Harley gave a good spook when I picked up the longe line attempting to wrap it up and get it out of tripping way. He ran a galloping goofy circle .. Okay. he ran for about five minutes, even after I put it down. Silly boy! Just relax.. I won't whap you with it, it was getting under my feet, and I didn't want to trip. After he relaxed, I skipped the neck stretcher, put the reins on, and hopped on.
Flex left? Light as a feather
Flex right? Light as a feather
Both reins? Held for about two seconds, light
FANTASTIC! I tested his walk/halt/walk/halt a few times, which again was a quick halt without the wigglies. Then, we took a walk right past the arena gate, into the pasture. Harley hesitated, almost unsure he was really getting to do more than arena work. C'Mon baby.. we can do this.
We walked around trees, up and down the little paths he's made through the grass. Through short grass, through tall grass. Under trees (I actually got to duck my head for a couple of them), down the hill to the pond area, and back up again. I laughed heading up the little hill, as I leaned forward ever so slightly, and Harley sensing that, stopped quick. No reins, no verbal, just a solid stop when I leaned. Silly boy.. it's okay.. keep walking!
Every so often, I'd halt him, flex left, right, both, and keep walking. Realizing I might be teaching him to flex voluntarily every time he halts, I stopped a few times and walked on without the flexing. I even asked him to back up a couple times.
Brave, I walked him back to the pond. There's still some water in there, though it's half what it should be (need. rain. now!). I got Harley to stand right up beside the pond, but he was hesitant to put his feet in. I flexed him left and right a few times, then pushed with my legs. He wiggled his bum, tried to avoid the pond, but I kept him facing first at it. Finally, he took a step towards it, and I released all pressure. He stood, front hooves near the muddy edge. I squeezed again, and he put front feet in the water. I let him walk the edge of the pond, all four hooves splashed. Lots of praise, and a solid standing break with back to the pond. We reversed, and with a little urging, got the same answer. Harley had muddy wet hooves, and I was delightfully satisfied. It's not "all in", but it's the attempt, and I'll reward that.
Total work and ride? About 45 minutes. I think we're solid at the halt working on suppleness. It's time to step it up! A day off today (Wednesday), and we're back to the longe line for a refresher Thursday. Friday brings the delivery of my "homework", and the next assignment. =) I can't wait!