I have been having an interesting time with Lucy. For a number of reasons, I haven't been riding very often:
-it's about a gazillion degrees outside
-Cairo (who now weighs 40 lbs) yanked on me so hard at puppy class one week that I couldn't lift anything with my right shoulder for about two weeks
-Lucy has been very challenging to ride, and I'll admit that after a half hour match between us, I'm not exactly motivated to do it all over again the next day.
Shame on me, I know, I know.
I decided this week that enough was enough. I didn't buy a baby horse thinking it was going to be all roses and blue ribbons right off the bat. I knew it was going to take determination and more than a few Advil (for me) to get her where I want her. I have been really broke lately (a wedding and buying a house within three months of each other will do that to you) but finally this week I sold my extra saddle, so I scheduled a lesson.
My instructor asked me at the beginning what I wanted to work on, and I replied "everything" and then I ranted for about five minutes about all the troubles we were having. I said that most rides feel more like a giant fight than anything else. He replied that I'm going to have to duke it out with her over some things and then I said I was willing to be the boss woman occasionally but it wasn't pleasant or productive to fight for the entire ride. I also told him that I felt like she spent the entire ride running through my aids. I always feel like I'm an annoying fly on the wall to her ("Lucy, please slow down! Please! PLEASE!?!?!?!) and not ever really a part of the ride.
So we worked on me putting my inside leg on the horse, because she has me 100% whipped not to use it. As soon as I put it on her, she picks her head up, swishes her tail, and scoots out from under me. Of course this led to me having to be firm but quick about telling her that she cannot haul me around. "Put her on her ass!" my instructor would say to me, and I did so by a quick half halt, inside leg, and raising the outside rein just slightly so that she couldn't fall on her outside shoulder or get tucked up in front.
He also made me do sitting trot because we all know how I just LOVE pinching with my knees and thighs, and you cannot sit a trot like that. I was forced to relax my pelvis and upper legs, and let my lower legs wrap around her and be effective. I was also forced to put my butt in the saddle (which felt weird but good). I learned that once I actually sit in the saddle, I gain a wonderful steering tool (my seat), which I can't use while hovering above her like a handkerchief waving in the wind.
I have heard that young horses, especially mares, go through a testing phase from the ages of 4-7. Also during that time they reach maturity, both physically and mentally, and that can be a tough time for some horses. I have a feeling that the next 2 or 3 years are going to be interesting with Lucy. She's not a bad horse by any means but she is large and strong and super smart. If she puts those attributes to good use she will be amazing.