14.06.01: Workin Hard

I got started before Kirsten arrived so that we could hopefully make a little more forward progress since she only has an hour to spend with me right now. Storm came to me from just outside the electric fence, which was a nice reward. I gave him some scratches and then we headed up to the barn. Eddie was working on the weedeater just outside the barn yard fence, and his crouched figure behind the fence boards concerned Storm. Since he was next to the gate, I asked him to stand up so that Storm didn't get more worried and we wouldn't have to walk right next to him when we headed out the gate, putting all of us at risk. He hung out while Storm and I headed out the gate. A care pulled into the driveway, so I moved Storm back into the barn yard again, which was a good reset because he was rather nervous. Once she passed with the car, we headed back out and went to the round pen. He was nervous, but controllable.
Since he was a little more nervous than he had been the last time, I started out walking backwards and was able to transition to walking forwards fairly quickly. I was playing it safe and trying to find a balance between my comfort zone and his comfort zone so we could both stay safe. I finally clarified out loud that the environment was safe, but that his nerves were what was making me concerned. I was rewarded with a lick and chew from him as he settled down a little more. We worked to the left for a while just walking laps of the round pen, and then switched to the right. I was pleased that he was making shifts and breathing and blowing as well as licking and chewing quite a bit.
After he settled down in both directions, I transitioned into working from the center lunging instead of walking next to him. He was doing well, and settling into a nice working pace and getting calmer as we worked.
Kirsten arrived and so I gave her the update of how we were doing. She was pleased with how Storm looked, and recommended that we really put him to work now that he had body work to get him straightened out after the winter and was beginning to calm down again. I got the long lines out and hooked him up and we set to work. He fell right back into it like we had never stopped. He was struggling quite a bit, but handling himself very well. He started out tucked behind the bit, but was trying very hard to release, and slowly began stretching and finding his hind legs again. We were working to the left, which is his easier side, and he was really putting a lot of effort into it. He had one minor meltdown when a fly would not stop pestering him, and he took off despite being on a very tight circle. He managed two canter strides before he had to slow to a fast and choppy trot. I was doing my best to continue to rebalance him despite the faster speed. Keeping up with the balance on the long lines was a really tough challenge! Thankfully he didn't make it more than two laps at the trot and slowed back down to a walk so I was able to get reorganized and put him back to work again.
We finally changed directions and worked to the right, and it was obvious he was having a much harder time balancing in that direction. He was really leaning heavily on the inside rein, and my arm quickly began to fatigue. The corrections were a lot slower since he was much more stuck to that direction, and so I had to work harder to maintain the contact and continue to encourage him to load the right hind leg. He was working hard, his mouth working the bit a lot as he attempted to adjust his balance. I was relieved when the lesson was over since my arm was in desperate need of a break! He worked really hard and focused the entire time, which made me happy. Now we simply have to continue to make progress!
Next Page: 14.06.17: Right to Work
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