This morning I planned on running Lacey through her paces in the big field. We have been working on standing still for mounting and tooling around the small paddock working on follow your nose( instead of turn the feet and the nose is the opposite direction) and how fast can you walk/how slow can you walk on a loose rein. All three things where so fab yesterday I was ready to move onward and upward with her. Our pre ride check hit a tiny glitch on the mounting but after three trys she stood admirably. So we sidled up to the gate to the big field and ....that's where we stayed. Working on standing still by the gate and relax. Laceys over achiever tendency is to just get the job done, no matter what the job is or what her understanding of it is , JUST GET IT DONE and at a smart clip! That's her motto! I'm sure its tattooed on her bicep under all that golden fur! Probably in some black script with a pretty butterfly accenting the last letter. So the gate was a serious challenge for her as she had to place her head in a tight spot between a round pen panel and the fence. Clearly she couldn't go forward so the answer in her mind was to back up or turn sharply left away from the gate. We covered the standing still and relaxed away from the gate and then closer to the gate and even along the fence in a corner away from the gate to get the idea that a tight spot is nothing to be anxious about and that movement on my part did not mean "go" unless it was a direct cue. Lacey figures "go" is a good bet when solving problems. It was a quick 10 minute procedure and we where out and seeing the sights in the big field. She was really walking out, which is great, but as we all know speed ads to distraction and her "follow her nose" abruptly went in the toilet, so we spent the next 30 minutes following our nose right to left and back at various speeds of walk. Just like in the small paddock. She caught on very fast but her consistency was about 50 percent. And provided us with our last bit of challenge for the ride where I thought I would be cantering and such. Maintaining the same speed and "bend" (ie following the nose) no matter where we where in relation to the gate that provided all the fodder for the first half of our ride. It was really alot of fun and I had to smile at myself for planning a ride in my imagination before seeing where the horse was today. I have no doubt we will ride my imaginary ride soon. But not before I check out where we are and where we need to be to both enjoy ourselves.
P.S. As a side note, I wanted to remind everyone to check and make sure your horses elbows are not being interfered with by your girths. Even in a horse that does not have a big walk this is a very common problem. And could contribute to the lack of ground covering paces. Check this by having someone lead the horse while you place your fingers on the front edge of your girth in front of the elbow... walk straight and in circles both directions, if your fingers are pinched or knocked, or rubbed really consider changing the rigging on your saddle, the girth or even the whole saddle. A Lacey theory of mine is that her tendency to be hollow and high headed is an effort to not knock her elbows on the girth.