I did groundwork last night with Sugar. After my last post about rearing I sat down and counted the number of times she's done this: three to four times. I decided what I had done each time (what I described in my post) was not changing the behavior, it was stopping it after it had started. While that is what's needed at that particular moment in time, For a young marish-mare like Sugar with a mostly nervous rider, we can't let it get that far. She's boarded, it's not safe for her to do that not only for me, but sometimes 11 and 13 year old children handle her!
So last night I purposefully did things to induce her rearing behavior. (Sped up, went out of sight of Rally, etc.)
I paid attention to all of her little signals though this time (before it escalated), and the corrections would be barely visible to an onlooker. I put her in her stiff rope halter (whether you like them or not, a stiff rope halter has a little more meaning than the flat nylons), and off we went. It's pretty big for her little head, so I put my hand just above the knot, kept a light hold and started singing aloud (I was once told that singing takes your mind off of being nervous/tense, and it works for me). She began to pick her head up and I just squeezed my hand shut a little and pushed my hand down and towards me, ever so slightly. Squeeze, release with about two steps and she cut that out. We turned back towards the barn. Shortly after we turned back, Rally could be heard galloping, and Sugar tossed her head slightly. We turned around, and then I did about two more squeeze, release-s and she calmed down again. We turned towards the barn. We had a few back and forths of this for a little while.
With a few more sessions, she should probably be done with that!!
PS- I haven't been keeping up with reading blogs this week, I'm going out of town this weekend and getting all my homework done early. I'm going to New York City this weekend to visit my sister and celebrate my birthday!!! For comedy fans, we're going to see Kathy Griffin!!