The day before yesterday, I rode Shazaam in the round pen like I do every Sunday while my husband rides Maximus. I have been trotting him around and feeling very balanced and confident so I asked him for a canter and...we did it!! It wasn't very pretty at first but as I forced myself to relax it got much, much better. So I decided that I needed mileage at the canter and rode again yesterday. My transitions were smooth and my butt didn't come out of the saddle even a single inch.
Shazaam may be my horsey soul mate and while I believe my little fugly pony is as perfect as they come I'd be lying if I said he didn't feel like riding a jack hammer. To me this is a plus! My lower back has to be super elastic and that actually eliminates my back pain.
I've also started riding him around the ranch which really brings his energy up. I'm starting to be comfortable with this being his "normal" state of mind and have much less trouble keeping him thinking and staying relaxed myself. I don't kid myself, he is still the kind of horse who will invent reasons to explode and bolt but I'm becoming confident in my ability to manage him and I'm sticking to my plan gradually increasing the area where I ride him. This whole journey from mind numbing fear to confident competance is now 3 1/2 years in the making.
I know the entire thing is my fault for owning a horse I couldn't even get near with a brush or he'd mentally unravel instead of a steady old trail horse but to be honest, I'm getting an invaluable education through this and I would not trade what horses have taught me for all the peaceful trail walkie rides in the world.