On Sunday I had my lesson on the App with the new instructor, I will call her H. I debated whether to use the dressage or jumping saddle and chose the jumping saddle cause I can do both with it. Right? We chatted about the App's past successes and why I want to keep him at 2'6" and not move forward further with him and she agreed, a pleasant change from the previous instructor. We talked about his performance at the last show and how he can be great or an insane freak and there isn't a way to predict or control which you will get. I explained the previous instructors suggestions of making the App just go forward or ignoring behaviors and they both failed, thus I had went back to walk then trot then walk then trot and she agreed that is the best way to go about it. She didn't have any better suggestions for the screaming, however, just to try to make whatever you were doing much, much harder. Ugh.
We went to the arena and I displayed my nice walk/trot/canter transitions. Her only gripe with my riding is still my hands, I know they are still too wide. But how awesome that out of my entire body she is only griping about my hands?! She didn't tell me anything new, the App is great at putting himself into a nice frame with a nice headset and tracks up nicely but he isn't truly "on the bit" and connected. Or even truly using his back end. We shortened his reins and tried and tried to get him to push. He would have none of it, creeping down to a trot that was the speed of a western pleasure trot or cantering to evade the request. Out came the dressage whip and she first had me work on legs mean FORWARD. I am to try riding him without any legs applied at all, if I apply a leg he should instantly go forward. If he doesn't then I should sharply remind him to go forward so he can get into the habit and will carry himself again. This is in contrast to the last 2 instructors who have told me that I hit him too much but alas we will try this route again. She then had me hold onto the saddle with my outside hand and make the rein be like a side rein and voila. It was almost like a switch got flipped, from fighting and creeping to suddenly having moments of true connection!
While doing this, it was increasingly difficult to do everything she was telling me since I was in the jumping saddle and thus I kept dropping my stirrups. So what was I asked? Drop both stirrups and put them over his withers and ride that way. Doing trot/canter transitions through a spiral circle while keeping one hand as a side rein and the other continue to "remind" the App to move forward when a leg is applied. It was really amazing how quickly he came together using this method, he fought it but became round and connected faster than anyone has ever gotten us there. We rode maybe 20 mins and we were there? Normally it takes a minimum of 30 and normally 40 mins to get there. I was quite impressed .
I had her ride him for her opinion and I don't feel guilty about using the whip because she used it a lot more. Not truly beating him, as I know that is how I say it "Beat the pony, beat the pony!", but giving one medium tap if he didn't go forward with leg and then one hard tap if he didn't respond. She was also rode without stirrups and was very insistent that he move forward EVERY time she applied leg. It will be a change (back) for me but I am willing to try it. Overall she likes him. She likes his compact nature and that he is very smart. She says he still has a tremendous amount of athletic ability at his age and should do well. We are tentatively hauling out to go cross country schooling the first weekend of Nov, pending weather issues, so hopefully I find to ride in this crazy month.
I have decided that yes, I really like this new instructor and really should have gone this route to start with. Live and learn! Also learn to ride in the dressage saddle to play it safe as I now have bruised seat bones from my hard saddle. Ouch.