On Friday, we trooped back out to The Field for another go round. If nothing else, these rides have reduced my anxiety and fear of him bolting across the black top. Now, I find that I am bored by his shenanigans and just wish he would get over it already. I am pretty sure that's a positive move.
An interesting thing happened as we walked out of the drive way: from behind, I heard the rumble of what sounded like a dirt bike. A glance over my shoulder revealed a dune buggy driven by two teenage girls who were giggling and lost in their own Friday antics. I quickly turned Sydney to face the roaring beast as the girls zipped by us, unaware that they were going a bit too fast. I sat deep, fearing a bolt and spin, but was instead baffled by Sydney's complete lack of interest. WTH? How is that not spooky when trotting in a grass field creates a fire breathing dragon?
As the girls in the dune buggy went one way, we went the other way to the grass field. Sydney was very relaxed and even strolled by the dogs without spooking or tensing. As soon as we hit the grass, Sydney begged to graze, but I asked for some work first. He happily picked up a trot to the left. he was supple, quiet, and really listening to my half halts. I had a gigantic grin on my face. I did a couple of changes of direction and made sure that we trot equally to the left and right.
I realized that this was the perfect day to ask for a canter. Sydney read my mind and rolled into a lovely left lead canter. He was quiet, submissive, and very relaxed. I brought him back to a trot and then asked for a walk. He immediately stretched down for a bite of grass, and I let him. He walked and grazed, stretching his neck.
I was grinning like an idiot. It's a large field with undulating terrain. It is a fairway after all. There's also a small lake in the distance and a large grove of trees on one side. I fully recognized that cantering in a space that wide open is a nice step forward for us.
After he had grazed for a few minutes, I asked him to go back to work. I wanted to do a quick canter to the right and then call it a day. Unfortunately, or not, depending on your view point, the neighbors came out into the yard at about the same time. They were about 75 yards away, but it was just enough of a distraction to grab Sydney's attention.
I spent the next 30 minutes trying to get it back. We did small circles, counter bends, changes of direction, but nothing worked. He was pissed that I was insisting on maintaining his attention. He squealed a few times, tried to bolt a few times, and just generally threw a temper tantrum. Eventually, I realized I wasn't getting anywhere, so when he asked to walk, I just did a million neck flexes to the left and right and then worked on halting without needing to pull back.
It took quite a few minutes before he would actually halt and stand still, but he did it. I could see the wheels spinning in his head. He finally decided to use his powers for good. I was disappointed that I couldn't get any decent work to the right, but then I reminded myself that we had cantered in an open field where just a few days ago he had refused to even walk.
I'll ride this morning, but I am not sure what my plan should be. I know I'll start in the arena as I want to get some relaxed canter work done to remind him that yes, he can work nicely. I don't know if I'll work in the field or not; I would really like to end the day on a positive note with nothing to cause me to worry. I also need to give him a bath and braid his mane.
Really, I have no expectations for the show. I have a feeling that things will go pretty much as they have been, but I suspect that I will have much more control during the warm up. We ride Intro C at 10:21 which means I won't have to leave at 5:00 a.m. - yah for that! I ride Training Level Test 1 at 11:04 which gives me a half of an hour between the two tests in case I need to work him some more. My plan is to be on him by about 9:15 a.m. for my warm-up. I think he is going to need a full hour to figure out that listening to my aids is his best option.
I'll keep you posted.