My issue with Canyon comes down to extending his trust in me as a leader. So today, quite by accident, I did something that impacted that issue.
I can work Canyon in the round pen and he does fantastic. Licks, chews, one ear on me... all good. But I still can't ride him out alone. He is so freaked out that I know he's thinking about lions and not giving to me as a leader. He trusts me, will take leadership, but only so far.
So today we took him for a walk to the back area of the land at the stables. It's really pretty out there, but it's out of sight of the stables and the horses consider it "off road." I was leading him with the kids on him and as we got further around the bend he started to come apart. I took the kids off and they went to play while I worked with him.
I had my new long lead rope and lunged him in the pasture. Initially he was just trotting with his head high, ears to the front, so paranoid you could have sworn there were crocodiles everywhere. I kept turning him, slowly getting more and more of his attention. by the end I could feel his energy change and he came down from his fear place - not all the way, but part of the way. The kids were getting done with all of this, so I couldn't quite go for another 30 minutes, which is probably what it would have taken. But he was consistently responding to my verbal commands, turning his ear toward me for more of the time and acting much more respectful.
This, I realize, is what I need to do. Establish leadership away from our routine.
I think. I'm going to ask on one of my list serves and get some opinions...