I've been wondering what it would feel like, how I would feel, how it would affect me. Because of that, I was actually quite glad when she was on my list for today.
She was spooky and nervous coming down to the arena. I tightened the girth and got on with spurs, but without a whip. (Gasp! Riding Izzy whipless!!)
We started at the walk. First we did lots of tiny-looped serpentines, establishing forward and bend. I did miss a horse that could bend. Then we transitioned into leg yields both directions, followed quickly by shoulder in both directions. The mare was forward, on my aids, and quite responsive. Not going to lie, that was super fun.
We took advantage of a lesson student wanting to hack out and went for a short walk in the hills. Izzy mostly minded her manners, but was very looky and at one point tried her favorite trick which is running backwards and spinning. I kicked her forward and called her something flattering like "you stupid cow".
When we came back to the arena, I picked up the canter. We lengthened and shortened and did perfect flying changes on cue all around the arena. We dropped to the trot in a nice, balanced transition and did trot/halts to get her more solid into the contact and pushing from her hind end. We did more lateral work--Izzy was so balanced and responsive that I had to tell myself to stop riding her instead of push for some accomplishment to finish on.
Things I have to kick, grunt, and strain to get on Cuna (like a balanced trot), are so natural to Izzy that I don't even have to ask for it. Balanced? She always is. Rhythmic? Of course. Flexible? Naturally. On the bit? She's built there. It was super fun for me to remember all the things I love about her. Even in the short amount of time that she's been gone or with other riders, I have improved. My confidence has grown, my technique is better, and I'm more comfortable in the saddle.
That said, Izzy had several moments where she reminded me that she is quick, short coupled, and a little bitchy. I love her and she's fun to ride, but it would take less than a week of me trying to force it again to land me squarely where I started out: scared and overmounted.
Cuna isn't glamorous, pretty, and well bred like Izzy. He isn't perfectly built. He isn't fun to do dressage on, but step by step, he's rebuilding my confidence. For that, I completely adore him.
PS Someone please buy the pony mare. She is going to be awesome in the right hands. SEND ME PICTURES!!!