I was able to have a private lesson with KAT this afternoon and I am feeling much better about a lot of things.
1. I now understand WHY he's raising his head.
2. I now understand why it's better if he lowers it, and NOT just for the show trend.
3. I should actually ask MORE of him and let him get away with less...BUT...
4. I should make sure he knows when he's doing what I want, AND
5. "Trick" him into thinking he will have to work less if he does what I ask.
6. That foreign language of "inside rein-lift his shoulder" stuff at the lope makes total sense now.
7. When I was speaking that language CORRECTLY to him he responded perfectly.
8. He really IS as curious and "looky" as I think he is, I just need to set boundaries of when it's okay to look and when it's not. (see #5)
9. As his "reward" we rode along the fenceline where a bunch of horses were in the big pasture. The all came running over and he got excited. I did keep him going forward, but let him look all he wanted.
This is why I have no problem asking for help and hiring a professional. Half an hour later and my biggest frustrations are pretty much gone. I still have some work to do to keep him consistent, but I know more about what I'm asking him to do, and therefore can better know whether or not I'm getting it.
He was out with the "boys" when I got there and for the first time he didn't let me walk right up to him. He saw me coming and I know he knew it was me. I'm trying to teach him to come when called (those turn-outs are huge) but he's not really responding to that yet. He's always let me walk right up to him, though, and I've made a point not to be too pushy about bringing him back in. Something in Parelli's book made a lot of sense to me: how would you feel if you were in your hammock reading a book and your friend drove up, yanked you out of the hammock by the arm, shoved you into the driver's seat of your car and started telling you where to drive to. SO I've been walking up to him with treats and petting him, clipping the lead and letting him take several more mouthfuls before asking him to walk on, and letting us mosey our way to the gate, stopping every few paces for another bite. That way when we get out of the gate and I demand his attention to lead him to the barn he's still chewing calmly. Anyway, I got about 20 feet away and he turned around and started walking away at a 45 degree angle. I turned with the intention of cutting him off and he started walking faster. Of course I'm seeing visions of trying to chase him around the pasture while KAT is checking her watch. So I thought I try something. I looked over and the closest horse was Ripper, my favorite lesson horse. I walked straight to him and pulled a treat out of my pocket and started petting him and breaking off pieces of the treat. You should've seen Junior's face! "Hey-what the? Hey, but, you, wait a minute!" He came up and sort of hid behind Rip with a very sad look on his face so I started talking to him and walked over and gave him a treat. Of course Rip didn't like that part, but I clipped Junior and everything was okay. I figured I'd turn him back out when we were done, but his dinner was waiting for him so he was content to stay in.
He's such a goof. During the lesson if I fully gave him his head he would turn and walk straight for KAT and ask for scratches. What a ham!