Yesterday we had our second training session with Ezra. We picked up where we left off but worked in a smaller fenced-off pasture area since the arena is just too big for round pen-type work. We worked on moving the feet: direction (to the left or right) and pace (walk, trot, or canter). We went through changes of direction and changes of pace for a bit (and when I say "we" I mean Ezra and Mac and I watched).
Once Mac relaxed and dropped his head and did some licking and chewing and softened his frame/eye/body, Ezra invited him in. There were lots of changes of direction because Mac would turn in but then wouldn't stop and that went on for a bit. Finally he did turn in and stop and so Ezra just let the pressure off and stood there quietly. He then approached Mac, said hello, and patted and rubbed him all over. He moved around in a circle and Mac kept following him, which was good. Then when Mac lost his focus and/or decided something else was more interesting, Ezra had him move his feet again until he decided he wanted to stop and participate in the experience. (Of course there are a lot of subtleties that I can envision in my mind, I just can't really put them into words!)
Mac came back and they worked on the line a bit, moving the shoulder, moving the hip, sending out from the shoulder (like longing), staying out in a circle on the line, etc. Once that seemed to be going well we left the pasture area and went on to work on trailer loading.
At the trailer it was just more of the same but in a different environment. First we started with the divider moved to the side (this is the straight load trailer I'm talking about) so there was a bigger space for Mac to go in to. Again, the premise was get the feet moving and the "pressure" is released as a reward when Mac does what we want. So if he stepped on the ramp, the pressure was released. He was allowed to back off the ramp, but then he had to go back to work and step on again...but this time he had to make a bigger effort to get more feet on the ramp or in the trailer. It didn't take too long for him to get on and stand quietly, so we then moved on to putting the divider in the middle position so Mac had to go into a smaller space. Again, more of the same. He had a couple really good tries, then a couple "temper tantrums" (which aren't really tantrums...more like confusion or frustration coming out in pawing behavior) and then back to good tries and finally relaxation. He got in and stood there for a bit and we decided that was enough for the day. We worked on it for about 30 minutes or so. I should mention, for those who don't know about trailer loading, that the point of this is to teach him to get on the trailer by himself, or "self load." I can get him on by walking him on but we're just kind of faking it that way and at this point I can't do it by myself. He needs to learn to go on when I point him at the trailer. Of course this is important for going to lessons and trail rides, but it is also important in case of emergency if I need to get him to the vet or (knock wood that this never happens) evacuate the property.
So all in all it was a good lesson and I'm looking forward to next week when we'll probably do more trailer loading and maybe some desensitization stuff!