What does this have to do with Wednesday? As soon as I got on, I knew that Sydney was not going to work well for the lesson. The fear started to build. When he's tense like that, he wants to explode. We started with lots of walking as I tried to lengthen his neck and get him to relax. After Sunday's wild turnout, I had hoped that the energy building in Sydney had dissipated somewhat. Nope. He was wound up tight and ready for an explosion. I made a huge effort to keep my fear at bay, but elephants are large and cumbersome and difficult to hide.
JL quickly saw that we were not going to be working a relaxed horse, so her lesson plans changed. Alright, she said, let's just work on letting him move forward without worrying where his head is. She had me keep enough control in that event that he bolted, but I wasn't to ask for anything more. In fact, she encouraged me to think, yeah, forward, that's what I want, too! So instead of slowing him down, which is what I desperately wanted to do, I asked him to trot forward boldly. And I mean BOLDLY. We hustled around that arena. For more than forty minutes.
And little by little, the elephant got bumped and jostled until he squeezed his fat, old frame through the gate. I am sure he was lurking in the bushes somewhere, and he'll no doubt be back, but for that night, I managed to get rid of him. Allowing my can-go-crazy thoroughbred to go a little crazy, gave me some confidence. It wasn't an easy ride, but we made it to the end. And you know how these things go: once Sydney had burned off more than thirty minutes of some serious steam, he finally got down to business. He finally went round and soft, he moved off my inside leg, and we even worked on outside leg to inside rein.
As always, what a great lesson!