The paddock was an absolute marsh because it rained heavily the day before. Once we made it out of the pasture and into the paddock there was a ditch on the right and deep mud on the left. I usually jump the ditch with Kai at stick to me, but today the banks were too slippery for me to jump with my short legs. I thought about it for a moment and decided to ride Kai over the ditch.
Here was a moment where our "prior and proper preparation" really helped us. I jumped Kai over a barrel once before and had practiced mounting him bareback without a mounting block many times. I trusted Kai and mounted him. I then simply asked him to jump the ditch and he did it perfectly. He was light and responsive and he jumped very steadily and calmly. This was the first time I rode him without playing with him before hand. I am so proud of Kai!
I then tied him in the wash rack and scrubbed his legs with antibacterial soap as a preventative for mud fever. Since Kai was still damp from the rain I put on his cooler to help him dry off. Next I cleaned up his tail from mud dreadlocks and braided it to keep it neat. By then Kaila moved Jewel (the new pony) out of the arena so that we could play. The arena had lots of toys out and I let Kai investigate them.
Even though the indoor is too small for a 45' circle I decided to put on the lariat anyway. I asked Kai to back up almost to the end of the 45' line and asked him to step on the pedestal. First with his front feet, then one front foot, and then just the back feet. I then asked him to back up so that his front feet were back on the pedestal. This is pretty hard for Kai because he needs to be coordinated and pay extra attention to where each of his legs are.
I played with sending him at a distance and practiced our draw. Then I coiled up the lariat and put on two feather lines to practice zone 5 driving. I then worked on getting him to be lighter on the halter as he has a tendency to lean on the halter in zone 5.
Jewel has spent the night in a makeshift stall in the end of the arena, before she was turned out with the other horses. It was made with a few round pen panels against the wall. One of the panels was moved from the wall when Kaila was leading Jewel out. I looked at it and saw an opportunity for a "can you challenge". I lined Kai up and asked him to back into the "stall' from zone 5. He did it lightly without even giving it a second thought. Awesome!
I then played with lead by the leg with the rope on his front and back feet. I also primed him for the next session by putting the rope around his bum and putting a feel on it. I gave him time to think and released the rope when he leaned away from the pressure. When I am planning to teach him something new I like to "prime" him the session before. I usually do it at the very end of our session when he is very connected. I quit when he is successful and then next session he understands the new game sooooo much faster.
Lately when I put Kai back in the paddock and take his halter off I ask him to do a small task like a few steps of porcupine game or backing up at stick to me and then give him a treat. It needs to be pretty easy and interesting. Today the little task was learning to "smile". I rewarded him for moving his lips a couple of times and asked him to move his lips without me touching his muzzle once. I like to do this sometimes because I do not want him to get into the habit of disconnecting once I close the gate and reach to take his halter off. In my opinion it is good to have this skill if I need him to pay attention for some reason. Then I gave him one last rub and climbed under the fence.