So, to continue:
Yesterday, our BO/trainer took Cibolo out and in no time he did exactly what he had done to me - crow hop to the side and a dance step I call the hindend boogie.
He didn't buck, but she said that was because she was ready for him. After she took him cantering around, correcting him about 5 more times, she and I met up. Lily was pretty barn sour, so I was just coming up to the barn and turning, going up the hill, trying to stay out of the way.
She showed me what she was doing. Basically he was keeping Cibolo's head, not riding on a loose rein at all. That way she was stopping trouble before it got rolling.
I trotted around on Lily and we committed to another ride today.
This morning I got to the barn and finished my rounds, with only one incident. Shanti.
Shanti is only 20 and she has cushings. I took these pictures of her ears the other day. She was the BO/trainer's primary mount and had been going downhill so she retired her. This morning she didn't come up to eat, I hiked down and urged her up from the lower pasture.
She seems to have dropped a good deal of weight, and the BO is going to reassess her feed. She was trying to keep her from getting overweight, but something is going wrong. She's going to take Shiloh (who I mentioned is dropping in herd status) on Monday to the vet and may load Shanti as well. Both may have teeth issues (Shiloh is getting a tooth pulled).
I saddled both horses, put my saddle on Cibolo and BO's saddle on Lily. She said she was going to see how he was doing and put me on him, maybe.
I was fine with that. I'm actually not scared of Cibolo, believe it or not. I'm scared to canter, scared of keeping him contained in a trot.
We did the same thing, although this time, Lily was completely cured of her barn sourness. She was fired up and wanted to run around (mental note - round pen this girl for a few weeks). We trotted while BO put Cibolo through the exercises. Then we met up.
"He did much better," she said. "He just started to pull his head to the side and I got on him and that was it."
Then, a large floodlight went off in my head.
I know that move. He does it. I didn't realize he was testing me at that moment. And every friggin' time I let him get away with it. This isn't a big huge head toss. It's this check to the side. Not tiny, but about a two feet move to the side.
And in that moment, I said, basically "Whatever."
He does it in the round pen too. And I just let it go. Now I know. I know his precursor.
I recalled that "first five minutes" rule - a horse decides if you're the boss in the first five minutes of a ride. I had been failing. And I didn't even know it.
And then we went on a ride through the neighborhood ... and I cantered. On Lily first, in an area that felt safe. I cried, I laughed. Lily is crazy fast. She was on fire and ready to run. The BO cantered next to me and we left her in the dust, big time. I can't collect Lily's canter, so it's very "rushy" and I actually dread it more than Cibolo's. But I sucked it up and rode faster and faster.
Then, after another half hour of moseying around, we switched horses, and, nearly back at the barn, the BO pushed me.
"Let's canter up the hill."
"Nooo, we've been doing great. Can't we just stop?"
And we did.