Today we got connected by playing stick to me. He cantered with me so lightly and sweetly that it was almost as if it was the end of a session instead of the beginning. I think it was because I had reastablished my leadership yesterday.
I asked him to jump three low jumps (cavalletti) once in each direction before quitting as he did them calmly and willingly.
Since we earned our blue string I decided it would be a good time to try out the forty five foot line for the first time. Armed with the lariat Kai and I headed to the middle of the arena. I asked him to back out almost to the end of the line. Kai backed up with little hesitation at phases one two. I told him what a good boy he was as I invited him back. The second time I asked him to walk on the circle and do a couple of changes of direction. After we did the same at the trot I asked him to canter.
We worked on maintaining the canter until he did two laps in a row each way. Because Kai was so soft I asked him for a flying change and he did it no problem. I brought him in and praised him by scratching under his mane where he likes it.
Then I decided to play with the ball a little bit so that he could have a break from cantering. I asked him to push it first and then I bounced it and put it on his back. At first Kai moved his feet but I asked him not to. The next time I put the ball on his back he stood and licked and chewed.
Next we did some Liberty. We started with stick to me. Kai disconnected and ran to the other end of the arena. When he connected again he walked, then trotted towards me. Then, for the first time ever he cantered towards me when I kissed to him.
I decided we would work on backing up by the tail. We progressed from me tapping his tail with my fingers to ask him, to holding his whole tail, and finally with just a few hairs. I kept increasing the number of steps he took and then we stopped when he did twelve steps in a row. What a session!
The last thing we worked on was doing yo yo game with his head down. Kai tends to back up with a hollow back and to throw his nose in the air. I decided to teach him to lower his head when he felt me wiggle the rope instead. I only released when he lowered his head and kept backing up. I began by holding the rope a foot below the snap and wiggling it just enough that he felt it on his nose. Kai reacted by throwing his head in the air. I kept wiggling the rope and lightly ''bumped'' his head down. I repeated this a few more times and Kai licked and chewed more and more. I could see him trying very hard to understand what I wanted. I soon began to stand at an arms length instead of right next to him so that I was close enough to show him and help him lower his head but far enough away to give him a chance to solve the puzzle himself. I helped him lower his head a few times and then gave him a longer chance to do it himself. There was this one moment when I was wiggling the rope and he lifted his head up out of habit and then corrected himself and lowered his head back down and then put it even lower! I praised him like crazy and then asked him again. Kai did it one more time and we quit. Kai stood next to me with a very deep look on his face. I waited and he licked and chewed and then began to yawn multiple times. I love teaching Kai something new and helping him figure it out.