We had a long walk warm up, about 20 minutes because walking in the sand is a great way to put on the fitness that is one of our goals for this month. During the warmup, I was asking him to let go in his neck and shoulder as he likes to lock at the base of his neck. We had some good success with getting that moving in the right direction.
On to trot work and canter work, which went well and then some walk leg yield for a cool down exercise. Very good.
I rode him in the indoor in all gaits. He certainly is a polite horse! He has a very smooth canter. Today we started some lateral work including shoulder in and leg yield, in small stretches, as the sand feels deep to him due to his state of fitness. However, he did very well and his heart was in it 100% the whole time. He is quite a charming horse.
I tacked him up today and got in the tack. Not lots of time to write today either, but we spent a lot of time in walk, asking him to come over his topline and relax his poll and come through from behind. Had some good success in walk and moved on to trot and canter which went well for the first day. Good man.
Not much time to write tonight, but suffice to say that we lunged tonight and discussed his attention. Had a few bucks in canter but not surprising and he did focus nicely in the middle and end.
I forgot to mention that yesterday when I went out to catch him he sort of floated away from me twice, before he allowed me to catch him. Today he walked right up to me. Yay. I put the halter on him, asked him to put his neck down, which he only resisted for a few seconds, and then we walked to the arena where we did some patterns and backing. I made it interesting enough that he had to keep his attention on me, which is good, because he has a tendency to lose focus. It is alright with me if a horse puts and ear or an eye on something odd, but there can not be complete attention lock on something external without very good reason. In fact I am having a hard time coming up with an example of when it would be ok! Ha.
At any rate, he got better and better. My goal for him is to walk with his neck down without me having to remind him. He needs to learn to default to relaxed, and focused on his handler/rider.
Critter arrived at Field Day on Tuesday March 3rd. He offloaded a little light on his feet and insisted on carrying his neck way up, and doing a bit of a skitter about with wide eyes. I had a discussion with him about bringing his neck down, but he was having none of it. I let it for another time and introduced him to his new paddock mate and gave them the day to settle in.
Today, day 2, I put a rope halter on him and had a quiet and somewhat long discussion about the choice he could make to yield to pressure to put his neck down. He mentioned that he could also skitter about, put his attention on anything other than me, and put his head up to the rafters. Our discussion was concluded with him figuring out that relaxing his neck actually felt pretty good and earned him an immediate release and nice rubbing from me.
Then we proceeded to walk around the indoor in hand, with me reminding him that keeping his neck down and brain with his handler is always a wonderful option. Nice start.