Today was a big day for me and Panama: I rode Panama for the first time ever this morning.
Realistically, about all I did is sit in the saddle and practice walking him and asking him to "whoa." The idea was to get him used to having someone on his back. Next time the trainer comes, we're going to start using the reins to direct him a little more.
The really exciting thing is how well Panama took the whole thing. He hardly seemed fazed when the trainer and I took turns climbing up onto his back, and he was responsive to our commands, even in a dramatically different situation.
It amazes me how different Panama is now. He clearly thrives on the attention and affection, which he didn't get much of before. What is really noticeable is how responsive he is to training: The more challenged he is, the better behaved he also is. I guess it's because he is so smart.
I didn't get any pictures of the big moment, unfortunately, but my trainer said she'll take pictures of me riding Panama during our next session. In the meantime, here is a picture of my handsome little horse wearing his new winter blanket:
That should keep him nice and cozy on cold nights!