Now that Sydney can reliably pick up the left lead canter without any drama, she wants him to be rounder and more collected. For a horse who used to bolt as his one and only gait, it is rather surprising how much leg I have to use to collect his canter. I was gasping for breath the entire time!
As we cantered left, JL had me really rock the outside rein while adding leg that said forward. As he came up in the front end and got lighter, she instructed me to begin working on the inside rein for bend. I thought tracking right was hard; while Sydney is very agreeable to the left, he is quite stiff! My homework for the week is to get him as uphill as I can to the left even if we aren't covering much ground. Right now, accepting the contact is more important than lengthening his stride.
We also worked on improving Sydney's right lead canter. As it turned out, JL didn't have a lot to say about it. When we were finished with the ride, she just shook her head in amazement and asked my big brown horse who he was and what had he done with Sydney. She said it was so nice to simply be able to watch us go around without needing to fix anything. His right lead canter has gotten that good.
When Sydney knew he was finished working, he quietly inched himself closer and closer to her so that he could nuzzle her sleeve. It was only a few weeks ago that he even began looking at her. Now, he not only sees her, but he wants to visit with her. As we were leaving, we caught up to C, one of JL's other students. For the the first time since I've owned him, he reached out and nuzzled someone else's neck! When she turned around, he stuck his nose into her barn bag and rooted around for treats.
This is not the horse that I bought three years ago. This is not even the horse I owned three months ago. JL and I discussed his new found happiness. She thinks it might be that he finally feels as though we've heard his plea for safety. He hasn't wanted to make the decisions, and to his utter relief, I am now directing his feet and telling him what to do.
Before we walked home, C said something like, aren't you so glad you stuck it out with him? Yes, yes I am!