Well, I'm happy (and frankly, a little relieved) to report that we've managed to string together two good rides in a row!
I warmed up today just like I did yesterday- nice forward walk on a loose rein, trotted both directions in the ring, and then headed out to the trail. There was minimal fuss on our way to the trailhead, even though we had to ride through a flock of turkeys to herd them out of the way.
The bugs descended on us instantly, and swarmed her head and neck for the first 3/4 miles or so. She was definitely not happy, and fidgeted at the walk, but I can understand this!
When we got to the 'water crossing,' she went back to her old balking. We were riding alone, so I didn't have the benefit of Jazzy and Ida to lead for us, but I really was determined to make it across. The water was not deep, rushing, or dangerous in any way. I know there have been a lot of other debates on HF recently about getting off to go through scary scenarios, but I truly believe this is not a frightening situation for Izzy- just one that makes her stubbornly refuse. So, I decided I was staying on and we were going across together. The first few (ok, four) times I tried to get across, she pulled all the tricks she's used before to turn around and go home. She rushed backwards, she lurched sideways through the underbrush. I truly didn't care about her crossing right at the point where I said she should- in my opinion, that was the best footing to go across, but I would have been perfectly happy if she had gone across even if we were off the trail and in the bushes, but she wouldn't do that either. Rather than run into a tree, I did have to turn her in a half circle a couple of times and get back on the trail facing towards home (it's pretty narrow). But each of the times I had to do that, I was able to basically turn on the forehand to get facing back towards the puddle. We did a lot of standing and waiting in between each try, and let's say that was not very fun given the deer flies. As I gathered my reins to urge her forward for the fifth time, that little voice in my head chimed in "she's not going to rear and she's not going to fall"- my two biggest unspoken fears when she starts throwing herself side to side or flying backwards. Not sure if it was coincidence or if I gave myself the confidence to just ride her forward more effectively that try, but finally her nose was crossing the puddle, her front feet were in, and we were through. If it hadn't taken so many tries, I would have said it's the nicest she's ever gone through that water, because she didn't half lunge/half jump through it, she just walked across.
The rest of our ride was great actually. For the remaining mile or so, we trotted and cantered, and she felt strong and eager. We haven't done anything but walk on that trail for months, so it was fun to move out a little- nice hills back there too, so a good work out.
When I hosed her off after the ride though, I felt pretty awful- I discovered she's got girth rubs on both sides in a weird spot- not quite armpit, but not quite leg. I'm not sure how she's getting rubbed there, but unfortunately I don't think it was from just today. Thankfully the skin isn't broken or bleeding, but it's still clearly rubbed. I have a couple of other girths I can try, but does anyone have any suggestions for protecting this weird area, or how to check before I get on to see if a new girth is likely to bother her in the same spot?