Today Johnny was introduced to three issues which can turn into problems if one does not have the good fortune to answer them with grace. The issues were the canter, the rein-back and a temptation to balk.
Day four was pretty much like day three. Johnny came trotting when I came out with the bridle. I groomed, saddled, lounged, mounted and took him for a trail ride. We trotted more today as a diversion to balking, which I could see he was tempted to try out. I had to thump him with my heels two or three times on a couple of occasions. I try to avoid arguments, especially about going forward. Today I got his mind on other things by trotting. There was a culvert partly buried in our path and approaching it at a trot he jumped it and broke into a canter. I encouraged it for a short ways and later we cantered for a couple hundred yards. He took long strides in a relaxed canter. It is a good step to introduce a canter in a relaxed, pleasant way. Sometimes the canter seems scary for the horse the first few times; sometimes horses buck and sometimes they have been scared by it to the point that they won’t canter at all when mounted.
We mostly worked on halt again today. His halts were almost perfect about 2/3rds of the time. He was much lighter today. He is already anticipating my cues. We practiced rein-back (only a couple of steps) several times. This is something you cannot force. The horse will freeze up. I give the forward cue, say “back” clear and deliberate and as the horse proceeds I hold the rein so that he bumps into the bosal. If he is reasonably relaxed he will step back. That’s all I want. If I push for more he may become scared or irritated which turns into a problem with rein–back.