I've been learning a lot this week. I took three lessons, and came away from all of them with the same basic things. I guess that's good that horsepeople can at least be consistent.
1) Sit up tall, let go of some classic hunter equitation, soften through my back, and don't get in front of the motion
2) REWARD for good behavior (in Bijou's case anything that isn't her best giraffe impression)
3) Slow down a bit, what feels like a big happy stride, looks like she's running away with me.
4) Circles and transitions are my bestest friends.
So with those things in mind, I've tried to change a few of the ways I do things. I'm no longer riding around like I'm the Queen of England. I try to sit perfectly vertical (which feels like I'm practically laying over my horses butt) and plug my seat-bones more forward than backward. I've tried to get rid of the arch in my back, but that one's slower to go. I do a lot of "goooooood giiiiiiirl!" and baby talk when JouJou is being good in addition to scratching withers a bit. She seems to really get it when I make sure to praise her in a way she understands. We get more done when she's not breaking from walk to trot or trot to canter every time around and circles make sure that I'm sitting up straight, and that she's bending. Bending and lateral softening at the poll are hard, but getting there.
I finally feel like I have an idea of what 'things' to do, what steps to take, in order to get to a more round, forward, gorgeous horse. We're still not having tons of fun going over poles/x-rails etc just because I want to make sure our groundwork is fully operational.
I had one big mishap that was no fun. I was trying to circle in one of the corners of the arena and when we hit the rail again JouJou wanted to make a 1/2 circle in reverse, rather than a full circle. I put on the breaks and tried to correct, which sent her head up, which brought her feet off the ground. Rearing is one of my least favorite behaviors and one of the hardest for me to stay on. Needless to say I freaked a smidgen, and came down with her in an over protective crouch. She decided that one rear wasn't enough but that two would suffice. Unfortunately the second time my face was in the way :( This resulted in a very sore nose. I teared up a little from the sting of it, and made her get her butt back to work. Since then there has been no incident.
For record keeping's sake, I weighed her, she's right at the 1150 mark. It's hard to believe that there's only an extra 150 lbs on her since when I got her, but I think she looks great :D
Also, I wormed her on the 19th of August with Fenbendazole this time.
As far as the soundness goes... she's been TOTALLY sound for the last few days, but today might have stepped on a rock or something? She took a few off steps. I'm starting to look into this homeopathic remedy for strong bones/hooves... it's called "silver lining" but it's like $55 for a 60 day supply. Everyone I know that's used it says it works wonders, but I just can't really afford it if it doesn't! I'll have to see what my work schedule looks like for the next few weeks to see if I can splurge a little.