What is this? Today, when I moved the horses across the drive to their day-time grazing, George presented himself first, as usual. Bridget always comes next, as befits her spot in the hierarchy, but today Rose put herself forward to be taken after George and before Bridget. She stepped up, clearly expecting to go next, while Bridget held back and allowed this strange turn of events to occur. For the last day or so, Rose has been coming to the fence occasionally and sticking her head over to say hello. Most unprecedented. The chain of command has not switched, as Bridget still reigns supreme at the trough, but it seems Rose is ready for a change.
Later, this afternoon, after everyone had had a turn being brushed out in the field, and handfuls of winter coat lay strewn over the ground, I went to the barn to fetch out a saddle and bridle. Rose looked interested but returned to her grazing.
I left the tack on the gate and went off to do other things, and waited. About 20 or 30 minutes later, as I was scrubbing the water trough in the other field, I looked over and saw Rose standing near the saddle, looking over at me, as I thought she might eventually, if I gave her time.
I dropped what I was doing and went to join her. When I arrived, Rose was ready to go - no playing hard-to-get this time. I put her halter on, lead her out, and tied the leadrope to a string attached to the fence. The first time I approached Rose with the saddle, she stepped away, so I stopped and waited. On the second attempt, she was fine. She put her head down for the bitless bridle - now that she knows there's no bit, she doesn't turn away as she used to.
When she was all tacked up, she turned her head back to me two or three times, and touched me with her nose very gently and sweetly - saying - I think - ok, we're ready, up you get. But then the other horses, who had arrived from the other side of the field, got all, like, "Rose, what's up? What's going on? Why are you out there? Oh no!" Which got her a little rattled. So I had my husband stand by her head while I mounted (yes! I managed to mount from the ground!), and then we were off.
We pottered about the yard, sometimes Rose deciding where to go, sometimes me. Once, early on, Rose was startled by George carrying on back in the field, and she bounced a few times, but we soon calmed down. At one point, she decided to set off down the drive, but she thought better of it halfway down and turned back toward the house. Later, she went halfway down again and just stopped. I dismounted and let her graze for a bit, before turning her loose back into the pasture. I hope another time she decides to venture further afield.
Rose can be quite stiff and fixed, but she's sensitive too, and I think she listens to what you're saying from up on her back and takes it into account. I wanted her to relax her neck a bit and come back up off her forehand. I'm trying to minimize what I do with the reins, so I tried to just "think" into her via my seat and legs mostly, and she really did respond.
I noticed something bad today, namely that my beloved Wintec Cair panel endurance saddle doesn't fit Rose as well as I thought it did. The gullet is not as high off her back as I remembered, and in fact I shouldn't use the saddle at all, sitting as low as it does. I wonder if I just wasn't paying attention before, or if the shape of her back has changed.
A friend of mine recently posted this on Facebook. I think Rose fits the description of a classic introvert.
The advice in nos. 3, 4, 6, 7, and 12 is especially applicable to the human-Rose relationship. When I brought the saddle out, although Rose was interested right away, it took quite a while for her to stop what she was doing and ask to play. She is definitely a still-waters-run-deep kind of a gal, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her, as and when she chooses to reveal herself.