I had an early doctor's appointment that yielded me a few more hours of daylight, so I figured I'd ride both boys, enjoying our warm-ish weather and bright sunshine.
Caught Romeo first, no spurs, and decided it was a "back to basics" day. I was only going to work on me if he was in line. Otherwise, it was all him, equitation and "prettiness" thrown out of the arena into the trees.
Western saddle, TT bit, and off we went. Walk, whoa - Good. Trot, whoa - Good. Canter - whoa - Not so much. Rather than allow him to burst forward again, I hauled him backwards. It wasn't pretty, and it probably wasn't very kind. I wasn't in the mood to let him frighten me, again. He's had the riding hours, he knows what to do, it was a test... a test to make sure I actually "meant business". How he got there, I won't speculate, though I have some ideas.
We backed up nearly half the arena rail. His head dropped, and he started to back cadenced & calm. I stopped him with a hard loud "WHOA", and we started forward all over again. Walk, whoa - good. Trot, whoa - Good. Canter, whoa, a bit better. I let him canter only a few strides at a time to start, ignoring leads, and turning him into whatever lead direction he was in. His stops got better, more solid, more responsive. I rewarded every try that was a bit better than the previous with a small peppermint horse treat, lots of pats & praises, and it seemed to get even better.
With him responding to WHOA much like I want, and less like a runaway spazz, I gently took up direct contact (well, really, just a rein in each hand), and worked on myself for a few transitions in and out of canter. He was good, and his down transitions into a trot were stellar. I didn't use WHOA verbal commands for the downs to trot, just a little bit & seat. He was also a bit tired by this point but listening to me anyways.
Total work was about an hour. I wasn't ever intending on it being a week of "Romeo training", but was hoping to work on me. I'm learning that's how it goes with horses, though. Since I'm not blessed with two perfectly trained partners, I've got limited days to work on me... and have to compromise with work days for them.
Unsaddled, groomed him up real good, blessed him with cookies & praise, and sent him back out to graze. He stood in his stall, pretending to be tied, and pouting... it was cute.
Grabbed Ransom, saddled up Western, grabbed my side reins & full cheek, and offs we went. Round pen! Warm-up free lunge & warm up on side reins were both really pretty. He didn't fight the contact, and had a nice big free flowing stride, all three gaits. He is improving with his stops and direction changes in the round pen, reversing facing in, and polite.
Our ride together was phenominal. It was one of those days I thought, "We're going to be a killer team! Every day gets a little easier." Our transitions were improving, I even got some canter-left with an easy down transition, without feeling like I had to haul down on his face.
Ransom and I enjoyed a little over 45 minutes of work-time. He was yawning & relaxing after our workout, so I finished his grooming up with some stretches, cookie-reaches, and a little leg stretching. Again, much appreciated, I am guessing, by his body language & behavior.