Melissa, here. Today was my day with Little Love, and what a good day it was for us! We ventured completely away from the barn alone for the first time. We walked about ten minutes out to the bottom of the hill where K has been taking her to eat grass, grazed there for about 15-20 minutes, and then walked back. Little Love was amazingly calm the entire time and responded to my voice requests with very little need for contact on the lead rope and halter. I have learned from spending some time with Little Love and K together how important it is to use as little contact as possible, to always give her the chance to first respond to my voice, and to take away the contact as quickly as possible when she has responded to it. And I could see an immediate reaction in her today when I tried to adhere to these guidelines.
I am, by nature, a person who likes to (try to) make sure everything is under control beforehand, which means I am constantly taking preemptive action both mentally and physically. What I realized with Little Love is that, even though I think I am allowing her space (= no contact/pulling on the face), I am always ready to tighten on the rope at the first sign of problems. I'm not even sure how much Little Love feels this physically, but I am 100% sure she feels my energy and emotions. What I have now set as my main goal with Little Love is to keep the lead rope loose (as I once heard a dog trainer say, "hanging loosely in the shape of a smile" :-) ) and my mental / emotional state the same at all times. And if err in my response timing, I will allow myself to respond a bit late to a situation rather than trying to preempt one. In time, we'll get the timing down better, but for now I would rather give her too much trust than too little.
When we came back to the barn, I let Little Love graze there without the lead rope attached while I took off her boots and brushed the mud off them. I have seen what an amazing connection K has made with Little Love, and I think a large part of that has come from the trust she has given her and the freedom she has allowed her. I want to work up to allowing her more and more freedoms when she is with me as well.
Great day! :-)