I've been focusing on that outside left rein. Before riding with Christian, I had no idea how much weight I could hold. I am not saying I want a heavy horse, but I've been dropping the contact which is probably why Sydney doesn't trust that rein.
Each time he resisted, I softened my left hand (while tracking right) which allowed him to either rear, whirl, bolt, or simply evade the connection. Christian showed me that I can't drop that contact and expect to make improvements. I am also using a much stronger inside right leg.
Over the last week and a half, we've worked on leg yielding across the diagonal. Sydney actually seems to enjoy the challenge of this exercise. When I rode him on Sunday, he was still trying to surge forward out of the corner which meant I had to take a good strong hold of my bucking strap to stabilize my core. Eventually, he figured out what we were doing and tried to keep a more steady rhythm.
The trick with that exercise is when to change the bend. I was trying to change the bend before I was out of the corner. I realized that it was more effective to ride the corner on the correct bend and then change the bend and my posting diagonal once were straight. I also had to really focus on halt halting through the corner so that we came of the corner balanced and ready to change the bend.
Sydney leg yields across the diagonal pretty nicely to the right (on a left bend), but gets a bit wonky to the left on a right bend. This makes total sense as tracking right is where we have the most problem with him not wanting to step underneath with his right hind. This exercise will help us, I am sure.
I am also playing around with JL's slow down canter game. To the left, Sydney seems to enjoy the opportunity to do an extended canter. I now feel really comfortable letting him do a good hand gallop. As soon as I sit back and do a one-two hold, one-two release, he comes right back to me and softens nicely.
To the right, we're also developing some confidence, but we have the added issue of no inside bend this direction. I have to really manipulate both reins to first get a bend, and then to ask him to slow back down. I don't really have to ask him to speed up this direction as he kind of wants to rush anyway. It's been fun though, because I can tell that he's trying to listen to me and slow down. He just gets out of balance again which makes him hurry. As I get better about helping him to balance with that outside rein, he should start to feel more confidence.
Things are starting to feel a lot more like fun rather than Oh, Crap moments!