Sydney was actually a champ. We started out in the arena with RM and Bounder who is looking quite good for an old man. RM had him pleasantly cantering around the arena. I told her I was a bit jealous. I am almost ready to start cantering Sydney again, but I want to wait until this upcoming show is behind us. No sense in starting something new. Wouldn't want to borrow trouble between now and Sunday.
We worked on getting a nice bend and moving off my inside leg. He wants to be heavy and hang on me, but rocking the inside/outside rein helps lighten him up. After our arena work, I threw on my reflective vest and repeated our trip around the neighborhood.
We walked past the dogs with only a watchful look. The dogs obliged me by not barking, but it was good to see that Sydney didn't panic just because they could have barked. I liked that he just gave them a look, but he kept marching forward.
At the corner where we lose sight of the other horses, we bumped into the woman who owns the property that I've been riding on. I stopped for a minute to chat with her while her dogs ambled around us. Sydney ignored the dogs but was anxious to keep walking so I planted my inside hand on my thigh and let him pace around my inside leg switching the bend every few turns. It helped settle him down, and it gave me a preview of how he might behave on Sunday.
We continued along the gravel road to the neighbor's property and made it down the whoop-de-do with a very free and swinging walk. Sydney was so relaxed that I kept thinking about asking for a trot. That calmly forward mentality came as a surprise to me. Fear is a very powerful emotion. Has he been nervous, or have I?
The last two times we rode this route, I could feel his tension in my seat which kept me thinking whoa, whoa. This time, I could feel his back swinging free and loose. The motion said forward, forward, but in a very relaxed way. Was I more relaxed? Is that why he was so free in his extended walk?
He marched forward all the way through the property. As we approached the end, he did get a little tense as the neighbor dog barked at us through the trees. I made a very concerted effort to remain relaxed. I leaned over and patted his neck, without tensing my legs, and gave him a verbal good boy. The tension left, and we moseyed on our way.
We passed by the property owner, who was returning from her own walk. She waved good-naturedly, and complimented Sydney's relaxed demeanor. The entire rest of the walk was done with zero tension. He looked like a dead broke pony - his neck was low and swinging, and his ears flopped lazily.
We have a long way to go, but I know were are on the right path. Sometimes I wish I had a nice solid schoolmaster, but if I did, I would have missed out on the lessons that Sydney has taught me. For now, I'll take what he has to teach me.