In more ways than one. It's very hard, carrying on when your best four legged pal isn't around any more. But you have to, for the sake of the other four legged pals and the two legged ones as well. So making the best of a bad job we are using the 'time' to up the game for Madam. Today it was a stab at a bit of lateral work.
As Madam was primarily a halter horse up until April 08, we are doubtful of how much schooling for lateral work etc she may have had. Our approach is always to test the waters, see what answers come back and then try and consolidate the good bits before looking for a smidge of improvement. Little and often, keep it light and varied. Especially where Madam is concerned because she is easily bored.
Today we learnt that Madam can do lateral work, but is a bit stiff. Provided the aids; especially weight are in the right place she responds well, but tires easily. She has improved at lifting her back and can now manage to do so for longer, but still has a tendancy to evade with excessive 'peanut rolling'. A trick I guess she learnt in her previous life. Don't get me wrong I love them to stretch long and low, when it is a true stretch and not just a way of avoiding working round. But I don't agree with getting into battles with horses. Mostly they are genuine and there is usually a reason why they do what they do. So I ask a little, make it easy for them to achieve the right thing and then praise them immediately and if appropriate let them have a bit of a rest. When that 'little' is established as the norm we can move on. Much better that they see 'schooling' as an opportunity for fun and praise than as something that makes them stiff and sore and gets them grumped at.
Of course this is all very well in theory, somewhat let down by the fact that my riding stinks. But we do our best and this is one of the reasons I miss the Grey so much, she never let me get away with anything.