Spoiler alert: I did. We did. It was awesome.
As soon as I got on, I started listing the 50 states in alphabetical order. I kept my eyes off of my horse and didn't think bout riding. Izzy tried to lurch into a trot, but I refused to follow him with my seat. He walked. And then he walked a lot more. When he a took a deep breath and exhaled, I knew I was on the right track.
I discovered that Izzy's tension had to be coming from me. While I ride, I focus on every single thing that he is doing wrong, and I try to correct all of it at once. I don't pay nearly as much attention to what I am doing wrong. By counting, I am not working on Izzy. I am only establishing a very consistent tempo. It also forces me to ride better.
When I am counting, I have to think about myself. Is my rhythm steady? Am I pugging my butt into the saddle on the sit moment of the rising trot? Am I holding the rhythm when he tries to speed up?
If I feel my attention start to wander, I change my counting pattern. Instead of counting to 20, I'll count to 16 and try to get back to 1 without missing a beat. Then I'll start over and count to 12, 18, and back to 20.
I also hear Christian telling me to let my arms be soft. I can now feel when I am bracing. By maintaining the rhythm with my seat, I don't need to hold him back with my arms. It's much easier to be soft in your shoulders and arms when your seat and core are engaged.
I also keep my eyes in the middle of the circle. I don't look at what he's looking at, and I don't look for what might spook him. He's been a lot less looky when I am not looking around.
I found that Izzy once again tried to anticipate the departure and quickened his tempo in response. Rather than allow it, I simply resisted his movement and held the tempo I wanted. When he was once again trotting nicely, I simply gave a little scoop with my seat and we were cantering. And it was fabulous!
The first time we cantered, I could feel that it was about to get a bit wild, but Christian once again saved me: Sit back, point your belly into the circle. As soon as I sat back and pointed my belly, Izzy rocked back and got softer. Once my position was better, I could milk the reins and help him keep his balance.
I can't wait to see where this all goes!