It's amazing the difference a good trainer makes :)
I told Beth about my problems with Dan and she ever so kindly said "let me help you"!. Hee hee. She has a excellent way to start babies and I was doing it wrong. I'm so glad I got her help. It's going to make a big difference.
We met up at Ashland for a "double date" with Christina, Sham and May. Christina and I both had jump lessons on the big boys and then baby lessons on the kiddos. Fleck and Danny were both good and stood at the trailer while Christina rode Sham. Then I took Fleck away and left Dan by himself to go watch the tail end of Christinas lesson. She had May up there with her, so Danny was really all alone. But he was so good. He just stood there tied to the trailer without any problems. Yay! Luckily we didn't have to test him too long though. Christina brought her guys back to the trailer while Fleck and I jumped. And Fleck had a hissy fit. But Danny was good. ;) Go figure...
Anyways, after the big kids lessons, we started with May. Beth explained that for the first few rides you want a grounds person to make sure it goes well. The grounds persons job is to make sure that when we tell them to do something, they do it. So... if I say "whoa" and pull back on the reins, he should stop. If he doesn't, she uses the lunge line to accomplish that. If I close my leg and say "walk on", he should. If not, she urges him forward with the lead line or the whip waving around. The goal is to NOT increase the aids. My only job on him is to gently close my leg and keep it closed until he responds. I should not get stronger with my aids. This way we are teaching him to respond to soft quiet aids. And to that effect, the ONLY thing we are teaching these early sessions are go, stop, turn left, and turn right. My only job is to close my leg, close my hands, and turn. I am not asking for contact, not asking for bend, or round, or anything. Just go, stop, and turn. It's funny how hard it was not to start asking for inside leg to outside rein. Hee hee. But I'm quite proud of myself for getting the hang of it and I think I was even pretty good at my aid coordination with rewarding with a release of the aid.
And Dan was AWESOME!!! We started properly with standing on the mounting block and patting him everywhere. Then I hung over his side from both directions and Beth walked us around. He didn't care. So then I got on. With a saddle this time. Wheee!!! I closed my legs and said "walk on" and nothing.. I kept them closed and Beth led him forward. As soon as he stepped off, I took my legs off and told him how awesome he was. He has a pretty nice gait. I resisted the urge to nag for a bit more walk though. I'm being good! So then I asked for a halt. He's got that down! We did a few small loops with me asking for forward and stop and he started to get the hang of it. It makes total sense now. It's the whole "give a command and stop asking when you receive it" and they figure it out quickly. Duh! So then we were walking around and Christina asked how comfy he was. And within 2 seconds he decided to try to do something. Not sure if he was trying to trot, or buck, or what. But he quickly decided I was too big or he was too uncordinated with me on top to get too silly. Hee hee. It made my day though! He does have some spunk in there!!! I have a feeling I may be getting a big taste of it later. But for now... he made me happy. I like the little bit of sass. Especially if he's like Fleck... silly but not stupid. And I think that's how he's going to be. He spent a good bit of our walk trying to chew on the lead rope. Hee hee. Boys! So then we finished up with getting on and off on both sides. SUCH a good baby!! A VERY good first real session.
I plan to do a few "rides" a week for a few weeks and then be done for a year. We'll still work on long lining and everything else but I won't get back on him again til next year. But these next few weeks should be fun! Now I just have to find someone to be my grounds person. :)