Kisia & I have been hitting it hard with our freestyle riding. Not so much in intensity but in consistency! Being young & quite green, this has been great for her. I've learned much about both of us through this push to get her past green to true-blue. Not surprisingly more about myself than her.
The big lesson I've learned regarding Kisia's needs is to be very consistent in HOW I ask for things but not consistent in WHAT I ask for. Her pattern so far is to take some time getting things. She has opinions & prefers to make sure I understand them first before she "gives in". Then she "gets it", really perfect like getting it. If I ask for a repeat the next day, I get fussy, sour-puss attitude. She got that already, right? Jeesh, let's do something else Alice! So...if I step it up asking for same but in different gait or add obstacle, no problem...we're moving forward again.
Now, I've learned several lessons as far as my own issues. The main one being that change is hard. Relaxing in my seat & really letting go of the contact is HARD! My body keeps telling me this bouncy, slinky like creature surely is about to buck. She is so different from riding Miles who was more like a rocket just shooting around very straight & fast. Kisia is all flex & bounce. So first lesson, trust her. Drop the reins & be ready to pick them up IF I need to. She was constantly offended by my lack of trust & letting me know it. Second lesson, ride her forward (need to trust her for this too). No more "Gitty up...a little bit!" Third lesson, don't be too nice. Long phase 1 then quick phase 4 works best with my expressive one. Give her time to understand & choose to do what I ask, then follow through. If I don't give her long phase one she gets offended. If I don't follow through with phase 4 she decides she's boss. This came out with carrot stick riding. Asking her to turn with carrot stick was hilarious. Asking nice, then as the stick is almost to her face she would go for it, trying to eat it. Yeah, I laughed..several times. But was missing phase 4 here & allowing her to make a game of it that she could win. So got serious & allowed her to bonk herself in the teeth ONCE with that stick. That's all it took. So a lot learned & finding a little bit of fun in this freestyle riding that for so long just felt like ick to me. Letting go of the contact for me has thus far been all about trusting my horse to do what I've taught her to do & what I ask her to do. Not easy & has been a real obstacle for us in moving forward with freestyle. When I did it though, really dropped the reins & asked for real forward energy....well that's what it's all about. That's the un-named feeling all horse-nuts live for & why we keep going back for more, more, more!