He was a bit nervous as we unloaded, but it was more of the looky-lou variety. I gave him time to settle as I groomed him and hung his hay bag. After saddling, I decided to lunge him for just a bit in case he had any wildness brewing. He jogged around, but nothing spectacular happened. He wasn't exactly relaxed as we warmed up, but he was listening to me and trying to do what was asked.
I went on over to the dressage court with a plan to ride for the entire 30 minutes. I didn't even care if I managed to do a test. I just wanted Sydney to work as soft as stretchy as he can at home. It's a good thing I paid for two sessions, 15 minutes each, because I used all 30 minutes and then even stole an extra one.
He tried everything he knew: some rearing, crabbing to the side, bracing his neck, and so on. I had to circle him for nearly ten solid minutes because he simply couldn't go forward in a straight line. The judge, Mary Meyer, "L" Graduate, joked that she stopped judging every time we repeated a movement. We repeated Intro A's two trot circles at least 25 times each. We did "ride" the test, but it was the longest Intro A test ever ridden.
After halting at X, I told the judge that now I was ready to ride the test. The second time, we actually made it through Intro A with a pretty decent effort: he went where I pointed and kept it together. I forgot to ask for the score sheet, but I know we had some good moments. There were some not-so-good moments as well, but it was a much better ride than either of the two we did in Tehachapi last month.
After halting, the judge suggested I work on my centerline approach since I had a few minutes left. Sydney must have thought he was done because asking for that small bit of work generated an even bigger hissy fit. He was NAUGHTY! No problem. I calmly told him that we actually had all day. The lunch break was after me so I was able to school him through the "melt down" without the pressure of needing to give up the arena.
It took a few minutes and a lot of small circles, but I finally felt him take a deep sigh and then he trotted up the center line straight without crabbing his rear end all of the place. I gave him some good boy pats and called it a day.
He was not very relaxed at the trailer during lunch, so I put him in the round pen and worked him a bit longer until he finally gave up. I sponged him off with some cool water and then loaded him up. Once back home, I gave him a good hosing off, he was filthy, and then turned him out in the neighbor's grassy yard for a bit of grazing.
The test portion of the day was disastrous for sure, but I was thrilled with how I handled it; I even earned a compliment or two on my riding ability. I was even more pleased that Sydney pulled it together even if only for a little while. If we can find at least one monthly outing to do this winter, I know he'll get more confident.
Here are some photos of the day, all taken by Donna Fraser. She managed to capture some of Sydney's more obedient moments. Photos sure help illustrate the problems with your position. I am posting all that she sent, both good and bad!