With the Arabian horse snorting, blowing and flying sideways away from that green stool, it was obvious to me it was about the noise. Percy had not given that stool a second look in the hands of the child or when it was quietly placed next to him but it had done something he hadn't expected when it clattered to the ground.
Assessing the "why's" of a situation always helps me decide the "how" in my solution. In this case that was compromised by both my status and the time frame I had to resolve this problem. With the woman waiting to ride, I needed a swift resolution but it needed to be thorough for safety's sake.
Jessica took Percy and she was trying to show the stool to him. It has a handle so it was easy to manage but Percy was not going to trust just seeing, touching and smelling it. He would look at it ok but the minute she tried to place it beside him, he exited sideways as dramatically as the first time.
I decided the only way to get Percy to tolerate the stool on the ground next to him was to block his exit strategy. To do that we needed a barrier. Something solid that he couldn't knock over would be necessary. Seemed to me the only option was the fence.
I showed Jessica how to put Percy up next to the big gates of that fence line. It was the only area along the fence with the ground level enough for her to practice mounting and dismounting and still enough of a barrier for Percy to not question it.
She put him into position and then showed him the stool. When he was not showing any signs of movement away from it, I had her carefully place it beside him and then remove it, all the while praising and reassuring the horse. Back and forth in this manner she went until he got comfortable with it being next to him.
Then I had her step up onto the stool and off of it interchanging that with sometimes picking the stool up and moving it. Gradually changing the focus from being about the stool to being about mounting, Jessica put her foot into the stirrup, putting weight into it and then stepping back onto the stool proceeding like she had never ridden him before. Then stepping off the stool and back on, mixing it up so Percy soon got over his concern about the stool.
Jessica decided to take it a step farther and she threw her leg over the horse. The only problem with her idea was she did not check first to see if there was enough room between the horse and the barrier to do this.
As Jessica threw her leg over the horse's croup, her toe caught the chain links of the gate. With the impact the gates rattled and shook noisily causing the horse to spook. It was not a good day for Percy and noise.
To be continued....