Yesterday we had a two-hour lesson with Stacy and Adrian and their new horse, a Tennessee Walking Horse mare named Sunni. It was my first time playing with Sunni, although Stacy and Adrian have been playing with her at home, both on the ground and in the saddle.
Many of our activities were diagnostic, seeing how she responds to various stimuli and requests. We found that she learns well and doesn’t seem too stressed about being asked to learn new things. We spent time playing with the rope, ground poles, and the mounting block. Here she is lowering her head so I can swing the rope around her face and over her neck:
Here she is learning to stay out of our personal space and back up when asked to do so:
Adrian practiced leading her at the walk, the halt, and the backup, teaching her to keep her attention on him and to match his body language and energy. He also used the Parelli yo-yo game method to ask her to back up, stand and wait, and then come forward. This exercise showed us that her draw is stronger than her drift — she really wanted to come forward and be in Adrian’s lap, more than she wanted to back up 12 feet. It also showed that her forward is stronger than her backup.
One of Adrian’s goals with Sunni will be to help her become more balanced in her forward and backward on the ground. This will translate into a more balanced “go” and “whoa” when he is riding.
A new horse is always an exciting occasion. Here are just a few of the spectators who came out to watch Sunni’s debut: