Today I started to see the first glimmers of a change in Charlie. While it hasn't been easy to forgo riding, I've been sticking to my guns and focusing on basic manners from the ground. However, for the most part our sessions have gone like this: Stop. Stop. STOP. Start. Stop. No, really, STOP! Wait. Wait some more. Keep waiting. Start (don't run me over!). Back up. Repeat.....
Today though, right from the beginning, Charlie stopped every time I stopped and, lo and behold, backed up when I asked him to back up! Granted, he really doesn't like moving backward but whereas two days ago he wouldn't back up unless I very strongly asked - and even then it would be with his head sky high - today he took a step back after just a mild cluck and a suggestion with the lead. We're getting somewhere!
Since he seemed to not be having attitude issues today, I put on his bridle so I could evaluate his response to bit and poll pressure while he was in a god mood. It went pretty well, and he did lower his head and bend for me, but I'm not completely convinced that his bridle isn't pinching him a tiny bit (he seems to be right on the edge between a full and oversize). Even though he wasn't doing any of the head flinging he was before, he did tense up when I put pressure on the reins and wasn't as relaxed as he was in his halter. I'm going to have his teeth floated in a couple of weeks to rule that out and get a larger bridle to try as well.
My third and final goal for today's session was learning to wait at the mounting block. We probably spent a good ten minutes just standing there on a loose rein while I moved all around him, put the mounting block on all sides, hopped up and down on it, leaned over his back and patted him everywhere I could reach. He did fantastic and didn't budge. I even jumped on him bareback at the end without major incident and did a quick lap around the ring before we ended our session for the day.
I have ordered a rope halter to help with his ground training and it should be here in the next week. Kate and I had such good success using one with Lucy and I really can't quite get through to Charlie like I want to with the plain leather halter. However, I'm definitely happy with the way things went today. Baby steps :)