I thought I'd start this out by saying that I almost just hopped on Sage today. Then I realize how crazy it sounds...only, it wasn't crazy at the time!
Since my last post, Sage has been out on another trail walk (this time a little longer and with Patrick walking Brandy). She is so quiet and nonchalant that she barely tried to keep up with Brandy--and my chubby little Quarter Horse is usually the one who has to catch up with others! We were passed by a few cars, and not only that, but while we were walking, the 4H group that comes and rides at our house was milling around. They bring about 6 or 7 horses and several trailers, and of course, lots of kids! Sage was a bit miffed at first, but in the end, she didn't let it bug her.
Tonight I left her with Gabby and Luna, took Brandy for another walk, and came back to a little bit of a sweaty mustang. I hadn't really planned on doing too much tonight, but I figured if she was a little excitable already, I might be able to teach her to move out a little bit.
So we saddled up, worked a bit on picking up back feet (that's something new, but is slowly becoming a part of our routine), and went to work. Getting her to walk out (free or on a lunge line) is a chore. She is lazy and doesn't care one way or another how much I jump around, kick the dirt, crack the whip, etc. Tonight I think she finally learned, though. We even got a few steps of trot! But now I'm not sure who's more tired--I definitely did more of the running. My quandary is this: I could use something like a plastic bag on the end of the whip to get her razzed a bit, but I also don't want her to be a reactive horse. I just want a little response. Brandy is lazy but incredibly responsive; in fact, all my horses are naturally quite sensitive in a nice way. Sage is about as response as a U-Haul when it comes to moving forward at liberty.
After a little while, we moved on to reviewing some of the basics. This is something to do every day no matter what! The idea is that by teaching her to respond to lead rope pressure every day, it becomes second nature. That way, I don't have to "teach" her to tie. She will hit the end of the rope and automatically give to the pressure because that's what she knows how to do.
But anyway...I'm sure you're just wondering about what I said at the beginning. Well, one of the other things we've been working on is me standing up on the arena wall high above Sage's head and petting her, walking around, just being tall and "scary." Tonight she was incredibly good. She let me sit on the arena wall and rest a leg on her rump, over the saddle, over her neck (on both sides). I put weight in the stirrups several times and hung over her back. She couldn't have cared less. In fact, she cocked a back leg and just rested.
I've already put my foot in the stirrup from the ground, and I did that again tonight with some jumping up like I'm going to swing in to the saddle. Once she tried to move off, but I asked her gently with the lead rope to flex her neck toward me (which I should have been doing anyway--I actually was not holding on to the lead rope this whole time because she was so quiet). Sage just stood there and stuck with it like a trooper. Pretty soon, I think she'll be just as used to me riding as she is to leading and saddling now!