I tried a new tact to conquer the spooky end of the arena last night.
Longing first! I tacked up and took that big booger to the arena and made him work on the longe line in the scary end of the arena. He did a little big of spooking and snorting and trying to bolt, but much less than he did the other night. I think I ended up longing him for about 15 minutes before he worked all the snort-n-scoots out and settled down enough to put his mind to work. We worked over trot cavalletti and a 12-inch log just to get his mind thinking about something other than the woods. We did spirals in and out, direction changes and pace changes on the longe and once I got his brain engaged and thinking about work and not boogeymen, he was good.
I don't want to have to longe him before I ride EVERY time, that would be horrible, but I will definitely do it from time to time. I may even longe him before riding for a week or so and taper off to every other ride, or every third ride, just to keep him on his toes.
I got up and we had a pretty good session. One half-hearted snort-n-scoot at the scary side, and that was it.
We worked on walk/trot, trot/walk/halt transitions. I hope, hope, hope I don't ruin his upward transition because it's pretty darn near exactly what it should be. He really lifts himself up into the trot, I can see and feel his entire front end lift up and launch into a really powerful, forward trot. Yes, he's still unbalanced and no, he's definitely NOT on the bit, but that all comes with time and muscling.
Downward transitions from trot to walk is eh. We dribble down and sometimes he fights it a bit, tossing his head and grumbling about it and falling on his forehand BIG TIME. But, step by step, right? Our transition from walk to halt is dead on. The transition from trot to walk is getting there. I do believe most of his resistance is my fault though. Because he does have such a HUGE, powerful trot I'm finding it physically difficult to give him the proper cue and slow him down with my body and abs while keeping my butt IN the saddle during the downward transition. More Pilates and weight lifting for me! I think that as I fix ME, he will find it easier to hear and understand me and will be able to respond better to that particular request.
His steering is still sticky but improving. At one point, while we were trotting and working on getting a downward transition on a circle, he decided he was going to toss his head a bit and throw a bit of tantrum while ignoring me...and he just about ran into a danged tree because he wasn't looking where he was going. And I just about let him just so he could knock some sense into his silly self. That tree came up FAST and he spotted it and decided to stop tossing and LISTEN to me instead of smacking his head into it. The beast!