I've ridden Bo twice this week. I'm trusting him more, he's trusting me more. He is less agitated when he's worried, and it's easier to get his mind back with me.
I've taken him to the arena without the comfort of bringing along another horse. So his mind goes to his gal, Sofia, then comes back. Back and forth. Yesterday I left him in the 20x20 paddock for a few minutes and was curious to see how nervously active he got. Then when I returned he was still active just not as much, and would stop for some grass between walking over to the fence closest to Sofia. So he was taking some comfort in my proximity. This is a change.
Another change is that I am seeing him more for who he is, not just what he looks like. There is quite some complexity and insecurity and determination and willingness beneath that attractive pony appearance. Another change is that he's starting to carry himself differently when he's "relaxed", not upside down like he did when he arrived here. (He easily comes into self carriage aka natural collection when his boy energy surfaces!) So something is changing inside him. It's so nice to see.
Most of our ground work is geared to helping him let go of his thoughts more easily. He will do just about anything I ask of him, but he's a smart one and can do without fully paying attention to me. So I'm asking for more of his insides to be with me, not just his feet and body. I've been experimenting with what I've seen Harry do, asking the horse forward, back, sideways, turning, etc. while holding onto the halter knot under the chin or the noseband. This gives the horse less chance to space out or take over into doing their own thing. I would not do this right away with a horse, but Bo is apparently far enough along in his ablilty to let go and be with me that we were successful. Even worked through some sticky places in his backing up. I don't ask for much, but it can seem like a whole lot to him, then it all gets so simple and clear and easy when he understands what I want. I'm getting better at helping him find that place of understanding sooner.
Riding was fun. He has a great long, thick mane growing in so I have built in handles. I'm riding in the Torsion treeless, about the best fit although I really need to go get a smaller girth -- it's just barely snug enough so I figure I'm riding bareback but in comfort.
His steering is pretty good. I'm keen on keeping all of our rides slow and thoughtful. Slow in terms of how much I ask of him -- not slow in terms of his feet. He kept himself to a walk for the first ride, and yesterday he trotted. I don't ask him to trot -- he offered that. I do ask him to walk, turn, and sometimes ask him to stop. He has a quick walk, definitely going someplace. So different from his girlfriend who would amble casually through life if she could have her way!
In the back of my mind, I'm getting Bo better assessed and ready to sell. However the more he goes well and settles well while away from Sofia, the more I think, hey, this endearing little pony, I should keep him.
Once Sofia is recovered enough so I can turn them out with the rest of the herd, maybe my mind will be swayed by the herd dynamics. Things are pretty pleasantly quiet these days with Bo and Sofia separated from the other four. This separation is only so Sofia will move less while her injured foot is healing. But it is tempting, I must admit, to leave the herd split in two! They are all so much more mellow this way!