Cisco seems to have lost his.
I've been doing a bunch of groundwork with him, before riding and on days when I don't ride. Because of the weather inconsistencies, that still doesn't mean much work as of late. And I'm quite aware that that is likely a significant cause of the problem.
On Saturday I decided I should probably lunge before riding for the next little while. I had lunged him the day before, but he hadn't done anything in at least a week before that. The lunging helped - he didn't feel like a timebomb when I got on. But he was still spooky as hell about the scary end of the arena. I mostly avoided it and used the safe end, but ventured down there a bit after he had started to relax.
The next day I could get out was Tuesday. I thought it was going to be too cold to ride, so I just planned on groundwork, with the goal of getting him to drop his head and not be so damn tall.
The groundwork didn't do it.
We made progress after I sat on the scary scaffolding for about half an hour with Cisco. He eventually lost his desire to run away out of the scary end and became quite curious about everything in that area, which I am happy to let him explore. However, once we left that end and went back to the safe end, the periscope went back up and he kept looking for the murderers to pop up behind the railing.
On Wednesday, I tacked him up and grabbed my lunging equipment. Again, I did some groundwork, and sat for a few minutes on the scaffolding. And then decided to hop on.
As I was leading him to the block, I remembered that I was going to lunge before getting on. Meh. The groundwork was okay, I'm sure he'd be fine.
Yeah no. I lasted two circles before getting off. I had a stomp/kick out behind for some unknown reason, a trot off, and he was super reactive about any noise.
Onto the lunge line he went. He was definitely more forward than normal, but I don't know if it was a "whee" type of forward or a run away from murderers type of forward. I debated whether I should just lunge, in which case I would do it longer, or do a few minutes and try to get on again. I decided to get back on.
When we walked away from the block I wasn't sure that was the right decision. He was hyper-reactive and worried about every little noise or thing that moved - the dog barking outside, the dog barking inside, the person that was in the doorway, the person that moved a chair, the person who flipped out a lap blanket, the horse door opening - this was all in a span of a few minutes. And it blew his tiny little walnut sized brain.
I mean, he wasn't doing acrobatic airs above the ground or anything. Nope, his thing is to stop and stare with a llama neck and maybe get the fuck outta there. And good luck getting that llama neck to come down.
Surprisingly, when the other horse came into the arena, Cisco actually relaxed a bit. That's not a normal thing for him. But I went with it. And ended up with some good moments.
I've been working on getting him to lengthen his neck down and forward at a trot. With his Andalusian bloodlines, shortening and tightening his neck is his thing. Thus, I want him to do the opposite.
Long necks don't come very easily without relaxation, however. So we've only been managing to get it at the ends of our rides once he's a bit tired.
On this ride, once he relaxed, he reached forward. Apparently, relaxation is the key! Who'd a thunk?
After groundwork, getting on, getting off, lunging, getting on, walking around ready to jump out of his skin, then actually getting some decent work, I decided I would end my ride on Cisco with the trot work. The end of my ride was significantly better than the start of my ride - I didn't think it was going to get there!