Easier said than done, but we'll give it a shot.
Over the past couple of weeks, The Overarching Theme(tm) of our sessions has been trying to fundamentally change how Royal moves and how he perceives new things. Well, the second one has been The Over-Overarching Theme of our journey together, but now I'm really starting to focus on it. And, as you might imagine, it's kind of slow going.
The Game of Contact has really been an eye-opener for both of us. Royal's been getting a lot better at stretching, to the point were any slight pressure on the reins meaning streeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch, and he's gotten way better at holding it too. His whole way of moving has changed too, for the better. Even playing OnLine, he rocks back on his hindquarters, has smoother transitions, and moves a lot more fluidly. Seems all he needed was to learn he could do it. Last weekend, I tried moving from Phase 2 to 3 (frame), but that was not very successful. I was sharing the arena with someone who had two horses tied up along the east end of the arena, so I could only do a 20-meter circle, which was fine, until the other person started lunging one of her horses, and the other one started throwing a fit. Shaking her head, banging the tie rope against the wall, and making a big commotion about the fact that no one was paying attention to her. Poor Royal is already scared of the mare, and her tantrum only scared him more. I managed to quit on a somewhat good note (he held the frame and contact for two steps), but made a mental note to try that again only if I'm alone.
The other thing I'm trying to work on is getting Royal over his fear of texture changes on the ground, namely blankets and tarps. This is the one bugaboo I have not been able to solve, so I tried doing some clicker training with the Blue Blanket Of Death to see if that would help. It has, a little. He'll walk over it, but he's still very wary and snorty about it just being there. So, not really confidence. I've tried everything I can think of and I'm all out of ideas. I've e-mailed for some help and in the meantime, I'll keep going with the clicker training. We'll see what happens.
About the bonnet in my Jumper Chic post, it is actually a custom-made bonnet from Faibel Farms, and it was totally worth it. I'm worried that this very mild winter means that the bugs are going to be horrible, so I figured I should get a bonnet to help protect the sensitive one when we're riding outside and it should be royal blue. Unfortunately, royal blue fly bonnets are hard to find, and the few that I did looked like something my cat threw up. So, I researched custom fly bonnets, and Kristina at Faibel was the only one with reasonable prices (way less than $100!) and the ability to have a royal blue base. So, a very pretty Christmas gift for me and Royal, which I think will come in very handy. The ears are a bit large now, but I swear Royal's ears shrink in the winter, so I'll see how fit when it gets warmer. But for now...
Bat Horse! Doesn't he look cute?