I spent last night packing and bathing Emi. As I was braiding her mane (to get it to lay down) I noticed that her bridle path was getting kind of long. Let me tell you, this pony is a hair growing machine! Emi is very good about a lot of things but bridle path clipping is not one of them. It's something that I worked on a lot with her as a baby but never made any significant progress. The only way I've been able to do it is to have someone hold her and put a twitch on her. It's not my favorite thing but it's much more successful than attempting a bridle path with a horses that is flailing around. Anyway, I'm braiding her mane and looking at this 3/4 inch long bridle path, debating if I should attempt it or not since I didn't have anyone else around to help. I decided it was worth a shot so I grabbed the clippers and the twitch. Wouldn't you know...I had her bridle path done in a minute (two at the most). I made a huge fuss over her when I was done with wither scratches, a carrot and an apple. I think she's growing up!
This morning we headed out at 9:45am, arriving around noon. Emi came quietly off the trailer and was thrilled to find a pile of hay in her stall. Food motivated pony for the win! She happily munched while I groomed her and got her tacked up. We headed up to the arena for a look around before starting our lesson. She was a little distracted but fairly calm so after 10 minutes of looking around I mounted up.
Our lesson was just what I was looking for. We are at the point were we can walk/trot/canter and I'm wondering what expectations are reasonable. JW asked if there was anything she should know about before we got started...bolting, bucking, rearing or any other quirk. It was nice to be able to say no.
Once I got on, Emi was a bit less confident than she had been with me on the ground. JW walked around the arena once both directions, giving Emi something to follow. Emi really liked that and by the time we had made our second lap she was feeling better. The first order of business was a rough "forehand turn," where we were beginning to discuss moving off of the leg. I'd bend her to the left and then ask her to move off of my left leg, really similar to what you would thing of as disengaging the haunches from a NH perspective. JW said to bend her as much as necessary and as little as I could get away with. Emi completed the exercise with no fuss and after doing it the other direction we moved on to the trot.
She was fairly distracted by the mirrors but got better as we continued. We did lots of direction changes, some transitions, and discussed the fact that she needed to be trotting like she was heading to the ice cream store rather than the dentist. She is lazy(ish) so it was a good reminder that we need her to be forward thinking. We adjusted her trot from a standard 5 trot (5 being speed) to a 4, and then a 3, before returning her back to the 5. Our forehand turns came back in to play when she was drifting, to the outside, through a circle to the right. I halted her and did our forehand turn off of the left leg. We had to repeat this twice but by the third time we were able to make the whole circle with out the drift.
Overall JW said that all Emi needs to do is go, stop, steer and not buck me off. I really appreciated her straightforward approach and desire for this to be a good, confidence building experience for Emi. Any "try" on Emi's part is to be rewarded. I ask her to turn right and she turns sharply right? Good girl. Go forward in the trot and she canters? Good girl.
It's really nice to get more input on where we are at and what is a reasonable expectation at this stage. I want to be totally fair to Emi but I also want to hold us back because my expectations are too low.
I was super proud of how good she was today and it feels like a real milestone to be at a place where we are ready to haul out for this kind of experience.