Sometimes I think I'm pretty clever. This spring is one of those times.
As I wrote about earlier, I started taking Pony to the dry ditch that we'd have to cross (eventually with irrigation water running through it) and schooling her in going through it. The first time we went out there I led her through, and then after that she calmly walked through on her own.
I took the day off work today and decided since I had a lot of time that today would be the day to go through it with the water. I outfitted Pony with her rope halter on under her bridle (I know, unsightly, but necessary and functional for today) and I brought a lunge line and wrapped it around her neck for the ride to the water (wrapped in jumping-strap fashion). We had a nice jaunt to the water and got to our first crossing.
I got off, wrapped her reins so they wouldn't drop over her head when she put her head down, and unwrapped the lunge line and hooked it up to her halter. I had my Dublin boots on so I could wade in the water. This crossing is narrower but deeper than crossing #2. I'd say the water is mid-calf high, depending on where I stepped. I eyeballed it so that I presented her with a path straight to the opening on the other side (this is also a narrower "out" than crossing #2), and I stood in the water to the side of that so that she could go by me without running me over. As I stood there, I just opened my leading arm to ask her to go through. She eyeballed it and decided it was narrow enough to jump! I let the lunge line slide through my hand such that she didn't get tugged on mid-air or right on landing and could go forward but I could still hold on to her. Of course it helps that the other times we went through it when it was dry she learned that she'd get a cookie for crossing it, so she stopped on her own and I walked out of the water to give her her reward. We went back and forth three or four times, with cookies each time of course, and then I hand walked her down the trail a bit and put her all back together for riding again and we continued on our loop.
We came to ditch crossing #2 and I got off again, got her all set up, and led her to this water. She eyeballed it and saw it was too wide to jump, but it is also shallower and so she felt more comfortable walking through the water, which she did without hesitation.
I counted the cookies in my pocket and we had enough for a couple more back-and-forth schoolings through the water. She did great! I'm so proud of her!
I decided I'd just hand walk her back home and on the way we came to a place where Colin was doing some fence repair and adding a gate so we (and others) can get through the fence when the ditch paths are closed off in the summer because of grazing cattle (got permission from the grazing lease holder to do so). The cattle will be put out in the next couple weeks, so the timing is perfect.
She gave Colin the almost-hairy-eyeball for a second, but then she recognized him and wanted to go up and have a chat. I gave her my last two cookies and then just hand walked her home.
I'm so proud of all she accomplished this weekend - such a brave and good pony!!!!