Diggy and I had a GREAT weekend! On Friday, I took him over toBartley Ranch (local public arena) with all intentions of riding. I lunged him for a while and he was being really good, working off my voice commands and really tuned in and listening - even though there were 2 other horses in the big arena with us and another being ridden around. So I took him over to the smaller arena for some 1-on-1 and ground drove him around for a while, from each side (I'm "ground driving" by walking next to him as if I were mounted, hands in the same spot).
Again, he was being just perfect so I told myself, "Self, he's being great. You need to just go ahead and get on him. I know this arena is bigger than you would like, but you're going to have to just do it." So I did, but I was still kind of jittery and could feel my legs shaking, so I just sat on him for a little while. He's great about that, will just stand for me to mount and then just stands there until I tell him to walk off, how perfect! So I sat for a bit, then got off and did a little more ground work, then got BACK on (less the jello legs this time) and he was PERFECT!!! He was *such* a good boy. We walked all over and did lots of turns and flexion. Still at the walk for now, but he was a very good boy. I only rode him for about 15 minutes or so, keeping things short and positive.
Then I took him over and unsaddled and turned him loose in the big arena to play. And play he did! =) He ran, and ran, and ran - tail up in the air, just having a great time. He was putting on such a show, I think there were 6 or 7 people stopped and watching him (it's a local park that has popular trails for people to walk, w/ or w/out their dogs). =) He let me catch him really easy (good boy) and then I took him for a walk.
The trails are "groomed" hard-packed sand with some gravel, but there's a bunch of antique (like wooden, horse-pulled era) farm equipment that line the paths, with little signs saying what the equipment is and how it was used. Diego walked right past everything, just kind of sniffing and a quick look, but not even stopping. We also went past thick bushes that were over our head tall, horses across the way in their own corrals, and a big hay pile covered with a blue tarp. He just looked at everything, I was so proud of him. Lastly, as we were going back to the trailer, we went across a 20 ft long wooden bridge. He walked on it, stopped and sniffed, then followed me across. His neck was arched, but he didn't rush or anything. =)
Then yesterday we did some more riding work at home, and I now have a pretty good stop and a consistent back on him. =) Things are coming along really well, I'm just so happy! I take my last final 12/17 and then have over a month off school. I'm planning on keeping my same hours at work, so that I can still get off at 3 and have some daylight left to do more with him. If things keep progressing like they did this weekend, hopefully we'll do our first little trail ride around the end of the month! I need to take him over to a round pen and try out the trot under saddle, to make sure my brakes will still work first. LOL