Red was having a feisty dude day today.
It was much cooler today, and we had some rain, so much mud had to be groomed off of Dawn, Red and Pie - particularly Pie, who had managed to completely slather one side with mud. Fortunately, our mud is somewhat sandy, so when it dries, it comes off fairly easily.
I wanted to ride Red for 20 minutes of walking, but before that, I wanted to do some work in hand with him on moving the hindquarters over, in order to work on our mutual feel. I chose to do this with him in his snaffle bridle. Red has always been more resistant in hand and when doing groundwork than under saddle - he seems to find people close in to his body a bit threatening. I don't know the history, but his responses are interesting. We've worked through some things on the lead with a halter and he now leads and turns well while maintaining appropriate distance. He also backs easily off a hand signal or touch on his chest, and his lungeing is also much improved.
Once the bridle is on, though, it seems like all bets are off. He has specific expectations - that you'll get on and ride - and if those aren't met, he's prone to becoming frustrated. When Red is frustrated, you get things like grabbing the reins in his mouth or even attempts at nipping - it's his way of saying that he doesn't understand what you're up to and that he doesn't like it much. I wanted to work with him on moving the hindquarters, and our mutual feel to do this (based on Tom Dorrence's suggestions). We got there, but it took a while - his neck is very flexible (too much repetitive flexing in his prior life, I think), but getting that connected to moving the hindquarters took him some time. There were also a couple of horses in the outdoor galloping, which kept distracting him. He was very up, and feisty, and wanting to nip and crowd me. We just kept on working, and by the end, things were improving.
His walk work under saddle was very good - he's often better under saddle than on the ground. I worked on directing his hind feet with my thoughts - to one side or the other in order to make turns and also to extend or shorten in straight lines. He did very well with this, even with all the distractions.
When I dismounted, we did a bit more in hand work, and it was better and we were able to end on a good note. Tomorrow, after four days of walking under saddle, I'm planning to lunge him to see how his soundness is doing. Based on his feisty demeanor today, I expect he's feeling pretty good, but we'll see . . .