Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked with Jolene at all of the above.
Read more about deliberate tips for working with a spooky horse.
Meanwhile, we had two outings that helped build Jolene’s confidence in a more spontaneous manner.
I rode Shea and ponied the mule on an easy, afternoon ride. Along the way, we met a neighbor. She innocently stepped forward and reached to pet Jolene on the head. This is an event that normally would send Jolene into the next county. I dallied my lead line and braced for a mammoth tug from the thousand-pound girl whose middle name is Distrust.
Remarkably, she stood firm. Her quick breaths told me she was nervous. But our friend was gentle and soft-spoken (which, I believe, made the difference). As her admirer stepped back, Jolene licked her lips.
Since certain crummy horse riders like to toss beer cans on the trail, I’ve placed two containers for trash in the area. Periodically, they need to be emptied. (You can read about my initiative here.)
This time, Jolene donned a bareback pad and came with me, Raechel Nelson and our five dogs to help collect the trash. At times, the canine gang was loud and chaotic. Jolene swiveled her ears incessantly, occasionally stopped to account for everyone, but otherwise was calm.
After the 30 minute walk, we arrived at the trash collection site. She watched as we piled cans into plastic bags. I let her smell the bags before tying them to each side of the bareback pad. She was nervous. I snubbed the line around a tree and moved her so the bags bounced and jangled with the noisy cans. After several orbits, I let her chill and graze before heading home.
In both cases, Jolene did great!