I know, sorry. Since switching out bits, Izzy's personality has changed completely. Instead of acting fearful of EVERYTHING, he's now a doofus with a stop and smell the roses and then keep on smelling the roses until maybe she quits asking me to move vibe. Be careful what you wish for.
It has really been that dramatic - the tension he carried around was getting problematic. That tension has slowly eased though and now he's less worried about everything.
He still has spooky moments, and his scoot into a bolt is still there, but he has gone back to his favorite evasion which is The Balk. In his version of the balk, he kind of hunches up his back and flicks an ear at me as if to ask what I might do about it.
I very much understand that this is a power play on his part, and after reading more about his personality type (the Wild Card) in Is Your Horse a Rock Star?, I know that my best option is to just play it cool. The expression on my face doesn't change. I simply pause, squeeze gently, and wait for his reaction. When he digs in deeper, I dig my heels in and quietly grind away.
He hates the grind of the spur in his side - who wouldn't? So far, he hasn't been to stand the irritation for long. When holding tight to his spot doesn't work, he next tries to hop up into a rear. It's slow and mostly low so I am not worried about it, especially since he eventually caves and goes forward.
Big Brown Horse has made the connection. On Wednesday, he decided to just stop on his own as we approached the spooky area. I could almost hear him giggling in delight at his new found trick. Given that that was what I had taught him to do, I gave him a moment to think, and then I asked for forward. When he balked, we went through the spur into his guts routine until he begrudgingly jumped forward.
After that, the whole purpose of the ride was about obedience. I sat as relaxed and chill as possible and simply insisted we go forward at the walk without any sassiness. As soon as he walked quietly through the offensive corner, we moved on to the other spooky corner. When he had walked quietly through that corner, we picked up a trot. My goal for the day was to simply walk and trot when asked and be done. It took 13 minutes.
Once he would walk through the two spooky corners without balking, I asked him to do it at the trot. He got through the first corner in two tries. It took a half a dozen attempts through the second corner, but I could see him working the whole lesson out. When he figured out that the sassing wasn't changing anything and that balking only earned a poke in the side, he gave up.
It was the best 13 minutes ever! I am very much enjoying these kind of rides on him because we are now developing a partnership whose foundation is clearly being built on trust.
Well, that and a good poke with the spurs.