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Saddle work

Now that I've been able to work in the saddle with him, things are progressing nicely. I've had to work harder on "steering" as well as "go". It seems difficult to work on both, because he gets very focused on the steering and slows down. Or if I ask him to go, he meanders all over the place.

I'm still not sure if there is an order to teach this stuff in. Clinton Anderson says to teach speed before path while Jonathan teaches path before speed. So which is best? No idea, so I work on both at the same time, screw it. We will eventually get there.

The worst part is that we have a busy arena on most nights, so it is very difficult to go with Clinton's style and ignore "path" and end up cutting someone off. (It is winter so I can't' exactly ride outside in the snow, cold and dark) On the other hand, it is very difficult to get path if you are dragging your feet. It's not a fight, just a learning process. But I feel bad because sometimes the click/treat isn't coming as often as Aslan would like, making it very boring for him. I have tried to click more often for him following steering when I ask. I occasionally click a faster walk or a good transition to walk.

Steering: Coming along much better than when he was in the halter. He would fight with me if I asked him to go in a specific direction back then, but I got the idea from Warwick Schiller in one of his youtube videos, to let him do his turns and ask as if it was my idea. So if he turns right, I pull the rein right, all exaggerated. Eventually Aslan caught on and stopped "fighting" the pressure. Now he still chooses to go different directions, but I can steer him back if I need to.

Go: He is getting better at the walk and I'm trying to use more seat instead of legs to get him to go forward. He is kind of lazy, so I bring the crop along. I liked Clinton's mecate slap method better, but Aslan is too reactive for it. A small tap with the crop when he ignores my leg is enough. I can even wave my hand and he is ok.

One Rein stop: Because I've been working so hard on OMG GO, I have been loathe to ask for a stop. And because he gets treats, he stops a lot anyway. Once we get better at walk and trot, I will definitely start working on this.

Lunging: The trot is coming along nicely now; he doesn't get upset when asked to forward and continues on as asked. I have only had to get after him a few times for stopping. He can do the responsibility trot now, which is where I just stand facing one direction and he trots around me until I ask him to stop. I generally don't ask more than a circle or two, since what value is it to make him run in endless circles at this point? Direction changes could still use some work, he gets it but has his preferred side and would rather go that way, so I often have to get firm with him here. Whoa is "ok" but will probably need work. "Walk" from trot is alright, he wants to stop so I have to ask him to walk for a few steps before I can click.

Go#2: Because I have worked on trots on the lunge line for a bit, we managed to get a few paces in the saddle at trot. I have had to reward him for the upward transition. Getting him to actually continue became a bit challenging because he anticipated the click and would slam on the breaks. My abs are getting a great workout. Here is our longest trot so far:

Leg Yield: Going good so far. Trying to add a bit of shoulder work without confusing him. He seems to understand it a bit. I try to ask for shoulder when we work on steering so that he can put two and two together.

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