I am not kidding. Sydney and I connected in the most unbelievable way on Tuesday evening. My goal with him over these last few weeks has just been softness with relaxation. I finally got both. We started out with a bit of a walk and I was VERY happy to notice that I was holding the reins between the second and third rein stop. No big deal to most of the world, but for us, it was huge! If you are just joining me, we normally start at the third stop from the bit end and work very hard to arrive at the second stop from the bit end.
We did some of our regular walking where I gently squeeze him forward while just as gently squeeze each rein. As soon as his head and neck come down in a stretch, I relax my seat and stop pulsing the rein. Over and over we went until I felt ready for a trot. I asked him to move forward and his head popped up, but not by much. I started with some rein sliding back and forth, but quickly realized that he was pretty darn soft so I steadied my hands and held them right in front of me. As he braced and lifted his head, I squeezed with my seat and legs while pulling my shoulder blades back. Rather than hold my hands steady, like I would for Speedy, I pulsed each hand. Little by little, Sydney got softer, and for the first time, looser.
I am pretty certain that if you look on the dressage pyramid, you won't find the word looser, but that's how he felt. And after more of this squeezing and pulsing, I felt the most amazing sensation. All of sudden, and I don't mean to be dramatic, but that's how it felt, Sydney's withers came up and I felt the most incredible swing through his back. His neck reached way down and he got completely soft and free. I laughed out loud.
What a feeling!