Duncan is so close to being ready to ride, even with me being inconsistent working with him. I'm going to make it my goal to spend an hour every day, even on work days, making actual progress. And I could be on his back soon. If I can get over my jitters. Wish I had a man on the ground to help.
Anyway, yesterday was a great day for him. In the morning he stood saddled and tied to the round pen for over an hour while I rode Scout. He was antsy and whinnied a bit, even got the rope over his head sometime when I wasn't looking, it he didn't freak out about it.
Scout and I went in the round pen and just chilled with him for a while. It took a minute for him to be comfortable with me petting him from up there, and also to be comfortable with investigating the saddle and my leg. Little things like that nervous reserve tell me that maybe he's not quite ready to ride yet.
In the evening we did a lot of ground driving outside the round pen. We did this once before, briefly, but he got kind of chargy so we went back to the round pen. Last night was soooo much better. He happily went way out away from the other horses, did serpentines, stops, crossed the ditch and some poles. Straight lines were the hardest, of course. We were at it for quite a while. I did have to get after him several times for trying to eat but I don't blame him, it was dinner time. It was good to have to discipline him a bit. Usually he's so careful and I never have to get after him, but now I know he won't fall apart if I make a loud noise at him when he's distracted and committing a minor badness.
Then we went to the round pen and I stood on the mounting block and asked him to get in position for mounting. I did my physical therapy exercises that usually have me leaning on a yoga ball, using him as the yoga ball. This is the second time we've done this and it's pretty cool. He was super uncomfortable the first time, but I wasn't concentrating on him and that gave him the courage to bring his head around and check out what I was doing. Funny how just looking at a horse (or not) can be so powerful.
We did that on both sides and he was getting a little antsy at the end, wanting to move his feet. The bugs were getting bad.
He's a sensible dude. I don't see him getting into any kind of wrecks or trying to buck me off, but he does get overwhelmed sometimes. As he makes mistakes and has to work through then, he's getting more comfortable with being corrected/directed and learning that mistakes are OK. He's letting down a little of his stiff reserve and relaxing, taking deep breaths, and licking and chewing more.