Although I am really happy with this trainer arrangement, I do wish Izzy was at least an hour closer. I like that he is being worked by a professional while I get a chance to know him better. I've never bought a horse and done it this way before, but it would just be easier if it wasn't such a long drive.
And being totally honest with myself, I don't have a good enough skill set to start this horse by myself, at least not correctly. I have started other horses, including several Arabs, but our end goal was very different. They needed excellent ground manners (I can do that with Izzy with no problem) and to be able to stop and go. The trail teaches them to bend, watch their feet, and rate themselves. It doesn't take too many wet saddle blankets before they realize that listening and stopping are good things.
Izzy needs more than just a stop and go button, and I don't have the luxury of letting the trail teach him about bending and being balanced. I just don't know enough myself to help him through these first few weeks and months. Once he knows his job a little better, I won't confuse him so much as I fumble around on his back. For now, having a trainer work with him (and me) will make things much clearer to Izzy, but there are things that I can do in the meantime.
On Friday when I went to see him, I had a chance to do more on the ground stuff with him. I pulled his blanket; he's still a bit shy as it crosses his bum. He is learning to lower his head so haltering him is getting quite easy. I washed his tail, brushed it, and gave it a quick bang. He behaved very well. I also groomed and saddled him. The only sticky part right now is getting him to lower his head for the bridle and reins.
Debbie and her assistant are working on it, but he still has some learning to do. He's not nearly as bad as Speedy was, so I am not really concerned about it. But since I am paying for his training, I might as well get as many holes filled in as possible.
When Speedy was a youngster, he refused to take the bit, fought lowering his head, and hated the reins tossed over his ears. But when he fussed, it involved a lot of rearing, jerking away, and wild head swinging. Izzy will happily take the bridle and allows the reins to go over his head, but only with his head high.
If I use a mounting block to bridle him, he stands quietly and has no problem being bridled. That's not acceptable though. He's simply too tall to work that way. And leaving that little habit untouched would no doubt lead to other issues: difficulties with worming, trouble making tack adjustments, tricky to exam his mouth, and so on.
He's learning to lower his head nicely though, so I imagine that in a few more weeks it'll be mostly a non-issue. And even if he isn't totally "broke" to lowering his head by the end of January, I can continue the work as that's something I have lots of experience doing.
Here is the video of the trainer working with him. An explanation and my own time on him coming tomorrow.