We did go for our first little ride today and he was a little better than I expected he'd be. There were some girls riding their horses at the same time so I think that was helpful for him. We alternated short periods of work with short periods of standing and looking around to take it all in. And by "work" I mean simple walk/jog/trot/collected canter, but nothing actually hard. He was a champ about the other horses jumping cross rails in the center. This place does a lot of obstacles and desensitization so there is a cowbell hanging in the arena and we hit it a few times and he didn't even flinch.... and by "we" I mean it hit ME but he wasn't bothered by the noise. We even went over our first bridge platforms. I had walked him over it a few times on the ground. He had small fits when the other horses left the arena one by one (just like he does at shows) but we just schooled through it and once he was calm and still I dismounted and we were done.
Then we got to watch Max get his new shoes on and chat with the new farrier about Juniors feet. We made an appointment for Junior two weeks from today to get his shoes off and a trim. Now that we have such lovely footing I'm going to go back to barefoot as long as we're able. The farrier took one look at Junior's feet and said "has he been stumbling?" I had to laugh and say "since the day I got him!" We seem to go through spurts and I've not yet found the formula of why it happens when it happens It might be all feet, all dropped shoulder, all distraction, all something else, or any combination of the lot. Grr. Maybe with this new, very thorough farrier we'll eliminate the feet at least. This guy was actually an engineer (not sure what kind) and decided about 15 years ago to change professions because he loves horses so much. I LOVE the idea of someone that smart and educated working on my horse's feet. Even in our consultation today he asked lots of questions about how he's been and what we're planning on doing and his history with his feet.
I know that there is no perfect barn, or perfect farrier, or even perfect horse, but things are looking up for us it seems. But don't worry, this Overanxious Horseowner will certainly find more to stress over! I was listening to the radio on the lovely drive home and Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" (yeah, I was disappointed it was her, too) came on. I had to laugh because that song is so me... minus the Hannah Montana part. :) This is what Junior thinks about Disney packaged stars: