Zoe is a TB mare who belongs to my daughter. She is Percy's mom so has been out of work (as an event horse) for a little over a year. She is definitely a high- energy and high-anxiety horse. Before being bred, she could never have more than a month off of work because she would get so wound up because she was bored! Thankfully, she adapted well to motherhood and Percy kept her busy enough that she certainly did not get bored. When they were weaned in early December, she seemed to transition into vacation time without too much trouble.
My focus with Zoe has been relaxation. Last winter I did a fair amount of work with her on head down. My daughter had taught that to her already but she would only go down to ankle height for me and then would "trampoline" back up. If you didn't click the instant her head went down, she'd bounce back up, then down and up etc. I felt like she would really benefit from the self-control of duration work. In addition, I think her body needs a lot of the stretching that comes with head down and her mind needs all the relaxation it can get. Basically, like a lot of moms, she needs yoga!
When Zoe gets very anxious, she chews on her tongue to calm herself down. Today I was working on Elly on her mat in the paddock next to Zoe and I happened to look up to see Zoe standing next to the fence chewing on her tongue. She loves to work, loves attention and really wanted to be the one I was working with. So when I was done with Elly, I took the doormat into Zoe's stall to work on the mat and head down. I had done some work with her on this mat before but it wasn't as solid as I'd hoped. The previous time I positioned her on the mat with a lead and she figured it out pretty quickly. This time I was hoping she would offer it by herself but it wasn't that solid yet. I did get her to put both feet on it by having her target my hand but she had only the toe of one foot on and the heel of the other. I probably should have gotten her halter but she was offering head down with her feet like that (as I said, I have done a LOT of HD with her!) so I decided to go with that.
I think the biggest lesson from working with her today is I need to decide exactly what criteria I'm working on and be clear in my own mind so I can be clear with her. I lumped too many things together: the mat, the head down and exactly what was I looking for in HD. It's been a while since I have really focused on her so I should have had some review of: nose to the floor, not just low, then add the duration to that and then bring the mat into it. As a result, we didn't get too far and it was dinner time so I decided to stop there and try again tomorrow when I was more mentally organized.