So Dawn and I went to work in a businesslike manner from the start - I saddled, bridled and mounted up - if she had been showing signs of being high we would have done some ground work but that wasn't needed so we didn't need it. We reviewed our walk softening work for a few minutes - she was right on it without curling up. My objective was to lead her with my thought so her attention wouldn't stray - if I kept paying attention she could too. And despite many distractions - people going by, toddlers wandering around and pushing their strollers, people pounding stakes in the vegetable garden and popping up and down as they worked - she was right on it and completely with me even when we relaxed between work sessions on a loose rein.
Then we did a lot of trot work, in intense short sets. I want her to accept a soft contact, and soften at the trot, without curling up - I need a connection in order to have a conversation. Her curling up behavior isn't physical - she's had good dental and chiropractic care and had both done recently, and it isn't a bitting issue - she likes this bit much better than any other we've tried (it's a simple Mylar single-jointed full-cheek snaffle). So it's a learned behavior - she's been taught to do this and thinks it's correct. So in order to change the pattern of her behavior, I had to change/adjust what I was doing - a principle that pervaded the work at the clinic. I tried a few things, and had the benefit of Jill from Buckskin and Bay stopping by - I drafted her to be eyes on the ground for a few laps at the end to confirm what I was feeling. In order to get Dawn to understand what I want her to do, I had to raise my hands several inches - bingo! Soft trot without head behind the vertical, with a nice steady contact. Jill said that her eye showed that she was focussed and thinking hard about what we were doing, but wasn't worried. We got up to 5 soft steps in each direction after a bunch of work for her to figure it out. Once she completely understands what I want, my hand position probably won't matter as much. And when I got off, her eye was soft, and she looked like a happy horse. I hope today we can reinforce what we accomplished!
Maisie's leg is looking better - the swelling is smaller and more sharply defined, and she's moving better in the pasture. I'm hoping we're on the road to recovery!