I jinxed myself, of course, because it came after a day that I had flippantly tossed out that Sydney's normal fall freak-outs had not happened (yet). Sure enough, the very next day, all hell broke loose. Not half way down the arena, on a loose rein while walking, Sydney spun violently to the right, his preferred direction for freaking out, and stood at full attention with his heart pounding beneath my thigh.
Shit. Pardon my language.
I spent the next 45 minutes riding a 2 x 4. I tried every single suppling exercise that I know, but nothing worked. Eventually, I felt that he wanted to canter, and I knew it would be good for him, if he could stay in control. I told him that he could canter, but it was going to be on the left lead, to the left. He tried everything he could to whip his head to the right, but I planted my inside rein on my knee and repeatedly asked for a left lead canter.
I rode him nearly each day, focusing solely on relaxation. He got better and better. On Monday afternoon. Captain Awesome finally showed up with his cape snapping smartly in the wind. He practically saluted me. We worked in the scary end of the arena for the first time in nearly a week. That's where the freak-out had occurred. We cantered the whole arena, we rode big looping circles, and even did 15-meter circles, all on both leads.
What a relief. I know I don't have an easy horse to ride, but it's always frustrating when Sydney takes ten giant backward steps. Those weird freak-outs are occurring less and less, but that doesn't make them any more fun to get through.
When we finished our ride on Monday afternoon, Sydney got TONS of hugs and kisses followed by a handful of cookies. He looked pretty pleased with himself, and maybe even a bit surprised. I hope he remembers that feeling for the rest of the fall.