My friend and fellow dressage nut Ted visited from Texas a couple weeks ago. He graciously agreed to freeze his fingers off and capture a video of me and Willow. I hadn't been on her in a couple days, so she was rather full of herself, and to add to the fun there was lots of activity in the arena, and Willow is still somewhat intimidated by other horses under saddle (funny, 'cause she's the biggest social butterfly in other situations. When I lead her down the aisle she'd like very much to chat with every horse that sticks his head out of his stall). Anyway, I'm really pleased with how she looks in this greatest hits compilation.
I forwarded the video to my beloved former clinicians, Wolfgang and Suzanne. Suzanne gave me some great advice -- basically that it's time to start to carefully bring Willow up in front. Half halts, half halts, half halts! I'm always afraid of artificially elevating the horse's neck and head, so that will very much be on my mind. Thursday night I shortened the reins a bit and chose several points around the arena where I would always half halt and send her forward. Happily, the ride went really well, and I felt the beginnings of a more powerful connection. Shoulder in and travers got easier, too. Thanks, Suzanne!
Back to the night that Ted taped me. Willow was a little tense, but I thought I had worked her through most of it. Ted is an experienced rider, so I let him get on. Well, that didn't go so well. Apparently Willow was still harboring some tension, because she bolted and dumped him. I felt horrible! Luckily, Ted was fine and good-humored about the unplanned dismount. Here's a still from the video: Ted on the ground, and Willow saying "I am SO outta here!" (Lesson learned: Don't take anything for granted with a six-year-old. They'll always surprise you!)