Finally, the temperatures are staying above freezing overnight and reaching towards 60 in the day! It couldn't have happened soon enough, let me tell you!
Yesterday, John and Charley joined Boomer and I for a 3 mile walk up the gravel road to the trail system. The trails were closed due to wet conditions, but we had a wonderful time staying on the roads and exploring. I was really nervous at first. I had been looking forward to and also dreading this ride for a long time. I feel safe in the arena. I trust Boomer in the arena. Out in the open, on roads- that is another story. But, we did it and Boomer was great! He had one hard look at some deer, then another hard look and a snort at a 'for sale' sign. Other than that, he was perfect! Nary a wrong step!
Today, I rode in the outdoor arena for the first time and had a pretty good ride. Boomer still really braces against the bit and fight for the first half of the ride. Then he will eventually give down and soften. Once that happens, I stay super light and soft with my hands and we walk and trot keeping a nice, soft, round frame. We also cantered a bunch which was fine. I talked to Karin about his bracing and resistance and she said we will continue to work on it in our next lesson but that at some point I am going to have to get firm with him and let him know that I expect him to give to my hand NOW and not fight with me. She said that a good time frame is to give him 10 minutes after lunging and walking on a loose rein and he should be able to round up and give to the bit after 10 minutes.
Tomorrow I am going to try something a little different. He almost always softens after we canter. After we canter we walk circles and flex his neck gently right and left. I am going to try the neck flexing earlier in the ride and see if that helps.