You know, Peat, Repeat, Peat, Repeat? Yeah, that'un...
Saddled Romeo, and after hand walking long enough to make sure the cinch was tight, I hopped on. He almost immediately started to walk off.. mental note.. That needs fixin'. I won't tolerate taking off instantly. Wait Wait Wait for me to be ready to go Homework assignment #1: Mount and dismount without moving until the MoMonster learns to wait..
When we did walk off, I didn't let him get far before he started to just nearly break to a trot. Halt, flex right was good. Rather than flex left, he turned left and started to walk off again. grr.. MuttermutterMutter.. Stop it ! I let him spin there a minute until he figured out halt and flex was much easier. Homework assignment #2: Flex means Flex, not walk off, not spin, not move, just flex your little neck, and HALT!
Postponing my original plan to get halfway to the mailboxes and wander up the little 4-wheeler trail, we walked the other way by CRNG's house. Mo took a long hard look at his front yard, and can't say I blame him. He didn't tense up or spook, but with all the weird clearing patterns and gardening accessories in CRNG's yard, he gave it a hard look. Yeah man, I know.. Ain't nothin' natural about his yard. Flex right, good. Flex left, not good. Again, see Homework #2.
Halfway after CRNG's yard and the next driveway, we halted again, with better Flex left. Recognizing now also that a verbal "whoa" meant stop now, and both reins gently meant bend poll, lower head, rather than stick head up & back ugly, Mo realized quickly this wasn't a lazyday walk, but a job... Then I was able to turn around and get us back on original plan.
Headed back past the house, through the front yard, around the front tree, halt, flex flex... All much better. So I walked him towards the mailboxes. We pointed up into the large power line overhead clearing. Thank you big electric company for clearing that huge right-of-way, it made for a fun walk. The ground isn't perfectly level, and the irregular grass, weeds, and chopped up rose hedge made for some creative foot placements. Mo had to be careful where his hooves landed, and it made for good mind work. I focused on where I wanted him to go, he concentrated on where his hooves landed. Homework Assignment #3: Harley could benefit from this on what would otherwise be a goof-off day. Send him walking in the r-o-w, but let HIM decide where his hooves go. Only send him walking, and let him figure out the rest.
Romeo paused before proceeding up the street to watch the neighbor boys playing basketball, hollering and screaming joyfully. He wasn't sure what to make of it for the first fifteen seconds, but once one of the boys spoke loudly in Human English, he let out a heavy sigh, satisfied he knew what was making all the noise. We worked our way through the sharp bend, as he trudge through a rather deep pile of oak leaves.
Once back on the road, I pushed him on up the 4-wheeler path. We didn't get far before I glanced at my watch. Oop. We've been wandering around for nearly 25 minutes. My plan was to keep the ride at a half hour or so, leaving time to get back home and sort out any boogers from the ride. We halted, stood there a minute, flex left good, flex right good, give to both, and a few steps backing up. I turned him around, turn on the haunches (good), and let him take us home.
When we arrived home, we found Harley munching grass near his stall, totally unaffected by our departure or arrival. Fantastic! This leaves neither horse buddy-sour, and neither upset by the other leaving home. Absolutely awesome, exactly how I want them.
We've got our homework to sort out, but it's easily enough taken care of. I'm not yet back to bareback/halter to the mailbox, but we're in no rush. The general point of the ride was to test him out without another horse around, outside of the arena, testing his general respect and manners. He passes, with a few glitches that are repairable.