How does the pony learn when I'm not actively teaching her anything? Meaning, I didn't do anything with her for a week and a half due to having out-of-town guests and various morning appointments and whatnot - and yet when I got on her on Wednesday, she was so good and so much better at steering and moving off the leg than she was the last time I rode her? How does that work?!
The last time I rode her (or did any type of work other than turning out/bringing in each day) was almost two weeks ago. That ride was our little trail ride out back. On Wednesday, we did a schooling session. It has been cold in the mornings, which can mean a fresh horse. We started with a little lunging. I would have completely understood if she wanted to throw in some head-tossing or bucking in there, but she didn't. She was 100% obedient to my requests. We walked over a couple cavaletti (two in a row instead of one on each side of the arena), which was no big deal. We trotted a few circles in each direction and did transitions without nary a marey head-shake. Oh, and it was all with the stirrups down and flapping.
Next I put the long lines on her and we walked around. Her steering was better than ever and we did a couple circles, a couple tear-drop changes of direction, and walk-halt-walk transitions. Her best work yet.
So I decided to ride again. This time I mounted from the off side. She stood still while I got on slowly, waited for me to get settled in the saddle, and walked on when I asked her to and not a second before. She had a nice marching walk (not the drunken sailor walk we started with a few weeks ago), was responsive to my transition requests both up and down (I do a loud sigh/exhale as a verbal cue for a downward transition, and "whoa" is halt), and I could actually use my legs to help steer and it seemed to work! I tried to focus on my timing as I learned from working with Buck Brannaman, and I think it is so much more helpful to the horse than just randomly using a rein at any old time. We walked over the cavaletti, did some circles and figure eights, walk-halt-walk transitions, and I called it a day. It was maybe a 10-minute ride, but it was so good!
This weekend Colin will ride Mac and I'll ride the pony and we'll go out back on the trails again. She's so much fun!