I had the most amazing session yet with Cowboy today. I was shocked by him and really felt a partnership from him beyond what I've felt in the past. He's very cool! We started with some brushing and he seems genuinely just happy to be chosen and messed with. We then did some circle game, and some sideways. I realize I have to be more creative, so we walked out to the large south pasture and played circle game while I walk, all the while transitioning between trot and canter. I asked him to jump multiple things and I honestly wonder if he likes jumping a little! He goes straight for the jump and although he seems to use the least energy possible, he jumps whatever I point him towards. We got way out, near the edge of my property and sat and chilled. He messed with me, flipped his lips all over, just general jovial behavior. I discovered that he likes his tongue itched.
We then started with sideways w/o a rail. We haven't done it without a rail, and he had the general idea. I was very careful to reward every try and not get critical. His try has become absolutely amazing. He checks in constantly, too. He soaks up the rewards and praise. I also have started to strategically use treats - he's highly motivated by treats. I want it to be fun for him.
Once we got back to the barn, we played with trailer confidence. He gets in beautifully and confidently, but he doesn't appreciate the panel being closed. So, approach and retreat, playing with opening and closing the panel, allowing him to back out if he needs to. My plan was to try to get him standing in exactly the spot he'd be if the panel was closed. He's not completely confident, but we'll be working on it every session.
Then, I tacked him up and we went to the arena. He's so much more relaxed in the tacking process than he used to be. We started off with 21 mins of PPL at the trot. I'm looking for his mouth to settle, gait maintenance and leaving the barn side of the arena. He did quite well and was less mouthy with the bit. He's still fidgeting, but relaxing more and more. Then, we worked on trot canter transitions. Wow! Best transitions I've ever ridden on ANY horse! He feels my seat and moves with it! Granted, he's innately an LBI and he'd rather trot than canter, but his down transitions were beautiful and he willingly transitioned back up to canter within a stride or two. I've never asked him for those before and I was shocked by how well he did them. I wonder if Z will ever be that good.
I was so pleased and we stood and I gave him some treats and we just relaxed and reveled in his glory. He literally shocked me with his willingness and desire to partner up in the arena in this session. I'll have to keep it interesting and progressive and I think he and will go very far.
As for Miss Zarah, well - she saw me messing with the trailer and she went as far away as she could. I'm devoting undemanding time to her for now. I went out to get her and she willingly comes to me and sticks to me all the way to the barn - no need for a halter or lead. But the fact that she leaves when she thinks she has an opportunity to when I first come out and look full of intent needs to be fixed. We'll have to have undemanding time until she realizes time with me doesn't ALWAYS mean leaving the comfort of the herd and/or a boring and uninteresting training session. She's a challenge and she's teaching me. I'm learning that I need patience more than anything.