Yesterday was our first ride and it was interesting. Poor guy has the very basic of skills and not a horribly good set at that. No fear though as I shall whip him into shape in no time. RB4 was nice enough to ride the App while I worked with Kota, she was interested in seeing and I was interested in the safety in numbers. We started our session with the basic groundwork, walking with head down, halting, backing and such. I spent about 5 mins on it, figured he was doing well so I went to hop on. I knew one of his big issues that need resolved was his walking off while being mounted. Despite a good strong whoa, he was true to history and walked right off. A couple of quarter yieldings later I tried again with the same results. I then went back to groundwork and worked on that for about 5 more mins, this time with the intensity ramped up and making him respond much faster. This time he appreciated the whoa as a resting reward much more.
We practiced whoa while I walk away and when he was good with that, I moved on. We lined up to the mounting block again and I put my foot in the stirrup and said whoa and stood in it for a second and got back down. Kota didn't move! I repeated this exercise several times on each side with him behaving quite well. I then swung a leg over, patted him and hopped off and he put his head super high but stood still. Good boy! We repeated that a few times before I swung a leg over and picked up the reins. And off he went. I pulled him to a stop and repeated the exercise until he stood even if I picked the reins up. All in all, mounting took about 20 mins but I think he finally understood and learned what to do, we will see if he acts correctly when I hop on next.
After mounting we went at a walk around the arena, I wanted to see what he did. What he did was act like a giraffe and kept his head in my face the entire time. Very. Irritating. Despite having the App in the arena with RB4 (so he wouldn't panic about being alone), he was very tense and nervous. I slowly started to see-saw to get him to drop his head a little and EVENTUALLY got him to understand that an outward pull means put your head down. As soon as he figured that out, he really relaxed and starting moving much better.
After some circles, changes of direction, going the direction of the App and against the direction of the App and realizing Kota has no idea what legs mean, all with his head sort of down, we worked on halts. I found Kota loves to curl up way behind the bit to evade contact. It took a few different ways of asking before I eventually got halts without yanking on him and/or him putting his head to his chest. Once we cleared that hurdle however, Kota's inner giraffe came out and his head would go straight up as soon as his feet stopped moving. We spent about 10 mins working on halting and keeping our head down and while it isn't 100%, or even 80%, it is coming along.
The only real issue I found so far is bending to the right. He will bend his body to the left and he will bend his neck to the right but if you try to bend his body to the right he will stiffen and pivot through your inside leg despite your outside rein trying to keep him straight. When I started forcing the issue he started to really act up and I thought he was going to rear several times. Thankfully, for both him and I, he kept his feet planted but we will have a lot to work to do on that.
Tonight is a day off for him, he will be worked twice on Saturday, off on Sunday and worked on Monday. Another busy weekend ahead and then April will be really crazy. Does anyone have a week or so they can send my way???