Today I had a short session with Hunter. My plan was to take him out for a walk. Almost as soon as I brought him into the pen, the rest of the herd left to go exploring the track, so Hunter was upset. He didn't really calm down that well, and it was also pretty breezy, so I figured we needed to do something else together to get him "rideable" or at least Zone 3 Driveable. Of course I would have been safe taking him out on line, but I think he would have been too emotional to learn anything.
We started in the round pen on the 12' line. We did a few circles, mostly just doing a lap or two and disengaging. I really worked on him stopping and standing straight, giving me two eyes. He was having trouble keeping his attention on me, and also with giving me his right eye, which isn't usually much of an issue. He kept hoping to spot the herd out there somewhere, but the round pen is in an area sheltered by buildings on three sides, so there are only chinks to peek through. Once the On Line work was reasonable I took the halter off. I tried a couple of changes of direction at walk and lost him. He looked like he might trot around on a left circle for most of the day if I let him. I had an idea. I slowly worked my way toward one side of the pen, trying not to interrupt his pattern yet. When I got four or five feet from the rail I turned to face it, keeping my energy down and my eyes low. As he came through the gap I disengaged his hindquarters as if we had been playing the squeeze game. He turned and faced me. I sent him through the gap to repeat it, but he shot off on a right circle. He squirted through the gap fast as he came around again, but he wouldn't disengage. The next time, he wouldn't come through, rolled back and headed left. Interesting game!
With a little repetition I got him turning, facing and waiting every time. At first, if he didn't disengage, I just added a little pressure when he had Zone 5 to me. I then placed myself on his right and we did a couple of laps of Zone 3 Driving around the pen. It took a bit of effort from me for that to be really calm and harmonious. I decided that we still weren't ready for the big wide world (or even the pasture) so I took him to the arena, where he had his first session with some heavy poles we put down in a fan to use as cavaletti. He picked this up really well, but now he could see the herd coming in and got very bracey and pulled on the line, so it wasn't the pleasure it might have been. Oh well!
I decided to end the session with just a little walk, so we went down the driveway ( a few thresholds) and out the gate, where we had to clear some scary tumbleweeds to get through, to check the mail. He handled that pretty well. On our return trip toward the herd, he got a bit fast, and I disengaged him a number of times. I suspect, that had I been riding him, that's all I would have needed to do. I wonder?