This post is old because I never got around to uploading the photos until now. So two weeks ago I used my feminine wiles to convince Sergio to come out and visit Starbuck with me, dropping a casual hint that since I had given her a bath with my special shampoo for black horses she would be very photogenic. So we ended up with a lovely photo shoot to show off our new and improved relationship, which I'll showcase below.
In other news we had a lovely lesson that Saturday morning including a few low jumps where she showed lots of impulsion and a fair amount of straightness both going in to and coming out of the jumps. Her trot was much more even as well, especially after she warmed up. And Sunday I went out on a trail ride with Carmen, another friend from the barn. I was very proud of us because our two horses had always simply followed more confident horses on trail rides and had never gone out "on their own" before. Carmen's horse Trueno (that's Spanish for "Thunder") wasn't really up to leading, but neither was he really willing to accept Starbuck as a leader at first. And Starbuck was pretty sure she didn't want to go in front. So the first 20 minutes or so were really a struggle, as we fought their urge to turn around and hustle back to the barn and sat out the inevitable spooks passing through "mad dog alley" (this is about a 200 foot stretch of road where the houses on either side seem to have about 8 dogs each who are completely freaked out by horses). I had to use my crop more than I'm proud of, but hopefully I'll be able to rely on it less next time and really when moving traffic is involved the choice is pretty clear. My goal for Christmas is to be able to ride without a crop.
Our brand new fancy schmancy reflective saddlepad will hopefully make us more visible to traffic (thanks to Carmen for the pics)
Once Starbuck figured out that I really meant to keep going and not let her take charge, she calmed down and kept up a really nice rhythm (except for a little bit of balking at some big brightly colored trash containers) and led the way for the whole ride. She even let Trueno trot beside her nicely without any ear pinning or other threats, and kept up a nice even, rhythmic trot with only a slight tendency to turn her head to the left (back towards the stable, not surprisingly). We even "practiced" walking on the sidewalk in one neighborhood and stepping on and off the curb - no problem! So all in all I'm pretty proud of myself for persisting and not freaking out when the going got tough and extremely proud of Starbuck for being able to trust me enough to take it all in stride and even be the leader for once.
This week I've been sick, but Sunday we went on another trail ride with Virginia and ended up walking all around a park and going through some "obstacles" (like a kid's jungle gym, a platform for people to do steps on, some low-lying poles...) which was loads of fun and I think a real confidence builder for Starbuck. The only thing which really freaked her out was a kid on a skateboard, and walking past the racketball courts - so two things to keep in mind to work on. And yesterday I rode her in a lesson and she was much better with her unevenness / limpy thing. This weekend she'll get another rest since I'll be out of town, so hopefully we'll finally start seeing some real progress.
Here are the lurvely photos... unfortunately my favorite ones were lost in IT-land but this gives me an even better excuse for Sergio to come and take more ;)