For the second time out with Hawk, I took the same trail. This time, I put him through several gait changes. I didn't want him to think that whenever I was on board, we would simply go as fast as he could. Again, I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive he was. He changed gaits readily on command, but needed about the same amount of correction as before.
At our first meeting, Hawk only wanted to go fast. Now that we're better acquainted, he is much more calm. He walks quietly on a loose rein. This did highlight another problem his owner had mentioned. Given his head, he sometimes strays off the trail, as if he's heading off into the woods. Don't know yet if he's not sure he's supposed to simply follow the open trail, or if he's trying to take control from the rider. I suspect the latter. At the creek crossing, he attempted to turn back. I pushed him through, then crossed and recrossed several times to make my point After the fourth time, he more or less grudgingly plodded across without much pushing. At the top of the loop, He knew that one fork went back to the barn. I turned him as if we were going back around the loop. He protested by trying to turn back and by wandering off the trail. I cued him into an amble until he appeared to accept the new direction. Then, I turned him back. At the top of the loop again, I turned as if we were going back around in the opposite direction. Once more, he protested in the same way. I pushed him until he accepted my decision. I repeated this exercise several more times. Each time required less distance before he relented. I think we're going to play that game often. On the way home, he wanted to pick up the pace, but it was easy to keep him at a walk on a loose rein.
I got more encouragement from him the other day. I was fetching up another horse from the same field. Hawk came up to me on his own, and stood there for me. This is the first time he's done that. I've always had to chase him down before.
This is a sign of improving trust. His reward was not having to work that day. We'll see if he continues.