She had me start to the left, the easier direction. We started by establishing a 20-meter circle at the trot. She then had me slowly change to a counter bend. We spiraled in to a 10-meter circle; her variation was to take 6-9 circles to arrive at the 10-meter diameter. I appreciated the slowness as it definitely gave Sydney time to develop his balance.
Once Sydney was balanced in the counter bent 10-meter circle, Lois instructed me to gradually return to the correct bend and move him back out onto the 20-meter circle. The result was a much more balanced horse who was really working over his topline.
We repeated the exercise to the right. Sydney definitely had trouble in the spiral part. I had to work much harder to get him to the 10-meter circle. Once he was there, I felt him soften and let go of the left rein. I gradually returned to a correct bend and moved him out to a 20-meter circle. What a huge difference. He couldn't stay on my outside rein for long, but it was an improvement.
We next moved on to the canter work. Sydney exploded into the left lead canter and was very heavy in my hands. I have done the spiral exercise a billion times with JL so before Lois could ask for it, I told her that I needed to try something. I counter bent him and made the circle smaller. With a few encouraging words from Lois, longer leg and a slower seat, Sydeny moved into the lovely canter that I can get at home. I put him on a correct bend and moved him out onto the bigger circle. Lois was quite impressed.
When I asked for the right lead canter, I got the usual oh, crap! launch. I quickly got some bend and urged him into a more normal canter. Lois had me take his unbalanced canter into the 10-meter circle by counter bending him. After going through the exercise, we were able to achieve a balanced, right lead canter.
We probably should have stopped there as the rest of the lesson dissolved into rearing, bucking, and spooking. Neither of us knew it, but Sydney had had his fill for the day. Lois wanted me to repeat some of the trot work to the right since we had just gotten him balanced through the canter. Sydney would have none of it. He shoved his barrel into my right leg and refused to bend. I started getting cranking and he responded in kind.
Not being able to see what I was feeling, Lois finally asked me to explain what was going on. After I told her, she had me work on turns on the forehand. When that continued to piss him off, we had to move to halting as he had decided to ignore my half halts. Within a few minutes, Lois saw that we had pushed him too far.
Rather than continue, she had me trot a few steps, ask for a halt, and let go. We did it several times in both directions until he was willingly halting. That was the end of the lesson. We quit on a good note and he left the arena relaxed and feeling good.
The day was quite cool with a strong breeze blowing so his neck never got wet during the ride. While he might not have been working aerobically, he was using his back and abdominal muscles to a great enough degree to be tired. And he was certainly mentally worn out. When I pulled his saddle off, I was surprised to see that while his neck might have been cool and dry, his back told a different story; the pad was soaked through to the saddle. That doesn't happen to Sydney very often, especially on such a cool day.
He lunched at the trailer before leaving. He traveled quietly and was happy to be home. I hand grazed him for a few minutes and then returned him to his stall. Both boys got some late afternoon beet pulp along with some hugs and kisses. Sydney looked content.