Thanks, QH Gunner. He is definitely mischievous. I had to invest in a Jolly Ball this weekend because he decided that his bucket was a toy and put a crack in it from top to bottom. Yeah, I decided it was easier to spend $15 on a Jolly Ball once than it was to buy him a new $14 feed bucket every couple of weeks.
He's a very sensitive soul, though. He is very in-tune with my mood and emotions. I'm not an overly emotional person, but because of what happened with that mare, I have little panic attacks either while I'm riding (yeah, *that's* fun) or before I start to ride because I start thinking of everything that could go wrong. When this happened on Friday before our trail ride, I was leaning up against the hitching rail in front of him (facing him, butt to the rail). He nuzzled his head into the crook of my arm and then stood there while I stroked his face and rested my forehead against his. I was on the verge of tears before he did that, but as soon as I started stroking his face, I calmed down considerably.
Skyseteranalangel, thanks so much! I'm so glad we can help you. I'm so lucky that Aires is such a level-headed and mild-mannered horse. It's really helping me with being brave enough to ride him. I'm also lucky that I had two whole months to do nothing but groundwork before he was rideable. That has really helped us a lot with trusting each other. He spooked the other day on a ride (a dog started barking behind us) and all he did was toss his head and then trot up to the safety of the other horses. His spook could have been so much worse, but I'm so glad it wasn't because I didn't ride it out well at all (I completely freaked and tried to curl up into the fetal position in my saddle...YAY for aussie saddles and poleys!). Once my brain rejoined my body and I got him back under control, we just kept going and didn't turn back. It would have been so much easier to turn back, but I wouldn't let myself. He was calm, so I needed to be calm.