On line Kai makes an effort to walk to me past a perceived danger. Now, at liberty, he stopped and I asked him to back up. I walked over to the mattress myself and stood on it and then walked back to Kai and invited him to go investigate together. As we got to about ten feet away Kai bolted away from it for about twenty feet before turning around and looking at me. I must have missed him telling me that that was his threshold.
He connected again and eagerly came beside me before looking at the mattress. I again stood on it and this time Kai stayed with me and sniffed it. Then he cautiously stepped on it with one foot and then the other, this time more bravely. He walked across it with his head low. I stopped directing him and watched Kai figure it out. I videotaped him playing with it.
When he finished we did some stick to me. I noticed that online he easily plays stick to me on both sides however at liberty he really prefers me on his left side. I rubbed him a lot on the right side of his neck to help balance that. I am guessing this started because I like to hold the stick in my left hand a bit more so he goes on the opposite side of it and now it just became a habit. I worked on walk to trot to halt to back up transitions. I also spent time on his right side and by the end of the session he was more balanced.
We also did some preparation for liberty circles by me “trotting” a tiny circle and Kai trotting around me in a bigger circle. So far we can do transitions from walk to trot and a slow change of directions. I can even stop trotting myself and just turn with him while still maintaining my energy. I think pretty soon we will progress to real circles where Kai does all the work.
I decided to see if he will mirror me and canter if I cantered. When I started to canter on the circle Kai lifted his energy but did not canter. I continued for one lap and at the start of the second lap he cantered two steps before drifting away from me. I disengaged his HQ and praised him excitedly as I have previously learned that he really learns well with this kind of praise. I got a cookie and thought that I would try to canter with him one more time. This was a mistake on my part as he immediately became disconnected. It is worth noting that this entire session the gate out of the arena was open and he could leave at any time. However he never went much past the gate even though he could get far away if he felt like it. He always came back willingly. We got connected again and I asked him to trot around me. Just when he thought I was going to ask him to canter (I could see it on his face) I asked him to draw in towards me. We did some more trotting and walking circles. Then I happily sat down and he put his nose in my lap.
My thoughts on cantering and a wonderful follow up session
I think he got emotional when I asked him to canter once and I did not see it and went up my phases anyway. I think this is why he gets upset when I ask him to canter. I will try fixing this issue by waiting for him at phase one and by asking him at stick to me to keep my core of off him.
I visited Kai later today and he caught me which indicates that he was happy with our earlier session. I put on the neck rope and we walked to the arena. Then I asked him to trot in a circle at stick to me and I lifted my energy and cantered. I kept cantering for two laps and then Kai joined me and we cantered together for half a circle at liberty.