It was windy and blustery - the perfect day for a horse to show his tense side. I could feel Izzy vibrating under my hand. I almost didn't even bother to ride, but then I reasoned that the only way to teach him to relax in stressful situations, like at a show, is to school during stressful situations.
I started him on the lunge line doing very simple walk to trot to walk transitions. I didn't want to get him any more wound up. I just wanted him to see that it was okay to move forward, but that coming back to a quiet gait was what I really wanted. He started to let go of some his tension, but not all of it.
After ten minutes of that, I rode. His back was tight, but at least there was no bolting or spooking. He would soften and lower his neck for a stride or two, but then it would snap back up. We did lots of walk to trot to walk transitions, changes of bend, and ten-meter circles. He never just let his breath go completely, but he did take a breath here and there and let it out.
So you know what, as disappointing as it was that he reverted back to a tense horse, he kept it together and tried really hard to be a good boy.
He's still awesome!