I fall deeper and deeper into trust with Quincy-Cia every day.
Yesterday, we worked on two things: going forward with a relaxed head set and turns.
Relaxed head: The first day of lessons my instructors asked me, "What do you want to do with this horse?" My answer to both of them was, "Ride the trails." Everything we've done since has been with that in mind. Regina, yesterday's instructor, was interested in helping me find out where Quincy-Cia naturally carries her head in an extended walk. Once we found that, it became our goal. If she went anywhere else, I gathered up my reins and resumed contact in the bit until she relaxed back into the natural headset, and then I released. The progress she made in one week, on this point, was monumental. For most of the lesson, I was able to ride on a slack rein.
Turning By Inches: My instructor pointed out last week that I have 3 points of contact--mouth (reins), seat, and legs, and she asked which I thought I used most. I answered, "Reins." Bingo! I was right. She told me to quiet my reins so Quincy could hear my other points of contact, and it worked. But yesterday, I went back to loud reins. She asked me to turn her and I pulled her around to the right. Quincy's energy shot up from a 2 to a 7.5. I had to bring her to a halt in a one rein stop. Regina asked me to try something different. She said, "Pretend like you're picking stems off a cherry and gather your rein up one inch at a time until she responds. At that point, just hold it. Don't pull back. See what she does."
It was hard for me to switch from the "Whoa, Nelly!" style of reining I was using to the gentle suggestion Regina was talking about, but I did. What I got was beautiful turns that kept her energy at 2--the level at which I'm most comfortable, and she's most happy. Turning, turning, walking, walking--it was beautiful and so counter-intuitive!
Our next lesson is Friday.
P.S. I have a big decision to make. Winter is coming! (And, not only in Game of Thrones) I can't haul in ice and snow--it's dangerous. I have to decide if I'm going to board Quincy-Cia at the barn where I take lessons. I love the social, horsey atmosphere and the indoor arena, but I hate having my horse away from me. I like to look out my window and see them. There will be days I won't be able to make it to the barn, if she's boarded, but my trainer will ride her on the days I can't--giving her more consistency.
And, here's my new favorite picture of my boy, Cowboy, and me on last week's trail ride. I wondered if my heart was big enough to accommodate another horse relationship and still love my Cowboy--it is.