I must admit I have been hesitating to ask very much from this mare because she was so dominant among horses I really expected her to put up resistance to the idea of being told what to do by one of her puny subjects and I really did not want to damage our new friendship. Now that she is wearing a halter I have been slowly making more demands on her, and she is showing a new side of herself. She is very sensitive and eager to learn. I use the lightest cues possible bit she still gets stressed and disconcerted until she can figure out what I am asking her to do. Then once she understands what I want she is visibly relieved and will comply quickly with respect. I have seen over the past couple days she is developing a strong desire to please, she puts real effort into learning. We have been improving her hind quarters yields, leading forward and confidence with moving objects(rope swinging, and dragging on the ground). She really is quite a lady, the perfect icon of noble aristocracy.
6/13 I knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of time before I stopped keeping the daily journal and now I have no idea what I taught on which day. So here is what's new: I have taught Crystal how to yield both her hind quarters and her fore quarters, she will cross a ground pole, leads forward pretty nicely, she allows me throw ropes over her, and I have introduced fly spray, which she didn't care for at first, but is now tolerating reasonably well.
This evening's lesson was a bit disappointing. For the first time, she gave me some trouble catching her, and she left me three or four times during the lesson. A couple times were major explosions by Crystal's standards, she took a couple trotting steps away from me before turning and facing with wide staring eyes. Now I am dealing with the question of why. Two possibilities are most likely. First, she might be feeling stressed that I am moving her too fast. I am doing some longer sessions, and I am applying a bit more pressure now that she understands the halter. These things could be adding up to make the lessons less enjoyable for Her Ladyship. I mean, so far, lessons have mostly involved her learning to stand still while getting scratches and massages, any amount of work or pressure beyond that is extremely taxing to our dear lady.
The second possibility is that her hormones are making her feel more vulnerable now that the baby is closer to arriving. She has been showing physical signs of the baby's nearness as well. Her udder is getting very full and her hips are so loose that she is getting clumsy with her hind legs. Baby has been moving a lot too, it has dropped causing her belly to sag and her back to hollow. When baby rolls and kicks Crystal pins her ears and looks at her side like "Just you wait until you get out here kid and I will show you what kicking is all about!"
I have been watching Call the Midwife to prepare for the coming delivery, which may not be that helpful for delivering a foal, but I enjoy the show anyhow. In all reality I will most probably sleep through the baby's arrival since mares love having their privacy and foal out in a matter of minutes at ungodly hours of the night.
I don't know what is causing Crystal's sudden insecurity with our lessons, but either way I will be adjusting the lessons, doing far more repetition and review rather than introduce new things. I will also spend a lot more undemanding friendly time in our lessons to rebuild her trust and friendship.
If you have any questions about my methods(or lack of method) feel free to post questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer as lucidly as possible.