I would have liked to have arrived at the barn after a leisurely morning at the house, but our temperatures have breeched the 90 degree range so it's back to early morning rides when possible. I lunged Speedy in the side reins first, more about that later, but then it was Sydney's turn.
He and I had a few bleh rides this past week so I was really looking forward to getting some solid work out of him. Riding after a full work day is hard. I am not as mentally sharp as I need to be, and my body is already tired before I even step into a stirrup. All of that equaled rides that weren't as productive as they needed to be.
Since Speedy had been a bit wild and wooly on the lunge, I suspected Sydney might be feeling fresh as well so he also did some lunge line work. Nothing wild happened, but he did toss in a few bucks, and he did give a few dig-in rounds on the line before I asked him to return to a more sensible tempo. Once I knew the worst of whatever was going to happen had happened. I brought him back to a walk and gave him lots of reassuring pats and hugs. I've learned that the lunge line is a bit stressful for him. I think (know) his previous owners used the lunge line simply to work out excess energy. But that's a different topic.
My riding plan was to focus on my hand and body position to see if I could have a positive effect on Sydney's position. I kept my hands low and really encouraged him to reach to the bit with my seat and legs. We did lots of circles, changes of direction, serpentines, and trot work down the long side.
I am finding that the best way to loosen up Sydney's neck and back is to do lots of changes of directions. We've been doing a lot of serpentines over the past week or so, and I find that if I pick up the canter after a few of those, his canter is lighter, and it is easier to move his shoulders.
I am really happy with the work that he is doing for me. He can reach so nicely for the contact when he is relaxed and his canter, both to the left and right, has come a long, long way. We can now easily make the turn at A to go down the centerline and we can even do a three loop serpentine. We'll continue to do what we can to work on suppleness and will hope that he can give me at least half of what he can do at home at his next show.
I am so very glad that I stuck it out with this boy. He is a very nice horse!