent a fair bit of time flexing & asking her to yield her hindquarters before asking her to move off as she was wanting to brace against me once I was on her back. When yielding the hindquarters, she tried to pull on me to get her face back, though it didn't take long for her to realize that once she responded to my foot asking her to step her hindquarters over & that once she stopped moving her feet & softened to the rein, she would receive a release. Once I asked her to move off, she did well until I began to ask her to move into a lope. When asking her to lope, she kicked out several times. Using the end of my lead rope for encouragement, I was able to get her into the lope. However, she's likely not had a lot of experience loping or been asked to do so frequently, so her response isn't out of the ordinary. Over the next few days, she began to pick up the lope quicker & without as much fuss.
Overall, she seems to guide left & right decently in the round pen. However, we will need to continue to develop her softness both laterally & vertically.
This week, we've moved from the round pen into the arena. I spent a bit of time on the ground acclimating her to the arena's surroundings (haying equipment, tractor attachments, etc.). The cattle have also been cleaning up some of the grass in the areas surrounding the arena before the snow came today & S'More was very aware of them. We spent some time on the ground, taking her focus off of the cattle & bringing her awareness back to me. I have a couple of bridges set up in the arena & spent a bit of time on the ground familiarizing her with those so that they weren't a surprise riding by them for the first time.
Once mounted, it seemed she wanted to take control of the ride. We spent A LOT of time flexing. In the arena where she felt she had more room to move, her bracey-ness came back & she wanted to pull on me more, especially when interested in the cattle. She displayed some of the same behavior with yielding the hindquarters initially as she had in the round pen. Once I saw some improvement with those exercises, we began to move out & work on One Rein Stops. We worked on that at the walk & trot. She doesn't have a lot of patience when asked to stop & stand for a moment with each stop. It's fair to say that we'll be spending quite a bit of time working on Flexing & One Rein Stops over the next couple of weeks.
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll continue working on Flexing, One Rein Stops, & introduce the Cruising lesson. I'll also begin to introduce the snaffle bit while she's standing tied so that we can work to make that transition when the time comes. These initial tasks will likely be the biggest hurdles for her.