Good Evening Parelli Play Group--
Well, I have played with Whiskey again--this morning. My goal was to ride him in the arena and then in the woods two times during the two week lag between our meetings. If you recall, I modified my goal noting that maybe he was not ready for the riding component and that we may have to work on other related issues.
This morning I played with him and we had what I would consider a great session. He came down to the arena and said hello. I put a halter on him and played with him a little. Then, I saddled him with the bareback pad. I took a long time to do this (probably 15 minutes total). I used a great deal of approach and retreat, asked him to put his nose on the pad, etc. I then used a very long phased cinching with several tasks in between the three cinchings. I did this specifically because I have recognized that I may have been rushing the phases with saddling and mounting tasks with him which may be part of our problem (including of course the lack of time we have spent together since the fall). In any event, the saddling exercise went well as we worked through the process together.
Next, I stood on the mounting block. He decided to circle me and instead of correcting him, I allowed it. Then, I asked him to disengage and then sent him in the other direction. I think he was surprised with this. I then asked him to stand at the mounting block for me to lay over him. He nipped my leg and I nipped him back by pinching his neck (phase 4 porcupine game really). I proceeded to lay over him, he looked as if he might try the nip again so I blocked the action, layed over him, he pinned his ears (not totally back but, I could tell he was annoyed or upset). I got off of him and played friendly game for a bit and then started laying over him again, rubbing him all over, and then standing on the mounting block. I did this maybe 15 times and each time, I noticed a progressive change in him--for the better. He eventually relaxed and was fine with the activity. No biting or ears laying back. He was calm and relaxed.
This is where I ended the session. I did not mount (as he may have expected). I walked with him on a lose line to the water trough, took his halter and the bareback pad off, and released him. He took a drink. The other horses had been coming in and out of the arena the entire time but at this point, Wilbur was the only other horse in the arena. I layed the bareback pad on him (did hot cinch it) after haltering him. I then just took it all off and gave him a good scratch. These horses had no clue what to expect from me today.
Wilbur left (slowly, not running away or anything) and Whiskey stayed around. I walked to the shed to get their breakfast ready and noticed Whiskey looking for me--it was so cool! So, I took a few treats down to him. It was wonderful to see that he was not upset and not wanting to run away to the herd.
So, personally, I think I was successful these past two weeks. I may have been able to actually do the riding tasks but, as you know, the last two weeks have been less than normal and i have only played with Whiskey twice, MIni-Me once, Fosse once, and rode Wilbur once. I typically play with them all on a daily or every other day basis. In any event, I think progress on our relationship (Whiskey and I) and communication skills are going well. We are reconnecting for sure.