We started out with all of the stretching that I talked about the other day. JL wants me to do as much of that work as I can over the next few weeks. Until he really gives his neck, Sydney won't be able to compress his frame enough to be in an uphill balance.
Once I had him letting go as much as I could, JL changed the stretches. For the next level (at the trot), she had me hold the outside rein and then rock the inside rein without giving the outside rein. When I had gotten all the stretch I was going to get, she had me hold the inside rein where it was while I used my outside leg to shift his shoulders over while also rocking the outside rein. When I had gotten all the stretch I was going to get, I held the outside rein where it was and went back to the inside rein. It felt as though I was reeling him in.
I know it's really hard to picture, but in essence, I was lifting his front end, one side at a time. I was compressing his neck on the left side, holding it there, and then compressing his right side and holding it, back and forth. Picture a window washer's scaffold. Lift the left side, lift the right side.
Whenever we work on something new that Sydney thinks is going to be hard, he gets really tense and tries to run through my aids. This time was no exception. We had to go back to the stretches after a few canters, but that was okay as it gave me more time to work on being effective at the stretching. And when we returned to the canter work, he was still better balanced and far more level than he has been in the past.
Over all, it was a great lesson, and I know that with a few weeks of work, Sydney is going to get looser and looser through his neck which will help him accept the shorter frame. And in the end, getting off of his forehand will only help him stay sounder longer in life. This kind of work is good for all of us!