Well, my search for a trainer has come to a screeching halt with my last lesson.
To be fair, this week has been pretty stressful and horrible all on its own... but yesterday's lesson was possibly the worst ride I've had in the 3 months I've owned Jax (and ridden on a 5-6time a week basis, no less)! And to think that I was excited for a breezy happy relaxing lesson...
Have you ever had a new trainer who doesn't know your horse all that well, and therefore makes assumptions about his behavior that aren't quite true? Yesterday Jax was laaaazy as lazy can be (I'd checked beforehand for soreness/reaction to recent vaccinations, and he was just peachy). Normally I'll pick up a dressage whip if he's looking lazy for the simple fact that holding it makes him perk up without even coming into contact with it. Well, I didn't because I'm a fool. Our walk-trot portions of the lesson were fine, but cantering and canter transitions were horrific. For the first time, he was trot-running into the canter, pinning his ears, picking up the wrong lead... and my instructor was praising him for it! ?!?!
See, I may not be a trainer, but I know this horse pretty well. She literally had me holding the pommel and kicking through that terrible bouncy falling-apart trot into a lazy canter and telling me that he was doing great! And when he dropped gait? Well, he picked it up for me so it's progress. No.... no, it's not. He knows better, and I know it! When he drops gait, I make him work even harder until I say we're done. When he decides to run into a canter, I bring him back to whatever starting gait I was at and ask him again and again until he picks it up right. When he picks up a canter but drags along on his forehand, it is not good enough-- I expect effort when I ask for it, and keep asking for it, and keep asking for it...
Well at the end of the lesson she finally let me pick up my dressage whip, and suddenly I was on a forward-moving, hind-end-engaging horse who picked up a lovely rocking canter from a walk.
This has been working for us, and yesterday left me miserable and I'm sure Jax's back was not happy after that bouncy-house-on-his-back session.
This is what I get for riding trainer-free for so many years. :( I know I'm not infallible, which is why I'm looking for a trainer-- I'm just sad to find that this is not it. Especially because it's so difficult to find a dressage trainer in Tucson.