I managed to get to the barn before it got dark this weekend so I got to do some groundwork with Baron in the round pen instead of inside the barn. I took his leadrope off to see if he would pay attention to me without it. In the past I’ve had trouble keeping his attention. He had a tendency to wander back to the gait as if to say, “Okay, I’m done. This is boring.”
This time though he was focused on me the entire time. He backed up and came forward with no lead rope, just hand gestures. All I have to do is wiggle my finger and he backs up. I love it! I also played Parelli’s Stick to Me game, which is trying to get your horse to follow you around. I used to be able to get him to follow me for a few steps but then he would lose interest and go back to the gate. This time he followed me around and around, switching directions and staying with me the whole time. I think the idea that he is going to get a treat if he humors me and plays my silly game is enough to keep him interested. He plays along until I start pulling apple treats out of my pockets!
My next goal is to get him to move laterally on the ground. He can go backward and forward and now I want to add sideways. I also want to get him to change gaits with me. If he’s following me and I start to jog, I want him to trot. Right now he’ll walk a little faster if I jog, but I want to get a nice trot out of him.
I am very proud of the progress he’s making. With the proper motivation (delicious apple snacks), he’s quite the overachiever!