Now that it's full-on winter and the horses aren't getting out very reliably, I'm back in lunge-before-I-ride mode. Which means I'm also in full work-in-hand mode. I was starting to get a little frustrated at Willow blowing off my half halts, but I decided she really was getting herself all in a twist about me touching her with the whip. So I've been working on desensitization for the past week. I've been asking Willow to stand, and then touching her all over with the lunge whip. I've gotten to where I can lay the lash across her croup and ask her to walk, and she doesn't go into orbit. I also can now stand her by the wall and touch her with my work-in-hand whip, and I don't get eye-rolling panic. I want her to respect the whip, not fear it. I hope that this work will also lead to a little less mareishness about the whip under saddle.
I've shortened the side reins, and my new mission in life is to keep Willow from leaning on them. It's transitions, transitions, transitions. A few times this week, in the midst of a volley of walk-trot-canter-trot-walk-trot-canter transitions, Willow has offered walk-canter, pretty as a picture.
Due to holiday madness, my next lesson with Leslie won't be until January. I'm looking forward to it.