Out on the trail, bushwhacking through woods too thick to walk through on foot, we come across a fallen tree, branches everywhere, and pine trees on the other side. Vinnie is behind us, following. I ask Oakley to approach so I can see if there is a way around. While I'm looking around, he keeps walking up to the tree, looks down at the trunk as if to say "oh, this up to my chest. I can't step over this... I'll have to jump..." and lightly hops over, broken dead branches flying all about, in between two pine trees. So gently that I almost didn't rise out of the saddle... Emboldened, Vinnie followed along, stepping over a bit further down, like nothing.
Next day, back in the arena, he goes completely crazy and absolutely refuses to step over three trot poles piled together. (As usual, I won the argument and he did... under protest the first three or four times, until it was nothing.)
Out on the trail, in company of other horses, if I didn't know better, I'd say he was bombproof; certainly compared to many other skittish horses we've come across. Ducks taking off? He startles and walks a bit faster, while the horse behind jumps in a panic. Squirrels leaping from the tree? Meh. Other riders and horses? Oh, boy, new friends!
Out on the trails alone, he slows (but doesn't change gait) to check the fallen cornstalks carefully before going over them and is rock-steady as I prune and hack away at another overhanging tree or bush... except for munching on leaves he's not supposed to eat. (Tree leaves are definitely NOT listed on a horses diet! I checked. He doesn't believe me.)
Back in the arena, (and only some days, not every day!) for no apparent reason, the blue plastic thingy in the corner suddenly scares the bejeezus out of him. Or the gate. Or the flower-box. And always, after a just a few minutes of hard work, he no longer cares about any of that stuff; he just hunkers down and does his flatwork like a trooper.
So all I can do at the end of the day is rub his forehead, give him a carrot and wonder just what goes on in that head?
Horses... go figure...