Overall, Arthur has been doing well with his training. I can work him through the basic ground work stuff and he's willing and eager to work. There are a few things that can be more perfect but as a perfectionist I could be dwelling on those for a long time. Basically, how good is good? When is enough enough?
We've progressed with leaving him tied while we work the other horses and he does great with that consistently. I started grooming him this weekend while tied and he enjoyed it. He's really starting to be a horse now and its pretty cute but in true gelding/young/clueless horse manner that means he's "Getting into trouble" with mouthing, nuzzling, etc so we're working on showing him the boundaries on that. He's catching on well though without startling or resentment.
After an unremarkable set of weeks and a lot of planning and freaking out (on my part), I've decided that it was time to increase his training. My rider, Erica, has volunteered to ride him and while I'm not comfortable with that at this as a go get 'em method, I rationalized that having her on him while I did groundwork would be a nice bridge and that he was ready for that.
I worked him in her saddle and worked up to her mounting. Naturally I spent a lot of time on mounting and addressing any small glitches but he seemed quite good about the whole thing. She mounted uneventfully and I moved him out on lead. My nice calm Arthur was there and ready to work. He worked through walk/trot on the lunge line easily and listened as well as he does without a rider. Erica raising her hand was a little cause for concern, but by lowering and raising it until he was fine with it solved that and she was able to ride with an outstretched arm in short order.
After 10 minutes or so he was plenty relaxed so we started walking again and I let Erica flex and ask for some leg cues. Both of which he responded readily and was a rockstar. We worked on her maneuvering him near and away from me and he had little issue. The biggest problem was me near his haunches where he wanted to disengage and move away but quickly figured out when the focus was on Erica.
I'm not going to breath a sigh of relief and proclaim him fixed, but its a new step and that's rewarding. Now we just need to repeat it 1000 more time successfully. Baby steps, very small baby steps. I'm also ready for some backsliding as we get to better weather/daylight and I can work him more.