That thing is going to drive me crazy. We'll get it, but then my trainer will add a new element and we lose it. On Saturday, we lost it completely. Sydney ducked, whirled, spun, reared, or flat out refused to go forward every time I asked for a right lead canter. I tried everything I could think of without any luck.
Fortunately for us, we had a lesson on Monday. I had had time to think about why we couldn't get a right lead canter before the lesson, and I was pretty sure it was because I was overly focused on getting an inside bend. Sound familiar? I was right. JL explained that by over-bending Sydney to the inside, he wasn't straight and was losing his hind quarters to the outside. When his butt is pointed out, he's going to canter toward the middle of the circle.
We went back to an earlier exercise. From the trot, I halted Sydney as hard as necessary with the outside rein. Then we did some trot work by turning him with the outside aids. This put him in a slight counter bend. When I could feel him on the outside rein, I ever-so-slightly used my inside rein to get his neck straight. JL asked for a canter, but before I could even cue for it, Sydney volunteered a calm canter on his own. I laughed and exclaimed that we were finished.
JL explained that Sydney had been telling me that I was doing it all wrong and once I had it right, he was able to do his job. We didn't quit of course because we needed to get at least one more nice, right lead canter. When I asked for the trot again, Sydney was very anxious and tried running around the circle, but since I knew what he needed, I went back to the outside rein exercise until he was listening to it.
Within a minute or two, we got several right lead canter departures that were relatively calm and correct. Then we called it a day. JL has a very good understanding of how these anxious OTTBs think. It's not that I am doing anything mean or horrible, it's just that Sydney needs to feel very safe and secure or he checks out and leaves the conversation. To the left, I know what I am doing (enough anyway) so he tries for me.
I still need to figure out what he needs to the right. Once I can prove to him that I've got everything under control, these melt downs will be a thing of the past.
As an interesting side note, Sydney was even tense in his stall after our Saturday ride. He kept nickering at me and asking for me to do something with him. I had a show on Sunday so I wasn't able to ride; only turn him out. I rode Speedy first on Monday, and even this upset Sydney. When our lesson was over, he had the most loving look on his face. He kept kissing my arms and neck and practically snuggled up to JL as we talked in the middle of the ring.
He is a much happier horse when he feels that all is right with his world. It definitely motivates me to be the best rider that I can be.
One last thing … I am officially on summer break this afternoon (hallelujah!). To celebrate, we are headed to the cabin for the weekend so I won't see you until Monday. Have a great weekend!