I am finally getting back to my life as I want it.
Right before Thanksgiving Cricket lost a shoe. Taking the opportunity to give her feet a breather, I had my farrier pull the other three. She ended up sore on all four feet. There just wasn't enough hoof growth to allow her comfort after he tidied up each foot.
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving all hell broke loose at work and I ended up putting in very long hours for two weeks, including working on the weekend.
I was able to get out to see Cricket once during that time. I called to her and she whipped her head around as if to say, "Where have you been?! I've missed you!" It was so hard going from seeing her every day to not seeing her for almost two weeks.
My brother and sis-in-law arrived the week before Christmas and what time I had off was now devoted to visiting with family I hadn't seen in about 18 months.
I finally got out to the barn for some really horse time yesterday. I know the importance of rebuilding the rapport with Cricket. We started in the lush field with hand grazing and some simple "respect my leadership" games. I worked on some circle game with her, asking for canter transitions and change of direction. Her canter was wonderful. Her change of direction was better than ever. I played with the techniques Pat (re)introduces in the new L3 On-Line program. I got at least one FLC from right to left but none left to right. She was, however, more willing to pick up the right lead canter after the FLC. I'm pretty sure I need to have the chiropractor out.
We went into the arena and played a little at liberty. Before the 30 day program, her open area liberty consisted of a left-brain bolt. Now she is very connected and it feels wonderful. I used "late and light" (from the new L3 Liberty program) and our stick to me was better.
More as a friendly game than anything else, I asked her up to the mounting block. I just played with jumping and laying over her back. Cricket can get snarky with mounting so I'm trying to play more friendly game. I decided to get on and when I sat up, she was stock still. I shimmied around a bit. No bad ears, no turning to bite. I asked her over to the rail and I took the string off my stick. We walked around the arena totally nekkid - her not me, this is a family barn, after all.
We did a little follow the rail, some turns and halts. She pitched a minor fit when I asked her to move away from some friend with whom I'd been visiting. She settled down and we just stood in the middle of the arena. I asked her for lateral flexion with the stick. She was pretty soft and I decided that was enough. I hadn't been on her back in about a month and my first ride was bareback and bridleless - not too shabby!
We finished with a little liberty in the paddock. I just need to get to and get that filmed! At the end, I allowed her to graze. She was fantastic.
I am so pleased with her. Despite the time off, she was pretty willing to give me back my leadership. I felt at ease on her even though it had been weeks. I cannot wait to start putting in more time with her!