Day 4 of our trip complete. As Sophie has said before, it is always lesson 4 where we get to the root of the problem. Day 4 was where we discovered that, as far as fight or flight instincts go, Swiss Miss will give you a fight. Swiss Miss is still lacking in some of her basic vocabulary. She has a grasp on some of it, but she is so green and I'd been grounded for 5 weeks up until right before our trip, so she had only gotten the bare beginnings of training before we came.
She was worked on the lunge and in the saddle during our morning lesson, but was put back on the lunge in the end. She kind of just decided, "I've been working and mostly behaving for the last 3 days, and now I'm going to give you the finger." She grew very rude about space, and anytime you touched the right rein, she tried to swing her hind end out, so alternated between going sideways in the saddle or just popping the hind end off of the circle and pivoting, or on the ground she would attempt to spin out and face you to get out of work, then would try to bully you by putting her shoulder in your space. We worked hard, but managed to end on a good note for the morning lesson, and she was a bit tired by the end because we just let her fight herself and work it out on the lunge.
Our afternoon lesson started in-hand and was going quite well, but then she started being a bit defiant and bullying into your space again, swinging her head at Sophie (BIG mistake) and popping her shoulder at you. We have determined that her right side is the one she really avoids being through on, so that's the side we've been focusing on claiming and getting softness on. We worked most of this on the lunge and then tried to replicate in the saddle, and Sophie put us together on the lunge line so she could keep her forward for me so I could really focus on maintaining my own body and really focusing on my aids to get that release for Swiss Miss. Once she finally stopped squiggling all over the place, we had a few really nice rotations in each direction, then I vaulted off.
The final lesson concluded with her working beautifully on the lunge and finally "getting it" and cooperating, then she was given a walk break. Since Sophie unfortunately won't be able to have us stay another week, we reattached the side reins after her short break to see if the changes stuck, and voila! Soft, forward, softly chewing and licking pony with soft eyes going around on her circle with a proper frame and no more objections.
We're likely going to do a 6 week lunging program to work out the dangerous rudeness on the ground till she is responsive to just voice aids without any rein aid or exaggerated body blocking, and then I should have a better horse under saddle. We will ride today for lesson 6 before we head home, so wish us luck! We ride at 9:45 and haul out by noon!