I worked with Baxter again last night. I think Jaime’s got him totally fixed now because both times I’ve worked with him he was Mr. Easytocatch. That said, he’s not exactly a snuggly horse… he just has an air about him that he’s waiting for you to be mean to him.
He likes to have his mane scritched and his face scritched… and his ears. He took full advantage of having his rainsheet off and being turned out in a slightly damp paddock and was covered forehead, to tail, in dirt so he got a nice long grooming.
I’ve discovered that his evasion is to walk off when he doesn’t want to do what you want to do. We played this little game about picking up feet and about girthing. He’s pretty easy to bridle but he suddenly becomes right-ear shy when you get the bit in his mouth. The girthing in particular made him quite nervous… so I had it pretty loose as we walked to the arena… tightened a notch, tied up his bridle and put the lunge line on him, tightened a notch… walked over to where I wanted to lunge… tightened a notch… switched the lunge to the other side… tightened a notch and finally, before I got on I got it up another notch or two.
When I rode him on Sunday he was nervous about the mounting block but I really prefer to mount from the block rather than the ground. I just can’t imagine me heaving my weight into the saddle from the ground has to be comfy for their spines! So, we tried again tonight and I was able to mount from the side of the block anyway… we’ll keep working on that.
Under saddle he was a good boy. I am trying to slowly introduce him to the idea of me carrying the whip. He is nervous about the lunge whip and the dressage whip both. So, at Andrea’s suggestion I’ve been picking up the dressage whip at the end of my ride… not using it, just carrying it.
He’s been tought voice cues rather than leg cues- so he trots if you cluck at him and canters if you kiss at him. We’ll be working on learning leg cues and also that contact doesn’t mean stop or slow down.
I kept it short and sweet again last night because he just gets SO sweaty at even light work (and he has very little muscle tone). But, he’s got three great gaits. His trot feels very powerful beneath you- even now. I can’t wait to see what happens when he really starts using his body. I cantered him a little more last night and his canter is AWESOME- extremely easy to sit and very comfy.