I had to work yesterday and run errands after; I was hoping I'd have some time left over to play with Renegade before meeting some wonderful friends that were taking me out to dinner for my birthday. I ended up having about 1-1/2 hours!! I first let Renegade out of the pasture at liberty to just hang out while I did a couple of chores although I did ask him to behave when he tried to drink my coffee!! When chores were done I asked Renegade to follow me to the round pen and of course he had to make a game of it. He took off a couple of times; didn't go far but I think he was testing to see my intentions. I played the catching game with him twice and he ended up following me and then walking with me in zone 2-3 all the way to the round pen. When I stood at the entrance and invited him to go in, he did - he chose to go in...it wasn't him following me or me going with him!!
Once in the round pen, I played a little friendly then started softly asking him to move different parts of his body: fq, hq, zone 1, rf, lf, sideways, etc. to check our connection. All was well so I moved to playing on the 45' line with him (my round pen is quite large - more than 70'). I sat on a barrel and asked him to circle at the trot. The name of the game was "don't make me get up"!! Well, I had to get up twice and tagged him but that's all it took; he was doing really nice circles to the left at the trot, maintaining gait and direction until I asked him in. I had to repeat the pattern with getting up twice when we changed direction to the right and then we had nice, soft trot circles to the right until I asked him in. I also tried asking for canter circles while I was seated but we need more consistency when I'm standing before I'll be able to get a good canter circle while seated!!
I played to win tonight and got some great results and the time it takes really gets shorter each time I play to win!! I'm really enjoying our new level of communication and I think Renegade is enjoying my new level of leadership. I think our relationship is moving to a new level now and it's very exciting!!
After playing the online circling game I decided to go offline and slow it down so I took off the halter and 45' line, repeated the moving body parts exercises to check out connection then asked for a figure 8. I only had one barrel so I stood in as the other barrel. It took Renegade a couple of minutes to puzzle out what I was doing but he caught on and did some nice figure 8's. Our drive and draw was woking really well; I only needed subtle tilts of my head and subtle movement of my shoulders.
Renegade is growing his winter coat so he's getting pretty hairy and fuzzy so he was sweating a bit and I could tell he wanted to lay down and roll in the sand. I allowed him to go down and he went to his left side and was rolling. I began to scratch him with the carrot stick and he was enjoying that so I moved in closer so I could rub and scratch him with my hands/fingers. He REALLY enjoyed that and he stayed down for about 5 minutes getting his massage. He's never allowed me that close, for that long and stayed down for that long; he usually gets up if I move in closely. I am so thrilled he felt confident enough and trusted me enough to allow me into his personal space while he was so vunerable. I was a huge thing for both of us and the softness in him was a wonderful thing to witness. His eyes were soft, his body was soft and relaxed, he yawned and blew softly almost like a sigh; I thought he might even lay down on his side for a minute. When Renegade finally got up, he stood by me softly while I rubbed his neck and withers and gave him a scratch on his chest. In those 7-10 minutes, I felt we'd been the closest we've ever been and just shared something very intimate and tender. I really wish I were a better or more eloquent writer: I feel as if I haven't adequately described the feeling during those 7-10 minutes.
I can say this...I have an absolutely awesome horse that has taught me much, forgiven me much, and offered me his heart!!