I rode again on Friday afternoon, but this time, there wasn't a tense bone in Sydney's body. It could be that I was more relaxed and that I had no time constraints working against me. Hubby was at the cabin so it didn't matter what time I got home. I fed Sydney and let him eat for more than an hour as I hosed the barn aisle, mixed feed, raked, and did a variety of other barn chores.
By the time I saddled, it was still 100℉, but neither of us seemed to care. Sydney was so relaxed that I actually had to tap him with the whip to get a little momentum going. We did lots of walking and after just several circles in each direction, I hopped off him with effusive Good Boys! to show him that relaxed behavior gets a reward.
I got a late start on Saturday morning as I needed to run by the feed store before going to the barn. I didn't get started with Sydney until well after 9:00 a.m. Even so, he was just as relaxed as the evening before. I was very happy. I tried something a bit different just to let him know that this is supposed to be fun. I gave him a loose rein and asked him to trot. My plan was to make all of the turns with just my seat and legs, no reins.
An interesting thing happened. Sydney kept a really nice rhythm and went long and low on his own. He also made the turns without me needing to work the inside rein. I even made the turn at A up the center line with no rein. And then, just to see if he was really listening, I sat back and exhaled at the same time. His halt was immediate and square.
After the halt, I picked up the reins and worked in the same manner, but this time I tried to maintain an elastic and steady connection. Sydney lost his easy rhythm, and our turns got more shallow. He also got fussy up front. This tells me I am not steady in my hands and need another lesson on him to help me establish an acceptable amount of contact.
I am okay with this. It wasn't as though he had his head sky high and was herky-jerky all over the place. It just felt as though he was more steady when I gave him the long rein. Steady is steady and can't be a bad thing. I just need to learn how to take up a steady contact with him so that he feels just as comfortable in my hand as he does when there is very little contact.
As long he remains relaxed, anything can be accomplished!