And on to less philosophical stuff …
The best part of the riding aspect of the clinic was the lack of fear. Mostly mine, but Sydney seemed less stressed as well. He never gave me those feelings of, Oh, sh@t! They were down-graded to lots of, oh man!, oh man!, oh man! and most of that was me thinking, hold on, you can do it as I carried 500 pounds of his front end with my core and arms.
When we did pick up the trot, I liked how Christian told me not to worry about where Sydney's head was. That's the exact approach we've been taking with JL, my regular trainer. Instead, Christian had me work on Sydney's body.
One of my favorite exercises he had me do was one I actually do at home, but he refined it a bit. Tracking left, he had me make the circle smaller with just the outside thigh and rein. This counter bends the horse and asks him to lighten his front end so that he can pick up his shoulders.
The refinement part came when Christian had me switch back and forth from making the circle smaller to making it bigger by flexing with the inside rein and pushing with the inside leg. The exercise has the rider use outside aids to inside aids to outside aids which really asks the horse to repeatedly change the bend. This is a great suppling exercise.
Besides suppling, this exercise also help get the horse on the outside rein. It feels a lot like tossing a tennis ball from one hand to the other, but for the horse, you're asking him to move from the outside rein to the inside rein to the outside rein. Making the circle small is hard work, so when you change the bend with the inside rein and move the horse out with the inside leg, he wants to do it because it's easier.
As you track right (in my case), bring the inside hand across the withers and up to your left shoulder. Christian pointed out that this breaks several cardinal rules, but the 10 seconds of ugly is worth the softness that it achieves. As soon as the horse softens for even a moment, release the hold and lower your hand. As in any technique we utilize, giving the release at the correct moment is the challenge.
During some of the canter work I did forget to ride my horse and Sydney would get heavy and rush. It was when I was letting Christian do all of the riding for me that I forgot to do my part. He can't do everything for Heaven's sake! As I felt Sydney begin to get heavy, I would start riding again. This means holding him to the canter rhythm that I want with my seat. It also means half halts to say come back and sit deeper. As soon as I did this, I would hear Christian's approving si, si, ja, ja, more.