Pre-ride preparation It’s always wise to prepare for your lesson. As you may have noticed I have issues with circles. So, I prepared by watching a Jane Savoie video. I think it helped.

The buzzers At the barn everyone was in full show prep mode cleaning tack, bathing, braiding, and buzzing whiskers. The mare I usually ride was on a leadline (she’s broken crossties a few times) while the instructor prepared to buzz her whiskers. They were a little concerned about the mare’s reaction to buzzing so I figured why not distract her with massage. It worked. She was more relaxed. As another reward the kids took her outside to graze. When it was time for me to tack up for my lesson I went outside to find them. I had to laugh when the kids turned around and started walking toward me because Buttons spotted me and kicked into a trot. I think she likes me.

Desensitizing continues We always walk around the entire ring before we mount. At the scary center door I stopped and encouraged the mare to put her head outside and look in both directions. I pointed out the stall cleaner and the kids in the hallway. The stall cleaner nodded his approval to me. I lead her a little further away and circled back to the door so that we were approaching from the left side. I did the same thing.

Let the fun begin We had some really beautiful moments. I had her nicely rounded up during the trot and canter. Toward the end of the lesson we were focused on trot and canter circles at E. That’s where the spooky door resides. I’m not quite quick enough with my aids to keep her totally spook free and on the path of travel. She still shies a smidge to the inside but one step further away on the path of travel and she’s round again. If she shied off more then a step I circled her back and approached the door again. What fun! Actually it was a great lesson. I loved it.

We ended up with an audience. A few of the kids, parents and instructors were gathered at the door near C to watch. We even received compliments for our beautiful moments. Wish I had a camera. Only drawback was that I was exhausted and for the first time I was asking if my hour was up.

Take away The outside rein is the end all be all of riding. I need to work more on sponging the left rein when it’s the outside. I have a tendency to cling instead of rewarding with the release. That just makes the mare stronger and escalates a fight.

Update I forgot to mention that during cool out I enlisted the help of a few kids and an instructor. Every time we passed the door I stopped her and they feed her treats. I know that I’m creating another type of problem but I’d rather have her wanting to stop at the door instead of spook at the door.

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