Sometimes things are slow
Today was the first day that the mare and I went out to the round pen to do "actual work." Most of what we've been doing is just spending time together. Leading and grooming and some work on her feet. She walked out to the round pen on a loose lead rope and wasn't fazed at all by the new situation at all.
There are so many things that I don't know about this mare. I can only guess what she's been through and what she knows. She can be very light on a lead rope and a lunge line which makes me think that it's not completely new to her. However, she can also get nervous quickly if I do certain things. My main goal today was to just introduce her to the round pen and do enough work so that she would know that I'm a safe place to be.
As I've said before, she's not easy to catch unless you bribe her. She'll stay just out of reach without actually running away. After a short session with the lunge line so show her that if she comes in when asked she gets to relax, I took the line off and sent her out to the edge of the round pen. It was a slow hour that followed. I would push her out and have her trot around until she "asked" to come in by looking at me. Then I'd take the pressure off and just ask her to touch my hand with her nose. When we finally got to the point where she was meeting me halfway and not backing up, I started asking her to walk with me. I would turn away while standing on her left side just like I would if I had a lead rope attached to her halter. She wasn't moving with me but she was moving her head with me so I used that to line myself up with her left shoulder where I would just stand with her while stopped. Once I was there, she let me pet her neck without moving away from me. That was the icebreaker. I could then reach up and pull just enough on her halter to get her feet moving and from there she was following and stopping without any lead rope or pressure. It seems like the smallest step forward (and we'll probably take another back in the next day or two) but I was more than happy with it.
When working with a horse (especially one at this point in their training) things can move very slow. It can be incredibly frustrating and so easy to give up on. You have to have a lot of patience and you need to give yourself the time and grace. If you plan to get to Point A within a set period of time, you're almost sure to miss the goal. I spent almost an hour and a half to get her to the point where I could touch her without bribery, and I'll probably have to do it all again tomorrow. If I had made a set goal and had a time limit, then it's more than likely that I would've left the round pen frustrated and neither of us would've made progress.
"Trust is only gained when one person risks and doesn't get harmed. It grows as both people increasingly risk and don't get harmed in the process."