I had my first lesson in three weeks last night and it was good. We worked on how to get Licorice stretching down through his back right away. I have a tendency to go from swinging free walk to pulling Licorice into contact. He gets choppy and tense and behind the bit and I nag and pull. We're a hot mess.
First, L had me bend him with just one rein. I kept my reins long and used the inside rein, keeping my elbow close to my side and gently bending him. As soon as he 'gave' to the contact by lowering and stretching his head, I straightened him. This isn't dramatic bending with his head to his hip, but more of a gentle tipping of the nose. If he didn't respond to that, I moved his head. It never needed to get farther than that. Once was giving on the inside, I made sure he was giving on the outside rein. Then I shortened the reins and repeated the process. I did this until we were walking on a nice contact with the proper rein length.
Then we moved to doing it in trot. It's funny how you can feel like you've got something and then you add in trotting (or cantering if you've got it down trotting) and the whole thing falls apart. Our main problem was that once we got in to the trot, someone pulled in a horse trailer and went about unloading their horse.
Our arena is open on both sides, so you can see the parking lot, grazing area and back turnouts. I ride at dusk, so it was full on dark outside when the trailer arrived. Licorice couldn't seem to focus and kept popping his head up, which then resulted in me falling back on pulling on my inside rein without any results.
Once we got past that bit of nonsense though, we had a great ride with lots of good consistent contact.
We did have a funny moment where we were joined by S and her bay mare. Every time they trotted towards us and got close, Licorice pinned his ears and tensed his body up. S doesn't keep her horse on the property, so I'm not sure what Licorice's deal was. He didn't do it to the other horse in the arena, it was only when S rode her horse close to us. He did NOT like that mare!
Also, on a chickenshit note, my trainer has me doing my warm up on a completely loose rein with a forward, marching walk. My warm up is the scariest part of the ride for me. It made me laugh that such a simple thing incites such anxiety! It's the long rein, forward walk thing. I feel like I have no control. It's been good for me to get that out of the way in the beginning of our ride.
Since I don't have a recent picture of Licorice, here's a picture of a toy I found at Target. Seriously? Poopsy Pets?