School and work have been eating my time this week. Sorry for the lack of posting!
Bob must have been right...Last night John and I went to work with Boomer and he seemed a little off on his left side. There was no heat or sensitivity, but his left hoof wall seems to be flaring a little. I am not so sure of how good our farrier is yet. Anyway, I rasped his hoof wall down a little today and made the two sides level and he was totally fine. So, that was good! I just did a short longe today and then tacked him up and had John longe for a few minutes while I put on my helmet and chaps. I got on and we rode around the property some. We also rode up the highway for about a half mile! Boomer was amazing. There was trash along the way and he didn't spook at all. Not at shiny silver chip bags, not at plastic sacks, not a cardboard, not even when he stepped on a styrafoam cup! (note to Oklahoma Highway patrol- CLEAN UP OUR HIGHWAYS!!!) He was really great! John walked alongside of us.
We have a few issues we need to work on. First, Boomer shows signs of anxiety when standing still unless John is near him. We have been working on this by having his stand still for a second and as soon as he does, John comes and pets him, then walks away. As long as he stands still, he gets pets.
Next, we have been working on this security dependence while walking. If I give him a loose rein, Boomer will drift right next to John. Today on the highway I worked on this by setting him on a straight path, and giving him his head. As soon as he started drifting, I would straighten him out. I also had John vary his speed and walk farther away from us.
The most important issue we need to work on- and I am open to advice on this one, is connecting his mouth to his legs. He doesn't turn well. I generally turn a well trained horse by sitting my inside seat bone down, lengthening my inside leg, rolling my outside leg back behind the girth, holding my outside hand firm and squeezing with my inside hand. I do these things with Boomer in exception of the hands. For him I am adding my outside hand crossing his neck. This will help him be familiar and able to neck rein in the future as well as direct reining. His issue right now, is that he turns his head in response to my cues, but his neck is tight and his mouth gapes. He then continues to walk straight and wobbles and weaves before he decides to turn. He doesn't seem to be making the connection. It can take up to 10 strides before he will turn and it is usually haphazard. I don't know what to do other than continue working with him until he figures it out by doing lots of turns and serpentines, squares, and spirals.
His stops are pretty good, but need work. His trot is also improving and he no longer pins his ears.
Overall, huge improvements! I can't believe that three months ago I was working on teaching him to longe and bathe and cross tarps and now my main concerns are about improving responsivness to cues while riding!