My progress and relationship with Kai has progressed in leaps and bounds this past month. I couldn't be more happy with him.
One special session was when I finally felt truly confident when carrot stick riding. Kai has always been a bit offended by the stick and would toss his head in protest. I did lots of friendly game online and freestyle. Driving game on the ground with the stick also worked great. Now I know that he was simply mirroring my expectations. I wasn't even aware that I was expecting him to toss his head.
The moment I changed my expectations Kai responded. I only used the reins twice and directed him with my seat, the carrot stick, and a neck string. I was impressed with how quickly Kai figured out the neck string. We finished by doing some weaves and figure eights at the walk to cool down.
We also discovered jumping barrels!
Before Kai usually needed some convincing before he would willingly jump barrels. I also needed to put more energy behind him just before the jump so that he would jump higher and not clank his hind legs on it. However after some work Kai got it down pat.
Then we took it one step farther and I asked him to jump at liberty for the first time. When he did it the first time I gave him a bite of sweet feed and then he happily jumped at liberty in hopes of more. A couple of days later I had a crazy idea.... I decided to jump barrels freestyle. I have not jumped for a couple of years let alone bareback. I tacked him up and did pre ride checks and asked him to jump once in each direction. We did sideways and nine step backup and then just went for it. Kai carried me over very smoothly and carefully. What a good, good boy!!!!!!!!!!! I was especially proud of how he tolerated my despicable riding position. I jumped a few more times and I progressed to the point where I could stay pretty relaxed and not hold my breath.
We quit on the best one and I fed him a stud muffin for being the best pony ever! I will absolutely not be jumping on him regularly. This was just for fun and confidence. I am so proud of Kai!
AUDITIONS FILMED AND BEST TRAIL RIDE EVER!
That morning I tacked up and did our usual online routine. Then I had a wonderful warm up ride. I was playing the game of ''don't make me pick up the reins!''. Later my Mom came to help me film a L2 freestyle audition attempt. I was very happy with the video and it was the one I ended up submitting. I decided to go on a celebration trail ride.
Kai was soft and responsive the entire time and did not even think about responding to Tuffy's neighs (Tuffy does not give up calling until Kai comes back. The thing is that we never ride far enough
away to not hear him).
We rode farther than ever before and explored a meadow that I have always just passed by before. I decided to go for a (very very short) canter. My mom took some awesome pictures. Thanks Mom!
Once Kai decided to swerve and duck under a tree branch at the very last minute. I did not want to do lateral flexion under the tree branch and there was no time to do that before as he was cantering. I did do an emergency stop right after and then made him do lots and lots of HQ and FQ yields. The pictures were so worth it though. This also happened to be the first time I asked him to canter outside an arena. We explored somee one's very very very very long grassy driveway and even cantered down it. Then we headed back to the barn.
RANDOM CLOSING THOUGHTS
We are working a lot on cantering lately as well. We got to the point when Kai will canter with me at stick to me and he will make a light transition from trot to canter during circling game. However he still does not maintain it all the way around. I would like some lessons with Kaila to continue his progress with this to help me with my confidence.
What an amazing September it was! This was the very best vacation of my life! And, I managed to film three auditions. But, most importantly, I got over my fear of cameras. What an awesome little horse Kai is. I can't thank Daphne enough for allowing Kai to stay at her barn. We have never progressed so fast before and our relationship has never been so strong.