Lessons with Lew
So over break I made it a priority to get Lew out and about with my trainer as much as I could, which ended up being twice. The idea was to pick her brain on his head-tossing and awkward canter. And man did we really nip those in the bud.
The first big thing is that we are now a solid (but slow) loader who travels nicely and backs off the trailer slowly. Considering he broke 3 halters his first trailer ride, this is huge. He also unloads and quietly walks around on a loose lead. The first trip I used the chain lead, but the second he was just in a soft lead and his leather halter.
The lessons were focused on simple W - T - C. We started on the lunge both days. Lesson One was more about me getting over my nerves and riding FORWARD. Lew likes to just cruise around and I took that as relaxation, but really it was avoiding work. It was also why our transitions were shit - there was just no energy to do anything with. We worked on the lunge and were fine until a horse left the arena... then Lew blew up (not bad, just more than I was comfortable with) and I hopped off. My trainer worked him in hand until he was calm and thinking again. I got back on and went around trotting off the lunge and ended on such a good note.
A week later we went back and damn Lew is such a good baby. He loaded and unloaded great. I tacked up at the trailer and lunged him for 5 - 10 minutes before getting on. We started on the lunge again and went back to working on forward and straightness. There was another lesson going on and that horse came in and out of the arena multiple times, 2 horses hacked past the arena outside, and a big construction truck that barrelled past us. Lew barely flinched. We stopped to look at things as needed but then went calmly back to work. I felt so comfortable - VICTORY!!
The big takeaway is this - when Lew tosses his head and acts like he is going to bolt, he is not. If I keep asking for whatever: a turn, a bend, a transition, and then when he acts like he is going to rear or bolt, I put my leg on. Sometimes that just takes a little nudge, sometimes a big kick. At first that made him pick up awkward canter steps, but if I just kept asking for forward, he would drop back to a nice forward trot. Bless his soul he is at heart very lazy.
Of course since then he has brewed a heck of an abscess... so we will see what sticks when I can get back on him again.