When she was more calm, I got back on using the wall as a mounting block. (Maisie's 16.2 and I can't easily mount from the ground even if I'd wanted to.) I asked her to walk on a loose rein back towards the barn (I had my reins bridged just in case); she jigged a step; I asked her to come back to walk; she didn't want to; I used an opening rein to circle her back around so we were facing away from the barn; and we stood on on loose rein. We repeated this an uncountable number of times, sometimes with a spin thrown in for good measure. Progress towards the barn only happened with steps of walk on a loose rein. We made a number of amazing divots in the trail. At points while we were standing facing away from the barn, she would paw (I ignored this) and throw me disgusted looks out of the corner of her eye.
She started being able to string more steps of walk together, which was a definite improvement. When we got to the barn we kept on going past it down the trail in the other direction for a ways, and then repeated the exercise coming back - it wasn't as hard this time as she was getting the point of what I wanted and what she was going to have to do if she didn't comply. She chose to string more walk steps together, and we had to circle less often. At one point some kids came running loudly down the street and she did a true sit-and-spin, but she came back from that pretty quickly. We walked back and forth on the trail in front of the barn several times, and then circled around the barn and went up to the field behind, where we crossed a large puddle and did a number of serpentines at the walk.
She was still exceedingly alert when we got back inside, and I had her stand on the cross ties for a bit before I put her away. She's often like this in the spring - full of vim and vigor and somewhat barn-bound.
It wasn't the ride I started out to have, but we got some work done. She clearly needs to burn off some energy, and it's hard for her to focus when her energy level is so high. I'm hoping things will dry out soon so we've got a place where I can safely lunge her when she's like that before I ride - things might be a little less exciting.
I've been thinking about how my work with my horses is a conversation. I ask, the horse gives me an answer, I reply. Sometimes the horse asks, and I answer, and so on. As in a conversation, I don't want it to turn into an argument involving "yelling" on my part - bigger aids, yelling at the horse, hitting or kicking. If the horse "yells" at me, I try to treat it much as I would a tantrum by a toddler - if I can keep my cool and stay calm, things tend to go better. Sometimes the horse may answer my ask by saying "I don't understand", or "I'm afraid" or "I can't do that because it hurts" or "do you want this?", and I have to be careful to allow that and in fact listen for it, because the horse's answers tell me where I need to be more clear or specific, or perhaps where I need to try to explain, or approach, things in a different way. If the horse doesn't do what I'm looking for when I ask, I may say "good try, that's not what I want, try something else" - but I don't punish the horse for giving the wrong answer - I don't ever want to shut down the horse's attempts to figure out what I want - I want the horse to be engaged and willing to try different things. As in any good conversation, I need to pay close attention to what the horse is telling me so that I can appropriately reply - either by telling the horse "yes, that's it", or "good try, now let's do it this way". When things are going well, there's a real live connection there, and that's what I love to feel.