I’m am thoroughly impressed with JC. Not only is he well built, but he has a great mind. I decided to actually do some work with him yesterday. I started out with a lunge line. He picked up on lunging very quickly. I think someone may have done some natural horsemanship type lunging with him because he understood to go the direction I pointed and to halt when I pulled on the line and said “Ho.” In general, he was w/t/c on the lunge, both directions, in about 10 minutes. And the best part, he never once tugged on the lunge line or used it for balance. He just stayed out at the end of the line and went around me. His trot was rushed and his canter was very quick and unbalanced, but he was willing to do whatever I asked in both directions.
So because he figured that out so quickly, I added sliding sidereins to the equation. I figured he could actually do some work if he already understood lunging. These were just no big deal. At first he bumped his mouth trying to pick up his head, but very quickly figured out that it was most comfortable to go around with his head stretching down and out. Pretty soon, his trot slowed down to a real nice rhythm and his stride lengthened. I could see his topline muscles working on the top of his neck and along his back. He looked GREAT! I was thrilled with how quickly he picked this up, especially for being 2 days off the track.
After lunging for about 25 minutes, I decided to move on to something else. One of the best things I ever taught my mare to do was to come to me at the mounting block and stand for mounting. I can get on the mounting block (or truck tailgate, or log, etc.) with her pointed in any direction and she will sort of parallel park herself into place so that I can get on her. Its pretty cool, not to mention very helpful. So I decided to work on this with JC. It starts by finding out how they react to a riding whip (I used a dressage whip). He was a little nervous about it, but I rubbed him all over his body with the whip and praised him every time he chewed or took a deep breath. Pretty soon it wasn’t a big deal to tap him with the whip.
At that point, I started having him move away from the whip at whatever point I touched him. This is really key to teaching them to move towards you on the mounting block because you might need to tap the outside hip and have it move towards you. He quickly figured out this game as well and I had him yielding to the whip in any direction in the arena. He is such a smart fella!!!
So then I got on the small mounting block and had him move around me. I then quit driving him around me and waited for him to stop. He did and then I praised the heck out him. We did this a few times and then I worked on getting him to step up to the mounting block. It wasn’t too long before I could get him into position so that I could have mounted had he been tacked up. He stood patiently while I rubbed him all over and praised him.
I said it above, but I’ll say it again now. I’m REALLY impressed with this young gelding. He really aims to please and is a very quick learner. With some consistent work, he will make someone an awesome riding horse!