Where that has got me:
Several rides with a wiggly, resistant pony. Back braced, head in the air and legs going every direction but forward.Slightly improved by end of ride, but I cheated and went back to babysitting her a little on a looser contact so we could end on a good note. It all finally led to one ride with me being a huge mean person and essentially dropping my contact and just focusing on moving forward NOW! Don't care where or how fast, just move. It was awful and took about 45 minutes to get to where I could ask her to trot off and she would do so in an acceptable time frame without wiggling a million different directions first. I also waited until she was honest about keeping the trot for at least one side of the arena without a reminder to keep going. It was frustrating and I was very discouraged.
|Old pic, but this is what our last month has felt like.|
Since then, I've been using that friendly reminder as my warm up. We don't do anything until she's moving forward off my leg. I give her a total loose rein and don't worry about anything besides her moving out. I used to do this at the start of our rides, and I have no idea why I stopped. In the process of rediscovering that tool, I stumbled on something that may hold a key for us.Yesterday, after our warm up where all I asked was forward on a loose rein, she was about as loose and stretchy as I've ever got her, and I was able to pick up a bit of the contact and have a halfway decent ride with some really nice canter transitions and a super fun mini jump school. A fun, not frustrating ride. I'd almost forgot those were a thing :)
|Our mini jumps|
My half formed thoughts;
We obviously need to work the relaxation angle. To be quite honest I tend to ignore it thinking that she's lazy and the last thing we need is more relaxation! It's easy to ignore because she fakes it well. She never does anything super reactive or feels really awful, but the rare times when I actually get true relaxation from her the rest of the problems with being unfocused/pushy/inverted/sucked back disappear. I know that's not breaking news as far as horse training goes, but I think myself and everyone that meets Bridget just mentally ticks off the 'relaxation' box on the training scale and looks for other issues. Bridget is very good at convincing the outside world she's cool as a cucumber and just being 'stubborn' and 'lazy'. I think particularly as she is a pony, and a stocky little Welsh Cob, people expect to see the more showy up and down 'pony' trot and the higher neck and maybe don't think it signifies anything. In reality, when she truly relaxes her topline, she's got lovely big horse gaits hiding in there which to me is an entirely better, although different ride.
|More apples for good ponies|
Speaking of which, I have a lesson booked with the Ginger mare tomorrow. Fingers crossed we all survive ;)