Last night we hit another milestone:
I went out to the pasture and called to Smokey, who was up the hill. He turned, looked, put his head back down, got a mouthful of grass and then trotted down to greet me!
I praised him and gave him half a carrot. He didn’t even back away when I put his halter on! He’s such a friendly and curious boy. He had been standing with Colors who didn’t bother to join him in his trot down the hill. I’m not sure he even lifted his head to see where Smokey was going. All the better that I didn’t have to share carrots.
We walked up to the arena where he made some very apparent “I don’t’ want to work” stops, but let me drag him to the paddock gate. He walked down to the arena with not problems. I’m still putting the green round pen panel across the gate as he’s been a little weird about the gate and I don’t want him to learn how to open it by pushing on it. When he gets his head and majority of his neck over a fence, it scares the diddle out of me. I’m so afraid one day he’ll try to jump it. So, for now, I’ll keep the panel there for ease of longeing.
We longed both directions, and he made some really good progress with the direction change. I tried to video it with somewhat mixed results. I kind of need both hands available to really tell him where to go, so it’s not the greatest direction change ever, but he does it how he’s supposed to and with substantial less direction from me. So proud!
After a while, Colors made his way up to the manger to grab some hay and check out what Smokey was doing. We had a few moments of not paying attention and unrequested direction changes while he was near the arena, but I rectified that situation with the flag and got some pretty good movement out of him even while Colors meandered about. When he went to walk back to the far corner of the paddock (as he does) Smokey kind of lost it and started doing the same head and neck over fence situation to the paddock side fence. I put him on the longeline to refocus him and give him a little more connection to me in hopes that would settle him down some. It seemed to help and very quickly, we were back on track.
I’ve tried to push him into a canter a few times without much success. This boy can trot! He’s got a HUGE floaty trot when he wants to [English riders would die if they saw it] and just won’t break into the canter without making a scene or thinking he’s in trouble. We’ll work on it. Right now I’m working on paying attention and moving off the flag, the latter of which we’re still a little scared of, but we’re making progress on every day.
My friend, Kathy, came out to meet Smokey last night, as well. It’s almost disappointing to introduce him to people now that he’s a total ham for attention and doesn’t really do a whole lot of “wild horse” things. Even when he misbehaves now, it’s just like punishing a normal horse. Nothing really happens. He just stops doing what he was doing and listens. I guess the fact that he’s attached to me at the hip is interesting, but perhaps only to someone who had totally preconceived notions about a wild mustang. He really is a super nice guy. He loves to get his ears scratched (and actually loves having a Slick and Easy rubbed INSIDE his ears) and will follow me a round like a puppy – much to my actually puppies’ chagrin. He tends to reach out and boop my hand with his nose when we’re walking if he wants something or gets nervous about a situation; it almost seems like a little kid reaching out for their mom’s hand. He’s such a little charmer. I’ll have to remember all this when he’s being a total turd later on 🙂
I took a video of him moving both directions at a trot for my own purposes to evaluate as well as to post here. Plus, I can’t really get over how cute of a mover he is. It’s killing me to wait on his canter! From the few strides I have seen in the round pen and the all-out gallop I witnessed in the pasture, I know he’s going to be adorable at that speed too. Can’t wait to ride him!
I think he’s a little stiffer moving counter clockwise right now. He seems a little more reluctant to go that way at times and I feel his stride is smaller and less free moving. I’ll have to explore why, and it may be as simple as he doesn’t usually bend that way so he needs to limber up.