Namely curling behind and unsteadiness. It is killing our dressage scores. When Savvy is anxious, she gets busy in the head. It is how she soothes herself: wiggling, bobbing, rubbing her head on her legs, chewing the bit like a beaver through trees. When she relaxes, it mostly goes away. But show environments are never a relaxed situation.
So I have been working on ways to help her relax through a bit of French classical training I learnt last year watered down and mixed in with my own trial and error ideas. For example, at a walk, on the long side I will get her very straight then elevate the bit in her mouth and then ask for head turned in slightly (working our way up to 45 degrees) but with very straight head (so the bend is truly neck, not pulled over nose) and continue walking with straightness through her body and release. I am hoping these quiet flexion exercises will relax the muscles in her neck and poll and help the overall issue of head wiggles.
Next, I am shutting down this curling behind the vertical. Low and behind the vertical seems to be her favourite place to be so for now, I just want her poll high and I will be very careful not to fuss with her in any way as long as her head is up. It is not a heavy handed issue--she is so light on the bit, a feather could make her curl. It seemed to begin after we had been practising long and low. She discovered she loved it down there and wants that to be her new forever home. Sorry girl! Head up and get your ass to work, literally.
Our next derby is about a week away. Having competitions so close together is fantastic! All the benefits from our last xc may actually still be with us for this next one. It will be great going in with some momentum rather than just hoping we can make it through starter.
This derby is set up a little differently--we could pick dressage, pace, xc and a new class called "follow the leader" where you get to do a xc round following a buddy horse and rider. I have decided to do dressage, starter xc and then do a pre-entry course following someone. It will be great to have a go at some bigger jumps without the stress of worrying about scores or the big 'E' as this round is unjudged.
Now if I could get some of these good vibes to rub off on Shiraz. Her training has been less than fun lately, but that is for another post.