I have a pretty self-depracating sense of humor. I enjoy poking fun at myself, and I can handle a fair amount of poking from other people. I am far more likely to point out my flaws than to share my strengths. I am quick to share the successes of my horses, but slow to share their problems. They work hard for me, and I want to focus on their triumphs rather than their bad days (which are no doubt my fault anyway).
So to share a riding brag about myself kind of goes against the grain. But here it is.
Since Monday was a holiday, JL and I moved my regular Wednesday night lesson to Monday morning. We started out with a quick chat like we always do so that I could share with her what had been going well and what we got stuck on. I confessed that I had started cantering Sydney. I expected a bit of a tsk, tsk as she had not thought he was quite ready for canter work. Instead, her face lit up and she excitedly informed me that while looking out her window, she had seen a lovely bay horse cantering in the distance. She looked more closely and realized that it had to be Sydney and me. She was genuinely excited by the picture we presented.
I was flattered by her revelation and quickly explained that I had decided that I needed to do whatever it took to get control of Sydney's feet. Cantering him wasn't about not following her training program. It had just happened. She agreed wholeheartedly and added that it's important to use teachable moments when they present themselves. Whew!
We had one of our better lessons that morning. It seemed as though everything we've worked on finally came together. We worked on moving sideways by using the inside leg to the outside rein. I asked him to reach for the contact by keeping it steady and not pulling back. To help Sydney "bend" his ribcage, JL had me keep his nose inside the circle instead of looking out (my fault).
While his behavior wasn't absolutely perfect, I was able to very, very quickly diffuse his offer of naughtiness by making the circle smaller, bending his neck to the inside, and pushing his ribcage out. It's a movement that almost immediately softens his neck and lowers his poll. Success!
After the bulk of the softening exercises, I asked JL if I could show her our canter work. She quickly agreed and watched us get to work. Sydney's canter to the left is already good, but with her direction to lift with the outside rein as his withers came up, we were floating. Canter to the right will come another day. It needs a bit of work, or rather, I need to learn to help him get balanced and soft.
So how did I start this thing off with a Teeny Tiny Brag only to end up pointing out what I still don't know? Go ahead, poke away. I can take it!