Well, that's not true that it was her first meltdown with me - more like her first meltdown with me riding her. I think a big part of it was my riding mojo was just way off today. I was having trouble relaxing my legs and getting a comfortable seat. I was thinking waaaay too hard about everything I've been reading in this book Centered Riding while forgetting the most important part "you can't force yourself to relax or force your legs to hang loosely", etc. But also, as Trainer K. put it "Toad seems to think her quarter has expired."
The first warning was that she was not wanting to steer correctly when I asked her to trot. She balked and just drifted into the middle of the arena like being on the wall would just kill her. Then I got her back on the wall, asked her to trot and she kicked out behind with both back feet like I had just been super mean to her (which I hadn't - I asked her to trot the same way I always do and usually it works better). She still wouldn't trot and was throwing her head and instead of using soft legs like I was supposed to, I got frustrated and got her with my right heal in the belly. Not super-hard but I gave her a little jab. That was the final straw and she turned away from my right leg in a little butt flying to the right half circle and I'm not really sure what else she did. I just know that we were not facing the same direction and it seemed like her butt went down a little and there was some fancy footwork going on to move to the right in a sideways manner. We got our bearings back and Trainer K. said, "Now straighten her out and make her trot but use soft legs," which I did and surprisingly, Toad went straight into a trot. Then she did a lot better with her transitions from trot to walk to trot.
After my lesson was over I said I felt like I really screwed up back when she blew up at me, and Trainer K. said, "Not really. You stayed on and got her back to work," and I said, "Yeah, but I did something wrong to prompt her to do that," and Trainer K. said, "Perhaps, but after you got her with your heel she did start listening to you so it worked out. Plus you stayed on." To which I said that I never actually felt like I was going to fall off. I have definitely had times with Girlfriend where I didn't fall off but I *felt* like I was going to (when trotting or cantering without stirrups) But Trainer K. said, "Oh, there was a moment there where I thought "Crap, she's coming off!" Well, I'm glad it didn't feel as bad up where I was. I never had that "I'm now at the mercy of gravity" feeling where it's a crapshoot if I'm going to right myself or if I'm too far off and am just going to keep falling. Luckily, Toad moved in a way I'm used to with Girlfriend so I could flow with it. And this folks, is why old ladies like me wear an eventing vest when riding young, green horses like Toad.
The last part of our lesson went well though. She listened a lot better. She was definitely stiff and sore today and we made her work her brain a lot too. Hopefully, tomorrow she will be in better spirits and less cranky about work. Although, honestly I was out of sorts today too. I woke up with an arthritis flare-up coming on because I haven't taken my Enbrel again for about a month, between having a cold and then having a stomach bug. I need to start taking that again because this morning my hands were so stiff it was hard to bend my fingers when I first woke up.