Does anyone have a good routine to break the cycle of emotional escalation between horse and rider?
Scenario (cobbled together from various incidents): On a cool day, you take your horse to an unfamiliar place. He's a little "up" from the cold and a little "up" from being away from his buddies. There's unfamiliar debris next to the road or arena, and your horse seems more worried about than he should be. You mount up and can feel the high-headed tension of the coiled spring beneath you. He walks out short and tight, looking everywhere but forward. You catch yourself subconsciously gripping with knees and taking up the reins. His reaction is to be evasive and above the bit. Even the slightest leg aid gets an exaggerated reaction (i.e., silly sideways scooting that leaves you off-center). By now, your spine is rigid and your posture defensive. So is your horse's.
We've all been there. What is your strategy for dealing with it?