In May, I started some trot work and attempted to canter, but it was all rough. Getting a trot required a lot of kicking, and the canter was nearly impossible to coax out of him. Even though he was started as a youngster with 60 days of training followed by a few months under saddle with his previous owner, he ended up spending the next year and a half on pasture. I didn't have to start completely from scratch, but it was close.
Once he figured out that he had a job, he developed a bit of an attitude. He is quite opinionated and not at all afraid to let you know what's on his mind. His way of evading work is to simply walk off the job, normally at a brisk pace with his head jacked up as high as he can get it. I am fairly certain that's his way of flipping me the bird.
During the summer and early fall, I started to wonder if I had made a colossal mistake. His tantrums got more and more aggressive, and with his size, I was having some trouble getting the upper hand. I started training exclusively with Chemaine, and little by little she helped me figure out how to school him through the hissy fits and help him build some confidence.
By spiraling down into the smaller circle, a strategy that Chemaine showed me for teaching canter to walk, the horse is encouraged to really sit with the hind end which makes the downward transition easier to do. When I was having trouble getting a downward transition to trot, it occurred to me to spiral in. I had no idea how easy it was going to be for him.
Somewhere over the last few months, any fear I had while riding him has melted away. He's not an easy ride, but he is a good learner, and he wants to do a good job. He loves to be praised, and at the end of a good ride, I can tell that he's usually quite pleased with himself.
We're headed over to Moorpark to lesson with Chemaine this morning. I know he won't be as good as he's been at home, but I am looking forward to an off-property lesson. I really want to start showing him this spring or summer, but we can't do that without more field trips.
While I am pretty sure this lesson will involve some rodeo moments, the Pollyanna side of me is looking forward to how awesome he's going to be! I'll let you know how it goes.