I went to visit Boomer in Missouri today! It started pouring down rain when I was halfway there and didn't stop until I was almost home. The trainer and I talked for about an hour while Boomer was in his stall. He was happy, looked healthy, and didn't appear to have lost any weight. It was really nice to see him and get to brush and pet him. He was friendly and didn't act like a jerk at all. I wasn't sure how being in training in a new environment would affect his attitude and it seems to have served him well! We talked about the training halter she has been using for his 'pulling back' issue. You can find it be searching for "be nice" on valleyvet.com. She put it on him and showed me how he responded to it. He was actually very forward and responded quickly to pressure. She told me a great story about how he reacted the first time he wore it. She said that after he broke the lead ropes she put it on him and he fought like crazy. He pulled until he started to lather up and he had that halter pulled about as tight as it could squeeze. She said that he actually laid down when he got tired of pulling back. He just got down and flopped over on his side. She said that she got behind him and gave him a kick in the rump and he got up, jumped forward, pulled back, jumped forward, then stood still. She said that after that she tried jumping around him, waving feed sacks, etc and he didn't move a foot after that. I couldn't believe what a temper tantrum he threw! I wish I could have seen that! Hopefully he will learn his lesson on that one!
Kelly and I also talked about how he was doing on the trail as well. She said that she really enjoys riding him and that he has great gaits. She is having good results with getting him to slow down and go down hill carefully. He is also doing well with going over logs and through water. The water crossings were hard for him at first, but he is doing better. She said that the first time she took him out on a certain trail that heads from the road where he had to step across a small ditch he refused and didn't want to cross. She said that she gave him a good 'over under' with the end of the reins pretty hard and he jumped straight up and leapt forward into the canter across the field. She said that she brought him back and made him cross it about ten more times. Ever since that, she just has to raise her hand a little and he goes forward for her. So, she thinks he is just testing and being a 'teenager' and seeing what he can get away with. He knows what he is supposed to do and he has been getting away with doing less.
Pretty much, it seems like she just hauls off and gives him what for as soon as he steps out of line and that pretty much takes care of the problem. Where I had been much more timid and trying to avoid pissing him off and escalating the situation. I'm glad that she is so much braver than I am and can get him right where he needs it.
I am going to go out and ride with her on Thursday and she wants to work with me on being much more aggressive and confident with him. She thinks that I just need to learn some new ways of riding him and that I shouldn't have much more trouble with him. We talked a little about how I am not sure when I should let his behavior fly and when (and how aggressively) I should correct him. I really think this has been a great opportunity and I am really happy to get some feedback on Boomer as well as see someone else interact with him.
On another note, I am watching the live video feed of Arabian US Nationals and I plan on driving down to visit on Tuesday.