Today, Big Ben was ridden for the first time, being led at the walk about 25 feet with a rider sitting in the saddle.   And that was the end of the lesson.
I know this reads like such a little thing, but anyone who has trained a horse from the very beginning knows today's lesson was a key milestone event.
Getting to this point has involved many hours of work scattered across the past year.   It included daily handling, groundwork, lunging, lunging under saddle, and lunging in full tack with a bridle & bit under the halter to which the lunge line is attached.
Today, while tidying up Ben's rather shaggy winter mane, he stood quietly in the crossties wearing his bridle and halter.   For the first time, he was able to eat Canada mints while wearing his chunky Herm Sprenger KK bit.   Another little milestone.
After the grooming session, I put his saddle on and lunged him a bit.   He was well behaved, happy, and as friendly as always.   When Georg joined us, he led Ben to the mounting block in the middle of the arena.
Standing on the mounting block, I wiggled the saddle, leaned on Ben, patted him all over on both sides from above, jumped up against his back, and finally, climbed astride.   All the while, Georg stood at Ben's head, letting Ben watch me while also making sure Ben paid attention to him as well.
While sitting on Ben, I continued to keep busy.   I leaned down & hugged his neck, sat up tall, wiggled around in the saddle, swung my legs, and even reached down and fed him a mint, all while watching for any sign of trouble brewing.
Nothing happened.   So, Georg took one step backwards.   And Ben took one step forward.   And then they did another step.   And then several more.   And then we stopped.   Big pats.   More mints.   I jumped off and kissed Ben's fuzzy face.
Little steps, but such a huge milestone for the 2 year, 10 months old boy.   What a fabulous feeling!   Tomorrow, we will try it again.