On Sunday we took another opportunity to work with Llego and Griton before Mike has to leave on Tuesday. Since Llego had challenged Mike a bit the last time we worked, we wanted to make sure we had definitely gotten through the little issue they had before Mike took off again. As we expected, this good horse remembered what he had learned and cooperated with complete focus. We even began to teach him about lateral yields of the hindquarters and he caught on to what we were asking for immediately. We kept it short as a reward and Mike ended the session with asking Llego to practice standing quietly next to the mounting block while he climbed up and down, made noise with it, and put his weight across Llego's back. As you can see, the level of trust we have slowly built with this formerly wild horse certainly removed any concern he had about it! The fundamentals of what we teach our horses aren't any different than what most people teach; what changes from person to person is more like the differences in regional dialects when you learn a language.
Llego worked first with my nephew, Boyd, who taught him a Texas drawl, then with me during the fall and spring, and now he has had to learn the subtle differences in how Mike speaks to him. This trip home was an excellent beginning in developing a lasting dialogue between the two of them that we will be able to continue to develop on Mike's next trip home. Every horse has been getting mounting block practice. I reminded him of when Griton would be across the arena if you even thought about mounting him. Now all he thinks about is when he's going to get his next cookie. It was a several year process to get Griton to this place of calm relaxation, starting with showing him he could accept the saddle without fear. From there he learned it was safe to have me slip onto him bareback. This year, we are putting the two together and later this spring will be his first time to calmly carry me and a saddle at the same time. In case you're wondering about what is going on with Besol, he has gone back to horsey kindergarten in hopes that starting him over from the beginning will help him to let go of his old fears. That was the process we used with Griton and it certainly worked with that big Cookie Monster!