Grabbed Mo and all his goodies and off to the arena we go's. Western, lunge line warmup. Mo was NONE impressed with this idea, bucking, farting, and generally trying to express his displeasure with this limited circle he was forced to cooperate in. He desperately wanted to play "catch me if you can, we're in the arena", but I wasn't up for the game.
I set up a trail pattern "L" shape with my poles, scattered the standards all about, put three cones in a line across a short side, and set two other poles in irregular locations. Romeo often thinks arena means "run, run fast, don't think", since that's been mostly what the newer, larger arena has been for him (using the trail and the road for concentrated walk/trot/halt work). To combat this, I kept his mind busy in warmups, over the poles, through the "L" at walk, and trot. Some halts in odd places, and backup through the "L". A few rollbacks to trot, a handful of trot/halt/backups. He quickly got the hint, and relaxed his body & his brain.
So, off to some canter work, big circles, back half of the arena. I swear I heard either a snake or a rat scrambling through the grass for a while. Romeo was unbothered. His canter circles started out snappy, but settled into a nice, easy, gentle gait.
After the warmup,and the serious canter circles, I scoured the property.. What can we do? What can we do? What do I have easy access to that he could benefit from? Ah yes, the gate. Let's go open the rope gate a handful of times, in, out, in, out, in, out, in. Romeo let out a HUGE sigh, questioning, "Mom, are you serious?! I get it! Work the gate! Let's move ON!" I scoured again in my eyes.. what else is there?
Oh yes, the muddy pond water. The pond was a byproduct of the larger arena and pasture work this past spring. Places had to be elevated, therefore, other places had to be lowered. The pond is a two-set hole layout of sorts, the larger, deeper of those still has about 6" of water in the lowest spot. Romeo and I walked over to it, he investigated, he sniffed, and he danced around the water perimeter, totally unpleased with the notion of walking through getting his pretty hooves wet. I finally convinced him to put his nose to it. He blew hard at it, and got splashed in the face. With a heavy sigh of recognition, he walked through the edge of the water. After much repetition, Romeo was splashing through the pond from anywhere I wanted him to go. I asked for halt twice in the middle deeper part, and he complied.
It was funny - and it's how he handles the uncertain. Look at it, approach slowly, sniff sniff, touch with the nose, see it doesn't bite back, and give in. At some point, I ought to capture a video of it on some other item he's unsure of. It's really quite funny, and since I know how he'll handle it, I know as long as it won't hurt him, it's good to push him up to whatever it is.