I got to the barn at 9:00 a.m. with a plan:
1. clean and re-bed my stalls
2. ride Sydney (part 1)
3 lesson on Speedy (part 2)
4. re-ride Sydney down at JL's place so we could be in a busy ring (part 3)
Done, done, done, and done!
From the comments I've been receiving lately, the OTTB lovers out there seem to be able to relate to Sydney's issues better than they do to Speedy's. His Arabian feelings aren't hurt; quite the contrary. Speedy's pretty happy as a one-human pony and doesn't seem to care much whether anyone worries about his training progress.
Sydney's issue are changing, thank goodness. Over the last few weeks, he and I have figured out a lot of things. When I hopped up for ride number one on Monday, I told him, Dude, this can be a fifteen minute ride if you show me something good. Boy, did he want to be back in his stall! In exactly 10 minutes, we walked long and low, trot all over the arena with my hands planted into my thighs, and did canter circles to the left and right with zero fussiness.
I asked for a halt, pat his neck, and put him away. What more was there to ask for? That was Part 1.
For many, many months, I fought the frustration that came with getting on and having the same fight day after day. And yet, while it seemed like the same daily fight, it couldn't have been as here we are cantering like we've been doing it for years. It's hard to see the incremental progress. It's like watching hair grow; you can't see that it's longer until summer rolls around, and you can now wear it in a pony tail.
That's why I took Sydney for ride number two. I've finally seen the pony tail. This is Part 3. We have made progress, tons of it in fact. So now it's on to the next daily struggle - field trips. I knew there would be several riders at JL's so after my lesson on Speedy, I re-saddled Sydney and rode up to play with the big girls.
I usually lead him, but since he'd been ridden and turned out already, I figured we'd be safe enough riding on up there. He had a giraffe neck thing going on, but we made it with no mishaps. RM was doing a short lesson at the walk/trot, but Cha Ching and his mom were preparing for a jump lesson, and Cha Ching was a little YEEHAW. Perfect!
I spent a good hour (or more) on Sydney asking him to deal with dropped poles (HOLT CRAP WHAT WAS THAT? as all legs left the ground), rubbed poles (RUUUUUUN!), and a snorty, whinnnnnneyy horse (Cha Ching is still a baby and wanted everyone to stay and play).
It was a great experience. Every time Cha Ching and his mom stopped to consult with JL, I asked Sydney to trot and move. When they returned to jumping, we stopped working to watch. Walk/trot ... stop and watch. Walk/trot ... stop and watch. Eventually ... big, deep sigh ...
And then Cha Ching left the arena and we had the barn end to ourselves. It was a great opportunity to try some canter work, left lead only thank you very much. There were some woohoo moments, like when he smacked the fence with a BIG kick, but overall, we got the canter without a bolt or rear. Yes, he was a little tense and a little heavy, but eventually he softened and lightened up, not perfectly, but he did it.
I brought him back to a trot, asked for a walk, and gave him a big pat. I caught JL's eye, and told her the right lead canter would come another day. She agreed wholeheartedly. All I had wanted was for him to think about the fact that he had survived the trip, and for that, he was a good boy.
And so the next leg of our journey begins ...