Since I don't ever get to see Izzy work and I wanted to see how many of our issues were caused by me and how many were honest issues, I asked Cathy to ride her for the first few minutes, then switch with me.
Off they went. (Sorry, no pictures. I was focusing.) Since I had already warmed Izzy up, Cathy picked up the contact and focused on asking Izzy to go forward into it from her hind legs. While doing that, she kept asking Izzy to bend her poll (not wag her head) right and left to soften and supple her body and still go straight with her legs. It probably took a good 5 or 10 minutes, but finally, Izzy was marching forward, soft and responsive.
Interesting note: I don't think Cathy even really picked up the whip I told her to carry. Hm.
Once they had accomplished softness at the walk, Cathy asked for trot. Izzy engaged her hind end and lifted into it beautifully.
Point for Izzy: w/t transition is definitely my fault.
Cathy just did the same thing at trot that she'd been doing at walk--bend in, bend out, engage the hind legs. She would turn before the short ends of the arena and then leg yield Izzy out to them to help keep her forward. They did shallow serpentines down the long sides to test Izzy's softness. Again, the biggest challenge was to keep her inside hind coming forward.
Then they rolled into canter.
Point for Izzy: the lifting head/running forehand is definitely my fault.
More of the same in the canter left. Canter right, it probably took 5 tries for Cathy to get the lead.
Point for Aimee: Izzy is sticky about it.
Cathy said that is didn't feel like a physical problem or lack of engagement--Izzy just bent the other way. Once she (Cathy) figured out that I used more inside leg than outside to ask, it got a little easier.
Then it was my turn. The current score was Izzy 2, Aimee 1.
Cathy had me keep Izzy marching forward in the walk. When she pulled down on the reins, I was to remember that is what I wanted, but to ask for more forward. I felt Izzy become soft (not quite putty like) in my hands as we changed bend back and forth. Once I had her engaged and forward, I asked for trot, and get this: it was perfect.
Point for Aimee: I can learn to ride correctly.
Izzy did really well on the serpentines and leg yields, but was struggling with holding a forward, soft trot down the longside. I prescribe more work on this to build strength and balance so we can get there eventually.
A note of pride: I got Izzy to take the right lead on my first try. It helps that I know her better, I think. Interestingly, once I had that lovely forward trot and Izzy so soft and responsive, the canter transitions came easily. No more freaking out about my miserable excuse for a sitting trot.
Hurray and hurray!! We worked on staying forward through the downward transitions and keeping her walk marching, even when we were cooling out.
Then, I dispensed with our regularly scheduled jump day yesterday in order to do some lesson practice. Guess what? We were able to achieve the same feeling yesterday!! Hurray small, learn-able chunks of information!
Cathy conclusion for me: Expect more.
She also said that Izzy looks great and is coming along really well. I'm so proud.