I have never known a pony like Leo who does so much to hold himself together for his owner who is probably the first person he has ever trusted. He let's go of his anxiety by stretching out and lowering his neck and he concentrates so hard throughout his sessions. It's hard for a pony like this to let go of his past but bit by bit, with the thorough and meticulous training that he gets from Melissa, he is becoming calmer and calmer. The dentist commented on it when he saw him too.
Today we started off with long-reining in the school in his saddle for the very first time and we moved on to looking at the walk to trot transition. Until now this has been troubling him and he has had a tendency to run away and go into automatic pilot. I asked Melissa to simply ask for a couple of paces of trot, using a very subtle cue with her inside rein, and to ask him 'with love', i.e. with a soft attitude.
This worked very well and although his adrenalin still rose when he was asked, he didn't run off and he did exactly as he was asked. In time his neck didn't rise at all and he began to literally take it all in his stride. The main thing is to allow him to go forward without actively pursuing him.
For a change of scenery he then went out into the woods where he seems to enjoy being able to migrate. Although his adrenalin levels rose, his halt was still available and that's always worth checking!
Back in the school to finish and a few leans overs with the saddle on...and there's that stretch that he does to relax himself.
Here Leo looks quite tense but he is actually listening for the three clicks that herald the arrival of a treat, having side-stepped to the mounting block so nicely.
He's a super pony but needs a lot of careful work.