Things are starting to really come together for me and Zeke! We accomplished a lot this week that we can be proud of, but the biggest one for me is that we have been walking on the lead – without a single incident of run-away!
That’s not to say it’s been quiet. Zeke and I encountered people, trucks, horses and general ranch activity as we walked to the roundpen today, and every once in a while something catches his eye and he startles a little. But that’s it – a quick hop, then he looks and decides he’s fine, and doesn’t need to leave. That’s a very big deal!
Yesterday I took Zeke to the roundpen and dressed him in a saddle, then we lunged. He had no real reaction to that saddle bouncing away against his sides at all! In between trips around the pen, I worked with him a little on flapping those stirrups, hopping up and down, and doing generally annoying things to see how he’d handle it. He was very chill about it all! Susan was on hand and took a few photos for me – about 196 of them! But since space is limited, I will just put these 20 up! Click on the thumbnail to see the bigger picture. And stay tuned after the photos to find out about the awesomness that was today, too!
After all we accomplished yesterday, during our post-workout tie up and be patient session, I put Zeke’s frist bridle on. It took 3 tries to get the bit in, but once it was in, he chewed on it happily.
Unfortunately today there was no one to take photos of our progress, but we still had a great day! I saddled Zeke in the large pen I use to tie him in, and walked him, saddled and bridled, to the round pen. Since it was his first workout in the bridle, I tied the reins to the saddle horn for safety, but without any tension in them, so he could still move his head and neck without feeling the bit.
His workout was fine; being an energy-conserving mustang, he has figured out the lunging routine and seeks to get to the place he can stop working! He already understands where the gate is, and I had to encourage him forward as he passed, to prevent him from stopping or breaking gait!
Interspersed into his workout were breaks where I spent more time flapping and banging on the saddle. New for today, though – I walked him to the edge of the pen, and climbed up onto the lower rail so I was taller than him. From there I tapped on the saddle, leaned onto the saddle (keeping a hand on railing!), and finally leaned over the saddle, so I could reach the far stirrup to flap it against his side. He didn’t mind any of this except the stirrup banging his side. I could feel the tiniest arch in his back when it hit him. Since that’s where my leg will be for riding, I guess I will practice that move a lot more before we ride!
After our workout, I walked Zeke through the toy box outside the roundpen – a little area with cavaletti poles to step over and a wooden bridge. He hesitated over the bridge the first time, putting his front feet on it but not wanting to move his backs. But it was only a minute or two, then over he went. The next time across was like he’d been doing it forever! Next we went into the big pasture, where Cindy was riding Blondie today. In there we walked around and between a set of white plastic barrels, under a few ribbons of sheet still attached to our ‘cowboy curtain’ obstacle, and finally, over the longer, darker wooden bridge that was flanked on each side by a gate jump! He never batted an eye. The only thing he balked at was when I led him up to Cindy as she sat on super-tall Blondie. He came up to the horse just fine, and even reached up to check Cindy out. But when she carefully reached to pet him, he backed up several steps. But he DIDN’T run! So we moved back into place, until he made a move with his head upwards, allowing Cindy to touch his nose. That was a good effort for today, so we quit on that!
I’m very happy with Zeke’s progress! Next up will be to lunge with some tension on the reins, so he learns to give to the pressure of the bit. This will be done by tying the reins in various configurations until he’s comfortable all around. After that we move to ground driving, where he’ll learn to steer. Can’t wait!