Ground work progress
Targeting - Aslan pretty much gets this one now. He will touch, follow, and bend his neck to touch the target. He LOVES to touch cones. I've been trying to get this on cue but it's almost self reinforcing. He is getting better and will even hold his face right over the cone, waiting for the cue. I laughed out loud when I saw this.
I am using the cones to make the forward walk a bit more interesting for him. Walk forward, touch the cone, walk forward, touch the next cone and so on. I showed him how to do this on the ground. He was ok until I got on him and then he would get stuck at a cone and not want to move. Then he would get frustrated if I asked him to move on. So I left it for a few weeks and then he got better at following the cones in a large circle.
Mounted - I worked on a better walk forward with leg cues. I've used "follow a person/horse", wave hands and follow the cones. We also practiced speed up and one rein stop. Unfortunately he is pretty lazy and just getting him to keep going and stay walking has been difficult for me to "reinforce". The reinforcement has long gaps and walk for a long time is pretty boring to him. If I click a lot, we just end up working on transitions and he doesn't want to walk for long periods.
Steering - his steering is terrible and he will try to do a lateral flexion or toss his head around in resistance. It took me 10 minutes just to get him to walk toward mom on a stool. I had to reinforce turning and walking in that direction because he really wanted to go somewhere else.
Mounting block - this is pretty decent - I've been able to get on him because he has let me. He finally started lining his back up, though not always in front of the block. The only time he regressed was when there was a lot of activity in the arena.
Leg Yield - after he learned it on the ground, this easily translated on this back. At first he really hated this movement and would swish his tail. Now he is fine with it.
Lateral flexion - this is great! He gives to the halter nicely on both sides. I taught him to do this on mount up and now he just offers it. I used a target on the ground to initially teach the behavior, then I moved to pulling his halter on both sides. Finally I added a pull from the opposite side. His flexibility is greatly improved and once I got on him, he figured it out pretty quick. Now onto variable reinforcement.
Head down - working on this again. He thinks I want lateral flexion. Also he anticipates my hand instead of waiting for the cue. I'm just doing on the ground for now.
Backup - he is ok at this, practiced it a few time. Not priority atm.
Lunging - he is fat so I started with this. He gets upset with light pressure. He bucked and protested twice. The second time was particularly snotty so I chastised him quickly and he licked and chewed. I tried to end on a good note. The goal is to get him to lose some weight while also teaching him voice commands. He is better than he used to be, but I've only done two sessions.
Issues; A lot of head tossing going on. Part frustration but also I am considering it could be medical. I feed a lot of treats and he chews weird sometimes. So I had his teeth floated. The vet said that they were sharp and he was sensitive on his left cheek; when she rubbed it that is. I had to eliminate that part of the equation so our training doesn't hit a road block. Hopefully his head tossing won't come back as superstitious because he is expecting the pain to still be there. But at least now we will know it is behavioral.