Over the last few weeks, we've been working on some suppling exercises to help him let go through his poll and the base of his neck. This is one heavy horse. Each time I am able to shorten my reins even just a little, we have to go through the same trust exercises. He is certain that I am going to plant my hands and lock him into position. Sigh …
Things have been going pretty well in spite of the frequent discussions. Sydney is accepting the shorter rein length, and he's learning to let go through his neck. It probably helps that I am also learning how much heavy I am happy with, which I have discovered is not very much. In fact, I have quit worrying about the canter departures and have been focusing on getting him lighter in my hand instead.
The fear has also completely vanished. I don't know how long ago that happened, but it's no longer part of my riding experience with Sydney. When he gets tense and "up," I know how to diffuse the bomb. Helping him before it gets to that point has solved most of the explosions.
Being rid of the fear and wanting a horse that is lighter in my hand hasn't miraculously changed my big, brown OTTB into a show-ready pony though. He has miles and miles to go. Riding Speedy at the championship show pointed that out pretty clearly. Sydney may be a nice mover, but when it comes to changes of direction in public, the pace just gets too fast for him and he panics. We're working on it though.
I set up my camera on Sunday to see just where we are. It was in the mid-90s, and Sydney's winter coat is making an appearance so he was very much behind my leg. No excuses though … it is what it is. I edited out the boring parts (21 minutes of trotting and cantering in circles) and left you with only 55 seconds of boring. You're welcome.