We started out in the training pen with our ordinary agility and sensitivity to my cues regimen. Over the month, she has responded to the cues quicker than most horses with the exception of going through the gate, including opening, going through and closing the gate while mounted. We’re able to accomplish this but she is still somewhat claustrophobic. I have to reach farther than I’d like to get a hold of the gate because she is not as maneuverable in a tight spot as I desire.
After our work in the training pen, we took our ‘over the river and through the woods’ daily trail ride. To be more specific: down the driveway past the logging equipment, down the road, through the beaver’s obstacle course in the woods, over the river, back on a trail through the woods, opening a gate at the far corner of our property, a final walk through the intermittently swampy alder brush forest to our clearing and finally through the gate into the round pen (home again).
I was determined to keep her at a walk the whole day, which we did. I did not have to pull her her head back as a punishment (as I’ve defined in a past post). She walked quickly, faster than I like, especially through the thick woods.
Carrying a rider through the beaver’s maze, the thickly wooded forest, across the river, through swampland and through gates is calculated desensitization (getting used to stuff by facing fear). If the horse can go through this rough terrain calmly, she can certainly remain calm traveling down a gravel road or a groomed trail.