After yesterday's successful ditch crossing, I decided I wanted to ride out there again today in order to cement the progress and confirm that Pony felt okay with crossing the ditch.
When I woke up this morning it was raining so I thought I wouldn't ride, but after a delicious breakfast and some reading by the fireplace, I decided I would suck it up and ride. The rain had momentarily stopped and I could get done what I wanted in less than an hour. So we went out.
Pony was very looky-loo, but not in a spooky way - just like, What's over there? What's over there? And there? Is that a log or a monster? What about that?
We came to the dry ditch crossing and . . . she went right through it!
Today I was armed with a pocketful of cookies so once we were on the other side of the ditch I gave her a cookie. And we marched on. We did the same loop Mac and I did yesterday. I don't know how much of a scent a horse leaves on the trail, but I figured if he left one, then at least Pony would know that she was following his same route.
When we got to the end of the loop and the other ditch crossing to come back, she hesitated for a moment, but I gave her a little encouragement, so she went right on through. At the other side I again stopped and gave her a cookie. Ditch-crossing isn't so bad, after all!
We went back on the main trail and at one point could hear Paddy (her brother) screaming for her - he seems to know when we (either Pony and I or Mac and I) are on the final leg of our journey because I always hear him near the same spot (his voice travels, so I could likely hear him also from any other spot, it is just that one area where he says "I know you're coming!").
Yesterday Pony thought she maybe wanted to jig a few times and I quietly shut it down each time, letting her know that jigging gets a short trip around sage brush. This time on the final stretch, I rode her on the buckle completely. She had her head down, a nice swinging walk, and was in no hurry or anxious in the least to get home. We reached the gate, I said "whoa," and she stopped promptly.
SUCH an awesome pony!
I wanted to follow up on my statement about yesterday's ride whereby I said what a wonderful feeling it was to ride this amazing pony that *I* trained. I neglected to say (and I meant to, I just forgot as my fingers were flying) that I can't take all the credit because I've had wonderful teachers. But I also wanted to give a big shout out to her breeder. Pony is her own individual and she is amazing in her own right. She is the product of a thoughtful breeding program to create an ammy-friendly all-around sport pony. Pony gets just as much credit as I do and as my teachers do. She is the reason this is so much fun!
Anyway, just as we came back from our ride the skies opened up again and it is now raining. I did some beauty parlor on the pony and now her feathers are trimmed up, her jawline is trimmed up, and her mane is nice and tidy and shorter. (I will say that clipping is the thing I am least good at and while her feathers are trimmed, it isn't as perfect a job as I'd like.) Pony really likes beauty parlor treatments and was sort of awake-but-snoring with her head lowered and body relaxed.
Now we're spic-and-span and ready for our lesson next week!