Lesson #5 went really well. I had hoped to work on cantering a little, but Boomer was Not Quite Right when I got him out of the pasture (more on that later). He is (and was) fine but we just did trot poles on a circle and got some really great quality work out of him. I was really impressed and I got him to keep the feeling of reaching forward with his stride in the trot for a whole circle after the poles. It was really cool. Karin said that he has really nice reach and was very happy with his progress! We also worked on the halt/walk transition. One thing Karin pointed out that I had never noticed is that he always steps to the right before straightening out. That was really hard to correct and will take a bit of work! I had to stare down at his shoulders and really focus on keeping my right leg on him. The first try, he stepped straight with his right leg, then tried to cross right with his left leg. The next try we got him to walk off straight. I had no idea he was crooked coming out of the halt! Oh, the things you learn with a pair of eyes on the ground!
About Boomer being NQR, when I went to catch him he was pooping, but acted hunched up like he was straining. Then when I haltered him up, he didn't want to walk and was balking and wouldn't walk forward. I listened to his gut sounds and they were there, but light. I lunged him at the trot for about 10 minutes and he pooped and passed a lot of gas. After that his gut sounds were really loud and normal. His skin tent was fine and his gum color was fine. He rode fine and pooped a number of times during the lesson. After ruling out colic, I started to think about it behaviorally. I have been riding him 5 days on/2 days off, which is a big change from riding MWF. I also always ride in the afternoon and I got him out of the pasture for the lesson in the morning, right after hay had been thrown. So, I started to wonder if he as getting a little sour. I think I just caught him at a bad moment when he was having a little gas and he was also a little grumpy about coming in to work. I went out Thursday because it was an amazing 50 degrees and sunny. I got him out of the pasture and he tried balking again. This time I was ready and really got after him with the end of the lead rope, swinging it behind me to pop him on the rump. He came right along after that, but balked again at the barn. I decided to get him out in the round pen for something different. Even though he lives outside, he seemed thrilled to be working outside. He was very excited and had a ton of energy. I worked him doing trot/canter transitions and reversing directions until he calmed down a little and started licking his lips. After that, I worked on him walking next to me, stopping without a lead rope, turning, and backing. I think it was a good change of pace for both of us. I am giving him three days off to relax a little and hopefully he will enjoy the vacation and comeback refreshed.
On another note, my family is going through a loss right now. My 100 year old great grandmother is nearing the end. She is a wonderful lady who has given me memories I will always cherish.