After Shyloh got her hooves trimmed today, I decided that we needed to get back to basics. Her and me.
First me. . .I know I let Shy get away with too much stuff. Her ground manners are good, but if she is given an inch she will take a mile! First, there is the diving. I have actually got that pretty much under control. She still dives (I don't think that will ever change) but with a medium-light tug on the lead rope she pops her head back up. Then there is Shy being mouthy. . .I don't mind it, she never uses teeth. But I also know it is not a good behavior. Shy has a habit of licking palms, I don't know why but she licks and licks and licks. Just palms. And she also uses her upper lip to check people and things out. A shove or two usually sets this straight. These are little things, but they add up.
When we work in an arena, Shy is no dummy. She knows she can't walk through a wall so she will take it in her own hands to turn the corner when she feels necessary. Not when I tell her. I usually let this pass because, eh. . .we had to turn anyway. But I realize that is is part of the problem, Shy thinking too much for herself and not letting me lead her. Not that I don't love that she is a smart, sassy pony, but she needs to give me control and show her I am able to lead her and keep her safe.
I also need to praise Shy more. She thrives on praise. I think I need to tape a sign to her cart to remind me. Sometimes when I am working with her, I get so involved and internal, I just plain forget. I must remember to praise. But along with the praise, I need to watch how I do it. When working on whoa and stand, I would tell Shy "good", then almost immediately "walk on". Ah-ha! So when I would tell Shy "good" for standing, but then expect her to keep standing, she was expecting the "walk on", so off she would go.
On to Shy. . .we went back to basic line driving without the cart today. Shy needs to trust me more and know that I won't lead her into any harm. So we started in the arena. I kept Shy on the wall and made her do deep corners, turning when I asked her. We usually don't really keep to the wall either (bad equestrian!). Shy put up a little resistance to the corners, but I got her to hug that wall and turn when I told her, right in the corner. Every time she balked at going in the corner, I would back her and start over. Worked like a charm!
Then there is the whoa and stand. This is a sore spot for me. Standing is Shy's absolute favorite thing to do, unless she is in her harness. Like I said before, I think I figured out the reason Shy would not stand for a long time. My goal is to get her to stand and relax on a loose rein. We worked on this and it is getting better. . .not perfect, but better.
Shy's turns are near perfect, she stops (but doesn't want to stand for long), and she seems to like what we do. But I think she is bored with just walking around. I think she wants to go faster. I think she needs more of a challenge. But I don't know what I can do for her. I took her out to the pasture with all the trees and worked on turns and going through less-wide spaces. She did excellent.
In summary. . .it seems like I am the one with the most work to do! I need to step up to more of a leadership role with Shy and she needs to step back and trust me. More stuff to work on in the never ending adventures with Shyloh.