I went this afternoon for my last visit with Boomer before we pick him up on Sunday. I took all of his bridle and tack and wanted to make sure everything was properly adjusted. He did very well on our ride. There were 4 of us and he was a little excited at first. Instead of trying to shut him down, I just let him trot a little and he calmed right down. He really is a trooper and was a strong leader when one of the two colts on the ride were having trouble. He did have two minor panic moments that Kelly really helped us work through. Boomer really feeds off of other horses and one of the colts was having a hard time with crossing anything. He was leaping like crazy, I'm talking 3 feet high. He is a well bred WP horse, but he could make someone a nice CC mount, I swear! Anyhow, he was doing this 'jump down the bank-jump the creek-jump up the bank' nonsense and Boomer just started vibrating. I don't know how else to describe it. He compresses his body, grows taller, then just starts vibrating- you never know when he could blow. So, I sat down deep, told him woah and made him stand. I made him stand until he was relaxed, and THEN we followed across the bank. The second time was the same situation, but we were on a steep incline, one horse was up at the top of the hill and jumping colt was at the bottom of the hill, jumping things. Boomer was in the middle and started his stuff. Kelly noticed, and talked us down. She reassured me he wouldn't rear (it made me feel better to hear it, anyway) and told me to turn him to the left and get him on a flatter area. Then she had me tell him to WOAH, pet him and tell him it was OK, then ask him to stand. Within 30 seconds he went from feeling like a powder keg to having his head down with his leg cocked while I took cell phone video of the jumping colt. I was so impressed that we handled that. In the past, that would have stuck with us for the rest of the ride and made things really tense.
I know things will still come up, he still is tense about being tied up. He will test me at times, especially at home. But now I know that he knows how to be good. I can ask with assurance that he behave and I know he is capable of whatever I ask.
For the first time EVER with this horse, I am feeling trust. A number of times today, I got my phone out of my pocket, fumbled around to find the camera and filmed the ride. I didn't feel like I had to constantly be watching everything around us. I trust Boomer to handle the trail. I also know that he knows not to put me into a tree. That is an awesome thing for a trail horse to be trained to not do. At one point, I just dropped my reins while we were riding and used both hands to put my phone back in my pocket. I can't describe how proud I was when we started going down a steep, muddy hill and he slowed down and took baby steps without me asking him to do anything. I was also equally impressed that over creeks and ditches, no matter the shape or size, he kept all four feet planted- no hopping or scrambling, just solid footwork to get across.
I am very excited to get him back on Sunday. We will go up and ride together (John too!) then bring him home.