09.02.15: ReTrailer

We got new hay bales today, so Storm was less than enthusiastic about leaving the fresh pile. He headed away from me when I approached, and turned around the back side of the hay feeder. I went around the other way, and he approached me, while driving off one of the mares along the way.

We headed out of the pasture with the usual focus while walking backwards. He was pretty locked on, which was nice, the only corrections that I had to make were more about making sure that he kept the appropriate distance.

When we got into the arena, I switched to the 22' line and did a little more focus work from the driving position, and then branched into the circling exercise. He worked his way out to more than half the length of the rope and often asking if he could stop so I asked for more speed. He broke into a trot without much fuss or too much encouragement. He maintained the trot for almost half a lap before dropping into the walk again. I allowed him to walk another lap before asking for the trot. This time he continued on a little bit further before dropping back into the walk smoothly. We continued to repeat the pattern until he was barely holding the trot for a quarter of a lap. I asked him to resume trotting again, and this time before he had a chance to break into the walk, I asked for the canter.

It took almost 3/4 of the lap to get the canter out of him, but he finally gave it to me without too much of a fight. He maintained his canter, and then dropped back to the trot and trotted out the circle for more than a lap before resuming the walk again. I allowed him time to think about it before asking for the trot once more. He picked it up lightly and maintained the gait for a full lap. After dropping to the walk once more I allowed him to continue in that direction for a while before carefully asking for a direction change.

The left is much more difficult for him, who knows why, I don't worry over it. It took more work to get him to maintain even the walk to the left. He continually stopped and looked towards me checking in, and I had to continue to reinforce that I wanted him to go to the left. When he began to sustain the walk for a portion of the circle, I asked for a trot, which was more challenging to get, though he gave it to me without too much of a fight. He did the sort of sideways thing with his head in the circle trying to avoid my direction, but finally picked up the gait.

He continued at the trot, but was pulling pretty hard on the rope and definitely not engaged in the circle. I managed to drift with him to allow him more room, and not lose the rope in the process. He continued to be only partially willing to head in this direction. He did try to throw one temper tantrum and spin in the opposite direction, but I managed to shut him down quickly enough, and we continued on in the left direction, though it still took more work. I switched directions to try to give him more support and stability, which helped some.

We resumed the left again, and he continued to fight a little bit, but settled down some. We stopped on a good note, and I worked a little bit asking him to back up from his tail. I moved him into the corner of the fence, and asked him to back up from next to him, using my carrot stick to keep him straight in line. When he began to respond to that quickly, I moved back further along his body, continuing to support him in the front to keep him from trying to turn instead of back up.

He was backing up consistently, so I picked up his tail, and then asked him to back up, dropping his tail when he responded to the rope. We repeated this a few times before I quit and headed up to the trailer.

There were a lot of cars moving in and out today because the archery club was having an event, so Storm was keeping a pretty alert eye out. It took some time to get his focus back, but less time to get him settled down near the back of the trailer. He began pretty quickly to step up in the back of the trailer after only a few tries. I began to put more emphasis on continuing to move into the trailer rather than stopping with just his front feet inside. He found all the cookies that we'd left on the floor of the trailer pretty quickly.

He stepped up with all four feet but then backed out pretty fast after that. A few more attempts brought just his front feet again as he tried to explore what was on the other side of the divider. Finally he went back in with all four again, but backed out again. Eventually he went in with all four feet and stayed there for a moment. I picked up his tail, and he backed out right away, more of his own accord than my encouragement.

Finally, he went in, and as he did he found the cookies that were on the floor near the front of the trailer, and kept his head down as he picked his back feet up and in the trailer. I was a bit concerned because his head was below the breast bar, and I was worried that he was going to bump his head on it once he finished the cookies, and might scare himself in the process. He did raise his head, and of course bonked it, but thankfully he only twitched instead of really reacting. I picked up his tail and he backed out, and we quit at that point.

I am pleased with his progress, and hope that we'll be able to maintain our work through the week, but of course that's weather dependent.

Next Page:
09.02.21: Balancing the Storm