On Wednesday I switched Ike's bit from a stainless steel loose ring snaffle to a KK Loose ring snaffle with link. He seemed to go very well in it, but it is a little soon to tell.
Saturday's mounting lesson went extremely well. After I lunged him both ways at a walk, trot and canter, I moved the mounting block into the middle of the ring so I had lots of room to work with. My plan was to circle Ike around the mounting block if he didn't stand still for a bit, then try again until he would rather stand then continue walking into a circle. In the past I have kept my reins tight so he wouldn't move away, but I left them with some slack to see if it would help. He stood perfectly when I climbed onto the mounting block. I then stood at the mounting block for a minute or two. He continued to stand. I mounted onto him and tried to be as careful as I could not to thump onto the saddle when I got on. We stood for another minute or so before we went for a walk.
I continued this exercise in the middle for about 4-5 mounts and dismounts. I made him stand in the middle while I was on him, and also made him stand at the block when I got off. I have never ground mounted him before due to his height and his dancing around, but after he stood still for a few mount ups, I ground mounted him once just to see that I could do it incase I had to get off in an area where a place to mount up from or a leg up was not accessible. Luckily for me, I was able to mount up with sticking my toe into his side, and got up onto him without any fuss from him or any twisting/pulling. I dismounted and then took him into the corner where the wooden mounting block was. Here is where we had trouble. I positioned him against the mounting block. He stood up beside it, but once I got onto the block, he stepped sidewise. I brought him back over to the mounting block. I stood him a few inches away from the mounting block and got on him after he was standing still. Once I got into the saddle, he pivoted away from the corner. I made him stand. I then took my mounting block over to the other corner where I had mounted from before. The wooden block used to be in the near corner, but it was moved. He did the same thing in that corner. He would stand, then once I mounted, he would spin so his head was facing out of the corner. I've deduced that he just doesn't like the corner, either because he is claustaphobic or because he had a bad experience in one. It is good to note that the near end corners (where you enter the arena from) have always been a sticky spot for him. He has spooked several times in the corner where the mounting block currently is, and sometimes it is hard to push him into that corner going to the left. He eventually gets into the corner, but it is not his favourite place. The corner on the west side near the entrance isn't as bad, but he likes to cut it off.
While I will continue to have him work into corners, I was happy to find out that Ike was avoiding the mounting block because of the corners and not because he was unhappy with me riding him (which I thought may have been the reason why). Since he is still a baby, I thought he began to resent having to work and protested it by not standing at the block. I know his saddle fits him perfectly, so it wasn't a matter of pain. Since he stood still for mounting 96% of the time, I know now that it just a fear of corners that makes him dance at the block. The only other variabls that were missing was a) no one else was watching and b) there were no other horses in the ring.
I begin the majority of each lesson with lunging to get a feel for how he is going to be under saddle. On Sunday, I could hardly keep him going in a trot. I did not have a whip with me, as I didn't know where it had gone. Since he was so pokey, I decided to just go ahead and get on him. Remembering our Saturday lesson, I pulled the mounting block into the middle. He moved away from the block, but I brought him back around. He stood and I mounted back up. I avoided doing any circles with him today, because I don't like working him too long into circles. I have heard different opinions on circles - that they are good for balancing but they can be hard on young legs. Anytime I do circles, they are always 20 meters and only at walk and trot but I do try to avoid them at excess right now. We did some bending at the walk around the corners and in a serpentine. I did a ring and a half of sitting trot before asking him for a canter so he would not associate a sitting trot with an automatic canter. He picked up both leads, and almost used all of the arena. He was a little unbalanced on a couple of corners but nothing extreme. After we did some more walk/trot transitions and finished on a loose ring. I then hand walked him for 5-8 minutes.
Since he needs to get over his dislike of water trickling on him, I sponged him with some water in the cross ties instead of spraying him outside with the hose. He danced around a little bit, but nothing extreme.
His trot is improving with speed and head set. Every once and awhile he is reluctant to move forward but never for a long time. I carried the crp but tapped maybe once. He has become more relaxed in the trot, even with the crop, and doesn't speed as much. He keeps his head down instead of raising it for the majority of the time. I keep the contact very light. If we continue to have a relaxed ride both inside and outside, perhaps we will be ready for a show in a month, but we will continue to see how he progresses. If his first riding show is the CNE, I would be okay with that as well.