I asked Gwen to line up with the mounting block on Thursday. She said thanks but no thanks. That was okay, I was kind of expecting it anyway, she was traumatized by the bucking episode too. I brought her out on Friday and she was a little... erm... unfocused, so I started with some Connected Groundwork exercises. I found something interesting when I went to do the heartgirth press (pressing with my whole forearm behind her front leg), on her right side she immediately walked away from me. On the left she stayed and bent around my arm. Curious, I massaged the inside of her front legs and her armpits- the right side felt swollen and tense compared to the left. I asked her to line up with the mounting block again and she was happy to do so on the left but swung her hips out on the right. I don't know if she tweaked something or if I hit her on the way off but she's definitely sore on the right side. I'll wait until she's feeling better before I try to slide on again. She'll let me know.
Kate G. came out on Saturday and showed me how to start her with ground driving. We started with a long leadrope attached to the halter at both ends. Using my dressage whip we asked her to go forward and turn while we were at her shoulder, gradually we added another lead rope and moved our way back until we were at her hip. She did fabulous and finally started to understand that I meant for her to follow her nose. We'd been having a bit of a misunderstanding before where she thought she could just turn her nose but continue moving off in another direction. That had a lot to do with how we got into the bucking situation. I didn't feel comfortable debating this issue from her back so I'm glad to have found another way.
Sunday I got hammered by a frack-a-lackin migraine (grrrr) but fortunately felt good enough to go out and play with her today. She did a great job of remembering the lesson from Saturday and we were able to pick up where we left off. Here's another benefit of ground driving: Even though she wanted to stop every three steps and graze I insisted that she keep moving, walk forward, and turn. That was another thing I was worried about debating from her back- I let her graze while I sat on her for a long time just to get her comfortable carrying me around but eventually I have to get more demanding than that. It's good to know that she won't get upset about it when the time comes.
And... guess what? I even ended up all the way behind her at one point and she was still listening! We might be ground driving for real sooner than I expected. Time to drag out the lunge lines!
I feel like we're starting back at the beginning again, but that's okay. For one thing: Every time we have to go back to the basics, they'll just get that much stronger. For another: I'm not in a hurry. She's seven now; with any luck I'll have at least 20 more years to play with her and get her trained. I've got all the time in the world.