Willow stopped her homicidal behavior but has remained high as a kite this week. Instead of throwing her head up and attempting to rear, now she's throwing her head up and acting like she wants to bolt. I prefer the bolting to the rearing, but really, I prefer neither. I mentioned Willow's antics to my trainer, and she went into the tackroom and grabbed a running martingale for me.
I had never heard of using a running martingale for dressage training. I knew what they were, of course, but I had never really thought about just how they work. None of my previous barns even had one available. Well, consider me a convert! What a great piece of equipment! It only engages when the horse raises its head above a certain level. Otherwise, it just hangs there entirely without effect.
Willow took off at high speed, and I still had complete control. No longer did I have to worry that she might put her nose above her ears. I just let her gallop around until the bee flew out of her bonnet, and then we had a productive ride. The only drawback I found was you can't really do an opening inside rein while using a running martingale. Not a big deal unless you have a totally untrained horse.
I should mention that I've done a thorough physical check of Willow and have made sure the bridle and saddle are fitting correctly. I can't find anything that's triggering this behavior. I think it's just cabin fever/mid-winter-blues. The horses get daily turnout all winter, but because of the mud they go in the smaller paddocks. It's a good change of pace from the stall all day, but they can't get the bucks out. In the summer, they get pasture turnout, and Willow's half TB side benefits greatly from the room to run.