I could tell Tessa was a little sassy when I pulled her out of her stall last night. I had been out of town for the weekend, but she had been ridden on Saturday so it wasn't like she had been cooped up for days. She swished her tail as I brushed her. She nipped the air when I girthed her up. She shifted here and there impatiently.
As soon as my butt hit the saddle she swung out in a fast walk, her back swinging. Right away, Linda had us work on walking forward into steady contact. Every time her head came up, I asked her for forward instead. My normally lazy pony suggested we trot instead. I brought her back down to a walk. We did leg yields to the wall and then back out, working on maintaining forward and contact. She was lovely.
Then we picked up the trot. A little more brace-y and choppy in her trot, but she was forward. We flew around the ring while I attempted to get her back to lift. My practice from last week in staying still was paying off because we had some really gorgeous moments where she slowed down and lifted her back. Then we hit the scary end of the arena. Everything was fine and relaxed and then she was slamming on the brakes, head in drama llama mode. She backed up rapidly and then spun around and galloped off. I got her back quickly and we went back to work.
The rest of the lesson was mostly great, except her spooks which kept coming in random places with no warning. At one point we were walking on a loose rein, her head down to her knees, puffing softly. We walked by the jump poles that we had been by at least 50 times already that night and before I knew what was happening, she had spun around and was galloping towards the other end of the arena with her tail tucked between her legs.
I got my reins gathered back up and put her back to work again. We managed to go in the scary end and by those jump poles again, but she would just pick new spots to suddenly stop and spook. Luckily, none of these scared me and I put her to work after each one so that at least she knows that if she reacts that strongly she will have to work. Linda pointed out that I needed to work her fairly hard because the problem wasn't that she was scared or spooky, it's that she forgot I was on her back when she took off galloping.
We're still working on building trust and hopefully in the future, she'll spook and know that I'm right there to help her get through it.