This is what Sydney feels like though when he throws a temper tantrum. And to be honest, I think his height above the ground rivals that of those horses of the Spanish Riding School.
The look on JL's face when we come back to Earth is always enough to convince me that we ain't fooling' around. That boy can get some air. We had a lesson on Monday where he put on a little show for the barn cats (all three of them) and Dexter, the dog.
Everything has been going really well. The right lead canter is back in place, thanks to my commitment to be solid with the outside rein (even if I have to use the bucking strap). The left lead canter is getting more and more uphill. Sydney is allowing himself to relax and bend at the poll, and most importantly, when he's upset, he readily comes back to me mentally.
This might not seem huge, but for me, it is. It's only been in the past few months that I can persuade Sydney that when he's anxious, the trot is a safe place to be. Way back in the beginning, I couldn't even convince him to walk without feeling like I was riding a rocket. So to find comfort in the trot is a big deal.
With everything going so well, JL proposed a new exercise. While at the right lead canter, she wanted me to get some outside flexion while not giving the inside rein, and then get some inside flexion without giving the outside rein. To do this, the horse has to rock back a little so that he can carry more weight on his haunches so that he can lighten his front end.
We picked up a right lead canter, established a rhythm, and then I asked for the outside flexion. Sydney gave it, as I knew he would, but when I I asked for the inside bend back, his body got rock hard and he dove into my hand. I used my inside leg to push him out and rocked that inside rein trying to get any kind of a bend.
This was a particularly tricky exercise for me because it required me to let go of the bucking strap as I rocked either the inside or outside rein. I must have still had a pretty solid feel on the outside because rather than spin to the right, which is Sydney's go-to, he launched straight up and bucked hard. Kind of like the picture above, but with a much lower head.
Thank goodness for newly formed habits. Without even thinking about it (I was actually thinking about high high off the ground we were and about how much I hoped I didn't come off), I grabbed that bucking strap in my outside hand and sat up HARD. Sydney landed and came to a screeching halt.
I put my leg on and sent him forward into the trot. I looked to JL to confirm that we had indeed achieved some serious air, and all she could say was, "where did that come from?" For me, the best part of all of those shenanigans is that I no longer feel any fear. I am respectful of what he can do of course, but I am not afraid of him. I've learned how to keep control, which he really appreciates and needs.
We decided that maybe that particular exercise is a bit too much to ask for right now at the canter, so we schooled it from the trot. JL is going on vacation for the next week so my homework is to school the flex to the outside, flex to the inside exercise at the trot while she's gone.