After D left Stinker fell apart. He was an anxious mess and it felt like I was back to last fall. In hindsight I realized that the pressure was too much and while he tried really hard and was good internalizing everything was not healthy. The first few rides were awful. So so very awful. I got a bit dramatic and sulky and then got my big girl panties on and went to work.
Last week he got two days off, one I didn't go see him (sulky and dramatic) one where I just fed him and told him he was pretty (I was planning to work him but he was anxious in the cross ties so I cut my losses). Then I rode him the next day (Tuesday). I use the term ride quite loosely. I let him wander on the buckle and read a trashy romance novel so I wasn't tempted to mess with him.
He had two things that were required. No running me into trees and he had to walk. It went really well and as the ride went on I could feel him relaxing. I should mention that in order to get on him, I had to sit on the mounting block for five minutes for him to chill enough I could get on. Overall I counted this ride as a win.
Wednesday, I took him on a long trail ride and it went really well. He walked on a loose rein and even snuck some bites of grass. He did almost fall down because he was reaching for grass and walking and got his feet tangled up. Good job Stinker. The other eventful thing was when he spooked. He was snacking and forgot that he was by the road and spooked when a car drove by. Such a goober.
Thursday, I had a lesson with S and I decided to tackle the ring. It had been a week since I had attempted to ride in there and it resulted in a total meltdown the last time. He was anxious at first but I let him truck around on the buckle until he settled. Then I started with a 20 m circle on a loose rein. Slowly I picked up some contact (again it had been a week since I rode with any contact) and if he got anxious I asked him to stretch. When he gave even slightly he got longer reins. Eventually I was able to walk both ways with contact and I let him be done. I still have work to do, but we are making progress again.