I thought, with the hay field finally firming up so it's rideable, I would pony Jasper through the fields and on some trails. I put the western saddle on Alexandre and put a rope halter on Jasper, decided to start out in the arena figuring he would catch on no problem. Wrong. I had to leverage the rope around the horn to even get Jasper to take a step. I went in circles with him in the middle so he would figure out where his head was supposed to be. The minute we straightened out he has his neck stretched out as far as he could trying to get behind Alexandre, pulling like a mother. He was definitely NOT giving to pressure. We stopped and I decided to see what he would do if I backed Alexandre up. He freaked out. Pulled HARD- and the rope (which is 12 feet long) had somehow gotten itself wrapped around the horn and the more he pulled the more it tightened on itself. The saddle started slipping sideways and I was seriously considering bailing. Alexandre is not a ranch horse of any kind. He has ponied horses before but they were all well behaved. He's never worked cows or felt a rope pull the saddle over. He can be hyper sensitive at times... and he stood there. And took it. Not calmly, his head was way up and he was tense all over, but he did it. The last 8 years together formed a bond of trust that not even a crazy Thoroughbred on the end of a rope attached to his saddle could destroy. I think he really understood what was going on and used every ounce of courage he could muster to stay in place.
Jasper gave up quickly. All of the sudden (I don't know if it was a lightbulb moment or he was just pretending he didn't know what to do) he was perfect. He followed when Alexandre backed up. He kept his head at my knee. We did figure 8's and trotted a few laps around the arena.
After that I threw Jasper back in the pasture and decided to go check out the ditch before the boys got home from school. Alexandre hadn't been out in the field since last summer and was ready to go. We trotted the down slope to the ditch, Al pretended to sniff the rushing water and grabbed some blades of grass, and took some giant steps over it. He didn't even hop. He is such a good boy. We cantered up the slope away from the ditch, circled back, stepped over it again, and the school busses started rolling in. Al was ready to go so (and I NEVER do this with the boys or let them do it) I let him gallop back towards the barn. It's a gradual slope up and he was stretched out going as fast as he could. Since he's 16.2 and 1300+ pounds it's not real fast, but it was thrilling anyway... woo hoo!!! He's the kind of horse you can gallop towards the barn, turn around, and go right back out with. So THAT was fun...!