Today Steen came to me as I approached again, even though he was in a lush, grassy pasture because the mud is finally drying out. We walked up to the barn and he got a little balky at the sight of the hitching post, but I coaxed him into the barn and let him loose in the indoor arena. He trotted around sniffing at things for a while and discovered he could sniff noses with one of the horses in the stalls by the other door. Then I proceeded to move him around with my hands, touch him all over, lead him around, make him stop, go, go backwards, etc. He is very odd in that he will stand perfectly quietly as long as he’s not tied. I can rub him all over with my hands and pretty much anything else I can pick up and move around (today I tested him with his lead rope, a rubber ball, a traffic cone, and a different rope) without evoking so much as a startled glance. Also, if I so much as pick up a longe whip, he starts trotting around me in a circle. But, he still gets agitated when another horse and rider come into view, and intermittently decides he’s freaked out by being alone and wants to run around and yell for his friends. However, when he’s not distracted he learns quickly, and several times today he was standing quietly with his head down, ears drooping, etc. When I walked away from him he would almost always follow of his own accord.
So, I’ll have to get to the bottom of the tying thing and somehow convince him that people are not only just as good company as other horses, but loads more fun. Really, I think for now the most important thing I can do is just hang out with him.