Sunday Izzy and I put on the fancy dressage tack and had a decent ride. I've been focusing on thinking about what I'm doing with her and why in order to make my training as effective as possible. (Effective: clear and understandable to allow her progress at the best possible speed for her body and personality).
I lunged her Sunday. I did so because she looks adorable in dressage tack and I wanted pictures and she will never stand still for me to take them. See? I had a reason. Plus, the practice never hurts.
Today was interesting. I decided that since Izzy had been ridden and then out in the pasture all day, she probably wouldn't need lunging. Plus, it wasn't picture day. ;-) I have decided to attempt a more regular rotation of training for her, so we'll jump Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday and do dressage Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. Theoretically, we'll continue to go trail riding on Friday with Irie and his mom. That is of course contingent on her schedule, so we'll see how it goes.
Which leads us to today. According to my schedule, it's supposed to be a jumping day. I dragged out the breast collar, open fronts, and jumping saddle and tacked Izzy up. I hopped on thinking she didn't need lunging and off we went.
Wow. She was a trainwreck. She'd shove her shoulder to the outside of the circle. I'd counterbend to get it back, and she shove her other shoulder out. Then, before I could react, she'd hollow and drop behind my leg. I'd ask her to move forward to get her reaching forward and ahead of my leg, and she grab the bit and charge. Grrr. Cathy commented on how cute Izzy looked in her fly bonnet (yes, we had to break the princess hat out again), and I was so glad I put it on. At least it distracted other people from what we were (or weren't) doing.
I tried all the usual stuff. I did trot/walk/trot transitions to ask her to listen to my seat and work off her hind end. Nothing. I did walk/halt transitions for the same reason. Nothing. If anything, it got worse. We did halt/back/halt/walk to try to get her to think about carrying herself and stretching down. Still nothing.
I was about to throw the schedule out the window. Or at least over the arena fence, since we were outdoors. I don't think a horse needs a dressage frame to jump necessarily, but it certainly shouldn't be acting like that. She was just plain inconsistent and there was no sense trying to jump with that.
Then I had a novel idea; if what we were doing wasn't working, why didn't we try something else? I asked her to canter and off we went. She asked politely if she could gallop. Fortunately, Cathy was the only other person riding and she's pretty good at steering. We kicked it up a notch and galloped around the arena. I had to keep reminding myself that Izzy is pretty balanced and wasn't going to fall on me. I wish we had a galloping track to work on, but oh well. After a good long gallop, Izzy came back to me slowly. It was amazing. All of a sudden, she could go forward into the contact consistently. She was balanced. She wasn't throwing a fit. We could jump!
And jump we did after a little work on the flat. We jumped our first ever striped pole, set as about a 18" vertical. She didn't even blink. We jumped the scary plank, set as a 2' vertical. And then, we aimed for the mind-boggling broom jump. I should have taken a picture... it's hard to describe. Anyways. We trotted in. I reminded myself to stay soft and just support her. About a stride away, I felt her start veering right to escape the scary jump, so I just halted her in front of the jump and patted her. Then we turned left, circled around, and came in again. Izzy jumped it (about a 2'3" vertical) and was so proud of herself that she galloped through the short side and shook her head. We did it a couple more times after that and she was fabulous.
I <3 my pony.