Another milestone today – something I wasn’t really going to concentrate on for a few months (when the fields are less boggy) but the time felt right and I gave it a shot.
So from the beginning…
I started out tonight flowing circle, yoyo and touch together – he seems to have picked his favourite object! A little red feed bucket (note: I don’t give him any feeds from feed buckets, just hayledge from a net). He likes to pick it up with his teeth and shake it about – even played a little tug-o-war with him
Sideways came easy one way but not the other – more work required!
Turning him on the hind came easy the same way – more work required!
After a good while playing I started asking him to bend. Stood next to him and asked him to bring his head round to me as well as crossing the lead rope across his back and asking him to bend away from me. Did this both sides – I want to be sure that he is following the pressure from the lead rope and not just turning to me.
Bending was going really well so after that I decided to jump on his back. Made sure he had his balance before I jumped up. He stood solid!
I sat there for 5 minutes (remember when you get on – hurry up and… relax) making sure he and I were both happy with the situation. Everything felt right so I though why not – I asked him to bend his neck around. With very little pressure his nose was touching my knee
I gave him a scratch and sat for another minute – should I try the other side? I needed to swing the rope over his head which a few sessions ago he was a little jumpy about but since would actually drop his head to put it over. With that in mind I swung it over – no issues – and asked him to bend his neck around again. Right round again with very little pressure!
I went through the routine a couple more times each side and then stepped it up. I asked him to bend his head around to my left. Then slowly applied pressure with my left leg… his hind quarters moved round a little and I released immediately. Indirect rein
I carried on with this on both sides with each try requiring less pressure. Very happy it was all making sense to him. He did really well .
So what more can I do on his back? I asked him to go back by wiggling the rope slightly and he backed up nicely… doesn’t matter where I am, on the ground or on his back, he knows when I’m asking him to back up. Last thing to try was asking him to move forward with pressure. I slowly put pressure on with both legs until he took one step forward then I immediately released. Only did this twice before stopping for the night – just felt like the right time to quit and not something I want to get into with him right away.
So I got success with an indirect rein, got him to backup and got him to move forward from my leg. Direct rein (leading out) next, want him to back up by lifting the lead rope up (putting pressure on his nose) and work on moving forward. I would definitely prefer to be in the field when asking him to move forward as I want the time, space and safety to be able to put the pressure on slowly to ask for a turn and not have to pull his head around because he’s about to walk into a fence / dangerous situation. For moving forward I should wait until it’s a little dryer so for now I can concentrate on asking him to bend on the ground and on his back. If it feels right though I will just go for it! No hard and fast rules – just whatever feels right in the situation.
Suppose I will keep the circling and riding in sync – when I’m happy with him circling in trot on a 22ft line maintaining gait and direction I will be happy to ask for trot on his back.
I’ve got some time off work so expecting a lot of progress this week