I am going to start building up a kit of first-aid things for Siaga. To make a tally of all the things I need to go in it:
Tape measure, plastic thermometer, something to use as lube (poor Siaga.) string, cotton or gamgee gauze, vet wraps, scissors, needle, thread, hydrogen peroxide, anti bacterial salve, and perhaps some medical tape.
I would like to also have a piece of paper in there with things like Siaga's regular temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate written down.
Now, about his training. He's pretty good now with the basic left, right, go, stop. He's beginning to learn things like side-stepping away from my leg and backing up. Stop is a bit hard for him, but he's also learning the one rein stop. Next time I work with him, I want to walk him about in the round pen and then out of it, maybe walk to the outdoor arena and ride around in there, with the cone set up, of course, that I have designed, to work on walking straight and on walking in serpentines around the cones.
Only when I feel he has the big three down pat (stop, backup, and the one rein stop) will I attempt to move faster than a walk, but it may be a while before I ever ask him to canter with me on.
I may want to ride endurance with him, but I know before I can start conditioning him, he has to know what's what and he has to accept me as an unmovable figure when I'm on his back. He absolutely -must- know walk, left, right, stop, one rein stop, and back up before I take him on the trail, and considering how well he is coming along, I have no doubt that I will be out on the trail with him by September.
So I think once I have him going well with directions and going and stopping, we will likely alternate rides between going on the trail for one ride, and going to one of the arenas for technical practice and speed control.
One might ask, how the hell do you plan on teaching him speed control? Well, I fully insist that first, he be fully accustomed to shifts of body weight and position on my part, as well as a verbal command, and a rein command if need be, to slow down and/or stop. Generally, he recognizes "Woah" to be stop, and the frequently used "Easy" means "drop a gear and slow down." In other words, if I am, say, lunging him, and I have him cantering, he know that "Woah" means to slide to stop right then and there, and "Easy" means to drop into a trot. If I say "canter" he will go back up, while if I say "easy" again, he drops to a walk. However, "Easy" has never meant "stop" and he will not "woah" when I say "easy." At least not usually.
So anyways, once he is accustomed to my frequently asking him to slow down or stop, and once he listens to that non stop, I will begin to ask for a trot. I will ask him to trot a few paces, then slow back down. I understand that he may not want to stop, and if he doesn't want to stop, then I will do a one rein stop and force him to come to into a circle and divert his energy, engage the hind quarters, and stop the fore quarters.
I will slowly be working up to longer times of trotting, until I trust him at a trot to not decide it's time for an impromptu dismount and send me flying. When he is well behaving for walk-to-trot-to-walk-again transitions, I will up the notch and ask for walk-to-trot-to-canter-to-trot-to-walk transitions, with the canter time limited again to a few paces before asking him to slow.
While on the trail, I may keep up with these sorts of things, asking him to move up to a trot when the footing allows for a few paces, then back into a walk. Other than that, however, trail rides will be a time of relaxation and fun. At various points, we will stop and I will allow him to graze so that he doesn't associate the trail with a lot of hard work. Since the trail is going to be his working zone, I definitely don't want him to go sour on it.
Now, while I often seem to have a hard time following plans, I do love to make them, I guess that's my virgo side coming out in me. :)