I have a few thoughts -
1) I have decided to let Sam have a holiday before our big move. He seems to be having more and more off days, I think maybe he is really bored in his small paddock by himself and is getting sick and tired of being ridden. This would be the most work he has ever done! In about two weeks he will go back out to Jayne's - where I used to keep him and he will go back out into a 15 acre paddock with his best friend Ted. They can gallop and play till they are exhausted! I will hopefully get video footage of when I take him back!
2) I have been reading Kate's blogs about the Mark Rashid Clinic. I have been giving a lot of thought to having a clear plan of what you want and thinking it before giving an aid, making the aid as light as what you want it to be. Kate explains this very well on her blog. On Thursday I thought I would give this a go. I only put a halter on Sam as I didn't want to interfere too much, I wasn't concerned too much about head placement I wanted him to move forward. Once I was mounted and had settled myself I made sure my legs were relaxed and not tight or gripping on his body, I thought walk, active walk, I sat up straight (puffed my chest out) picked my rein up, then lightly squeezed with my lower leg. SAM MOVED FORWARD!!!!!! I nearly fell off with excitement! He has never moved off an aid so lightly before. The first few steps were slow but soon it was a pretty active walk for Sam. I thought halt and in a few steps he halted! Same process for walk and it happened again!
We practiced halt, walk a few times and I was very impressed. I decided to give trot a go so I picked my mark and started the thought process. I still had to give a light squeeze to trot but you wouldn't believe it - HE TROTTED!!!!!! Once again I was excited. The trot was active and forward. Sometimes it fell into sluggish mode but with a positive thought it came back to active.
That is when I lost it and asked for too much and pushed him for too much. Basically I put him on a 12m circle and expected him to bend and step up under himself. He was losing concentration, I wasn't thinking clearly and he certainly let me know that it was all a bit much. He didn't rear but just threw his head around and threatened to rear. All this was at the trot so I pushed him out onto a straight line, asked him to trot out around the riding area with no pressure, bought him back to walk and called it a day. Why did I push him? He was giving me what I wanted and I just had to go that extra step instead of being happy with what he gave, especially for the first time. It is something I really have to work on.
Friday I didn't do anything just fed him. He was still in a bad mood and got a bit silly when I was carrying his dinner over to his feed bin. This is very unusual for Sam. He has always been an absolute pleasure at feed times. Waits patiently, follows at a respectful space. I made him stand back, rugged him and left. I wasn't going to drag him away from his dinner to see what his problem was I figured it was another bad mood day.
Today Scott and I stopped by the paddock late morning because it was a beautiful day and I wanted him to go bare bum! He was in a happy mood. Straight up to say hello, asked for a scratch and happy to stand for his rug to be taken off. I went and grabbed some fly spray as I noticed the flys were bad, some treats and a small section of hay. He was great at letting me spray him with fly spray without moving around too much. This was without a halter on. He hates the fly spray so I wasn't sure if he would let me or not. I gave him and his friend next door the treats and left him some hay in the shade of a tree. It was great to see him happy again.
This afternoon I went back out to feed and thought I would give long reining a go. I had no idea if he had ever long reined before and I am not 100% sure of how to do it but I thought we could try something new. I put his lunge roller on and his bridle and off we went to the riding area. I used two lunge reins and my lunge whip. I did everything up and placed the reins along his body, I rubbed him over with them and bumped them all over him, he didn't care. I stood behind him and asked him to walk on, nothing, walk on, he then kept trying to face me, finally a step forward, PRAISE!!!!!!! He then figured it out and off we went and at a wobbly walk! He did great, turning was a different thing but we got the hang of it. Up into trot and back to walk and halt. He even let me stand in the middle and he trotted around me on the lunge. I even dropped the reins and was able to walk up to him and give him a scratch and praise and walk back and pick up the reins without his moving off! What a clever boy! We were only out there for about 15 - 20min but I thought that was enough. I long reined him right back to the stables.
I will just keep trying new little things for the next two weeks, until I can move him and he can have a well earned holiday!