This is something I've been fence-sitting about for years - curious, sceptical, drawn to it, but doubtful. So finally I had to try it.
One of things I learned (more in another post) - well, not learned, because honestly I knew this already - was that Rose is kind of sad and has a feeling that some part of her is missing. We speculated what this might be, but I've always felt that she wanted her own person, so I informed my husband that there was a Terry-shaped hole in Rose's heart and he was going to have to start to live up to his obligations.
He's only been out twice to the barn since then, but it's a start!
I got them into the round pen - Terry groomed her, and she started following him about. He's never been that patient about the horses, but I guess my years of droning on have made an impression or something, and when it was time to put her bridle on (which takes a lot of asking and waiting and processing for Rose), he said, "Well, we don't have to ride today," which made me proud of him, and was exactly the right approach for our shy Rose.
Despite the mounting block, it was rather a struggle for him to get into the saddle. He was slightly stranded for a few moments in an awkward and vulnerable position with one leg half over the saddle. During all this time, I swear have never experienced a horse standing as still as Rose. It felt like every cell in her body was dormant. What a comforting feeling.
After he was in the saddle, you could tell Rose was thinking, "Whoa, dude's kind of heavy!" She very carefully started to take some steps. I told her that she could walk around and when she was ready to be done, she should go to the center of the round pen and stop. After several minutes of walking around, she went to the center and touched the mounting block with her nose. Once again she stood as still as a rock while Terry scrambled his way down to terra firma.
The following week we just took Rose and Bridget for a walk. Then I was off on my trimming trip for 3 weeks. We're planning to both go out on Sunday again - it'll be interesting to see if the dynamics are different now with the pasture re-shuffle.