I've had a few more rides on Joey. There have been highs, and lows.
Behavior: He continues to show a little bit of interest in mares, my mare Lola in particular. Hard to say if he's acting like a stallion or just a co-dependent horse. Lola is much the same way towards him. I think they have a crazy, co-dependent thing going on at the moment. Yuck.
Under saddle: He is becoming VERY responsive to subtle cues. Wonderfully voice trained for gaits, and stopping very nicely with just seat cues. Between my seat and my legs, I feel like I'm hardly in his mouth at all. It's a very cool feeling. And it keeps him tuned in to me. I just love riding this way, and like that he is a horse with whom I can do this.
He is having great difficulty taking the right lead. He wants to take the left lead, no matter how much I position and cue him for the right lead. He was not this unbalanced pre-surgery. As a reminder, his retained testicle was on the right side. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with his reluctance to take the right lead?
He will take the right lead in the round pen, with me off his back. But he does start with the left lead, and then does a flying lead change to the right when I pressure him. Might be he just needs to build up the right side, both physically AND mentally.
He is also a little shy about offering me his right side. So of course, I make him give it to me, gently.
I also saddle my horses starting from the right. I swing the saddle on him from the right side, let down my cinches, and THEN walk to the left to complete the process. It's a trick I learned along the way that reduces one trip around the horse. Most people throw the saddle up from the left, walk around to the right to let down the cinches, and then walk BACK to the left to complete the process. Doesn't make any sense once you try it my way, in my opinion.
He was a slight freak about me swinging up the saddle from the right side when I first got him, but he accepts it all now. And I like to think it's a good way to "build up" his right side to accept sensory data readily. I also will occasionally mount from the right. Although that feels as weird to me as it does the horse!
Trailer loading: Much better, but still wants to ride backwards in the stock trailer. In the slant load, he won't have a choice. But I haven't decided if I'll get serious about changing this or not, because I would probably want to ride backwards in a stock trailer too.
Round penning: He is always a little hot for the first 5 minutes or so, with lots of bucks and a big show when asked to do anything. He'll tear around the round pen for several laps to get the fresh off. Once he settles in, he does very well and responds nicely. But that fresh attitude at the start has become a pattern for him. I attribute it to the paddock he is confined to most of the day. I think if I could give him the larger turn out that the other horses enjoy, he'd be less fresh, because he would have been walking around all day.
Overall, he is as good from the ground as my paso fino, and that's saying a lot because my paso fino Vaquero has excellent ground manners.