I had another great lesson on Saturday, including the moment when Ace saw a dragon (neither Gayle nor I saw it, of course) and took off across the arena. He was on a loose rein when it happened, but my hands were in the right place, so a finger on the pommel kept me balanced as he dropped the right shoulder. I never lost contact with the saddle, got him back under control, turned him and made him go right back to work. That obviously wasn't his plan, but he got the message.
Earlier in the lesson, I was letting him walk on a loose rein while I was pulling on a glove. Gayle commented about how relaxed I was, letting him move freely while I tried to get the glove on. After the spook, she said she couldn't have handled it any better than I did. She was pleased that we just went back to work after something we both knew was bound to happen at some point.
Knowing that he took off at a canter and I just sat there makes the thought of approaching the intentional canter less scary than it has been for quite a while. Gayle and Ashley both keep telling me that he has an awesome canter (as has anyone who's ever ridden him--he looks like a rocking horse.)
He's moving off my leg so easily these days that I regret that I wasn't able to find the right trainer sooner. Of course, I really wouldn't have been able to afford the training program I am in when I first got him. It does help to have him worked by Gayle and ridden by Ashley and I'm really glad that I don't have to longe him every time before I get on his back.
I dropped by Gayle's place when Ashley was riding him in a group lesson last week and Gayle told me that when the lesson was over, Ace was very confused that I was no longer there. He had noticed when I came in but didn't see me leave. I guess he knows who he owns.
I have seen him block other horses at the barn if they try to get too friendly with me. If he's with a group out in the arena and I'm in his run, he'll guard the gate and keep the other horses away. God forbid I open the door and someone beats him to his treats.