I had extra time last night, so I sat and watched a lesson prior to my own. That's something I wish I could do more of, I feel like I learn almost as much listening and watching as when I'm riding.
Bridget warmed up awful. She was supremely fresh, but behind the leg - even a smack with my stick resulted in pinned ears and inverted rushing for a stride or two before she'd attempt to quit again, suck back and spook at the world. Since I'm not a fan of bad pony tude, I was irritated right from the start and really got on her case about moving forward without wiggling and fussing. Which honestly, in Bridget land, means kicking and smacking the pony. Not something I enjoy doing repeatedly in a ride, but subtlety is not a thing when she's in that mood. Back to basic riding horse bootcamp for Midge! We warmed up mostly in canter, since for Bridget, at least, canter seems to be the key to getting her unstuck.
My angry, wound up ball of a pony finally started to soften, but the sparkle was lacking. Good Pony B was just not in a mood to play, I guess.
Our exercise du jour was ground poles set up in the following pattern:
We started at trot. The blue poles were spaced a bit far for Bridget, so they were helpful in getting her moving a little more. Of course she was unimpressed and her method involved a bit more giraffe sulkiness than I think EC was hoping for. ("AHHHH, the evil poles are making me go forward!!1!"). The bendy line coming back was worse, since now we had to change the bend, and once again B couldn't bend left. Eventually, though we started seeing progress and had some nice work.
We moved up to canter. The task: Walk to canter, canter through the blue poles, back to walk, pick up canter again in the corner and go through the bendy line. Sounds good, except B decided to opt out of cantering last night. I guess she used up the daily canter ration in the warm up? Trotting off was a thing, bouncing around in place was a thing, popping the outside shoulder and flying sideways was a thing, flat out ignoring and walking was a thing. Cantering? No. So, I spent the last half of the lesson on a 20m circle reminding B that walk to canter is indeed a thing we do every ride, as is bending left and cantering without randomly stopping or bolting off. Naughty pony. Eventually, I was told to just drop the reins, kick her forward and follow up with the whip. Doesn't matter whether she trots a stride or two or picks up the wrong lead...just make the pony move. We ended when she finally (grudgingly) cantered from my leg alone. I guess even EC was losing hope in getting a nice transition.
EC gave me a pep talk basically saying it's entirely possible to make a dull horse sharp, easier than making a naturally sharp horse less reactive. In other words, don't be discouraged, hard work and consistency will win in the end. Still, much as I adore the Midge, I went home frustrated with my riding and my pony. We seem to fight the same battles over and over. I was OK with it when she was green, less so now that she 100% knows what we want, but just declines to show up to work. I'm also upset with myself for playing into it and investing emotion into things by getting so frustrated with her. On the plus side, these days used to be a regular occurrence, now they're a once every few weeks sort of thing. Progress, even when it doesn't feel like it in the moment :)