Promptly at 6:00 a.m., I loaded up my change of clothes, blow dryer, straight iron, towel and headed to the barn. The time change was actually working in my favor. By time I got to the barn, there was more than enough light to saddle up.
I hopped up on Sydney with one goal in mind: riding him into relaxation even if we only walked. We made it to the far end of the arena before the squeal and duck away appeared. He almost unseated me. If he only knew that it would take just one more head fling and hop to toss me ...
Fortunately he doesn't know.
I managed to right myself and immediately went into a quarter hour of bend around my leg exercises. As soon as he squealed and spooked, I was tempted to hop off and get the lunge line, but I decided to see if I could just work out the anxiety from the saddle. It took exactly 17 minutes of bend to the left, bend to the right, bend, bend, bend. Once he offered a trot, I decided to see what we could do with it.
I am learning that I can't cave to his desire to have a loose rein. It's not helping him, and it's not teaching him anything. Over the last few rides, I've let him know that I am in control of the situation, and that he can do this. It wasn't an easy ride, but I could feel my confidence growing as was his.
The whole thing was a great opportunity for both of us. Discombobulating his routine is one thing that contributes to his anxiety, and since he'll eventually be asked to show in the early morning, I know Wednesday's early morning was good practice.
When I pulled my saddle off just after 7:00 a.m., I smiled as the steam from his back wafted through the sunlight that was just breaking over the hills. It had been a very nice morning.
My plan is to ride again this morning. Here's to sucking it up, persevering, and walking the walk!
One last thing: special thanks to my wonderful barn owner who opened up her house to let me clean up and change before heading to court. She even had fresh towels laid out for me and told me to hang them on the door to use tomorrow. It's nice to be so welcomed! Thanks, RM!