As I sit here sipping my hot cocoa (with whipped cream!) I am reminded again how truly wonderful horses are. I'd been talking to a good friend of mine before heading out to feed CB and our goodnights were not said in their normal warm tone so I was a bit upset about that (okay, so I cried a little, but I come from a family of teary-eyed women). But before he said goodnight, he said "Say hi to horsey for me".
So when I got out to CB's pen I started telling him about it as I worked my way close enough to clip the lead on--oh yeah, when I'd been out dragging him his salt block this early afternoon I untied the short dragline that had been attached to his halter--and I told him my friend had said hi. The tension started to ease and I was able to relax into working with him.
We continued on working with disengaging his hindquarters from a tap on the hip and turn to face me. Which he does really well on the right side, and we got one good one on the left. Then we worked on backing up from a wiggle of the lead rope (which I think will work better once I get my rope halter on him) which he managed to take a few steps back. So then, the real test, getting him to take a step forward. Since our previous attempts at straight forward had not gone well, I asked for forward and slightly to the side. He did it! I got a step forward a few times which is a huge improvement from me pulling and him just standing there braced against the web halter. So more noise and fuss of the stick and string against the blanket (didn't feel quite up to trying to take it off tonight). And then I started playing with his muzzle.
I can't go straight for the muzzle (yet), but he loves his face rubbed so I can rub my way down to his nostrils. Even wiggled my finger into his mouth a couple times. I rubbed his nose with the end of the rope and then started slipping it on and off like a halter. He just stood there. So I figured, why not and looped the rope around his neck and unbuckled the halter. I took it off and rubbed his halterless-face a bit and then slipped it over his nose a few times before buckling it back on (not quite ready to just leave it off).
So all in all, a pretty good end to the night :)