As I went out to catch Boomer this afternoon it was cool with a breeze blowing. We know what that means in the summer time! Rain! I got him into the indoor arena just as the rain started coming down. I thought he would be upset by the noise, but he wasn't. I decided to lunge him in the indoor while it rained, that way if it stopped I could ride and if it didn't stop raining he would still get worked. It did eventually stop after 20 minutes or so and we tacked up and headed out already sweaty (him, not me). We headed towards the hill and he gave me one little "I don't want to" balk. I gave him a sharp left turn, then kicked him right and off we went, no problem. After that he didn't give me any more grief at all. Once we headed back I started turning around and going back out, then back towards the barn, taking different paths and going for different lengths of time. About half of the time he would balk when I turned him away from home, but it was more of a "mom, I don't really want to" as opposed to the "f*** you, I'm going home" that I had been getting from him. We even went up the road towards another trail head and the trailer parking. He was pretty snorty up there, I think what was genuine nervousness. He was very good though and I even asked him to walk up a hill between two trailers. He balked, I took him sharp left, then back right and he walked slowly through the trailers! I was very happy with him. Overall, I can actually say that we were both relaxed for once.
As happy as I was with him, he still doesn't get off easy for being 'good'. So, back on the lunge line he went in the indoor after we finished. He worked hard for another 20 minutes, doing lots of canter-walk-reverse-canter transitions. Those are hard work! Once he reversed and bucked into the canter, getting his hind leg over the lunge line. I dropped it and he galloped, bucking around the arena once. I said woah to him, not knowing if he would listen and he sure enough did. He blasted right up to me and then slammed on the breaks with his nose to my chest. I undid the rope and he was fine. So, not only do I make him work, I can also make scary ropes 'get' him, AND I can save him from said scary ropes. It is good to be the human.
After I cooled him out and rinsed him, I made him trot around the lead rope in his paddock for about 5 minutes before letting him go for good measure.
Why do I think he was so much better already? I think he needed a reminder that I am perfectly capable of cooking and serving him for lunch, if I were so inclined (and European). I can and will make him work his ass off. This is not a leisurely vacation where he easts his fill, and packs me around as he wishes. No sir, I make him work as hard and long as I see fit. I think once he realized that yesterday and today (as I lunged him hard before riding the trails) he made the connection that I am in control and when I say 'go' he better GO!
So, boot camp continues. I hope that he will continue to realize that he works at the barn and in his paddock and any other time I deem appropriate. I also hope he continues to realize that the less of an ass he is on the trail, the more relaxing it is for both of us. Everybody loves riding on a loose rein!