Last night's group lesson started off strong. Our walk was forward, our trot was forward and our contact was consistent. I spent the first half of the lesson being mostly ignored while my trainer focused on the other two horses, one of which she made the comment "He's just not feeling very ride-able tonight, is he?". Ha! Yes, my horse has those nights too.
We worked on keeping my legs loose and pushing my heels down and my feet into the irons when I did the 'sit' portion of the rising trot. Tessa and I were in tune. We then went from our forward trot to our canter on the left. It was a bit strung out and whenever I tried to half half, we fell into a trot, but we're both learning about half halting effectively in the canter. I just put her right back to canter and we tried again.
We then had a short walk break after one of the horses, a giant bay gelding, got spooked by a rattling feed cart outside. Tonight was the first night that our lesson was in the dark and the outside of the arena made some of the horses nervous. Poor Oxford didn't just spook when he heard the ghostly death rattle of the feed cart, he turned around with a look like a terrified puppy on his face and bolted for the other end. Horses scattered and jumped. All of them except Tessa, who was so focused on what we were doing that she didn't even bat an eyelash. Good girl!
We changed reins and focused on going to the right. She was forward again and lovely. Then I asked for right lead canter. Boom! Pow! Tessa reminded me that we haven't completely come over the hill for attitude. I asked her to move off my leg and she kicked out and slowed down. I used my spur. More kicking. More ear pinning. Wrong lead. No lead. Kicking. Bucking. Head tossing.
I'm proud to say that fifteen minutes later, I finally got my nerve up and growled at her when she bucked. We got the correct lead and then had a lovely (albeit a bit rushed) canter and I was even able to half halt a bit.
Laura is going to ride Tessa some more and see if she can figure it out. I will not be surprised if she comes back and says 'Your pony is fine. It's you.' I have a plan for a boot camp to work on me in the coming months. It might be time to put that plan into action.
In the meantime, I'm going to remember to stay strong when my pony tests my limits. One of these days I will get past the just riding through it, into letting her know that her behavior is unacceptable. One of these days....