The sun drops beyond the horizon. Encore! stands patiently while I take a picture of her with a stunning sunset as a backdrop.
Today was challenging for us. I found a hole in our program, and I’m backing up and filling it in. Encore! does not enjoy work in-hand. She’s gotten a bit better, but she still makes it clear it’s not her favorite game. I’m surprised, because up to now she’s been relatively easy to move along on the long lines. Touring the neighborhood and doing a few trail obstacles has been business as usual. Even riding under saddle, she has been quiet and cooperative. Now, she suddenly takes offence with the long line requests and positively rejects the work in-hand, where I walk beside her, handling her from the ground, at her withers, with the riding reins attached to her bit and a whip laying quietly on the opposite shoulder. I’ve taught several horses to work this way and never experienced resistance. At least tonight there was a slight yield in her attitude, and she didn’t try to kick me out of the arena. She tolerated me like a teenager tolerates an annoying parent. This was progress and the last walk around was actually manageable. We stopped on that high note. I won’t ride her again until she is thoroughly agreeable working in-hand.
Patience is the greatest asset when working with horses and today mine was tested. She had been so good for the first part of our time together today. I remember my daughter’s horse, after a brief time off, turned into an aggressive monster for a few weeks then came round to be a saint. I’m holding to that vision for Encore! Ramone Becerra, a master horseman, recently told me he takes a year to break a horse. I’m borrowing his timeline and his phrase “artistic equitation”. A horse is sculpted one day at a time.