So, Friday Eclipse had the day off, the heat was staggering, and I was desperate for a shower after camping Thursday night with my campers and having no modern conveniences. Saturday was just as blistering, but fortunately we had a few showers roll through to cool things off in the evening so I took advantage.
Again we started off in the round pen playing on line. Eclipse was anxious to move his feet after being cooped up most the day yesterday. He cantered easily around the round pen, his head snaking only showing up here and there. When I saddled him today with the heavier western saddle and sent him on his way, there was no crow hopping this time. On the ground we focused on Eclipse stopping and coming into me when I drop my posture. He is definitely an extrovert in the sense that he likes to move his feet, as apposed to most horses I have worked with that pick up on the turn and come in part of circling with in a few session. I think the increase in distance between the 12' line and the 22' line causes him to lose the connection but allows him the room to canter. This flaw in his ground work carries over to some lack of stopping habits that he has under saddle, so I decided to start introducing Down transitions under saddle.
Mounting is getting better. He stood quietly while I mounted him from both sides. One thing that I have experienced frequently with newly started colts is their desire to stop as soon as I, the rider, quit putting effort into riding. This is a desirable characteristic from a training standpoint. It tells you that the horse is connected to you from that first ride. But like I had mentioned earlier when Eclipse starts to move his feet like I see on line that he "checks out" a little and I feel it too when I am under saddle. After spending some time working on backing and feet control, we went off at a trot and any time I felt Eclipse become distracted I would change directions bringing his focus back on me. As he started to stay with me more I would then throw in a down transition here and there by relaxing while I exhale and going into a back up if his response was not timely enough. After a few repetitions he started to come to a stop with less and less rein. Once he was relaxed and working good I decided to revisit the canter. I got him in a trot then pressed him for more speed. His first response today when I gripped with my legs to ask for more forward was a cow kick with his hind leg. I ignored it and went on knowing he was just trying to figure out what I wanted. When I tried again he did finally cave and give me two strides then stumbled with his hind legs and through a small tantrum. It must be like learning to walk all over again when you are learning to carry a rider on your back. In the end we ended up catering in both direction a half a lap, and that was good enough for me. We went back to our trotting exercise to end on some thing familiar and now easy for him. Soon the canter too will be easy.