Just a few months ago I was feeling really, really frustrated. I just couldn't see any forward progress at all. I would think that we had made progress, but then the same crap would present itself again and again. I watched a video from my first ride on Sydney and was so discouraged to see that we looked better on that ride than we do now, a year and a half later.
I started looking at how much I was spending on a horse that was turning out to be a bad fit for me. I wasn't afraid to ride him anymore, but I just didn't seem to be a good enough rider to really ride him well. Selling him seemed like the smartest thing to do. I placed a very lean ad on an online site and decided to leave the whole mess in the Divine's hands. Seriously.
Do you know what happened? Within a DAY of posting that ad, I had one of the best rides I have ever had on Sydney. Of course. I immediately thought about pulling the ad, but then I didn't. One good ride couldn't change a year and a half of not really getting anywhere. I continued to look at him as a sale horse, but I reasoned that I might as well learn what I could from him while I waited for the right interested buyer.
I felt good about my decision and was absolutely honest about giving the issue to the Man Upstairs. I quit "outlining" what I wanted to happen. I never even revisited the ad to see if anyone was showing interest. I simply let the whole thing go.
Hand your problems over to someone else, and all of a sudden you're free of the burden. Figures. Since placing that ad, my rides on Sydney have gotten really, really good. That's not to say that he's soft and round as soon as I get on, but within just a few minutes, he is bending and moving away from my leg, and we are cantering every day.
On Sunday, I rode him in the "scary corner" where little Tommy was climbing the tree right next to the arena. Tommy and I were chatting about how many gifts under the tree were for him while Sydney and I cantered around and around. Take that you puny, little elephant!
After Tommy disappeared to do little boy things, Sydney and I continued to work. I asked for a right lead canter and got a whole lot of oh, my - that's not right. I brought him back to a trot and just focused on rebalancing him to the right. I focused on pushing him sideways, sideways, sideways as we worked on a 20-meter circle. After a few minutes I realized that he was nicely balanced and hitting the rail at exactly the right spot.
I asked for a right lead canter and was pleasantly surprised by what he gave me. At first, I needed to sponge the outside rein to keep him straight, but then I was able to switch to sponging the inside rein to encourage a bit of flexion. It was a lovely, balanced canter. His downward transition was soft and quiet and he immediately stretched his neck down at the walk. I had a huge smile on my face and realized that I had made all of that happen.
So where are we? Sydney is still for sale until he isn't. God will let me know if something changes. My shoulders feel a lot lighter since I ditched that burden of worry. Sydney's demon seems to have been defeated (or was it my own?), my elephant seems to have moved to a new home, and Mt. Self-Doubt is suffering from erosion. Today, all is right in my world.