Princess Fancy Pants is coming along nicely and we got our steering back in our last lesson and subsequent schooling sessions - yay! The newest thing to come up, though, that I want to nip in the bud quickly, is her getting her tongue over the bit. I noticed this while I was observing her being double-lunged, which is why I went back to working off of just the lunging caveson for a couple weeks. But when I noticed it again at the last lesson, we decided to change bits. I started her out in a KK Ultra that was used by my TB. Her mouth was quiet enough in it when she would just hold it in her mouth, but when reins were attached (and the more work she did - meaning trot and canter), she would open her mouth and get her tongue over it. We stopped mid-lesson to try another bit - a rubber single-jointed snaffle. She hated it even at a stand still. So we switched to the bit I used when I first got Mac going, which is a KK Duo. She was quiet in that at the stand still and at the walk, and it was time for our lesson to be over anyway, so we stopped on that good note.
Always wanting to improve myself and my feel and timing and training skills, I want to look at what I can do to be better and know if there's something I need to change. I decided to take a different tactic for our next training session. I started thinking about what the double-lunging means in terms of bit pressure in the mouth (or on the lunging caveson, for that matter) and how it affects her way of going or understanding the aids, and what kind of leverage is activated when the lines are run through the surcingle, etc. I am in the thinking and pondering stage, and so in the meantime tried something else yesterday.
We started off with lunging with a saddle on (off of the caveson, not the bit). This is the second time I've done this with her, and even though the stirrups were run up, they still made a flapping noise. The first time I did it, she wanted to stop whenever she heard the noise, so we worked on forward. This time, she carried her head up, ears turned back, and sort of looking around, so she's a bit distracted. But one thing at a time. The goal was to go forward with the flapping sound, and work on voice commands. We just started cantering on the lunge, so adding voice commands for that, as well as picking up the correct lead (she favors the right).
After a brief lunge, I dropped the stirrups and purposefully thumped each at her side, to mimic a leg aid and get her to step over. Great. Only had to do that a couple times on each side.
Next we worked with the bit. I took off the lunge line and attached reins to the bit and worked on little flexions first, just basic giving to the bit. Then we walked - me beside her shoulder, a rein in each hand, and worked on turning with an opening rein and halting with both reins. Did that for a short while in both directions and I was pleased with that.
The last thing we did, which I didn't get on video because of where I was in the arena, was to have her stand at the mounting block while I put one foot in the stirrup and added some pressure. Just enough to be on my tip-toes with my standing leg, not enough to actually stand in the stirrup. I did that on each side and she stood quietly, so I called it a day.
We've talked about getting her going under saddle, but I really want to a part of being on her at an early stage and right now I'm injured (not sure what - maybe either a muscle strain or tendonitis in the hip, but I'm working with doctors to try to figure it out) and not able to ride. So I'm thinking I'll be putting off getting her going riding for another few months. We'll see.