Thanks to Leap Year, today is Stella's and my two-month anniversary.
On her one-month anniversary I was somewhat discouraged by the lack of progress in our relationship; after another month, things are looking up, if not looking a lot different.
After lunging her a time or two more with saddle and stirrups and seeing no lessening of her panic when the stirrups surprised her, I took two steps backwards and lunged her with just a halter a couple times, and then added the saddle again with no stirrups.
Yesterday I turned her out after the farrier came and went; later in the day while the puppy slept I rode Lance, then groomed and saddled Stella. Deciding to expose her to something new, I led her outside and up to the mounting block. At first when I stepped up, she swung her body away to stand facing me, but stayed calm. I just stroked her face and told her how pretty and good she was, and took advantage of my vantage point to photograph her star, which has lost some of its 'shine' from shedding out.
We walked up to the mounting block on her left and her right, and I also moved the mounting block to her both on her left and her right. Soon she was staying broadside to the mounting block while I stepped up, stroking her and shifting the saddle a bit on her back. As wary as she is, I expected her to be concerned when I got 'higher,' but she wasn't. The photo below isn't beautiful, but it does show a good girl. 😍