I've had Rio about a month now and his owner and I finally found time to get together to show what Rio and I have worked on. Started off with her tacking him up. Apparently, he's shown a lot of anxious behavior when tacked. I hadn't seen it, so I wanted to see if it was related to her. He showed a little nervousness, more than I'd seen but nothing extraordinary.
I asked her to lead him around outside. I wanted to observe their behavior together. We asked him to keep his head low outside too and she pointed out some behavior he showed that made her tense. I saw a horse just checking out his surroundings. To her it was full of negative possibilities. Interesting.
We talked about the behavior I started teaching where I tap his neck near the withers and he drops his head. He needs more practice but I firmly believe it will be a great tool for her if she uses it. Together, they can feed off each others anxiety and something simple like that could break the cycle.
Then, I asked her to hop on. It was too cold and windy outside, so we did it in the barn aisle. We just did yo-yos, with her simply as a passenger. We did them until he was confident and calm. Surprisingly, that took some time! Probably 10-15 minutes of yo-yos, asking him to keep his head low the whole time. I would call him RBE, so I was seeking CALM. Once we got there, she hopped off and we stood and talked with him.