First of all- thanks to everyone who commented with helpful advice on my last post. Rest assured that I will be taking your advice and making the indoor treat city for my boy... in a few weeks. He's started ducking away from the bridle when I try to put it on him, then when I get on him if we're even stepping in the direction of the indoor he starts getting upset. I think he needs some time to associate riding with positive experiences again before we go back and try to tackle his traumatic association with the indoor.
Since the outdoor arena is beginning to thaw, yesterday I wanted to see if he was still okay working out there. Problem is the outdoor is accessed by the same trail we use to get to the indoor - and it's now completely poisoned for him. There is another option though, riding along the road (their driveway is about 200 meters down the road, not far). Since he immediately swerved down the driveway away from the poisoned trail I decided to give riding alongside the road a shot.
Quick aside here: I don't like riding alongside roads. I had a nasty cuss of a horse throw an absolute fit one day when I asked him to move to the side of the road so a car could pass. Instead of moving over he started bucking and rearing in the middle of the road, directly in front of the oncoming car. Fortunately they had the presence of mind to stop; I had to emergency dismount at the top of a rear to get that &%#$^# horse out of the road.
Anyway, back to my fabulous boy: I was not only worried about his reaction to passing traffic- I was also worried about his feet. I had no idea whether or not he'd be sore walking in the rocks and cinders that accumulate on the side of the road. Fortunately his feet felt great, not a single misstep, and he didn't have a single issue with the passing cars. I did ask him to whoa every time one went by and gave him a treat, but really he didn't seem bothered by the passing traffic at all. That's a relief.
After a quick jaunt to check the status of the trails across the road (still too snowy), we wandered into the outdoor arena and he was cool as a cucumber. We did some serpentines, a little bit of circling and called it a day. Another huge relief, his issue is only with the indoor and hasn't expanded to everything around it. I think he'll be much happier with our ring work now.
I also popped up on Gwen last night. We got three steps forward in a row. Excellent! She's really starting to get it.