Following on from my post three days ago
Yesterday I asked Risada to come into the arena alone. At first she was quite fidgety and mouthy, and it took about 20 minutes for us to reach a place where we could be peaceful, no thinking, worrying, wondering what was next, etc. This we did in her headcollar. Once she could be peaceful with me in her head collar, I invited her to do the same with the bridle.
The video shows how we went about it. We kept everything peaceful. I let her move about if she needed to. The improvement from the previous session is tangible. Her thinking levels remained at around a four out of ten, (with ten being highly fear reactive and zero being asleep). A couple of days ago she tried to escape the arena, and tried to get away from me by bucking, both of which are highly fear reactive, which is why we spent so much time just learning to be calm and peaceful with Timmy helping. You will notice in the video how Timmy stays at the gate of the arena. He is participating energetically if not physically.
Three to four is a good listening and learning level for both of us. And this is key. It is not just about the horse, it is also about where your own personal thinking level is. I kept my thinking level to listening mostly, and brought it back down after doing something like putting on the bridle. I only asked Risada to match me and be at peace with everything. It can take some time for her to get to a peaceful non-thinking state. She is very sensitive and intelligent, but mixed in with that are various anxieties around things such as ‘pain anticipation’ (wearing a bit, wearing a saddle that didn’t fit properly, etc), and ‘being anxious to please’ (to get the treat and to feel me be happy so she can relax). Part of these sessions is also about getting past the treat anxiety. Sometimes you will see her have a moment of annoyance because she is not getting a food treat. Other times she starts to get mouthy, chewing on things such as the tags on my clothes, or licking my hands. All interesting behaviours which will be interesting to compare with at a later stage.
The main reward for me and for her this day is that she got peaceful with the bridle….