Today I took Bridget for a saddled walk. Before the walk started, things went rather well, I thought. First of all, she was on the lawn and saw me coming across the field carrying the saddle from the barn. I disappeared around the corner of the house to put the tack on a gate, and then came back around to find my husband in a state of some consternation as Bridget was hitting the house with her feet. I, in my naive optimism, think maybe she wondered where I'd gotten to and was trying to attract attention.
I've shelved the clicker for her and worked on standing still without the clicker, but still offering a treat reward. For example, every time I tried to move down her side to fiddle with the girth, she moved to keep me by her head. It took very little time and effort to show her that I was asking for her to stand still while I moved away from her head and back again, a little longer each time, giving her a treat when I returned to her head. I really don't think the clicker would have added anything.
We started out on our walk fine. But Bridget is in heat right now, and her behavior got more and more pixellated as we proceeded. First, she was all bent out of shape about a fly. I was sure it had to be a jumbo-jet horsefly, but it proved to be a couple of very regular-sized ordinary flies. Then when the cows came into view in the distance, Bridget became more and more agitated, to the point where she was plunging a little and contemplating a small rear.
And then there was the fact that I'd spaced out and put the wrong saddle on her, and it kept slipping out of position, and it was probably quite annoying for her.
When we turned for home, she would not walk beside me and wasn't interested in anything I had to say about it. We stopped about 1,000 times to re-arrange ourselves. Then I remembered that on our very first walk at Raintree in Mississippi, I'd had the notion that I should insist that she walk politely beside me, a notion which I quickly abandoned without regret. It's just that lately she has been quite happy to walk nicely, and I was getting frustrated at her refusal to cooperate.
Then we reached the pasture fence, and I let her go up and greet George and Rose, which involved a great deal of squealing.
And then we went home and I let her go.
As I walked back to the barn with the tack, Bridget followed me and kept nosing the saddle. Which I guess meant she hadn't had a totally horrible time. But I was feeling a little downcast. When I emerged from the house a little later, however, Bridget marched over and gave me a Bridget-hug. This involves her extending the Foreleg of Greeting, which you grab, and then she puts her head over your shoulder and then you squeeze her round the neck as hard as you can and rub her neck with your head while she rubs her head on you. The human can initiate this interaction by squeezing her neck, but this afternoon it was Bridget who started it. Which definitely made me feel better.