Unfortunately her reaction brought a bit of the boss mare attitude out in me and we had a little spat. For a minute or two my attitude was making her attitude decidedly worse. She was reluctant to let me anywhere near her head before I got a grip and reminded myself that her resistance was fear and not defiance. The only thing for me to do was take a step back and apologise to her with gentle belly rubs and a tail massage. In her good nature she quickly forgave me and allowed me to work my way up her neck to her rubbing her head again. I ended the lesson by having her yield to the pressure of my finger tips bending her head slightly around to the right and to the left. I even asked for a step or two backwards with my hand on the bridge of her nose. I would reward her with rubs, but typical of Crystal, she wanted to call the shots about where I rubbed. I asked for a step back and would rub her neck when she gave me a step. Then she would take 2-3 steps forward again moving under my hands until I was rubbing the part of her back or bum that she wanted massaged. I guess there is plenty of room for give and take in our relationship.
When she was convinced that the feather line was just a new massager I draped a section over her poll and slowly used pressure and release to get her to bend her head ever so slightly in my direction. After some time I could ask her with the rope to bend her head and rest the bridge of her nose into my open hand. Then I began petting the far side of her face and it wasn't long after that when she was standing with me directly in front of her with a hand on each side of her face rubbing her cheeks and behind her ears; the same thing that caused her to completely blow up yesterday. I ended the lesson when I asked her to bend and she actually yielded her hip, faced up to me and allowed me to pet her forehead while I was standing almost directly in front of her!
This mare is really teaching me "slow and right beats fast and wrong!" During today's lesson I thought I was moving insanely slow, but when I came in I realized that the lesson could not have been more than 30min. total! And we accomplished a lot without her getting upset at all. She is such a smart horse that she really needs her time to think things through. When I give her that time without stress she blows my mind with what she can learn!
Day 9: My schedule just got stupid busy. Somehow I believed that if I worked for the school summer vacation would be like it was when I was a kid; spending all day everyday goofing off doing only what I wanted to do until I was bored with laziness. So far, this has not been my experience. Trying to be an adult is not what you expect it to be, not nearly as fun as you imagine when you are a kid.
I will have to adjust my training strategy for the next few days. My "too busy to train" method goes something like this: I make a plan of what I think Crystal will be able to understand in a 5min. lesson if everything goes right. I set that as my end goal. Then I set aside 30min. for that lesson, just in case things don't go right and I need time to make a good apology. Crystal has been golden!
We have been working on yielding her head, either by fingertip pressure or neck rope pressure, so today we did three 10min. sessions building on that foundation. AM session was review, our goal was for her to take one or two steps of a hind quarter yield from the left side. It took maybe 4min. to achieve that, then I used the other 6min. to pet and reaffirm our friendship. Mid afternoon session was the same goal, but on the right side, which was a first. She figured out the right side yield quicker and made a more complete turn and face up. PM session goal was for a yield to each side and get a few pictures, she got that done in no time at all. I am also very pleased that she is consistently allowing me to pet the center of her forehead while standing in front of her. Tomorrow we introduce a halter.