HIs confusion looks like this: very crooked body, falling in, shoulder bulging to the outside, haunches in, haunches out, head flinging or jerking, trying to run through my aids, sucking back, ... the list goes on and on. It is amazing how hard he finds it to simply trot around quietly on a 20-meter circle.
It's great to have JL there as eyes on the ground, because she can coach me through the tantrums without me second-guessing myself. So far, she mostly just watches and encourages me with comments like "good catch" or "I like your contact there." I am sure a professional's application of the aids would be quicker, but I feel good about how I am schooling him through this stage in his "training."
Right now, it's mostly about having him accept the contact and move forward in a circle while maintaining the rhythm. While he is a hot mess right now, what I like is that each day there is discernible progress. I am not sure why he was so quiet for the first two weeks of walking and short trot sets, but somehow, he knows that it's now game on.
A lot of Izzy's moves are the same as Sydney's, but Izzy seems to be testing me where Sydney so often was just reacting. When Sydney had a melt down, getting him back in the conversation was near impossible. Izzy isn't having a melt down. He's asking questions, stamping his feet, throwing his weight around (literally), or saying I DON'T WANNA.
I had to really growl at him on Wednesday and pony club kick the heck out of him. Instead of losing it and feeling picked on or resentful, he snapped to and gave me a yes ma'am. He's trying to avoid the conversation, but he doesn't check out mentally. This is a huge difference between the two horses, and it's the thing that makes me feel a lot safer when Izzy is bouncing around.
So while he was in the midst of his tantrum, JL suggested the Loop de Loop exercise. When I asked for a sideways step into the outside rein, Izzy didn't understand that he was still tracking left. He kept trying to hustle to the right. So instead of fighting with the outside rein, JL had me ride a couple of sideways steps with an immediate small circle to the inside where I released the outside rein.
It took a few minutes, but Izzy finally got soft and started bending around my inside leg. It was amazing to feel the tightness leave his back. I knew we were on the right track because the whole thing smacked of a "Christian" exercise.
The beauty of the exercise is that you can vary the size and number of the small circles. When he is really naughty, the circle is small, and I might need to do several. When he quits rushing on his forehand, I can make the circle larger and do just one before returning to the 20-meter circle.
I've tried the exercise a few different times and am pleased at how well it works even without JL coaching me. We'll work on it more today and hopefully we'll show JL some improvement before this week's lessons.