I just got back from the barn - the temperature is up to 15F with a wind chill of 3F (that would be -16C). After doing my chores, I got Pie out of the turnout so we could do some more in-hand work, his second session after several days off. Pie was in his turnout blanket and I was bundled up with no fewer than four layers over my sensitive ear and side of the face, so we were both quite comfortable. We were doing these exercises again. As I had suspected might happen, his responses were almost immediately much better and more consistent - he'd clearly retained what he'd learned and in fact started out almost better than he finished up last time - I've found this quite often happens over a break between work sessions as the horse processes what he's learned.
His backing in the halter was much improved. When I stood on his right, he immediately was able to back with softness. When I stood on the left, he was initially a bit sticky - he had really struggled with this side in our last session, but after a minute or two he was able to do it. We repeated both sides just a couple of times, with walk-arounds between. When I'm on the left, we still need to refine his consistency while backing and he's not yet at a point where he'll do it immediately when first asked.
His soft backing in the bridle was almost perfect with me standing on either side. It's interesting that when he backs in the halter, he never does the ducking/curl-up thing he does in the bridle, which probably means that he was taught to back that way in the bridle. He did try to duck a time or two while we were backing in the bridle today, but was easily able to adjust and do it the way I was asking. His "baby gives" with the halter and bridle were perfect on the first try, so we didn't repeat them, and I'll probably never do them again.
After we did our work with the bridle, I went back to the halter work with me standing at his left shoulder - it was immediately much better, so we stopped there. Our work session couldn't have lasted more than 10 minutes, but it was very productive. I think after a small amount of polishing up that I'll be able to start my mounted softening work.
The left side of his back is slightly sensitive when grooming, so he's having another chiropractor visit next week. I also need to order him a wool felt pad - as he would wear under a Western saddle - as our chiropractor recommended it for him to improve the fit of my close contact saddle. I'll also be able to use it when I get him his Western saddle once he stops growing. Any good recommendations for online places to order a good quality wool felt pad?
After our work session, Pie and I went for a 15-minute walk on the trail around the pastures. His leading was perfect - he stayed an arm's length behind me and I had the lead loosely draped over my hand, with no tension on the lead, and never once had to close my fingers. When I stopped, he stopped an arm's length behind me. When I stood still for a bit, he stood still and looked around not moving his feet at all. We said hello to the goat - he's still a little worried about the goat but was able to choose to come up and stretch his nose out to sniff it. There was one tiny spook/startle while we were walking on the trail, but he barely moved his feet and instantly relaxed. Good Pie!
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Last night I had both Dawn's and Pie's stall guards up, and was in Pie's stall grooming him when Dawn made her opinions known. I had suspected she was jealous, and I think I got that right. I had just finished rinsing Dawn's mouth out with the 50/50 solution of Listerine and water, and earlier had given her the paste Banamine, neither of which she'd much enjoyed. But she put up with it after a moment or two of approach/release work with the tubes. (Dawn used to be terrible about being pasted - she would fling you around the stall and even rear - but my younger daughter did a lot of work with her and she's much better now, although from time to time a refresher is needed.)
Pie's stall isn't directly opposite Dawn's - he's one stall down on the opposite side. They both had their heads in the aisle. Dawn gave him a look that would have killed, and squealed and struck with a front foot several times. She's not in heat, and was clearly saying to him: "if this stall guard wasn't here, I'd come over there and kill you!" Pie looked a little concerned, as well he might! She's also started doing this in the pasture whenever he approaches their shared (electrified) fence line - she doesn't do it to the other geldings. Poor jealous Dawn - I'm trying to be sure to give her extra (pleasant as opposed to nasty medicine) attention. I remember when I first got Promise, Noble was jealous as well - he would pin his ears and buck in his stall if she were nearby, so it isn't just a mare thing.