Anyway, right thing easy, wrong thing difficult. A short warm-up and I mounted. The plan? To see where his threshold is and to make it easier to be near it and harder to be near the barn/herd. We rode up and down the driveway. The herd was hanging out at the feed shelter 1/2 way down the driveway. So we did lots of trot and canter circles near the horses, we cantered back to the barn and we walked when we headed toward the gate (away from herd/barn).
His threshold moved at least 50 ft by the end of the session! He was working hard and the canter to the barn is uphill, so that work was intense over time. We rode about an hour. He was really doing great! I was in tune with him and he was telling me what was uncomfortable and what was easy and I was responding accordingly. As he got more tired, we got to a point where he decided bucking was a better option than cantering. He's bucked enough that I'm able to really start thinking through the bucks and respond with brains instead of instinct. I brought his head around and spanked him. I think I surprised him! We then cantered in tight circles until I felt the idea to buck leave him and his partnership thoughts enter the play. He was now working WITH me and abandoning his own ideas.
This has to be the most successful moment we've had from his bucking. We then immediately trotted back to the herd and walked towards the gate. Lo and behold, his threshold was even farther and I stopped before we found it because we'd made such progress. We cantered back to the barn and he was soft and responsive and never even thought to drop to trot or buck.
I hopped off, rubbed him, and praised him. He'd earned it. Great session!