Lesson postponed to 08/06. We would've gotten an uber-late start, and I had someone patiently waiting for me at the end of my ride. Um, sort of patiently, well, kind of, maybe not so much, but waiting anyways...
I grabbed Ransom, explaining to him if he behaved, the ride would be short & sweet. We'd get much done in short order, I wouldn't expect perfection, but I would demand an effort. Saddled up dressage, and happily presented him with his french link bit. He was quite the happy man.
We toodled around the arena, his ears flapping to the sides. It was cute how he was kind of alert, but really responsive to me. Went through all the gaits, free walk, working walk, working trot, extended trots (down diagonals), solid canter all 'round. Pushed him through some canter 20m circles at the far side and in the center.
Then, quite suddenly, I could hear the #$*&%^ neighbor's dogs yapping. We were headed down long side towards their pasture. There they were! Dogs yapping, chasing three heifers and one calf. Ransom stopped cold from a working trot, shaking. Head up, back hollow. Knowing that pushing him back to work right away wasn't the answer (from the past), I chose to let him halt. Rubbed his neck, and talked to him in a soothing tone of voice. "It's okay, baby. Big strong Ransom, you're alright honey. Those big bad mean cows won't get you... neither will the puppies. You're a good boy, and you're going to relax here real soon."
He started to walk off, but head & back still nervous. I brought him right back to a halt, and kept talking & patting. This repeated three more times, but even with the cows out of sight, he was still nervously looking thatta way. I left us at the halt until his head came down, back relaxed, and he was licking & chewing. One big heavy horsie sigh, another solid pat "atta boy", and we went back to work.
And ya know what?! Much better than the last Cow-Fight we had. He relaxed right away, and went back to work. We walked a bit working walk, free walk, then popped into a nice working trot. He had his same cheerful ears, and happy work attitude.
"Work-Work" for nearly 30-35 minutes, followed up with lots of working walk to free walk transitions for about another 10.
Lesson tonight... We're Jumping! We're Jumping! I hope!!! =)