Obedience is probably the most important lesson a horse needs to learn. The tricky bit is to teach it in a way that doesn't destroy spirit or trust. In a young horse it's also important to figure out the balance between pushing them past their comfort zone without going into the danger zone. I define the danger zone as the point at which a horse is too freaked out to learn anything of value. It's easy to stay within the comfort zone without even realizing it. Making the assumption because there haven't been any problems everything is fine. I've been trying to find that balance with Steele. Not to mention continuing to work with Irish, work full time, maintain a relationship with my husband, continue with photography and have actual friends that I spend time with.
One of the Steele's non-comfort zone is going away from his barn and paddock (and Irish). We've been going farther and farther away and he's been doing real well. Tonight I took him out and partway down my trail. It goes by the manure pile and there's lots of 'stuff' to look at. He was really good about it. A bit forward and I had to correct him a few times. One of the 'issues' he wants to raise with his union rep is the idea that he can be led along over grass and not graze. It really seems to be a bit much from his perspective. However, I've been firm without being mean about it. Tonight though we started getting swarmed with deer flies. Which really pushed Steele into being dangerous because they were driving him absolutely bonkers. It would be easy to say 'well, he's just a baby and the flies are nasty" and then just put him away. However, he needs to learn to behave even in these circumstances. At 800 pounds his behavior bordered on putting me in danger. When he's full grown it WILL be dangerous. And the reality is that he needs to listen to me even when bugs are bad. So I brought him up to the small paddock- this brought him back into where he feels safe but I kept up with the lesson leading and being respectful. In a few minutes he was being his normal polite self. I did a bit more and then we went into the barn for his favourite thing- being groomed. Seriously, I've never seen a horse who enjoys being groomed more.
Next week I am on vacation so I can really do more work with him. :)