Spooking is the best way to get out of work.
But each ride, it gets a little better. That connected trot comes sooner and with less effort. He starts understanding his job, and you start understanding how to use your aids with less conscious effort. You're both figuring it out, working a little more smoothly, more like a team.
You know, kind of like this.
Then you add something new and difficult, like asking for bend in the corners AND a nice connected trot, and you go back to square one. Because once again, how much inside leg can you possibly need for bend (more, always more), and oh now you have to actually prepare for the corners and you can't just ride halfway through the corners and use the far wall for the second half (I've tried, it doesn't work) and and and. You're back to despairing about the damn corners because there are four of them (whyyyy so many?) and why can't your horse just keep stepping up with his inside hind and just DO them and not lose his balance and...
Forget corners, just riding in a straight line is hard.
... then you realize, after approximately 123897587123 corners, that you CAN do them and your horse DOES stay balanced and forward and stepping through and in the outside rein and since you're feeling awesome why not add something like a canter transition because hey you need to do those too...
It's a canter transition. Really.
... and you're back to square one again. Only this time, you've lost that connected trot because now he's anticipating the canter ALL THE TIME and trying to fling himself into it and WHERE DID MY NICE TROT GO OMG I'VE RUINED MY HORSE.
Totally, completely ruined.
So you go back to trot. You try not to get frustrated when really you want to stomp around and pout because JEEZ we could totally do this yesterday but now we can't and how could he have possibly gone and forgotten how to trot in the space of two canter transitions? You remind yourself how to put his trot together, and he relaxes because this is a job he knows how to do and he knows he's right and he's good at it and you tell him he's a good boy when he does it. And you spend the rest of your ride reminding both of you that you CAN do a nice trot and you still love your horse and he's still the best horse ever and he's awesome and he gets all the cookies. And you try the canter again. And maybe it's better and maybe it's worse, but that doesn't matter, because he's still awesome and amazing.
And you try again. And again. And again. You take all the lessons you can get your hands on because you really need eyes on the ground and someone to remind you what to do with your body parts and not to pull and add more leg (you'd think I would have that by now) and talk you off the cliff when you are frustrated. Some days the canter is great, and some days it's terrible, and some days the trot sucks too. But every day is a little better, a little more, until the pieces start coming together...
Having someone yell at you in a heavy Spanish accent also helps.
... and then you add something new. But this is how it goes. You're doing great until you add something new. Sometimes the "something new" makes other things better (like shoulder in is improving his right rein connection) and sometimes the something new causes the wheels to fall off (like w/c transitions have caused our t/c transitions to fall apart. And for heaven's sakes let's not discuss our c/w transitions, because sliding stops don't get you extra points in dressage.)
I'd give this a 10 for the WTF factor.
This was a long time in the making.