From Bob on Monday, 9/28, after reading the rest of this blog. His comments are in black, my reply is in blue italics:
We know things behind or above Diego can set him off, so I'm doing stuff in front of him and then doing the same stuff behind him. I had the cart and bike behind him, just out of kicking range. I also sometimes make a point of being boisterous and scary when I'm on him. I'm going to try making sure that Diego knows the difference between casually touching him with a crop or stick and telling him to do something with it. His reaction to the crop the other night was a lot greater than need be.
Good. I try to move around a lot and wave my arms and such too. I was feeling pretty darn confident on him there for a while and really trying new things. Like you mentioned, the more of this kind of stuff, the sooner he'll realize it's nothing to worry about and will get over.
Your blog reinforced an opinion I've had all along. You have more fear and nervousness than Diego has. It's not easy, but at some point, you just have to say, "He's a good boy, I trust him, and I don't care whether he hops and tucks his butt once in a while." That trust makes the difference between Diego forgetting what made him hop and you becoming airborne. I know that's easier for me to say, when I've never really been hurt. But I swear it's true.
I know that a lot of the issue is me. I've just seen him be so explosive and really truly "loose it" a few times now. Just being able to put my foot in the stirrup when I first got him was a huge
accomplishment at the time. He's really 100% better than he was when I got him, but it's the few times when he just blows up that continue to worry me. You may not get to experience that side of him, I certainly hope you don't. Before I had my accident, my confidence was pretty high and I was thinking about how Dig was about as "trained" as Sinatra was when I bought him (in other words, not very but enough to start doing things with). Like Sinatra, I know he'll be a good boy 99% of the time, its just that 1% that continues to worry me for now.
Mentally, I feel very confident and ready to get back on and start doing things, but when "something" happens, I find I do still get tense and worried pretty quickly - which doesn't help Dig out any. I don't mind the little tuck and hop, but I've had it turn into the full out bucking a few different times now, so being able to remain relaxed through the first bit, and not grap up rein and crank on him is an issue I have. With Sinatra, I needed to get him stopped *NOW* when he would do that - so it wouldn't escalate, with Diego I think I need to relax and not react for a minute, because it's me reacting that's furthing the problem. Does that make sense?
One of my... I don't really want to call it an issue, because I don't see it as a problem, but perhaps "hangups" is that I WILL NOT BE JUST A PASSENGER. I want my horse looking to me for guidance and instruction *at all times*. This was my issue with Caramel when I got on her. She's used to being the boss, you can feel it in how she reacts to commands and just her overall attitude. My mom's horse Joe is the same way and I don't particularly like riding him either. Both of these horses are totally safe for their riders (my mom's never come off Joe), but I can't and won't trust a horse that treats me like that. It's just a "me" thing with how I was taught to ride.