In the session, I tried to ask with as small a phase as I could find. I started with just thinking and elaborately picturing in my mind what I wanted to happen. Then a rise in energy. Then a bit of motion in my arms as I squeezed. Tail swish, comply. I tried asking for less, I tried rest stops, I tried and tried. I ended with 15 minutes of sitting on him while he did absolutely whatever he wanted outside of the pasture bridleless. I am not melting down or anything, just puzzle solving. I need to find the secret thing that will cause this to be fun for Blu. Brainstorm ahead!
- Ride with Misty in tow. Blu is always interested when Misty is involved.
- Ride with someone else riding another horse next to me as we hold a ribbon or savvy string between us. The purpose is to match that horse and stay the proper distance from her. Figuring out the job would maybe be fun for Blu.
- Make a cookie hunt. Cookies on everything. The only con is Connor and Misty. They would probably find them before Blu did and become a nuisance--or rather more of a nuisance.
- Ask Blu to stand still for a really long time. His pick on a good rest time today was 3 minutes. So a long time might be 45 minutes of just standing there. Any time he decides to walk I say "Oh, no, we don't want to do that, we are standing." Or should I say "Oh good idea, let's" when he wants to go?
- More patterns. . . or rather, longer patterns. I might do a two hour cloverleaf at the walk or trot and let him find relaxation in being left alone basically.
In the round pen, I put my arm over his back and leaned on him. He pinned his ears at first because he thought I was going to get on. Once he realized I was just chilling, he relaxed. We stood in the sun for another five minutes. My mind was thumbing through thoughts on how I would take him from this complete slumber into motion-related activities. I finally decided on doing a circling game sort of thing.
I stepped back about 10' and pointed to the left just the tiniest bit, slowly upping my phases. I already had his attention, but he was only keeping an ear on me. When he trudged into the walk, he did not swish his tail. I yielded him after a few steps, but he just yielded him hindquarters then sleepily stared at me. I smiled and just as lightly drove his front end back onto the track and just as gently began to send him to the right. Now he was going a bit fast (speed of a tortoise instead of a snail. . . !) and when I yielded him, he came all the way in.
I checked his hindquarter and forequarter yields. They were not bad at all, but he was pinning his ears in the beginning of his forequarter yields. I played with backing up in stick to me by bouncing my stalk from a dried weed up and down for the higher phase. He got more refined with that and did not pin his ears anymore. We got to where we get to a phase 2 of gently wiggling the stick up and down. I tried his forequarter yields, now, and they were much better.
Next, I did some stick to me and pet his neck to as we did transitions to soften his face. You might notice a trend today of lots of Blu communicating displeasure with being asked to do things.
After putting a neck string on him, I set Blu up at the gate and patiently set him up again and again when he would back up and check me out. He was not pinning his ears or looking ugly. . . I think he was thinking he was going to get a cookie from the hopeful look in his eyes. When he understood what was going on, though, he stood still and was good for mounting up.
I sat there for a bit before asking him to go anywhere. When I did ask him to go, he swished his tail. We rode a lap in the round pen and then worked the gate to go out. He was so good for that part.
We rode to a hay pile and he ate a bit before I asked him to go to the gate. He swished his tail as we left the hay. Another great job working the gate--not crisp and perfect, but not to shabby.
Blu settled onto the rail right away at a nice walk. With an abundance of tail swishing, we trotted and cantered around on the rail. We completed several laps without using the stick to correct. I put a treat on a barrel and made a tear drop change of direction with a stop at that barrel in hopes of remedying his difficulty getting back on the rail after making a tear drop or a circle.
Next, we did 5 or 6 complete cloverleaf patterns. At first, it was quite wiggly, but after several leaves were completed, he began to go straighter and follow his tracks much better.
Then I worked with him on the left lead. In this direction, he exits the arena on the southern end and make a bubbled cap instead of two corners and a straight line. He also takes shallow and broken gait corners. So, when he maintained gait through the corners and stayed inside the arena for that southern end, I called it good. I drove him into a fast canter and slid him to a stop and fast back up, all with just my seat. The tracks from his back feet were as long as the carrot stick (4 feet). That is a good start for him.
I dismounted and sat with him for several minutes before walking into the pasture. . .
THE REST TO COME. . .