I've been obsessively videotaping myself for the past week (sure do wish my new videocamera cord would arrive so I could share the video with y'all). My new year's resolution is to absolutely stop trying to get Willow to lighten by wagging her head. I don't even realize I'm doing it, but it's glaringly obvious on the videotape. Instead, I'm going to be much more solid with my contact, because if I am (be the side rein . . . be the side rein) then Willow lightens all on her own after a few minutes. She's just testing me, and I need to stop getting into little arguments with her.
Second resolution: keep those reins short. I've gotten Willow working really well on fairly short side reins when I lunge, so there's absolutely no reason why she can't do the same thing under saddle. She's got to learn to carry her big ol' self all on her own, and I'm doing her no favors by letting her lengthen her frame every two minutes.
Overall, when I think back to where we were a year ago, I'm just thrilled. Willow has filled out and muscled up, and I'm spending most of our sessions in sitting trot with reliable half halts. (Sitting trot used to feel pretty freight-train-ish.) Her temper tantrums are all but eliminated. Her mouth is foamy after every ride. She's starting to really sit in the canter. She's bendy.
In other news, guess whose barn is getting a hot walker? :) :)