I didn't have a lot of time to play with Royal on Monday, but couldn't resist this cute face waiting for me at the gate.
D'aaaaaawwwwwwwwwww, how sweet. And look how far away the other horses are. So I had to play with Happy Face for a little bit, doing more Basic Alignment Exercise and helping him stretch out. It only took a few minutes for him to relax and let loose.
So the next day I tried to see if I could do the same thing under saddle. I (luckily) knew to make sure that Royal was 100% with me on the ground, and that ended up not being the case. At all. I don't know if it was the cows or the weather or what, but he was distracted and would not relax. Every time I sent him out on the 22-foot line, he would take off like a wild horse and leave me hanging on to the rope, desperately trying to stay in the same place. I tried doing the "you'd better run," sideways without a fence, moving massage, everything I could think off. And Royal was still head-in-the-clouds ignoring me. So I sent him out again, he started zipping around, and then he tripped. He popped right back up and kept going, but a few strides later, I saw blood dripping from his mouth.
I was even more panicked when I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. There was so much blood that I was honestly worried that he'd bitten off a part of his tongue. So we scurried back to tget a towel so I could at least mop up some of the blood and figure out what was going on. Luckily his tongue was intact and he'd taken a bit out of his upper lip. It looked fairly superficial, and he didn't seem too bother, judging by his appetite. So, not wanting to end on a bad note, we went back out to the pasture to finish our session on a calm and sane note. I managed to set up my phone to video it:
All in all, I was pleased with how it turned out, considering. I gave him a bit of bute, just to be safe and let him back out with his buddies.
Today I decided to try BAE riding, again. The wound had scabbed over (although it still looks kinda gnarly), and when we started our ground warm-up, I was extremely vigilant in not letting his attention get away from me. The moment I saw an eye or ear wander, I asked for something: sideways, back-up, change of gait or direction, anything to keep his focus on me. And it worked. Even though the cows were right at the fenceline and staring at us, he kept his cool and didn't start freaking out. The BAE on the ground went well, and I hopped on.
We started with just letting him wander where he felt like it. He wanted to trot and canter, but it was pretty warm, so he settled down quickly. I began playing with basic energy levels at the trot; trying to get him to go from just-above-walk to regular trot to just-shy-of-canter. He was a bit confused and broke gait a lot at first, but soon got the hang of it. Then we started walking on a 20-ish meter circle and doing some BAE. I've noticed that Royal frequently doesn't bend his body on the circle; he just makes a series of turns with his nose pointing out. So I started gently tapping his inside hindquarter until I could feel his hind legs cross over a little bit. He started stretching, but as first it was the "I know I'm supposed to stretch, so I'll just do it" but gradually became the "Everything's balanced and I want to stretch" stretch. It was only at the walk, but it feels like a good start.