It was a beautiful sunny day, birds were chirping and making their nests nearby, and as always, Devin was waiting at the turnout gate begging to be played with. We headed to the arena and started with some warm-up games on the ground on the 22-foot line.
Next I asked him to accept the saddle, bridle, and saddle packs and wear them at walk, trot, and canter, both on-line and at liberty. He wore the saddle packs on the saddle and on his hindquarters, so that as he walked, the bags would fall to the ground behind him. Each time they fell, I sent him back to the packs to explore. He showed his strong play drive and self confidence as he pawed, nuzzled, and tasted the packs. In between, he would play with the snaffle bit.
We took a rest, and then I mounted a few times from each side, sitting in the saddle and rubbing him all over. I tossed the rope back and forth over his head, and soon was asking gently for lateral bends and for him to move his hindquarters a step. That went well, so I asked for a step from the front feet to the side and a couple of steps forward. He felt very relaxed and solid under me, and I dismounted after about 15 minutes and about 20 forward walking steps in each direction.
He then had some time to wear the saddle on his own and think about what he had learned. He ventured around the arena, took a drink, and eventually chose a beautiful sunny spot to lie down for a snooze.
After a while I came back into the arena and he allowed me to walk up to him, to rub him all over and give him a good scratch, and even to sit on his hindquarters while I did so – his second ride. He was so comfortable with me that I was able to get some photos. My barn manager Leslie and my partner Kim had arrived by now and they were also able to pet him and take pictures.
It was a great day and first (and second!) ride for Devin.