I've had something of a minor epiphany over the last month which is: Royal likes to do stuff.
No really. He does. I've noticed a pattern with regards of how happy he seems to see me. If our previous session was fairly low-key, he doesn't want much to do with me. He's willing to be caught, but seems very uninterested in the whole thing. Even though there's always cookies and grain involved when he sees me. If our last session was interesting and/or challenging, he's really happy to see me. He walks right up to me and seems really perky. So, we need to Do Stuff.
I say this is a minor epiphany because I'm so used to thinking of Royal as a Right Brain Extrovert.
Which he was when I got him. Almost off the charts spooky and reactive, and as a result, dangerous. So everything had to be very consistent and calming. Any change used to send him into a mental and emotional tailspin, so I worked really hard to making sure that didn't happen. We also spent a lot of Undemanding Time to allow him to associate humans with good things and relaxation. So for year, I was in the mindset of keeping things calm and consistent.
But Royal isn't that horse anymore. He's really developed and changed in the nine (!!!!) years I've had him, and small changes in his environment don't mean the end of the world. He's not quite a Left Brain Extrovert in that he hasn't become really dominant or naughty, but he likes learning new things and having fun. So I need to keep that in mind. A bored Royal will probably result in a disgruntled Royal.
This last week had a few... interesting events, what with the SLEET that arrived on Thursday. Really? In October? The horses apparently lost their minds and tried to outrun the sleet while my sister was putting their blankets. But they didn't get too far before they realized that a) it was sleeting everywhere and b) the food was back where they came from. So, luckily they didn't get too far before going back home, but still. NAUGHTY HORSES. Try that again, and we'll get really loud colored blankets for you. With flowers and polka dots.
Today was more of the same. We stuck with the Weave but added another blok at the end, so in order to turn back and go the other way, he had to do a little pivot on his hind end. He thought that was interesting, so I mixed it up with figure-8s, sideways over the bloks, and Touch It. The high note was when I used the bloks to make a little jump, and incorporated that into the figure-8. So he would go around a single blok, come though the middle, turn and go over the jump, then turn and go back though the middle. He was a bit confused at first, but began to seek the jump before long and really put a lot of effort in.
So, the lesson here is Do Stuff With Royal. We can still have lots of relaxing time, but I need to make sure he's always mentally engaged.