Today was a roping day! This was actually the first time I’ve done any substantial rope work with Jewel, but she handled it like an old pro. First I saddled her and sent her loose around the round pen, just tossing my lariat toward her. She didn’t like this much, but with more experience it will soon be no big deal. Next I haltered her again and rubbed her all over with the rope, and she was initially alert but quickly settled. I then looped the rope around the cantle of her saddle (the back part of the seat) and around her hind end so it was resting just over her hocks. By adding some “action” to the rope, I got Jewel to walk in a circle around me. She wasn’t bothered at all by the rope and moved forward off of it very agreeably—I even have video proof (this clip was taken less than 5 minutes after I put the rope on!). I also had her carry the rope around her front and back cinch areas, again with no problem. Then we worked on roping her front feet. To do this, I looped the rope around her front pastern. By adding a little upward pressure, I got her to pick up her foot as if I were going to pick it up with my hand. I also got her following and giving to the rope by sending her in a circle around me (with the rope on her inside front), then timing up with the footfall and directing it toward the inside of the circle. She was a little bothered by this to begin with (probably because my timing wasn’t perfectly correct!), but got the hang of it after a couple minutes. After all of this rope work, she was so incredibly relaxed and calm because she had learned to trust me with her feet. This is huge for a horse because their feet are their escape route, and if they feel like something is “attacking” their feet then they easily feel trapped and panic. It is a huge step for a horse to trust people enough to relinquish their one and only “way out”.
After groundwork, Jewel and I had a nice ride in the arena. We worked a lot on getting a soft feel and giving to the pressure of the reins as oppose to leaning on them. We also did some cantering in the arena. This was only the second or third time I’ve cantered her in the big arena, so it was quite fast to begin with but by the end we were getting much more control. I’m starting to ride her more like I would ride an experienced horse instead of riding her like a colt. I’m raising my expectations and being more precise so she can take the next step in her development. To cool off after our ride, I walked Jewel in a ~15 meter circle while I practiced throwing and coiling the rope. She couldn’t have cared less about this, surprise, surprise! She’s such a good girl 🙂