Jack has spent more time this week wearing his saddle and bridle. His poll is getting much softer as he practices lowering his head and neck for bridling with a relaxed jaw. Taking the bit has gotten much better and he is a gentleman for tacking up.
I’ve spent lots of time ponying him off other horses through the hills to help get him in shape a little, but also to continue to work on getting him better at leading up. Leading up free, or lack of it, is at the root of many of his braces. The better he leads the happier he is, and the more soft his mind is. I want to make sure this is going very well so it can relate to other areas, such as trailer loading and eventually riding.
It seems he goes up and down with leading, where some days he leads up very nice, and others he reverts back a bit and seems to forget about yielding and following the lead rope. Once I got him leading up nice and soft, I decided to practice trailer loading, which was a very bracey area for him and caused lots of anxiety, disrespect, and confrontation, which was all part of his foundation until recently.
Once he could lead up free, getting into the trailer was just a matter of following the slack forward, backward, sideways, etc, whether it was straight where I was going, through a gate, or into the trailer. I practiced leading him in and backing him out, and once his mind was soft about that, I practiced sending him in.
At first some resistance came up, but when it did, we just went back to reviewing leading, circling and yielding the hind end and front end. Then we’d go back to the trailer and soon enough it was no big deal.