So I go to look at the hay last night...
...long story short I got me some hay, and have a new source about 4 miles from my house at a reasonable price to get the grassy cheap kind of hay I need. And to top it off we actually knew the guy and didn't realize it. Turns out he is friends with our neighbors and back summer before last when our main water line blew out he actually brought his small backhoe over and trenched the whole thing out for us. I think we paid him with a case of beer. Nice folks. So "country" that you almost hear dueling banjos play when you pull in the drive. What they lack in teeth and proper grammar they more than make up for by being just about the nicest dang people you ever met.
They also had the most adorable little mules I ever saw. I was tempted to steal one and bring him home. They must have one mare who they breed back to a donkey every year because they have identical little mules in graduated sizes, lol. I am tempted by mules with huge feet and ears. Maybe someday..... These didn't have big feet, though. They had cute little tiny feet. The one was sooo curious about us but the guy said his cousins or brothers or someone had tried riding him and he was a bit skittish now. They'd thought the mule was trained and just hopped on. They quickly discovered two things: 1) pony mule was NOT trained and 2)the ground is hard.
So I'd been riding Brego in my home made rope halter sidepull. But the rope I used was very soft and flexible and had a lot of give to it. I was going to buy some stiffer rope to make another but I found a Mustang brand rope halter side pull at Chick's Saddlery for $7.99 and I can't buy the rope and rings for that cheap! They had dewormer on sale for cheap too, so I got the sidepull and the dewormer. I rode him in it today and it works much better for communication. It gives instant pressure when I ask and instant release when he gives the right response. I only had one "discussion" with him about turning and he learned that laying into the bridle is more uncomfortable than he would like now that it has less give to it.
I got a really good forward walk out of him, got some nice easy turns, got some really good tight turns in both directions. I asked for a "whoa" for the first time and he didn't like that. He did some head tossing. But I circled him back around and toward the fence then asked him to stop just before he had no choice but to stop. Rinsed, repeated three or four times. Asked for a stop in the middle of the paddock. He slowed way down, lol. But we will get that down later. He obviously showed he knows "kinda" what it means by slowing way down. So I asked for a few more stops at the fence and called it good on that, then got a couple of more circles around the paddock before climbing down.
I know I am going really slow with this but I am NOT a trainer. I know my training skills are mediocre at best. Everything I do involves just trying to have the right timing so he figures out what I am asking for. I know a pro would have him pretty well into walk/trot and stop/go by two weeks into things but I'm not a pro, and I'm also not in any hurry. So far I am delighted by our slow progress, because it IS progress. Once he understands what I am asking for better I will start making our training sessions longer. For now it is obvious that our short training sessions give him a lot to think about so I don't want to over do it.
I'm still slowly getting the scurf out of his feather but I am already getting hair regrowth over most of the area that had scratches on it. I'm still treating him every day, and he is so sick of it but I treat while he is distracted with his breakfast so it's no biggie.