Q is so much better when her feet are moving and her mind is active. On the trail, its moving faster; with flat work, its incorporating turns, patterns, ground poles, and jumps.
When we started the flat work I noticed the more complex the activity the more interest I got from her. I wondered for a few days how to get this interest on the trail, and I think I've figured it out - moving those feet more.
She's a thinker this one. You can practically hear her mind whirring as she notices and ponders everything we encounter on the trail. If she gets to slow down she thinks too much about things and freaks herself out, if her feet are moving she doesn't have time enough to second guess her gut and freak about something. She and I are quite similar in that aspect - if I let myself think about things I tend to get worked up when I really shouldn't.
Before I left for my week at NCTC, I pushed Q into her first "speed" workout on the trail. According to my phone app, we tracked 6 miles in 1h:3m averaging 5.7 mph with a high speed of 11 mph. Upon my return yesterday I worked her (and Griffin) in the round pen for awhile - it was raining and I wasn't up for the dim evening light + rain on the trail after being gone 4 days. Q's workout was - obviously - a little more lengthy and harder. She had an obstacle to consider and we worked through her issues with it. Turned into a good little workout.
Today I decided to get on the trail and test her on another speed workout - I didn't realize how far we'd gone precisely until I'd returned. I THOUGHT I was doing another 6 miles, but it was a different trail. Turns out we did 8 miles in 1h:8m. I'd intended to boost her speed some and see how she handled it - never did I ever expect that! We averaged 7 mph with a high speed of 16.5 mph. This trail is wide open and relatively flat. It was entirely new to her with lots of new objects and things to see - she did PHENOMENALLY.
To top it off, she pulsed down again like a champ. We walked the last 1-2 miles home with a little bit of intermittent trotting when she wouldn't cooperate upon seeing her pasture mates. Upon arrival at the barn, I removed her tack and took her pulse. 69 bpm. Took 3-5 minutes to pour some water on her and scrape it off. Took her pulse again. 57 bpm.
We cantered ~3.5 miles of this ride and I fully expected her to be huffing a bit more than she did. Like, a lot more. She wasn't blowing very hard at all when I stopped to turn back home so we did some more. She really fell into a great pace with it. She was alert and noticed things, but things I expected her to be really spooky around she wasn't at all. She broke into a trot around a couple things, but mostly just noted them, gave some a wide berth, and kept on her merry way. Good mare.
Tomorrow we will do flat work and more jumping. I'm so psyched with her fitness level, crossing my fingers that she keeps going in a positive direction! Above all though, I'm having a blast and I think she is, too.
Side note: Griffin has not been forgotten about! I'm working him and spending time with him and trimming his tootsies and everything, too. I'm just not focusing as intensely on him currently. He'll get his due in 4 weeks ;-)