First of all I've gotta say that all the sudden Jasper is giving to pressure on the bit. Not steadily, he still sticks his head up and braces, but eventually comes back down. We've really been working on outside rein as steering him is like trying to steer a wet noodle. Today for some reason he stayed on the bit nicely, and we even had 2 walk-trot transitions where he didn't throw his head up. I was floored. They were better transitions than my 16-year-old has ever done. So floored that I rode all of 10 minutes in the arena and decided to end on a good note.
The 100+ acre hay field was calling. He's been out in it once last week with an old campaigner, a buddy, and did great. He had to cross a narrow ditch with running water, so I got off and led him over it right behind the other horse. He eventually went, leaping over and landing on me.
Today there were no other horses. After the stellar time in the arena, I took a deep breath and we headed out. I don't know what he does if he "freaks out".
His little tail was swishing back and forth about as fast as it could, but he walked. It's a long gradual downhill from the arena to the ditch, then a gradual uphill on the other side. We got to the ditch with the rushing water in it and he got nervous. I never even kicked. Just kept his head pointed at it and he worked himself up, which was walking up and down it and at one point he grunted, stomped the ground, swished his tail, and shook his head. I didn't want to get in a battle over this. I want him to think ditches are no big deal, especially when they're part of a cross country course. I got off and led him over. Again and again and again, until he was just stepping over it and not leaping. I got back on on the other side, made a small loop, and asked him to walk over it headed back towards the barn. I was leaning forward and had a death grip on the saddle horn as he calmly stepped over it and continued walking.
He was pretty excited to be headed home, but listened nicely when I asked him to walk and not trot. We went back in the arena just so he knows going home doesn't mean the work is over. Worked on moving to leg pressure and got 2 somewhat decent half-turns on the forehand.
I am really happy to be working with this horse.