After three days of being Miss Perfect, Izzy had clearly had enough. She wouldn't even walk into the arena on Saturday, which is kind of embarrassing because I was just coming in to lunge her before my lesson and Donna had to stop teaching and wave a whip at Izzy's butt to get her to go in. Ugh. That's the sort of day it was.
The good news was that her total naughtiness meant we got to work on a lot of things we would have glossed over otherwise.
Donna talked about how Izzy is (obviously) still pretty green and the most important thing for us right now is going forward. We got to work on the rhythm, regularity, and relaxation on the training scale. She also pointed out that Izzy isn't accepting contact with the bit, and when I use it, she backs off behind my leg, which is something she's prone to doing anyways. Also she didn't like my bit (full cheek single jointed snaffle). She took the keepers off and shortened up the cheekstraps because she pointed out that Izzy doesn't carry it herself at this point, and Izzy likes it fairly high in her mouth.
Because Izzy's green, her balance is still pretty all-over-the-place, which keeps her from responding to my legs much. As such, Donna had me using my weight to counteract when Izzy was leaning one way or the other. Basically, she needs to learn to move over underneath me, and to keep her balance centered. To do that, I need to throw her off balance when she leans into corners and such.
I also have a tendency to hold her with my right rein, which has created a constant and undesirable right bend in her neck. I noticed this when we were trail riding, but I didn't know the cause. To prevent this, Donna had me pretty much drop my right rein and ride with my fingers open on my right hand to remind me to not block her on that side. I did use a little contact on the left rein and some counterbend to the right to get Izzy moving straight instead of bent right. Because Izzy's isn't a fan of rein contact right now, Donna had me only take contact with one rein at a time, usually the left, so that Izzy always had a place to go forward to.
Speaking of forward, that was most of our lesson. I tend to let Izzy poop around at walk (especially) and trot. Conversely, I don't let her go forward enough in canter. Donna said that walk is our weakest gait because I haven't been developing it. We worked on getting Izzy to walk forward, then leaving her alone, so I'm not nagging constantly. I need to keep asking (and insisting) until she goes forward, so she understands what I want.
In trot, I need to develop her forward gear. Instead of worrying about contact, I had to pretty much throw the reins away (so she wouldn't back off) and just focus on riding forward. It felt amazing when we got it right. Again, in canter, I need to not black her motion and ride a little more forward.
When we got done, I knew we'd made progress, but I felt like I couldn't ride and I was just hindering my horse. I thought that if I just had enough money to ride in clinics and take lessons all the time, she'd be so much further along. Yeah, kind of insecure there I guess.
I gave Izzy Sunday off because she worked really hard on Saturday, and then rode this morning. It was wonderful. She was having another good day, so the things we struggled to get in the clinic came so much more easily. We started out more forward. It only took a couple circles to develop that big, forward, wonderful trot. It did take a while to get the right lead, but left lead was lovely. I'm starting to figure out when to lean which direction (well, not really lean, but that idea) to get Izzy's balance where we need it, and I think she's learning too. I did switch back to the french link eggbutt I have and I adjusted it higher in her mouth than I did before. She seemed quite happy with it, and even on the few occasions that I had to use it, she returned to going forward and reaching down within half a circle.
Fabulous. I'm really glad we rode in the clinic. It was definitely worth the money.
Also, I had to replace my half chaps beforehand. While at the tack store, I was looking at saddle pads, which I shouldn't have done. I ended up buying this in navy and light blue and loving it. I didn't get pictures of us because there wasn't really anyone around to run the camera. :-(