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October Sessions

In our monthly Skype session, Hannah and I discussed some "crazy" behavior Aslan was doing. I would ask him to do stuff at liberty and he was getting very excited and even occasionally pointing his bum at me. I've never really had him do this, so I was pretty shocked. He didn't actually threaten but it was a bit disconcerting. I had sent the video to her and she saw his behavior as boy play and said that Toby did the same thing; he would even kick out.

We agreed that it came from the liberty class at the Gypsy show. Male horses love the "come in and chase away game" which is exactly what we did. Now I understand these emotions and not to push them so far; instead reward coming back down. He has improved. I can ask for a few steps of trot on the ground and he will gently transition instead of going bonkers the moment we start to move. Hormones and other things can also come into play, including a change of season. Aslan definitely gets mood swings during season changes. Note to self.

The mugging issue we started having is also much better, and using a cone or target to give him something to do other than "nothing", helps with the self control. He tries really hard to keep his head straight and I've seen him correct himself. Aslan is a foodie and will probably always struggle, but when he does mug at least he is sweet about it. I'm trying to also be more cognizant of asking him to keep his head straight as he takes the food. Even after you click and as you feed, you are rewarding what is going on in that exact moment as well. Head straight is what I want to reward.

I'm working on the haunches in, which is quite challenging for a horse. I've been using the shoulder-hip-shoulder-hip technique, where he has to move each section toward me, one after the other. I'm hoping that he will eventually put the two together. Hanna said this is a good exercise and I can also try "shoulder away-hip toward" as he needs to learn to put his weight on the outside shoulder in order to do a haunches in. The hardest part of this exercise is that when I ask for one part of his body to position correctly, I lose the other. So if I ask for his haunches in, his head/neck bends the wrong way, and when I correct that, I immediately lose the haunches and he goes straight again. Hannah's shoulder away-hip toward exercise gets the idea across that he has to maintain a certain position for the exercise.

For more general exercises, transition work is the word of the day. He is going to need a lot of various transitions, such as bending, serpentines, circles, walk-trot, walk-faster walk-slower, trot-faster trot-slower, and so on. These will help him with his "pokey" head. His transitions are not very good at the moment and he is not hot off the leg. I told her about him just giving up on the trot occasionally and transitioning slowly as well. I asked her what to do when he just "quits". Sometimes you just move onto something else - especially if he might be sore. Otherwise if he loses it, get him back into frame at the walk, ask for some difficult work and then ask for trot again, as he may consider the trot "easier" than having to do harder work at the walk. Obviously reward any good response heavily. Another approach is to try working on SUPER slow with him, so that he looks forward to moving out. I can do this on the ground and transfer to the saddle. She said not to worry about him keeping frame, and just focus on the forward. Later I can worry about holding frame or doing it perfectly, but then not be so picky about him being hot off the leg.

I did notice him really lifting the back when he went into a trot transition, which was neat. I never noticed it before and thought he may be trying to buck or something. But since he didn't, I'm taking it as he is learning to use his muscles better than just transitioning flatly.

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