Monday night group lesson - Ginger edition.
This was her 3rd ever group lesson, and by the end she was almost as good as in a private one. I know, it's been a long time coming, but trainer girl rides her early in the morning and there isn't usually anyone around, and I ride in the evenings, or Saturday mornings, same deal - it's hard to find company!
We warmed up with one of the other girls riding and Ginger was looky but settled in OK. She wasn't all that cool with the other horse being out of her sight - if they were behind us she had to try to turn around to see them, and if they passed us it was a BIG deal for her. We gradually worked out of that, but then, just as the lesson started, a third member of of group came in with a different horse than we normally see. Ginger had a mini meltdown over that but settled just as quickly and went to work. We did a few nice shoulder ins at the walk, then a couple of lovely trot ones, before she lost concentration again - the new horse was behind her and she was pretty worried about that, silly thing. She settled again and we worked on getting a nice big trot with no spooking for a couple of laps. Easier said than done, but we managed.
Strangely enough, she wants it both ways - don't let them get too close but if they're in the other end of the arena she gets all spooky 'alone' and tries to rush back. Silly thing. We worked a lot on keeping the correct rhythm since she wanted to suck back if a horse was behind her and rush forward if they were ahead. She's come a long way these last few months and I think the pasture turnout here has helped as well. The horses get changed up every so often and there is a busy lesson program with horses coming and going from the pasture. I think thats helped her deal a lot better with strange horses and her buddies leaving her now and again. I'm hoping trail riding this winter will add a little confidence as well. It will be good to get her out with an unfamiliar group and have her take turns leading and following. I don't think there is any specific reason she's so lacking in confidence, its just bit of who she is- she's not inclined to trust strange humans, horses, or situations very quickly. She's sort of middle of the herd, which makes it a little interesting to me, indicating she must assert herself now and again. I would have expected she'd be the bottom since she is so cautious and timid.
At any rate, to the uninitiated, Ginger probably looked like a perfectly good lesson pony going about her job. I get the impression it felt a bit worse than it looked. Of course we know she's capable of much better work, but I'll take this as huge progress and feel confident riding with the group will be a complete non issue within a week or two. I'm seriously happy that I could feel her trying very hard to be obedient even with her obviously feeling overwhelmed. Its also nice that she's starting to take some confidence in her job , so when she can't contain herself I am able to put her to work and get her focus back a lot easier than before.
Lainey is busy in summer camp this week, so Ginger will get a few more rides - can't wait!