I rode Ben today!
Today was his second day in our cross ties. For those who wonder, the ties are set on the tie-blocker rings- with longer lead ropes (14 footers)- so they are perfect for teaching green horses how to cross tie since they give. IF the horse happens to freak out, nothing will break- the rope slides through.
Ben, for the record, stood in the ties like he has known how his whole life. Who knows, maybe he has! Also, his manners are better in the ties than in his stall.
So, we groomed and tacked, then went into the round pen. We worked on lowering our head for the bridle- not his favorite task. But patience and persistence, peppered with lots of "good boys" reassurance, he did it.
I attached the sliding reins loosely again- the second he feels even just a little weight on the rein he stops fussing with his head- which he does even when he's on his own in his stall or turned out. I find it interesting- its as if the contact is a distraction from that- it certainly isn't force because he can still helicopter his head if he wanted to- they are that loose.
So, we did some longeing- the shortest session ever. At one point Ben stopped paying attention because he heard hooves walking outside- he did slip and he did fall on his side. He just layed there for a second, sort of stunned. He got up, shook off, and we pretended nothing happened- physically, he was unharmed. Funny enough, he concentrated for the duration of our session. *wink*
When done with that, I hopped on him after 2 short mounting exercises- reminding him to stand still at the block. I could almost see the light bulb go off in his head "ohh yea I'm supposed to stand here and wait" LOL
I got on, sat there for a bit, and then asked him to move forward- he was very good. We walked around a lot, changed direction, did some steering, and halting, and did some trot.
I think we're ready for the arena. I think it will be easier for Ben anyway, since the space is a bit bigger - our round pen does feel a bit too constrained to continue to work in there. So my new short term goal is to get out and ride in our arena over the next 3 days.... and of course, find someone to snap a few photos of us in action!