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Discussion Starter #1
Velvet's been a sweetheart, never mind the brief fussies due to estrus, through the arthritis ordeal. She's a registered Paint, I suppose you could call her type a lean stock or stocky race (someone took a good barrel racing-track racing AQHA bloodline and crossed it with an iffy APHA bloodline, same purpose, with plenty of TB blood). So, not the easiest work with, not the hardest, a good medium horse and definately one of my favorites. However, the poor girl's slight cow hock and rushed early training with her first buyer a long time ago landed her with arthritis in the hocks a few months ago... she's twelve years old. If you're going to work a 2yo, do it right :-(

Anyway, we're branching off from her low-level show jumping career (7yo-present) and going for Eventing practice. The arthritis is minor, so a bunch of treatments for joint health and blood flow as well as stretching, massage, and chiro adjustments keep her in working condition. Someday I probably will start hock injections, depending on how this plays out, as the girl is cleared for work, just has to go along slower than what I would like. Just part of the woes til I level out her asymmetry more.

Canter leads are looking good. Now it falls solely to me to get my weight just-so to ensure the correct lead each request.
Stretching is going well on request. She still has her giraffe moments at faster paces but still gives a good stretch-down.
Energy is still magnificent, I put her on 12% grain and she's happy to give that extra thrust for impulsion.
Jumping is pretty good. Getting those forelegs tucked and no more run outs.
Lateral and vertical flexion is awesome.

The downward transitions from trot. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:
I. Am. Hating. Them.
If I could bring her out to a track every day and let her gallop her heart out, I'd love that, and so would she, she a has a heart, ground-engulfing gallop, but incidentally.... I can't. When it comes time to trot--->walk... Velvet is more in the stead of saying, cool, we can walk for one stride aaaand back to trot with a passion. Now, I can see she's flexing herself like she's been showing nicely on free lunge sessions, but I would like to walk and stay walking for more than a few strides and then have me tell her when to shift. We have a training level Dr show coming up, and of course, a trot2walk is called for. Since Velvet's body has been freed up, she wants to use it! It isn't that she's getting flighty with me, more that once she gets going, she's going, and screw you for asking a slower pace or dare for a walk. She won't go into canter or gallop, the girl is too classy for that trick, but once I get her in the mind for a trot, well, I Hath Spoken.

The dirtiest thing is that she can be going along with a beautiful overtracking trot and then, when I ask for a walk, she dives to the forehand. It throws anyone forward. She's a booger. I put my aids on very, very slowly, and have to wait out any burst of speed she has, as once she feels my leg she thinks it means GO, and close my hands. What usually happens is her pre-frame falls to pieces and she sticks her nose up, speeds through. Gaaaaaaahhh. Now I know. I need to practice. I have my trainer, she's been telling me the same. But it sucks. I love my girl but I don't prefer spending an hour out in the fields (don't have an arena) turning and circling her, waiting for her to slow down so I can ask for the d**ned walk transition correctly. Hate it when I end up getting flustered and of course she picks up on it. A few times I got so agitated, probably stiffened up, and she shook her head side to side like a dinosaur when I asked for a halt instead of waiting longer for her to cool off ;_; It's one of those you-no-good-rider moments one has to muscle through T_T

Just so you know, nope, I'm not hammering her sides or hauling her mouth. Sometimes we go out with a neck strap or a halter for variety, or let the English reins out to full slack for neck reining. Tack with plenty of fleece cushion and a thiiick snaffle bit. She's sensitive, at the same time pretty forgiving, thankfully.

*cough*

That's my vent. Sorry =_=
Hoped this might help anyone else sharing the same ordeal; you're not alone and it's not the end of the world :lol:
 

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why NOT haul on her mouth? if she runs right through the bridle she has earned a firm rein. j

What I mean is that she may need more respect for the rein, and that might mean you DO have to get very firm on the rein. If she is willing to pull that hard on it, you will have to meet and exceed her pull. However, use one rein a lot mor than the other, so that she cannot lean evenly on the bit and brace against it.
you work to get her "giving" to the bit better. I would have her walk out, stop her and back her up. over and over again. then same thing at trot.
and throw in some spots where you let her move out without clamping down the forward movement.

My main thought being that you should not be afraid to take a strong hand on the rein if you can build it into a soft rein later (by rewarding her "gives" each and every time, but increasing your expectation of how little it takes for her to give, so that each time she gets more attentive to the rein.)
 

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Just to add to tinyliny's post - she is right in that sometimes it is necessary to use a more forceful rein, if a horse doesn't listen to my back, they get one small warning check with my rein, and then their back teeth come out (not literally, but you get the idea).
What I wanted to add to the above post though, is that you should not 'haul' or 'pull' on the rein. If she's pulling hard against you, and you pull hard and constant against her - who do you think will tire first? I guarantee it will be you! As riders we cannot use brawn, we must use brain!
So when she pulls, give her the chance to come back to your seat, give a little warning check on the rein, then lift your hands up and say "OI!!!! LISTEN UP!!!!!" with your reins, with an upward motion, just a short sharp OI!
Then go back and pretend nothing happened.

I can assure you that you will not create a 'hard mouth' from doing this. What creates a so called hard mouth is constant pulling and bracing on the rein, and using the rein to no effect. Right now, you will be creating a hard mouth.
By giving her a quick what for to tell her to shape up or ship out, she'll think "Oh, shoot mum really means that", she can ignore a long slow pull, but she can't ignore a quick "hey you!". When she backs off your hand, even slightly, then you go back to riding happily around like there was no problem. She'll work out quick smart that its easiest to stop to your back, and you will keep her mouth 'soft'.
 

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I do find it hard to judge this sort of thing without a video at least but agree with others - I am not afraid to use a good sharp jolt as a wake up call when needed - its the constant hanging on drag that causes the numb/dead mouth thing. Sometimes just playing with the mouth in a sort of pressure and release action will have a good effect
Sometimes going back to groundwork and lunging can help too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We're starting to make progress :)

I integrated jumps and trotting/canter poles back into the routine; heights under 3ft, with the few jumping chute heights of 3'6". Evidently she loses her mind after cantering over the pole, so that's something we'll work on. She can settle enough to trot it, but she tries jumping the whole spread in canter. Just her trying to pick a shortcut, the booger. I had a Eureka moment when I settled in my seat and focused on holding the contact with her mouth, refusing to let her slow down or wiggle with it, and what would you know, her stride fell into place and we kept a constant speed. For the transitions, we're making it-- one issue is that when she makes the smooth transition, she gives a turtle walk... short tiny steps. I've been casting off my worry about using too much leg or hand. So, when she starts to jig, I keep still and say "No" before giving a pull on the reins. I was taught never to yank, and I don't want to give a hard mouth by hauling on her like jaydee said, so I time it in a way that I'm giving her a firm tug but not a pop, and then moving on like it didn't happen. If she jigs again, I do it harder each time, which usually leads her to stick her nose up, and when she does that I take up one rein and raise my hand so she can't brace against it, wiggling it for the cue to put her head down. I feel and look pretty stupid doing it but after a few seconds of her trying to get out of my hands, she gives a snort and put her head down to move along quietly til the next time she tries to jig. After the first session she would start to take two strides jigging and walk when I say No as I feel her prepare to jig. It looks like we will be walking along and she wants to try me out, like I'll say No, she'll settle, and just a few strides more she'll try to jig again, but ignore the No and see if she can get away with it. The run-outs are staying away. She tried to side-step away from a little 16 inch hop, I brought her right round to it, halted, and gave her a smack on the side she swerved out to--- after that she didn't try wiggling away again and even calmed down enough to organize and simply step over it.

I'm trying to identify what she specifically looks like when she's relaxed, scared, angry, or just challenging me. From what I see, with and without any bridle (we went out with a neck rope a few days ago) she almost never switches her tail, she rather bares her teeth, sticks her tongue out, and tosses her head. Her teeth have been floated--- she gets a bit seat put in once a year and eats plenty of forage, I've been chucking four flakes of Coastal a day at her extra since the grass is sparse. There's also the pouty one-two-step, usually when I sternly correct her for something, she takes a step to one side and stomps her foot or gives a quick, short kick with one hind leg. Kind of like a tiny, tiny buck. Bucking is her default, but she hasn't done that in years. She was a bucking master as a youngster!

Another thing we're having trouble with more than the jigging, is that canter-to-walk is just about impossible. She always gives a choppy trotting stride. Her back looks GREAT with the addition of MSM supplement to her diet, so I think the issues are balance and dominance. Her front is all freed up, no signs of pain when I test her like the chiro showed me, though there's soreness coming up in her lumbar region right around the croup, so we'll have another chiro adjustment there later, maybe get accupuncture or equine massage out for her.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's a quick, cheap little cellphone video. My camera has disappeared and I have no camera man =_=. It was shot at the end of an hour's session, the day we tried the neck rope. She was good with the neck rope but after cantering on her non-favorite lead she started jigging and ignored the neck rope entirely, so I dismounted and put the bridle on as I had no desire for her to run wild. I swear my toes weren't pointed outward for the hour, but at the end I got tired xD so yeah, they pointed outward in the video.


At 0:7 she started jigging and I said No, then again at 0:10 I said No and gave her a pull. At 0:25 she came in jigging, put her nose up to avoid my pull so I raised my hands and gave-and-take the contact on my left rein to cue her to lower, even though she started backing up. At 0:37 I put my leg on for her to go forward, instead, without rein contact, she backed up, then I loosely put my hands forward so the reins would touch her neck to cue forward. I slowed the video down at 1:23 to show what she does when I ask for a walk from canter--- I gave the usual close-hand signal, and then more of a pull when she didn't pick up on it. You see her gape and bounce a few strides in trot. I had her back up three steps, then ended the video.
 

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Ok first thing I noticed in your video is that your timing isn't good enough. It is good that you're giving her a 'hey you' with the rein, but you're not releasing the pressure the second she responds. THAT is what makes a hard mouth, not the quick pop of a rein to say 'wake up!'.

As for the canter-walks, you're not going to get them at the moment. Your horse is not balanced enough, he is on the forehand, and going flat out in canter, as such you're having to pull the reins into the transition - you will NEVER get a good canter-walk by pulling the reins, trust me on that one! My Dressage horse is only just REALLY starting to get the canter-walks, he has collected walk, trot and canter but the collection and balance in canter was still not established enough for me to be able to give my reins and ride the transition to walk until recently.
They are a matter of establishing a very balanced canter that stays with your seat, that you can adjust the tempo of, and that you can ride immediately transitions to trot from.
 

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To my untrained eye it looks like you aren't preparing her enough.. she seems a little confused rather than being bratty...

I didn't catch...did you have a trainer to work with?
 

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To my untrained eye it looks like you aren't preparing her enough.. she seems a little confused rather than being bratty...

I didn't catch...did you have a trainer to work with?
Your 'untrained eye' is spot on.
The horse is not balanced, on the forehand and not being given direction.
I wouldn't even be thinking about canter-walks at this point as the basic transitions are not even established.
A trainer would be VERY beneficial here!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok first thing I noticed in your video is that your timing isn't good enough. It is good that you're giving her a 'hey you' with the rein, but you're not releasing the pressure the second she responds. THAT is what makes a hard mouth, not the quick pop of a rein to say 'wake up!'.
Through the whole video or the 0:35 part? Just wondering. When I wiggle rein at 0:30-38 I wanted her to put her head down farther, she's half QH and by herself walks with a lower headset, it's something I want under saddle, but maybe I shouldn't ask for the head-level-to-wither if I don't plan on holding on to it throughout. Without fail, she's calmest with her poll almost level to her withers, she's very likely to get tense with her head as high as you see throughout the video.

Here's a picture of what she looks like holding a stretch down (curse you, crappy cellphone!):


Ohhh yes, she is a forehandy horse. Whoever the jerk who first trained was, he just about plowed her face into the ground. She was Western then. There are rather deep scars in her sides from where she was dragged around barrels in the ring and spurred way back then. Her default is to plod on the forehand. I saw her mother once, her mother was a beeaaauuutiiful mover. I know the gal has it in her, we've just gotta get through to it. But yeah... for now I've been focused on getting her back muscles working and tracking up proper before I think about getting her to sit on those butt muscles. The trapezius muscle crossing her shoulder improved drastically, so I hope now that the front is looser she can lift it easier when we really get back on the cavelletti. We couldn't do it when she was very sore because she would just trample all over them, too painful to lift up.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have a trainer, not my original one but it's the best I've got nearby. When I work with my trainer during sessions we can get my mare overtracking and holding the Dressage stretch all the way around, I do ride better with a trainer. In the video it was the end of the day's plain exercise session and all I was thinking was "walk, dammit!" for the cooldown. (The canter was thrown in to show what she does in the transition.)
 

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Through the whole video, though most noticeably in the first attempt to halt. You popped the rein up when she didn't listen, which was good, and she reacted immediately, but there was then no release. I understand that you wanted her to give, but the first aid was to stop, and when she did stop, you really needed to give her that moment of relief as a reward. She cannot understand that she did the right thing by stopping, but now you want her 'round' - she thinks it's all the same aid. Hence the gaping mouth and confusion.
Horses are simple creatures, we need to break down every aid to its simplest form. So if you want her to stop, and she stops, give her relief to show her that she did the right thing. THEN ask for the next thing.
Eventually the training will improve and she'll stay round through a downward transition, totally on your back and staying on the bit because she is using her hind legs.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Through the whole video, though most noticeably in the first attempt to halt. You popped the rein up when she didn't listen, which was good, and she reacted immediately, but there was then no release. I understand that you wanted her to give, but the first aid was to stop, and when she did stop, you really needed to give her that moment of relief as a reward. She cannot understand that she did the right thing by stopping, but now you want her 'round' - she thinks it's all the same aid. Hence the gaping mouth and confusion.
Horses are simple creatures, we need to break down every aid to its simplest form. So if you want her to stop, and she stops, give her relief to show her that she did the right thing. THEN ask for the next thing.
Eventually the training will improve and she'll stay round through a downward transition, totally on your back and staying on the bit because she is using her hind legs.
I think I get what you're saying, though the first where you see her backing up was all her (in the sense that she will back up on ground and under saddle when she's PO'd)--- out of the camera sight, she started jigging, I No'd, then pulled, and she raised her nose up while still trot-jigging, I wanted a walk but with her nose up she wasn't listening, so I raised up my hands and messed with her face, in response she kept it raised but quickly went to backing instead of walking forward. The overall goal was to keep her walking, but then I wanted her nose lower so I could regain my contact, however now I'm not sure if I should prioritize differently; in the situation that she prepares to jig, starts jigging after I say No, keeps jigging after I pull and raises her nose to avoid my hand, what do I do? Should I be keeping my hands at the default position by her withers, or raising them? What happens when I keep the same pressure in the pull with her nose up, she runs through my hands entirely. When I don't raise my hands but pull again, she dives heavily onto her forehand from jiggy trot to walk and her back goes hollow. That's where I'm stuck. I still want to keep a walk when I say walk, but then I don't want her above the bit. Sometimes she goes right to backing when she sticks her nose up and I wiggle. Wiggling is the most effective thing I've found so far, I tried circling her but she sticks her tongue out and it really isn't effective in getting her to keep walking, I end up staying outside for hours doing spirals and all the turning tactics you can imagine from half-circles to serpentines.

Thanks for being pretty specific--- nothing sinks into mind for me unless I get details, and it's best for about 3 examples as ideas won't make sense to me otherwise. Sorry--- I'm a hard learner like that :?

** Also, she will give a cooldown walk at the end if I let the reins out to the buckle to let her stretch. I find that if I let my reins slacken too much throughout the session, she will start having more of a mind of her own, but if I put her more into a frame so that she is on the vertical with proper tracking, she won't get so antsy. I think I'm too loose with my hands, that I myself don't like to maintain a contact all that much, so the energy behind is falling out to the forehand. My trainer often says I need to "connect" her, as during a schooling trot she can get on the vertical but plod, I get the best results when I take a firmer rein and sort of square my body so I am not leaning anywhere or being passive.
 

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Why pull her nose instead of just closing your fingers on the rein? It's less brutish than tugging and you can vary the strength of the squeeze. I find it much more effective.. just a side observation.
 

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You've got two main options when a horse jigs. We cannot force a horse to stand still, but we can make them move until they want to be still.

By messing around with her mouth you're just going to **** her off even more, then get more jigging, head in the air, gaping mouth, more jigging again etc. It's a vicious circle.
You need to use your brain rather than brawn.

The first thing I'd try is the sharp 'Oi you!' on the rein. Sit quietly in the saddle, leg on lightly but making sure that your body is relaxed. Jigging comes from tension, and if you are gripping you are creating tension.
I'd then move to working her laterally. Keep her feet moving sideways, it'll make her really think about where she's putting her feet, and decide that it's better to stay at your pace than risk tripping over.
Teach her leg yield, if she doesn't move off your leg when she's jigging, lift your inside rein up, put your inside leg on and disengage the hind quarters. MAKE her step sideways and keep going sideways until she settles.
Again it is important that you sit quietly with a gentle leg contact down her barrel, a secure seat etc. Any tension in you will carry through to her.

I don't give a rats backside where her head is at the moment, that will come. As I said, jigging comes from tension, and that tension leads to her ignoring your aids. Get her brain back in focus, and the jigging will stop. Don't think about being 'pretty' at the moment, you want to be effective. Pretty will happen when effective has been established. When she is on your aids, then you can start looking at getting the longitudinal submission.
 

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Why pull her nose instead of just closing your fingers on the rein? It's less brutish than tugging and you can vary the strength of the squeeze. I find it much more effective.. just a side observation.
Good tip.

OP, if you start to use your strength - I.e. your upper arm and shoulders - to pull the horse around, you IMMEDIATELY lose any sense of feel. We need to be feeling riders, not body builders. We will never out pull a horse, so why even try? Yes there are times when a little more force is needed, but that needs to be employed tactfully with perfect timing - otherwise you'll just make the horse stronger.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I do normally use light aids only-- she's sensitive, despite having the times where she charges through an aid. I can stop her with my seat and small finger, usually you won't see my hands moving unless you look closer or see us practicing square turns. For practice reasons I'll over-exaggerate something like my inside rein to make something clear to her, on request of my trainer. We're working on leg yields, she sometimes wants to drag her bum, but we're able to do about four strides in trot and walk. I know she can go round and connect for the majority of a session on the vertical with proper tracking, sometimes I have my trainer ride her to get a point across and she moves good, but at the moment I'm not comfortable asking her to do it more than 3 times a week, it seems too early for us to do it more frequently. I figure if she doesn't offer roundness on the ground over cavalletti or ground poles, I don't want to ask her for more hind end work than necessary under saddle. What my trainer perscribed was more circle and turn work with the focus on keeping her on the path without dipping her shoulder into my turn, as well as asking her to over-bend her neck laterally on a few circles for the sake of loosening up her neck so I can get a better lateral bend in the leg yield preparing for side pass.
I still want to keep her varied and engaged in work, so it's not just Dressage for the week--- her passion is gallop, so a few times a week I go out with my reins slack and neck rein while she has her sprints. I like to do bareback, no stirrups, neck rope, halter, free lunge (can't do much lunging on tether for the sake of avoiding any hock soreness) and we've been getting into more in-hand work which is a big test for me to keep up with her and stay aware of what we're both doing, I plan on showing an in-hand class in a few months with her. Carrot stretches and strengthening exercises from the ground top it off, I like to do those every day (and I'm sure she doesn't mind the treats). Whatever we've been doing has been working, since there's noticeable improvement from a few months prior, thank God for liniment and MSM.

As for roundness in transition, she can do it, eh, four times out of ten right now in anything to canter, seven out of ten walk to trot, walk to halt is fine, reinback fine, them downward transitions a pain in my neck. It's the walking issue. If I don't use my outside rein or let the reins slack, she jigs when all I want is to keep walking the same tempo. Maybe it isn't reasonable for me to ask for a continued walk if I'm not trapping the energy or letting her have her head? I think that's where she's getting confused, that I'm not taking the energy, and I'm not giving her the reins entirely, so she doesn't know what I want (but I'd like to try teaching her to maintain a gait once I put her into it).

I have my lesson with her and my trainer today, so I'll try to get a few videos to show of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
My cellphone.

If anyone has a dog that can sniff out a electronic devices, I'll give my arm for it. I lost my camera, now my cellphone. Braindead.

Well, what did happen in the lesson... I've been looking for more bits to use on my mare for variety to keep her lively and interested, and my trainer surprised us with lending a single joint bitted bridle for the lesson. Velvet isn't cozy in single joints and we fiddled with the ride to see if the rubbery roller part of the bit was making a difference, since I already knew what she moves like with a plain single joint. She seems to like the roller, as I could feel her getting relaxed more often as opposed to just a single joint. We ride in a double joint with a lozenge in the middle, loose ring. The next bit we'll try is a straight one, no pocket, shank, or joint (I think it's Mylar), keeping the lozenge-link thick bit as the primary. Maybe take a shot at the pelham later.

Trainer had us do some jumping work. When I say jumping, I mean... a pop over a 12-20 inch raised pole. Girly can clear 4ft in the chute, she's no stranger to completing a 3'6" bounce set up, but she has an ego boost each jump, when we make it good over a little hop and move toward the next, she gives me the "I GOT THIS, MOM!" and charges it. I don't call it rushing, because, I mean, honey puts weight into her back end and launches forward, she waits until I put my leg on for the canter cue to leap. She catapults over it with the correct bascule, but lands faaaaar off and is off at a gallop to find the next jump. Five seconds later when I finally get her to halt, she's stretching her neck, licking lips, and passing a burst of gas while she's at it. Like I said... gallop is in her heart. Awesome XC mount, as I can easily get her to pump out the "charging" drive in between the obstacles so we can approach the jump dandy with a collected canter. Today we practiced our lateral flexion, feeling awesome with the back raised, and she only jigged about three times out of the whole thing. We did do a little experiment; I gathered my reins, and in five strides she went to a trot on her own. I let the reins out, she stayed walking. I flexed her inside so that her eye was visible, she stayed walking. Trainer said to practice gathering the reins, and asking a leg yeild or shoulder in directly after, so miss Mare will expect to start flexing and stretching lateral instead of getting uppity when I have my reins passively gathered.

Lateral movement, lateral movement. I was ready to ride to my stable and she was already moving around where she wanted. Whenever she started walking off I put her in a leg yield and soon nuff she would rather stand still for a minute. We went over a 20 inch vertical and she had decided to shoot straight up into the air as if it were a four footer. Prompty screamed in the face of a poor neighbor gelding on the way too... she's in a "COME GET SOME!!!" mood today =_= something about her jumping makes her put her tail up and get real proud. Sigh.... so.... looks like we're trotting jumps for the next month.... under two feet. Whaaat a nut. Estrus time is here. I think we'll try a pack of Mare Magic this time around o_O
 

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Thanks for posting the videos etc
I would say that if she was mine and being aimed at jumping I wouldnt be jumping her yet.
I like my horses to be working in a nice relaxed balanced rounded outline before they even see a jump and I'm not sure from the videos that she can do this yet - but maybe I'm seeing a bad example of her as she's being put into a jump situation here
When her head goes up to try to evade the bit her back hollows and she's really tense - thats going to have a knock on effect on her back muscles which is likely to make her sore
If I'm wrong about her flatwork then stick with the ground poles and low grids - never one fence at a time, lots of changes of direction so she has to learn to listen to you, be flexible, focus and balance herself. I wouldnt do anything more than that until she's learnt to drop her head
The thing with the rushing is sometimes that they want to just get it over with and if you try to hold them back too much they develop an new trick of leaping into the air before they get to the fence
Whats her collected work like?
I'm going to get shot for this I expect but I might be temped to put a running martingale on her to try to break that head flipping action she's getting into. I am British and they are commonly used over there - correctly adjusted of course - on showjumpers even when starting out
 

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Just an add on - a straight bit tends to lower the head so she might like it more, a lot of horses react badly to the nutcracker action they get from a snaffle if they resist it in any way
I've no faith in Mare Magic at all - but some people do seem to like it
I have 5 mares and being in season never affects their performance under saddle at all - and on the ground they tend to be more fussy and smoochy than usual - never irritable. But again - they are all unique!!!
 
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