Dee and I have made even more progress. This evening I started out on a hack alone to see how far we could get with our new counting technique. Many things were in our favour. Being Friday evening, there was no noise from the roadworks on the motorway as work had already stopped. Several people had headed out on rides before us, including Jane on Red, although they were well out of sight by the time we got going. Dee was in a calm, relaxed mood.
I counted her footfalls out loud as we progressed down the lane - 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 - until we arrived at the point on the track, close to the gateway into her field, where usually she will not go any further. As expected, she stopped. I ceased counting, waited a few seconds, and then recommenced, simultaneously gently tapping her with my legs. Eventually she started walking on again, at which I immediately stopped the tapping and praised her. I repeated this again every time she stopped. At first she would only take a few steps before stopping again, but eventually Dee picked up an even walk and made it all the way to the end of the track. This is only the second time we have ever achieved this on our own.
Having made our way through the gate, she stopped again, so I recommenced the procedure. She walked on a few steps and stopped again. I was now aware that her demeanour had changed. On the track she had not wanted to move forward, but was pretty relaxed. Now however she was quite tense, and I felt it would be inappropriate to urge her so much as before, so I did not start tapping with my legs again this time. I counted and kept asking her to 'Walk on', and also encouraged her, telling her that she could do it, that it would be fine, that she'd walked up here many times before. It was extraordinary how different this experience of Dee not going forward was to our previous times. She did start stepping backwards a little, but it did not have the feeling of wishing to force me to back down. It actually felt as though she really did want to go forward for me, but just couldn't make herself do it.
We did eventually make it half way up the road to the entrance to the horse trail in Coed y Wenallt. We have never made it this far before on our own. At this point another horse from Wyndham Livery joined us, so I tagged along and let Dee follow this horse up onto the trail. We carried on for a little way and then I turned Dee and rode her home on her own. She was absolutely fine going home - as I had thought she would be. I am so thrilled and so proud of her. I really believe that this is progress that we can build on. I am confident that in time we shall make it up to the horse trail on our own. I'm sure some of the change is in me as well as in Dee. Simple, subtle changes in my relationship with Dee over the last few weeks have made this progress possible. If we have time on Sunday we are going to take her out again, with 'ö-Dzin on foot, and hopefully make it all the way to the horse trail.