After a failed attempt in the neighbor's round pen, Steve decided he'd like to try in the front yard. So last Thursday morning, June 18th, we saddled Ellin up and tied her for a few minutes while we moved the other horses around.
My goal was to free lunge Penny and Ellin together; Ellin doesn't move off by herself and since Penny knows the drill I thought they'd be well matched. Not only did Ellin fail to grasp the purpose of the exercise, she trounced Penny's speed carrying a Western saddle with no effort whatsoever! After a couple of laps Penny quit and went away to graze. I feel sad that Ellin has so easily intimidated the other horses' self-esteem, but it's a beautiful thing to know that she will look another mare in the eye and dig a little deeper. She needs the will to win against company with more experience.
Back to the breaking.... We started simple, as I always do. Pressure in the stirrup, the weight of an arm across her back, flopping around on the saddle. The weight of a torso, the weight of a man lying across the saddle. Repeat on each side until she no longer dances or balks. I discovered Ellin doesn't care for the stepstool; with her it's ground mount or nothing! So, no more than 10 or 15 minutes after we started, Steve got a leg up and swung smoothly across the saddle. Ellin's ears telescoped, her mind raced as she tried to get a handle on new events. She took a step this way, then that, swished her tail, and snorted. Then she stood still. We didn't ask her to do anything, she didn't offer, and after a minute or so Steve jumped off. Ellin stepped to the side, looked calmly at Steve, and dropped her head to graze.
Our following attempts have not gone so well; Ellin is in heat this week and it's been in the 90s with high humidity. Steve did manage to get up Friday, but his foot was caught in the stirrup and as he freed himself he accidentally kicked her flank. She spooked and bucked. He wasn't hurt, but she was tired and cranky and he was unable to get back up. We're waiting her cycle out and will resume either end of this week or beginning of next.