But considering where we started (such a hot mess) and the whole EPM episode that basically stripped all of his muscle away, it is pretty good. During my last lesson my favorite dressage judge was so mesmerized watching him that she forgot to tell me what to do for awhile. During my first lesson with her, I am pretty sure she was wondering what the hell I had bought (she is far too kind to ever tell me that).
Just attempting to walk
Not a whole lot changed, until I finally was able to get a saddle that fit to his standards (they are high). Then slowly he started to settle and wonder what I wanted him to do instead of just panic and checking out. We still had our ugly moments frequently, but it wasn't 99.99999% of the time. Over the last year the ugly moments have been decreasing. And he is far less likely to have a temper tantrum. Sure he is still tight and reluctant to work over his back, but he acts like a horse now.
Immediately after new saddle
3 months after new saddle
15 months post new saddle (aka last month)
I absolutely swear by saddle fit now. The change in him was enormous. Then taking the time to do so much walk work really helped him relax and built up the trust. It sucked doing it and I get bored and wish things were moving more quickly, but the changes in him are proof that slow and steady is the way to go.
The final slot is from a show in a new place, and he was not nearly as settled as he is at home (I just don't have home video for comparison), but he is tracking up and far more relaxed than he was a year ago at home. It truly amazes me what this little horse has managed to overcome.