Today is Guinness' real birthday. At long last he is a proper "three year old." Makes me feel a bit less concerned about riding him too early.
This morning, we resumed our routine of traveling over to the local indoor arena to play. It has been 11 days since our last visit there. Our last two sessions were a bit spooky for him (first the sprinkler, then the loony mare) so I shouldn't have been surprised that he was on high alert..
The arena was set up with many small jumps and cavalettis, so I put him in a stall to rearrange a few things - playing approach and retreat with him all the while. When I was at the far end of the arena, he reared and put his feet on the side of the stall. I retreated and signaled him to back up. He got down and when he offered to rear again, I backed up again. He seemed to get the idea and stood staring at me until I was nearby. I waited until he was standing still before going to get him, and then left the stall door open and sat down in there with him. He was pretty agitated (head up and pawing periodically). I allowed him to go in and out of the stall while I stayed seated. When he joined me and stood still a bit, I called it a success and we exited together.
We played with the obstacles all different ways on the 22' line. He was really obsessed with the side doors to the arena and was having a hard time focusing on me. We switched to the 12' rope and played corner-to-corner, follow-the-rail with me in Zone 3 using my carrot stick to guide him back to the fence. We also did a bit of sideways along the rail and along a free-standing jump, and also some gate work. I was pretty particular about things and it seemed to help him to get his focus on me.
Finally, I sent him back into the stall while I gathered my stuff and sang to him (so that he'd know that I was still close even though out of sight). He visibly relaxed and began to pick at some hay. While he was calm, I returned with his boots and some fresh grass. We hung out in the stall together for a couple of minutes more, then I sent him onto the trailer where he discovered his usual carrots. It was a good session. (It is hard for me to believe that he is so unconcerned about being on the trailer, but worried about being in a stall! You just never know..)
We have 2 more weeks of indoor arena use, and 3 weeks until the Carol clinic. My general plan is to do some more driving from Zone 3 on the ground tomorrow, then shift to Carrot Stick riding for the first time (along the rail). I've also scheduled a short trail walk/ride for Thursday, and a possible play date for Saturday.