Yuck - pouring rain and wind this morning. Jen arrived shortly after I'd fed the beasties and tidied up the stable. Sonny ate his carrot and spurned his haynet, wanting to eat Ruby's soaked hay instead (which he couldn't actually reach). Bet he regretted that when Jen marched in and saddled and bridled him.
I was just going out to visit one of my web clients, but seeing that Sonny was circling the mounting block without getting anywhere near it, I went over to give a hand. He tried creeping backwards while Jen was mounting, but a firm hand on the headcollar under his chin stopped that. She climbed up and he settled. We must practise the mount/dismount stuff tomorrow, but p**sing rain is not the time to do it, and so I got the car out of the way and left Jen to carry on his ride after I'd gone.
She took him to Scout Green, basically because it's a sheltered route where you can do a 2 mile ride out and 2 miles back without opening a gate. He was happy to go out, Ok with going out solo, was forward and obedient. Jen was riding him with a very light rein, almost none at all most of the time, just using leg to move him onward. At the road junction where we've twice turned towards Ewelock Bank, he whinnied for Mum, but when Jen gently took up contact on the rein he went on OK. He spooked a bit at the bridge at High Scales (oooh, rushing water and a bridge) but went forward when Jen insisted. She rode through to Scout Green and he walked through big puddles just fine.
Coming back, she put him on the grass at Beckside lawn - mostly to see what he would do - and he offered to trot so she let him, and he put his ears back and bronked, two or three dirty big bucks with his ears back, so she knew it was naughty and not ONLY excitement. She sat him, and when she picked up the rein he put in a sudden stop (which she said was the most unsettling thing he had done!) and froze as though he expected to be beaten. She moved him on at a strong working trot all the way up the bank from Beckside and over the fell at Whiteholm and he gave no more problems.
In the village once more, she asked him to stand and wait, and he did, looking about but not moving his feet. If he fidgets, speaking "Stand" and "Wait" gently, with loose rein, will keep him still - if he does move, simply lifting the rein a touch is all it needs to stop him. Yesterday he fidgeted, and crept backwards, but today despite the excuse of awful weather, he stood well. He walked home fine from there. Jen says, "he just needs to be ridden with seat and leg, from back to front, and not hung onto from front to back." He feels solid as a ride, not wobbly like a young green horse, but a lot of this is down to his physical maturity (8 years) and his square build - very short back and broad chest.
Jen said he flinched at her getting off in the yard, but walked about quietly after her on a loose rein and didn't make any fuss about going back into the stable even though Ruby was busy investigating both stables (making sure Sonny hadn't got anything she hadn't got). Tomorrow we will drive him out, then do some mounting and dismounting practice.
Incidentally, his mother is bossing him too. Ruby was never Top Dog when she was at Sedbergh. She had borne him and Belle, but Boxer (Tebay Vespa) was Top Dog. After Ruby came to me, Sonny's youth and strength must have been more than a match for Boxer as he aged. So the positions are reversed while they are here: Ruby is gaining self-respect, and Sonny is having his dented. Both of which are very good things.