My riding has been sporadic but productive. I haven't ridden since my last lesson on Thursday.
Tessa has been ridden consistently though. The kids were all out on winter break and where do they spend their time? At the barn, of course. Begging to ride anything that isn't their horse. So my horse was ridden by the younger, more competent set.
I asked today how she was for them. These girls are all better riders with more gusto than I have, so I anticipated that Tessa was a gem for them. Nope. She was a raving B. They had been warned that she might buck or kick out in the beginning, but that she would get over it as soon as she was going forward. The Princess had other plans. She sucked back. She bucked. She kicked. Then when she was pushed forward, she shoved her head in the air and kicked out more. And bucked more. She was awful.
Nobody likes to hear that their horse is awful, but I was actually grateful for the opportunity for them to work through it. Her temper tantrums didn't intimidate them and they just pushed her forward, forward, forward.
Tessa doesn't throw tantrums like these with me anymore. Her evasions are more passive aggressive now, like wiggling in the contact and avoiding listening to the outside leg. But I want a well rounded horse. I don't want a horse that only one person can ride; I want a horse that understands this is their JOB and it doesn't matter who is on you, your job is to go forward when asked without throwing a fit. The Princess only has to work one hour a day MAX and I want it to be clear that when she's working, she's working. And it doesn't matter if the person on her back is entirely incompetent, she's not allowed to buck and kick and suck back. So, despite the bad news that she was awful they just kept pushing her forward.
My lesson today was working on a diamond shape. We started at the walk, getting her to march forward in a nice swinging walk. Anytime her head would pop up, I would put both legs on and push her forward. Sometimes vigorously. When we got to the turn, I would turn my shoulders, move the outside rein closer to her neck and ask her to move her haunches with my outside leg while pushing her forward with the inside rein. She was not allowed to just turn her neck. There were a few discussions about my outside leg and a few reminders about focusing on me and not on the horse outside throwing a raging fit (Tessa's new pasture buddy Watson loves her a little more than is appropriate and was outside screaming for her my entire lesson.)
We did this at the walk, the trot and then the canter. I still had a doozy of a time getting the right lead canter but it is slowly, slowly improving.
Overall, I need to continue to work on keeping my outside rein and especially keeping it steady. Tessa's new trick is to bounce around in the contact. Then my hands bounce around and before you know it, she's stargazing and my elbows have become straight arm pistons. It helped to anchor my hand to the saddle, and relax my arms. And again, forward forward forward. Always forward. Every time, no matter what.