Wednesday ended up being a short session out at the barn. I was only out there for an hour as I was pretty tired from not sleeping well the previous night. I felt the baby kick for the first time and was too excited to fall back to sleep!
Boomer had been moved to a different pasture at some point in the previous 24 hours and I could tell he was a little hyper alert about where the other horses were. All of the pastures had been rotated and he could now see a different group that he couldn't see before and a pasture that had been occupied near him was now empty. The frequent changes in pastures will hopefully be good for him to learn to relax and trust his surroundings.
I took Boomer to the hitching post and draped his rope over the rail. He was nervous at first so I went ahead and started working on 'head down' right away. That seemed to calm him down and help his nerves. After we did 'head down' about 5-6 times he stopped looking around in the distance. I finished grooming him and decided to keep working on the dragging lead rope issue. I decided to take a different, safer, approach and led him while reinforcing with click/treats. I let the rope drag along side, behind me and when he looked relaxed or looked away from the rope, I would c/t. It didn't take long for him to relax and walk along next to me like a good boy! I did this on both sides and leading from his right side he was more inclined to bow away from the rope and watch it. I like this tactic better than turning him out with the lead attached because I have more control over the situation AND for the positive reinforcement. It seems like it was much more effective than my previous plan as well.
I also worked on c/t for forward pressure while at the hitching post. This is a little harder behavior to work on as he almost always gives to forward pressure. The only time he doesn't is if he pulls back. So, I wrapped the lead around the post and pulled on it slightly to create tension and he would hold steady for a few seconds, then step forward. It is hard to create a replica situation of him pulling back without him actually being tied and pulling back. Another situation that is hard to replicate, but I would like to work on is when he steps on his lead rope, he usually panics and flings his head up and steps backwards sending the lead rope flying- usually towards me. I would really like him to calmly realize his foot his on the rope and just step off of it. Again, not sure how to teach that. Though, I think the giving to pressure is a good start. I think I will get my rope Be-Good halter out and start training with that since it has more precise pressure points.
Overall, I think the training session went well. No excitement, but definite positive progress. So, we seem right on track!