Having a young horse that I am training myself can be often very boring as we are establishing and reestablishing basics and principles. Other times, however, it can be difficult and frustrating as we fight to obtain or remember a principle or practice and one party doesn't seem to get it. Or decides she wants her sass to shine through. Mia is pretty smart and has picked stuff up pretty quickly and without much issue but she is young and she is feisty when she wants to be. When RB4 was here, she was great. Tonight, however, she was feisty.
I rode bareback and that I think contributed to the issue. Mia was actually being very good until the very end. We had some nice w/t work and I was going to do a quick canter and call it a night. Unfortunately, Mia decided that it was not in fact a night to canter nicely and thus a fight ensued. It started with a simple canter transition to the right, Mia gave it to me but instead of holding herself she put her head way up and refused to bend. I asked for her to put her head down and she refused. I asked to slow down and she refused. I asked for at trot transition and asked for the canter again. Again she refused to put her head down or bend and now she was speeding up. Great.
I tried making her just go forward while asking for her to soften and she would go faster but refused to drop her head or stop inverting her back. At this point I should clarify this isn't a head up situation, this is a head in my lap situation. We changed directions and she held her head slightly high but she was using her back to the left. I switched directions again and Mia still refused to do as I asked and started jumping into the canter, almost rearing as she picked up her transition. Getting fairly annoyed as we had been working on this simple transition for over 5 minutes now, I grabbed the draw reins and put them on. If nothing else it might give me the leverage to help me get the head down or at least have her back not so hollow so we could end on a good note.
We picked up a trot and Mia held herself quite nicely without much tension but as soon as I picked up the canter she tried to have her head sky high and refused to give to the inside rein, bend or even sit on her butt. Grrr! We have been doing so well with this over the past 3-4 months, why are we reverting? The more I fought the issue the more "up" Mia was getting in her canter transitions and not in a good way. Twice I thought she was going to rear instead of go into a canter and she had zero desire to keep her head down out of my face. She was pulling on the draw rein so hard she was wheezing. Flashbacks to Jan-April! I tried switching directions and cantering to the left but by this point Mia was quite pissy, hot and not at all interested in compromise. While she was a bit fast and her head was out of my face (without activating the draw reins), you could tell she was not happy and just looking to fight. Grrrr.
After I was able to get a lap to the left on a loose inside rein with Mia's head fairly down, I did several laps of trot and didn't stop until Mia stretched down and relaxed a little. I tried doing some trot/canter/trot transitions where we canter only a stride or two before trotting again and that certainly didn't fix anything but she was also getting pretty tired and quite sweaty. I picked up the right lead canter and while she didn't put her head where it should be (out of my face!) and was still pissy, she wasn't pulling on the draw rein (too much) and she kept her lead low enough for me to call it a night. I had her trot around a couple of laps on a long rein before going back to the barn and parking her under a cooler.
I am very annoyed that this habit popped back up, especially that it came back this badly. This is how she was cantering when we started and I thought we were over this. Especially since we had just cantered with RB4 on Monday and it went so well! I was, however, very impressed with my seat. I rode a very hard ride with bad transitions, unsteady gaits, some spinning, some almost rearing and sudden stops and not once did I think I might fall and I was unsteady in my balance only a couple of times that were all quickly recovered. Yay No Stirrup November! My next ride, however, will definitely be in a saddle so I can have enough leverage to win the battle if she chooses to pick it. But watch, next time she isn't going to fight me because that is how my luck goes. If that is what she chooses, I will take it!