Today I tried a neck stretcher on Charlie for the first time. It was one of those things I have been wanting to try for awhile but wasn't really sure how he'd react; from experience it would either work amazingly and he would feel the elastic pressure when he raised his head and learn to relax down instead...or he would have a complete meltdown. However, the past several days I've ridden without lunging first and he was good enough that I decided to take this next step. Since Kate's horse, Lucy, is out of commission for a bit, I asked to borrow her draw reins and neck stretcher (among other implements of horsey torture :P) so I could experiment...and Charlie was awesome!
I did a mini lunge session first just to make sure he wouldn't flip out and could get used to the feel of the neck stretcher, but it was quickly apparent that he really respected it so I got on. We had the most lovely floaty trot...it was amazing! I only rode for about 20 minutes but it was a really positive experience. Plus there was another horse in the ring and two others being groomed and walked around in the aisle, both of which historically cause a bolting buckfest, and Charlie didn't bat an eye :) I can't wait until later this week when Dan can videotape.
Also, another proud mom moment: twice Charlie put his head almost on the ground, testing the neck stretcher, and managed to loop the elastic around the bottom edge of his boot. Instead of flipping out he calmly raised and lowered his front foot trying to loosen it, took a few steps, and then just stopped and stood there resting his hoof so I could untangle it and remove the boots. What a good boy!
I've included a (blurry) picture of his initial getup today because it was kinda hilarious with the bridle, neck stretcher and rope halter...poor pony, I really dress him up in all sorts of contraptions :P