When I rode Sydney on Saturday, my plan was to put into practice Lois's tips from the last lesson and return some of the responsibility.
- For now, my reins should be loopy. I can pick up the inside rein to remind him to flex, but then I have to release. I can also pick up the outside rein for a one stride whoa! (shut him down in one stride, says Lois), but then I have to release again.
- Accuracy on the circle was another thing we need to work on. Lois had me really focus on where I was to hit the rail, but then I need to get off the rail. I allow Sydney to stay on the rail too long which wrecks our geometry.
- And finally, I wanted to practice sending him forward for one half of the circle and then bring him back to a slower and slower trot for the second half of the circle.
We moved right into the icky circle where I spur his inside hindquarter to move, move, move. I wanted to give myself a standing ovation when he finally took a deep breath and gave me an ALRIGHT ALREADY drop of the head. We were back in business.
Somewhere near the end of the ride, I realized that I really liked not having to be responsible for holding him up. I work too damn hard in other parts of my life to also be doing his job in the arena. Giving him back the responsibility of maintaining the pace that I set without running off was truly liberating. When he forgot to bend, I gave him a one stride correction that said flex your neck. When he tried to speed up, I gave him a half halt that said no, stay right here.
The more consistent I was with my corrections, the more he started assuming responsibility for being the strong partner. It was a good ride that left me feeling like I had done less work. I hope Sydney felt a bit empowered afterwards; I finally gave him the chance to do his job.
And then I whacked off his mane!