The winter storms from the day before finally passed, and the footing was absolutely perfect. Both boys got ridden and barn chores got completed. So what made it such a great day? Several things actually.
When I turn Sydney out, there's always a lot of frantic and wild galloping. And I mean W-I-L-D. That boy can move! On Sunday, as I was cleaning his stall, I didn't hear the thundering of hooves that I was expecting. Instead, I head trot, trot, trotting hooves. Who could that be? I thought to myself. I peeked around the corner and was pleasantly surprised to see Sydney simply trotting around the arena in a rather relaxed frame. Weird! I was slightly worried so I went out to see if something was wrong. Nope. He was just not feeling the need to rip around.
As soon as I ducked under the fence, he came right up to me and nosed around for treats. He was relaxed and very happy. This was a good thing. I decided to try a version of the tag game that Speedy and I play. In Speedy's version, we chase each other quite actively with lots of quick turns and slamming on the brakes. It's quite fun, but I didn't think Sydney was ready for that version of the game. For him, I simply played follow the leader. I stood at his shoulder and walked off briskly. Like a good pony, he fell in step behind be. I quickened my pace, and he followed suit. I gave a a few clucks and trot off. To my surprise, he picked up the trot and jogged along happily behind, I turned left and he followed. I turned right and again, he was right there with me. I gave a soft whoa! and stopped. A stride later, a surprised Sydney stopped and turned to face me. A treat was quickly offered.
We repeated the trot off, turn here and there, and then whoa! for several minutes. Sydney got better and better at the halt. This was the first time that he's been in the arena and really looked at me. We followed all of this up with an excellent ride, and then I even hacked him up and down the neighborhood road for a few minutes. I went as far as he was comfortable and then turned back and went the other way. He was anxious about leaving the barn area, but I stopped to graze along the way and gave him lots of good boy pats. It was one of the best riding days we've had in a long while. I think my last lesson with JL really helped me get control of not only Sydney's body, but of his mind as well. He seemed much more trusting on Sunday.
I think Sunday was definitely a two steps forward kind of day!