Went out this afternoon and used the rope halter. Worked like a gem! He's been hard to turn back after letting him back into the paddock, to get his halter off. It's something I teach all my horses because it makes it simpler for me, so they walk in and then turn around to have their halter off. Well he's been taking me mud-skiing across the paddock in his web halter. Put the rope halter on him and asked him to walk out and then turn back, worked like a charm. He seemed suprised to like "wow.. I don't usually do that" I gave him much praise for it, which he loved :)
Rode him today as well, but just a little cause it was REALLY hot here. Don't want to burn off all the food he gets, cause he needs to retain it. I borrowed a friend's d-ring snaffle that didn't have any slots for the reins and it worked wonderfully. Not perfect but so much better than my slotted egg-butt. He was really bracing against the bit before, and the reins being free to move a bit really seemed to help that. I think I'm going to stick with this. Worked on his stretches today and got him to lower his head all the way to the ground with just gentle bit pressure (from the ground, not mounted). Still not so great on the sides, but he's a smart kid. He'll figure it out quick.
Plus, his ribs seem a little smoother today. Still not much muscle in his hip, but muscle takes more time than he's had. The way he's making progress, and how willing he is, makes me think that the people just handled him all wrong. He wants to do what you ask him.
Asked him to use his right lead at the canter today, and I'm pretty sure he's never had that done before, they just used him on trails so when he canters he automatically picks up his left lead, which is more comfortable for him. He got a little confused and threw his head down but I couldn't tell if he was trying to get the correct lead or if he was thinking about bucking. Slowed him, brought him back to the corner and tried again and he picked it up :) Only the 2nd try. I really think he's going to do great with consistent handling.