12.01.28: Tiny Little Anchor

I finally had some free time and had the weather cooperating so I could head out to work with Storm. He was filthy dirty so I was glad that Kirsten recommended ground work again! I put his bridle on in case I needed a bit more leverage on the long line. We headed down to the arena with the 45' line and found a lesson going on and Nancy working with Julius. I found a bit of space in the end of the arena and managed to get him out about half way on the 45' line. It took him a while to really full up the line and keep me from having to work it in and out as he drifted. I let him settle into a walk for a while before asking him to find the trot. At the longer distance it took more work to get him moving into the faster gait since I only had the carrot stick and string. I think next time I'll take a lunge whip for a little more reach out and touch me encouragement.
He worked in and out of the trot, tossing his head the first time he made the transition, but was finding a really nice balanced trot. After Linda wrapped up her lesson and Nancy and I spread out a little bit I gave her a warning that I was going to ask Storm to work up into the canter just so that she'd be prepared if Storm decided to do something stupid and Julius decided to follow suit. When he was working back around towards the front of the arena and then the gate, I got him into the trot and then asked for the canter. He sped up and finally launched himself into the canter. It was a mad scramble of legs, it looked about like a gaited horse instead of a proper canter. I let him do his thing and then he worked down into the trot again and finally found the walk while licking and chewing. I was pleased that he didn't pitch a fit and pull any jumping and squealing like he used to do. I left him to walk a bit and then repeated the process, asking for a trot, and this time he got excited and cantered himself without me asking. I let him find his legs and canter for as long as he liked and then drop back into the trot again. He was finding the end of the line and I was able to easily maintain his control and focus despite his antics. He was doing very well maintaining his emotions despite the added speed. It was nice to know that little 'ol me could be an adequate anchor now. A far cry from our experiences three years ago after we bought him.
I noticed he was beginning to breathe a bit, so I let him have some time to come down again and settle again before we worked up into the canter again for a few more times. He was still scrambling and cross cantering all over the place, even switching his lead in the front a couple times as he worked around the circle. I just left him to his devices and was happy that he wasn't emotional about the struggle he was going through. He finally began to really slow down and actually stopped and attempted to change directions on me. I could tell he was done, so I asked for a few more laps to cool out a bit more and then we finally called it quits.
I took him back up to the barn and took off his bridle and then went and hung out with Nancy where she was grazing Julius for a while as a reward before putting him away.
Hopefully the weather will hold and my weekends will be free so that I can keep up the work!
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12.02.05: AT Lesson: Back AT It!
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