I just can't believe my luck sometimes. I was out of town for spring break, and spent much of the week before preparing to be gone. So last night at class was the first time I had as much as seen Bear in two weeks! Aside from a swollen cut on his leg, he was exactly the same horse that I left two weeks ago. He wasn't wild or crazy, he hadn't regressed. He was just good old relaxed and happy Bear. (And who knows when the cut happened! Its old enough that its all scabbed over, and thank goodness it isn't hurting him. But its definitely one of those things that doesn't get noticed if I'm not around! Grr...)
Two weeks ago we started lunging with side reins again (which I had given up while he was rehabbing from the injury), and he's already doing better breaking at the poll under saddle. Then we worked on the usual walk, trot, canter. He's been really leaning to the inside and leading with the inside shoulder so I took advantage of there being two less horses and a little more room and rode just about everything but the rail! We did straight lines and pivots, lots of little circles, serpentines, and anytime he wanted to go the center we mad lots of circles there. So by the time we got to the canter he was almost relieved to canter around the rail on a loose rein. Any time he came into the center he had to work on circles!
Our fun challenge for the evening was working a gate! Its the type you find in any trail class, you know the kind horses look at and say "Hey Stupid! Can't you see we can just go AROUND the gate?" But that's not the point, now is it? Bear has been ponied through many real gates so he has no fear of them, but he hasn't ever been the one responsible for actually opening it. We took things really slowly. Step by step. First we did a little warm up of one step turn on forehand, one step turn on haunches, and so on until we had sort of done a shimmy side pass along a pole. Then I turned that into a more legitimate side pass. Then we just came up along the gate and stood there. I want him to know the best place to be is right by the gate. He can always have a break if he's right up next to the gate. The fun thing with Bear is that he's not afraid of a darn thing, but he does like to play with new objects a bit too much. He got scolded for trying to open the gate himself, and trying to shake the whole thing over! We took the gate very slowly, so that each step was what I was asking for, and pausing in between so that he didn't even think of rushing. We did it twice and called it a night!
He's such a fun horse, and I already forget that he's so young. He's going to be such a great horse to do cross country with because he's so bold and eager to try new things! Even the terrifying horse eating llamas can't ruffle his feathers anymore. He's on his way to being an amazing all around horse, we just need to start committing more time to actual training!