Forget which day I'm on - 8, maybe? Anyway, had some major progress with V today.
Caught him as soon as I walked in the pen and was able to go through all of our previous training quickly and without a hitch. He was in a good mood today, probably because I didn't get to work with him a ton yesterday.
Felt good about today and decided to tackle saddling.
For the first step, I drug the saddle into the pen and let him check it out. I looped his lead over a panel (he is very respectful when being tied) and rubbed the blanket all over him, slowly at first and as soon as he stopped his fidgeting, walked away and gave him a break. Pretty soon I could rub the blanket anywhere. Second, I threw it on and off both sides and got a little rougher with it until he calmed down. Didn't take long.
For the saddle, I usually just walk up, let them see it, rub it along their sides and gently place it on their back. He did fine with this. I started out with ONLY my stirrups and girth attached, and after he was okay with those, added the back cinch and breast collar. He took it like a champ.
I slapped the stirrups, twirled the saddle ties, wiggled the breast collar and generally sacked him out to the saddle. One he was calm, I gave him a good 15 minute break to just walk around and wear the saddle.
Tightened it up and sent him around the roundpen each way once at a walk, trot and canter.
He took all of this in stride so I started putting some weight into the stirrups. No big deal. I did this on both sides, just gently using my hands to put pressure into the stirrups and releasing when I got a positive response. Next, I stepped up and rubbed his neck, and steppeddown. I did those on both sides several times and gave him a long break.
I didn't want to push him, but he seemed to be enjoying the work and the company so I went ahead and layed across the saddle a few times, no big deal.
Finally, I just got up and sat on him. He stood like a champ. I flexed him on both sides for a few minutes and backed him up a bit (he backs on a voice command.) Walked two or three times around the arena, yeilded the hindquarters and called it a day. He unsaddled well and got lots of hay for a job well done.
Our new trick today was teaching him to hold things in his mouth. So far, he has held a feed bucket, his halter and a stick.
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