Ollie continues to improve. He's been a blast for me to work with.
I'm still doing ground work with him and follow it up with some time in the saddle. When it's super hot and humid I may only do ground work. I tried out Filly's Best Friend ground work suggestion of touching Ollie near the girth to make him move away from the pressure. He picked up on that quickly and that has helped us in the saddle. Thanks!
When I'm in the saddle and he feels leg pressure he typically starts to move forward. In this case, I've used the fence as a block to help him learn that I want side movement away from the leg and not forward movement. This has worked well.
Finally I try to remember all the things Betsy has said to me during our lessons with both Toby and Ollie. Reading my old blog posts has been VERY HELPFUL! Things like sit back, let him know his limits, open up a door for him to go to, and reward him instantly when he does the right thing. The "limits" thing has been helpful for me. I imagine that we have a space that he can work within and allow him to figure it out. So I let him figure out the bit pressure, if he begins to rush and lean forward he will bump himself with the bit. He doesn't care for much bit pressure so he backs off easily. I also do this with my body. When I tip forward he goes more forward, if I'm sitting back in the saddle he maintains a much steadier pace. When I put it all together (hands and seat) we march around at an even steady pleasant pace. I really need to work on sitting steady and back in the saddle... sigh. One fun thing about Ollie is that I get great responses from him and we're both communicating with each other - at least I feel we are. He has a very responsive back and sometimes all I have to do is think about turning and he magically does it! It's great fun!
Now I feel that all we need is a lesson... I'm not a professional trainer by any means and know I have my limitations! I'm anxious to have someone come and watch us to give me/us some help and training suggestions. It looks like tonight may be our break as an instructor is coming to visit us (schedule permitting). Keep your fingers crossed for me that she can make it!