I tried to find a way to take all of the wonderful advice that was offered here and, from what I was able to try, it worked.
First, I asked the stable manager if she thought that Lenny may have ulcers. She said that she would look into it.
Then, I put his bridle on in the stall and looped the reins over my arm for control. He was a completely different horse. He moved twice and each time I quietly and gently moved him back and said, "Stand". He didn't fuss. The stable manager held the bridle when I cinched him, but he didn't try to walk away, instead he tried to bite the reins.
We went out to the arena. I flopped around with out much control. It was embarassing! I must admit, I am a green rider and all my experience has been on 15 hh horses. I asked my trainer, the manager, to get on and I watched how she rode him. I instantly saw what I was doing incorrectly! My reins were too loose and I needed to bring my legs back behind the girth and really grip.
I had loose reins because I didn't want to pull on his mouth or use the reins to balance him. He loves to bring his head up and then lower it while we trot along. If I gripped he would just go faster. Even a light touch would send this horse forward! So, a typical tour around the arena consisted of me being pitched forward, backward, up and down in the saddle. It was not a pretty sight! I am sure Lenny is also suffering from frustration and soreness too! Lol
Just watching my trainer made me realize I needed to grip more and control the speed (to make it nice and even to reduce my movement in the saddle) and have more of his mouth. It was incredible! I stayed balanced he maintained a more collected trot that I could time my posting to! Yahhhh!
This time, however; when I got off to cool him out, he walked very close to me with his head below mine and the side of his face touching my waist and upper thigh. He put his head so close to me that I had trouble walking! Lol It was weird. I felt like he was really in my space and kept pushing him away. My manager said that he "liked me". It felt more like he was trying to walk me into the wall. He wasn't pushing on me, just so close that it made it difficult to walk straight. I kept getting closer to the wall. Each time I shooed him away he would come back in with his head really close, touching my body, but not bumping or rubbing.
He used to try to use me as a scratching post or would bump me with his head. I was firm in stopping that after I read that this is a game to say, "I'm in charge." He doesn't do that to me anymore. Today, was a new behavior.
Has anyone ever seen this type of behavior? Is this aggressive? Is it a sign of affection, in his mind? How should I respond to it?
I gripped his reins closer to his mouth to control his head and give us "space". When we got around the arena without any "crowding", I took him back to his stall. He was very quiet, didn't pace, and enjoyed the grooming. I rewarded him with a scratchy-massage on his face and he didn't move until I was done! It was obvious that he loved it! :)
Talk to you soon!