One evening, I told Hubby that I thought it would be best if I sold Sydney. I am not sure why Hubby didn't secretly do a happy dance at my news while consoling me with thoughtful platitudes, but he didn't. Instead, he encouraged me to keep trying and not give up. He must have known that a failure of this magnitude would have made me very difficult to live with.
I've written about this before so you know that I changed my outlook with Sydney and started riding him in a different way: no expectation of showing, loose reins, just have fun, etc. Six months later, Sydney is a new horse. My ride on Saturday was everything I had hoped for when I bought Sydney: fun, relaxing, "dressagey", and safe.
We have finally arrived at the point where I feel like we are an Intro Level pair. That's good because it means we can eventually become a Training Level pair and then First Level will be within our sights.
I can now reliably and safely hack Sydney around the arena on a loose rein. Just a few months ago, the scary end was simply too scary, and I usually avoided it at the walk and always at the trot. I can now trot on a loose rein anywhere in the arena and guide him with just my seat and legs - no reins to make the turns! We can trot 10 and 20 meter circles, shallow loops, and cross the diagonal without the thought of bolting. We've even made it to a show. Elephant, what Elephant?
I have learned that he needs to move and that he DOES NOT LIKE to feel trapped. If I use too much hand too soon, he becomes worried. So I don't use too much hand. If he is worried, we move in a small circle that requires him to move in a very controlled manner. He wants me to be in control. He wants me to make the decisions. So I do.
While working in his stall this weekend, he stood right behind me nuzzling my hair and arms. It was clear that he wanted to be close to me and that he enjoys my company. Right back at you, Dude, right back at you!