Monday night about the time I got back out to the barn the heavens opened up and the rains came down so nothing more to report on that day. Tuesday however I did work with Eclipse. the round pen needed another day to dry after Mondays Showers, so I decided to try out our bigger arena for our ride. I was hoping the bigger area would encourage him to move out at the canter more readily but i was keeping my fingers crossed that he wouldn't take to many liberties! I could tell he needed to get out and move his feet after being up for a day and a half. I allowed him to move about the arena until he was ready to focus. Once he was there I adjusted my saddle and hopped on. (Eclipse is now becoming a pro at standing while I mount) It was a nice evening I and I was joined by other boarders in the arena. I was curious how Eclipse was going to react to the other horses being worked and ridden. To my surprise he wasn't all that distracted by them but more distracted by the grass growing along the edge to the arena. We worked on the concept of following the rail. In the round pen there is not much of a choice about it but in an arena with corners there is a responsibility to learn. Once that was going well I add down transitions to the regimen. These were not as good in the open area as the round pen but after a while he started to get the idea again. Once we got to the point that he felt good and relaxed and with me, I decided to pursue the canter again. I picked a long side that he was offering to go faster on and encouraged it. He took off in a small canter to the next corner then stopped. We played with this pattern a few times to the left until he felt comfortable with it then we changed directions to the right. To the left he picked up the left (proper) lead however to the right he continued to pick up the left lead (improper). I made a note of this but did not correct it. The goal to today was to canter and he did, I didn't want him to feel bad about that by correcting his wrong lead. We ended on that note.
Wednesday I had the opportunity to work with Eclipse in the morning in the big arena which was empty. We had room to roam! I warmed up on line. Eclipse is getting more skilled at cantering on line and coming to me when I drop my shoulder. He is starting to feel more connected out on the line then he was before. It is always good to see them progress. When he was ready, I mounted up. we warmed up with the exercises from the previous day, following the rail, down transitions, backing and moving the front end across. After that I started into a clover leaf pattern to start to develop better steering with Eclipse. Going to the left went well however going to the right Eclipse was pretty braced. Every time I would use my right rein I could feel Eclipse pull his head to the left in resistance. This is pretty typical of mustangs to be more resistant on the right due to the fact that all of their handling in the stocks was done all from the left which their right eye does not see. It is foreign to them to take direction from their right. With a little persistence we were able to get through this until the right felt as good as the left.
With the arena open, it was the perfect opportunity to do what I call a cantering passenger lesson. This is where you take a young horse and ask them to canter. They choose the lead and direction, my job is to stay out of their way and let them learn how to balance themselves. To my surprise Eclipse was very willing to go forward today, in fact the first time we cantered he cantered almost a full lap and bypassed the one corner we had been stopping in the day before. This was a good sign. We started out in his good direction going to the right. He was good about staying in the same direction that we started in even though if he had wanted to change I would have allowed it. Eventually we changed direction and like yesterday he picked up the wrong lead going to the right. I would let him go on that wrong lead in hopes that he would figure out in the corners that this was a tough way to turn. Eventually he would break gait and I would encourage him back into the canter in the turns in hope that he would pick up the other lead. On several occasions that did happen and I was glad. I have had some mustangs not offer two leads at all through this stage of training. When that is the case there is usually something physical going on preventing them from performing. I was happy with that and we ended our ride walking down the shaded edge of the arena practicing our pivots until he was cool.
I have not left out the Ponying part mentioned earlier. I promise I will be doing that tomorrow:)