It was a nippy 40F when we went out in the grey morning light to do chores. Brett had the stalls set up with hay and water. All we needed to do was add their morning bucket of vitamins and bring them in. I added an apple to Tex's grain bin, already containing his pelleted vitamins and carrots.
I talked to Robin after the last time I brought Tex into the barn, at liberty, for feedback. She advised that I not carry food on my person, but that I load up the destination (the stall in this case) with a bonanza of goodies. She also gave me advice on what to do if Tex walks off -- which she said he would do at some point. I was ready.
We brought all the other horses into the barn first. Being with the herd would give Tex added incentive to walk with me to the barn, on top of the knowledge that breakfast was waiting in the stall. When we went to the boys pasture, Brett opened the gate and let Flash out first. Flash broke into a trot and skidded across the barn aisle and into his stall.
I asked Tex to come to my shoulder and we started walking. Half-way to the barn, he paused and looked around. I asked him to continue and he complied -- for a couple steps. Then he calmly walked off. I calmly followed. He broke into a trot and ran behind the barn. I calmly followed. He dropped his head to the dead grass and I said no. He lifted his head and looked at me -- I was still quite a distance from him, just rounding the corner of the barn. He thought for a moment.
He broke into a trot again -- but this time, he trotted straight over to me, slid to a stop, and stood at my shoulder. I praised him and we walked back to the front of the barn, down the aisle, and I indicated he could go in his stall. I talked to him the whole way. "That was amazing, Tex." "I'm so proud of you." "Look at you; making good choices." "You are the best horse, ever."
As he stood in his stall, his lips wet with apple juice and slobber, he reached his head out and looked at me. He looked awfully pleased with himself.