She's just more restless. I hardly catch her any more with her lip hanging down...sleeping. I see a lot more of her sucking on her own tongue out of frustration. (this is even when she's out in the field or in her stall so i know its not me.) Her ears tend to flick back and forth much more urgently. Its not too bad yet..but I am noticing.
The good thing is she's still really in tune with me. When I come by she gives me two forward ears and soft eyes. Perhaps she remembers that I can help her.
I know from last year that she needs to move. She doesn't tend to do that on her own. I mean not to the extent that she needs to. She's been out much of the week and I see her walking all over and even galloping for the few minutes the others do. The arena is open at the moment so they all even get to roll in the sand. But...............it's not enough. Which is cool in a way. . . she needs me.
So yesterday was the first day that I had the purpose of really helping her move around to release tension and work off some cortisol. Already we had even more of a challenge because it was only an hour before sunset. (is that the time that predators have historically hunted?) This is typically a harder time of day for her than the morning or mid-day. I grabbed the wheelbarrow when we went because I needed to clean up the mess they've all made and with Lil on the line I marched on up like a leader.
As I picked up poo and talked on the phone, she wandered around and kept coming back to check on me. (good, good) I kept an eye on her as she wandered to see how much tension or lack there of she was displaying. I wondered if she'd lay down and take a nap. (of course a huge tell tale of how comfortable she is.) Several times she came near me and pawed thinking about it. But no dice. She didn't look too bad overall....got what I call the "square ears" (i'll have to post a pict...its a Right Brained Introvert* sign) but it didn't last too long. After a while she did roll but hopped up and kind of napped standing up. This was still pretty good I thought....
Playing at Liberty* as I think I've mentioned before seems to be the most effective. If we lived somewhere dry with more outdoor space I'd put her on the 45 and play the cantering traveling circling game all over. But, it's Oregon in October..and so we are relegated to the arena. (I swear I am NOT complaining. I am so grateful to have one.)
Anyway...she was ready to play for sure and offered to do lots of cool flying changes (we're working on the weave backwards and forwards now..) and I was still getting awesome draw at the canter. So I gave her a treat.....She went to her happy place and pretty internal. She was sucking her tongue (she does it in a different way in this state. straight out in front instead of out to the side the way we usually think of a thoroughbred doing).
A couple things about this behavior that I've discovered. She is still able to learn and listen to me and do stuff. . . but she DOES NOT GET BRAVER. In fact, she is much more susceptible to spooky or startling things. So I think about this, and keep at it until she comes back into the world. Licks her lips, lowers her head, loosens her ear, blows out and shakes her head.
Oh so tricky! But it sounds simple right? Oh, no, no. Since what she really needs is to move..I send her off on a circle at the trot. Yesterday, she obediently left off in the proper direction, beautiful rhythmic trot, stretched over her topline, maintaining gait and direction. (Usually a sing of being Left Brained*) But. Her tongue was out the whole time. She can show so many mixed signals and some are so subtle I miss them. So I left her out there.
One of my FAVORITE things I learned in Reno from Pat was that ten laps on the 22ft line ends up being a quarter mile. This was very very exciting information for me. A thoroughbred's flight line is between 2 1/2 and 6 miles right? So theoretically if I hang in there long enough with her she'll cross it.
She did about 12 laps before she licked her lips and seemed to make some changes. I asked her to go till 15 and then brought her back. We had a little dwell time...but she didn't nuzzle me or really connect...she stood about 5 feet away pretty still.
I asked her to do 15 the other way at trot. This time she didn't have her tongue out and was asking if she could come back a lot. Of course dwell time after the bring back then 15 laps each way at the canter. I had a cavaletti off the rail and as she went by I pointed at it and clicked (from the center of the arena while sitting on the barrel). She went directly to it whist cantering and hopped over instead of going around. She didn't loose rhythm just put it right into her stride. I thought: huh. I guess I really could ride that. Afterwards, she kept jumping it! That was really cool. Really really cool actually.
So that was a ways! 60 laps. And most of the time she was farther away than she would have been on the 22ft line. So lets say 1 3/4 miles? She even was warm to the touch when we finished with that. She was blowing out..but not too forcefully. When she really goes for it I know there was a lot of tension built up. Yesterday it wasn't like that. She even did the little purring blow out that they do when they are just relaxed and happy.
She looked quite rideable but it was getting towards dark and that wasn't my goal anyway... I must admit that I was beginning to wish it had been. lol. I have a few things to polish up in our L4 Liberty assessment so I figured we'd work on one of those. She tends to be a little stiffer going sideways right to left so I started to ask her for that...and a little faster. She kinda got it but when I asked for more she did a spin and came cantering towards me....in a playful way!
"Take what the horse is offering" right? So when she cantered to me, I used that energy to ask a faster sideways but from zone one*. Then, draw her forward (she got so engaged!) then, drive her back and sideways. Before I knew it and without me meaning to she was playing that super cool cutting game that we see Linda and Remmer do so often! I laughed out loud. I mean really...what more could I ask for? Here my little RBI who for the longest time didn't play....was..well. playing.
It was great. Now, I'll be interested to see how things are today.............