But every day since, we've taken baby steps together. A friend asked me on Facebook, "Is she friendly towards you? Or is she skittish?" My reply was, "Neither. I would say she is 'tentative.'" Other descriptors would be cautious, careful; therefore, I want to proceed slowly to build trust and confidence.
On Monday I haltered Stella (that in itself has to be approached slowly) and led her around the arena and lower pasture. The ewes in the middle pasture and the cavaletti in the arena were both new to her, but after channeling her inner meerkat and 'assuming the position' of a show Morgan (What's with that? She's never been taught to 'park'!),
|Little Miss from Lance's paddock, obviously not scared of the cavaletti now!|
Back in the arena with Lance, I proceeded to exercise him while Stella was free to move around. During our walking warm-up, she followed us around and around the arena; when we started circling at the trot, she moved out of the way and watched, then had a good roll. Perfect; this is going to be a great way for both to get exercised without doubling my horse time! (My husband is not-so-secretly worried about that.)
On Tuesday we walked up the driveway (chickens!) to the upper pasture, where we could see and hear the backhoe working in the neighboring lot. Then Lance and Ollie hollered for her and she got anxious about being away from her new herdmates. In her agitated state she reared up a little – then she did it again. The second time I gave her a good yank with the lead rope; when she responded by immediately settling down and focusing on me, I rewarded her by leading back towards the barn. Again I turned her loose in the arena while I exercised Lance; this time she didn't feel the need to follow us around but did her own thing, including playing some. Twice she broke out in a BIG, fancy trot, warming the cockles of my dressage-loving heart!
Back in her stall, I picked up each front foot; she moved off when I asked for a back foot. I didn't want to tie her up to work with her, having never seen her tied; I waited until yesterday when Brian was around and had him hold her. She let me pick up and clean out all four feet then, so I feel much better about the farrier coming a week from today to trim everyone.
She hadn't been interested in any treats, so yesterday's acceptance of one inspired my opening song. 😁 So far it's been a one-off, but that's okay. As with my sheep, I'd much rather she come to me for a scratch than for food; Lance is too much of a Cookie Monster!
Speaking of Monster Lance, yesterday during our arena time (got in my New Year's Day ride!), Stella got downright playful. Lance responded by getting amped up. After 'riding the whirlwind' for a bit, I decided the better part of valor would be to get off and lunge him. Not having a lunge line handy, I just started moving him around me at the end of the reins. BIG mistake; he got snotty and turned his butt towards me (something he also does occasionally on the lunge line) which was uncomfortably close with just the reins to hang onto. At that point I'm not sure if he pulled away or I let go, but he tore off. At first I was just worried about the reins (they were destroyed), until I realized that he was laser-focused on ATTACKING STELLA! As he charged after her with ears pinned and teeth bared, I tried to run interference, shouting at him and threatening him with my dressage whip. He grabbed her with his teeth several times, but I was able to thwart him from cornering and kicking her. After several heart-stopping minutes, I got him separated at one end of the arena, and he was winded enough to recall when I asked.
What provoked his uncharacteristic behavior? A blogpal suggested jealousy; that could be, but he's getting just as much attention as ever. I wonder if her playfulness was taken as a challenge, or insubordination, as that's when he started getting 'on the muscle.' At any rate, I'm not sure I'm going to continue joint arena time for now!
|Stella in pale winter sunlight; New Year's Day 2020|
Besides handling her feet, Stella's other 'baby steps' yesterday were over the discarded dryer felt laying in the driveway. She walked on it and over it several times with me, no big deal. Good girl!