I set up the arena for fun! I had two upright barrels standing close together and two large plastic jump boxes standing together. I had the arena alone today so we played at liberty on the ground.
Firstly, I needed to do my exercising so Cisco and I walked at a goodly speed twice around the arena. I broke out into a near run while Cisco sped his long legs up ever so little. He stayed with me the entire time. I like to put my hand on his neck just behind his head, so that as his goal. He passed!
I’ve had a problem keeping him going around me in a very close circle. He takes advantage of his freedom and moves further away from me. Today, I layed the carrot stick on his back and proceeded to walk forward. He stayed right with me and then I turned it into me standing in place and he circled me! Aha!
Next was our barrel and block squeezes. I had a heck of a time getting Cisco to walk between these obstacles at liberty. First it was tough to get him to follow me thru the obstacles. He preferred to go around the obstacles rather than thru them. That took a while. He also got a treat. Next I tried to stand near the obstacles and “send him through”. That didn’t work at all! We had a lot of discussion about where his body should be. I wanted his body lined up ready to walk thru the obstacles. He wanted his body completely on the other side of the obstacle from where I was standing. In all our discussion, he never left me to go running around the arena. For that I was quite pleased. I never did direct him thru the obstacles. It ended up with me begging him to come thru them to join up with me.
I was amazed at his level of distrust at something that he should have had confidence with. We will do more of this to raise his confidence!
I got on Cisco and off we went at a loose fast walk. This is his rehab gait. We did not experience any limping or shortened strides. I was so happy at that. Next our task was to ride thru the obstacles. We did extremely well. Next, we sped up a little and went between them at a just a bit faster than a walk speed. I also set up the barrels with a cone to hold my stick and string. We pretended the string was a gate and we opened and then shut the gait as we went between the barrels.
We did some backing around the obstacles as well as backed between. We need much more practice to get his confidence raised at backing thru.
What a fun arena time we had. We did get a nice flat foot walk going and a few steps of the fox trot.
Note: on the next day’s arena fun time, Cisco is perfectly fine with going between the obastacles at all kinds of requests from me!
We also did some great ground play sideways. From about 15′ away from me, he sidepassed over four comes about 20′ apart. I was standing almost in front of him. That meant I tapped my carrot stick on the ground, holding it out at my side. Even I was amazed that he understood that cue!
At the end of our fun day, I stood 22′ away from Cisco and asked him to sidepass down the wall from 22′ away.
Ground play is so much fun with an amazing horse!