My muddy buddy. Doesn't he look thrilled. He was being all cute and perky until I pointed the camera in his face.
I had a really good ride with Cisco today. He tried out his bag of tricks - the sideways walking, sudden stops, and a teeny bit of jigging. The more times we worked through it the better we both felt. He doesn't do anything huge or dangerous, but it's weird, changing horses. He's not the compliant, happy to please horse that Tonka is. He's a little devious and likes to sneak in his tricks very suddenly.
I tried the Rockin' S snaffle on him today and was very pleased with the results. He is probably one of the braciest horses I've ever ridden and he did really, really well today. Laterally I had almost no trouble at all. Vertically he was an interesting study. At first, he would give and then jerk it right back and bob his nose a couple times for good measure. Somehow I knew it was an anxiety issue and I decided to ignore it. As long as he gave, I released as I normally would, and left him enough rein to do his little head bob. If he didn't give, I let him brace until he gave, released and then ignored his head bob. Pretty quickly he started licking and chewing after the give and release instead of jerking his nose forward and bobbing his head. I think that simple exchange right there was a huge step in the right direction for building a trusting relationship. He didn't think he could trust me to allow him to keep his head once I'd given it back. Or maybe he was ready to fight with me about it and when he realized we were communicating rather than fighting, he relaxed. I think he needs the partnership and the communication to be a two way street, even more so than most horses.
I really had a lot of fun with him today. I didn't want to put him away, but he was being so good I thought I'd better call it a day and leave him looking forward to next time.