14.07.29: At the Grindstone

I gave Storm a few days off, I think I needed the break as much as he did. We got back to work on Tuesday, and had a great session. I fed the horses, and then got organized to work and we headed to the round pen. I did a few laps backwards to find focus, and then we got started on the long lines. I am still noticing subtle changes and improvements in the quality of his motion. Less tucking behind, more stretching and lifting of his shoulders. He keeps chipping away at his balance and finding a better quality of movement. It is a pleasure to work with him when he's that calm and focused and willing to apply himself. I worked more with the long reins giving them away when he would tuck behind and encouraging him to shift his weight back and step forward. We didn't have a super long work session since I had several things I had to accomplish, but we got some nice quality time in. No one else was around the barn and it was nice and quiet as we worked. When we finished I decided that I would stretch the boundaries a little and go for a walk. Instead of heading back to the barn when we finished, I headed out into the field. I kept an eye on his energy as we walked, and was pleased that he was staying fairly calm and curious, rather than becoming fearful. I was being very gentle in testing the waters since I was alone and didn't want to explore the crazy side of things without someone else around to help if something happened. I figured slow was better than rushing and ending up with a setback. We were able to walk about 100 feet from the round pen before he got nervous to the point that I figured it would be a good time to retreat. He wasn't too unconfident, but he was concerned. So we turned and headed back to the round pen. We got close to the round pen and stopped, and then turned and walked back out into the field. This time we were able to go a few steps further. Again, we retreated, and then returned to the field, a little further again. I was pleased to see him thinking about things, instead of going into reactive mode. It was a really lovely step forward. We walked back towards the round pen and went the other way around the tree to get back to the barn, and in the skinny door again. He handled all the variety very well. Slow but tiny steps are still steps forward! I untacked him and cleaned his feet and sprayed them down again before turning him out. Again, he simply ambled off.
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