July is marching by, so time to move on to another course. We are within sight of promotion from Medium level up to Advanced level, so I need to enter this month's levels course (not just all the fun Summer of Sport courses, lol). There are a couple of challenges for us in this month's Medium Level course, things we haven't done before which are going to require some practice to get right.
Trotting through the U bend is going to be challenging. The U bend is made of jump poles arranged to create a U shaped corridor that is just 1m wide. The pony is going to have to trot all the way through without touching the poles or stepping outside the corridor. At the lower levels this is done at a walk, but for the medium level it gets harder! The pony trots with alot of energy and enthusiasm, he tends to get a little bit excited as well, he then also gets a little bit less attentive, so this will definitely be tricky.
The "stand and wait" obstacle is also harder at medium level. This month the pony has to be "parked" and then the handler has to trot onto the tarpaulin, before inviting the pony to join her (on the tarp) at a walk. We do have a reasonable stand and wait, which works well when I face the pony and back away from him, using body language to communicate "wait". We also have a good re-call, if I drop my shoulder and turn half away he knows that's his cue to re-join me. However, he has been taught that when I have my back to him and I move away that is his cue to follow me (with his nose at my shoulder). We don't have a verbal "wait" command in place. If I trot away from him, he will think that he is supposed to follow me! So we need to move this up to the next level of training as well.
Passing a garland, scarf or sash over the pony's nose and placing it around his neck will need some work as well. I'm fairly sure that the pony received some rough handling in his early life, as he was VERY headshy when I got him and although he's improved alot with considerate handling, he still has a very strong reaction to hands approaching his face and particularly his ears high up and directly from the front. Time spent building up the pony's confidence with this obstacle will be time very well spent this month. It will be another step towards helping the pony to recover from whatever experiences it was that have made him so fearful around his head and neck.
So, LOTS to practice!!! Time to get started :-D