Rode Zola this evening. I mounted and rode to the entrance to the track. (It sounds funny to say entrance, but now that the grass in the field is so high I stay on a mowed path.) We reached the track, turned left, went four strides, and stopped. So, we were right where we had left off at our last session.
I dismounted, took Zola back to the horse trailer, put a halter on over her bridle, attached the lunge line and returned to the field, where I learned something. Usually I have a specific, and different, tone for each command, but it seems that it is not necessary. I was annoyed and in a stern, and I confess, irritable tone, called out trot . . . then canter . . . then trot . . . then walk, and tone made no difference, she performed flawlessly.
Hoping I’d made my point, I took off the halter and remounted. Once again Zola balked after a few strides down the track. This time I waited her out and eventually she gave in and off we went. When we got halfway down the backstretch she suddenly got energetic and broke into a trot. We trotted all the way around the far turn and then I brought her back to a walk.
When we reached the spot that Zola feels means the ride is over, she stopped. Which came as no surprise. I waited her out again. Not quite as long as the first time. Again on the backstretch Zola’s energy picked up and I encouraged her to trot, returning to a walk after we came out of the turn. Once again Zola stopped at her spot. Once again I waited her out. It was a short balk and we continued on almost right away. I made her walk halfway around the clubhouse turn, than asked her to stop. We then turned, walked back up the track, and I was careful to stop her before we got to her spot.
She is in heat, so it remains to be seen if that is the cause of the balkiness. It didn’t escape my notice that she wanted to go fast on the side of the track furthest from the other horses – and her new friend Sweet Tea – and that she stops at the point where we are heading away from the horses.