I've had some really good rides on Sydney this week. Not good in as he was perfect, but good as in got your number, Dude!
We did have one really good moment though. I almost always water the arena before I ride. One day during the week, I watered it so that I could see my tracks as we rode, and since mine are the only ones out there, it's easy to see where I've been.
I had done some warm up trot work down the long sides and across the diagonal when I decided to do some quick left lead canter work. I came down to A and asked for a canter transition. Sydney picked up the most lovely left lead canter. As I completed the circle, I marveled at how round the circle appeared based on our clear tracks in the sand. I decided to spiral in.
Each time I came around, I was able to come inside, just off our tracks in the sand. Having such a clear reference point made the spiral in so much easier and consistent. Sydney's left lead canter is such a joy to ride. He relaxes into it and loves the spiral in and out exercise.
Throughout the week I also worked on shutting some doors. Sydney is no longer a fan of whirling to the inside. He has also started evaluating whether or not he still likes to rear. He now knows that I adore the teeny tiny circle and am quite happy to spend our whole riding time doing it!
On one day that I rode, I started out with some trot work down the long sides to get him moving forward, but then I made a 20-meter circle at C and cued for a right lead canter. He was so relaxed that he forgot to get tense about it. It was a lovely transition. I brought him back to a trot, crossed the diagonal and asked for a left lead canter at A, which he also gave willingly.
Each day I've varied the canter work a little, but I always finish with some you must halt RIGHT NOWs. He got one or two small rears in on me, but I was able to anticipate almost every other resistance. I tried to make each ride as short as possible so that he learns that there is a good thing about following my directions. Each day that I got a really submissive/cooperative halt from the outside, left rein. I praised him enthusiastically and hopped off.
Interestingly, he has been particularly snuggly this week. I think he is finding some safety in these exercises.