Aslan: Our second meeting
Stephanie worked with him a bit and he is definitely more relaxed than he was. She did a lot of desensitizing with the stick and string; both at a standstill and walking beside. She even did the slap and helicopter technique. Clearly it helped him!
She also let me know that he was turning in towards the trainer as a sign of insecurity. He is very uncomfortable with someone behind his eyeline, and that this is a good sign that he is not ready to be ridden at the moment.
Girth Issues: Walking beside him and behind his eyeline while rubbing under his belly did help with his insecurity of the girth up procedure. Secondly, this exercise will help him get used to someone being back there - which a rider will eventually be.
Then we did a game of standing on the mounting block and having him walk under an arm hanging out. This one is new to me, but it helps him get used to the sensations he will be under while being ridden. He has to learn to merge his personal space bubble with yours, and do so without significant pressure or pulling on him. Otherwise he is only "tolerating" and not accepting. And guess what, it clearly bothered him to do this exercise. (I was correct in my analysis that he has really backslid in his training.)
Stephanie really taught me a lot about tolerance vs acceptance. I was used to the horsemanship way of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult, but sometimes in our effort to get the horse to cooperate, he may only put up with what we are asking instead of truly accepting. At least in Aslan's case, this is somewhat the truth. The fact he shows fear but doesn't blow up shows a tremendous ability to tolerate something scary, but he's not really accepting it; the fear is getting in the way. I also think that shows a lot of "try". I mean to even tolerate shows that he is trying, but it is very hard obviously. What an interesting personality! If you can get him past those issues without putting too much pressure, he could clearly learn to accept and not be afraid any longer. This is so much better for *my* personality than a horse that will explode under pressure. I couldn't handle that without a lot of fear on my own, so it would be a bad combination for us.
Anyway, she did improve on his lateral flexion for me, though he has a ways to go. And she noted that he is definitely slow to lead, but showed me a way around that. She also showed me a few other things he could work on, including the back up. I like her technique of wiggling side to side for a back up, and up and down while on the lunge, to get him to slow down. It reminds me of Clinton Anderson. Come to find out, she and Clinton were taught by Parelli. Ha! Who knew!?
Stephanie really showed me that Aslan is a great horse with a great personality and just has a lot of things to work on. I really do feel like we are a good match and that I have a chance of success with him.