Excellent lesson this afternoon.
I followed the plan and came in, waiting for him to notice and acknowlege me, standing just out of range beside the stall, talking to my neighbor, gathering up our stuff/grooming tools/reins/etc but not going in. He's big and wide (too much grass lately I think), so he had to move his hind quarters to the side to see me. And he did. I went in, very easy...said hello and gently touched his flank. I fed him a nice apple quarter and then slowly started grooming. This time I did not speak conversationally, but kept my voice down, almost whispering to him. He was obviously happy to see me. But I didn't let that make me excited or happier. I stayed calm and cool.
The difference was dramatic. He actually helped me get his bridle on, opening his mouth wide. It was hilarious. He's SUCH a great horse!
We had moments when he still wasn't understanding me, but it's okay. The chief instructor was there today helping with my issue with steering him and showing me how to press his side and let go. Press and as soon as he even moves in that direction, to let go. (I had sent her an email over the weekend, describing my difficulties and concerns as I did with you all and she and I had a short discussion beforehand).
There is another student who has the same concerns as I, although he is far more experienced with horses (just not riding). He and I are not big believers in the kick. I know it has it's place but it's not a solution to a horse not understanding what you're telling him in the first place. We feel it's on us to convey properly.
ESPECIALLY BECAUSE we have been assigned the best of the best horses at this stable (and this is a seriously excellent fascility. I won't name it but you'd know it if I did.) we are given the easiest horses to ride, meaning the most patient and experienced. And if we can't communicate with THESE horses, these highly trained horses, then it's time to hang up the proverbial hat. And for me - well, I'm not about to do that by a long shot.
So thank you for all your kind words of encouragment, your advice and your assistance. Today was a good day thanks to you (particularly you, Tiny) (big hug from here). :)