As promised, we broke out the jumping tack and I set trot poles yesterday. We were in the indoor because it was blowing about 30mph and gusting around 45, which always makes me grumpy.
Really, though, it couldn't have been a more perfect way to practice relieving tension. Izzy was looky--stuff was blowing around and making noise and I was uncomfortable. Have I mentioned I hate wind? Yeah. Oh, and also the corn field next to the area had a big ol' tractor driving around in it.
Anyways. I let Izzy warm up on the lunge and blow off any steam. (Not much.) Then we stood by the mounting block until we both felt calm enough, and I got on. Izzy just stood and waited for me to be ready to go. When I had the whip properly situated in my hands, off we went. I kept her on a short enough rein that if something went majorly wrong, I could drop the whip and pick up contact, but long enough that we didn't really have any contact otherwise. She started getting more looky. I pushed my hands forward (to keep myself from taking back) and put leg on.
Huh. It worked. Izzy's strides got longer and slower, just like Stephanie said they would. We did a little figure 8, then went straight. I felt nervous, so I asked Izzy to halt, again, using my body, pushing hands forward. She did. We walked off immediately. We trotted. We did transitions when I felt insecure. Izzy was a star.
When we started the trot poles, I realized that I wasn't riding Izzy forward enough--she'd lose impulsion about halfway through and take awkward steps. I focused on riding forward. About halfway through, I even held the whip normally and just rested my hands on her neck, but still rode with my body.
It was great.
A couple of final notes:
1) Izzy is a fabulous amazing horse and I need to give her credit for that. As Stephanie is fond of saying, "Ride her like she's a good horse and she will be. If you ride like she might do something, who knows what crazy stuff she would do."
2) I can ride (and ride well) without constantly using my hands.