Pangea is the complete opposite of Gogo. Instead of long, flowing and slow, she likes to zoom along very quick and short. She has every ability to trot along smooth and slow, but she holds all her tension in her back and neck and zooms along to avoid engaging her hindquarters. And she HANGS on the bridle. Absolutely HANGS. Far from Gogo's ewe-neck, Pangea borders on having a swan-neck, ones that makes it a little too easy for her to break at the third vertebra (which, as you know, is exceptionally incorrect). I wouldn't say for sure that she is swan-necked, not in the way that her father was, but it's just a bit too easy for her to curl and evade. And hang. HANG.
Part of this (actually, probably most of this) issue is due to the fact that she has been spoiled from being ridden by beginners. Her last owner was an adult ammy, and up until even last summer she was being used in a dressage lesson program, being ridden by people who I'm sure hung on her face, pulled on the reins, and clutched at her until she grew dead to it all and decided that just hanging on the reins would provide them with what they assumed was a correct contact. She could also completely tune them out and run along at her freight train speed, all her weight on her forehand, letting them hold up her big gigantor head for her. Obviously all of this is incorrect in every way, so it is now my job to reminder her (nonstop) that she has to carry her OWN head, thanks very much. The more muscle she builds, the better she does in her dressage work, and I am achieving some wonderful (if not yet long-lasting) lightness in her, particularly in her canterwork. But it takes a hard ride - and a LOT of transitions and half-halts - to get there. The second you stop paying attention to what you are doing, she is back to pulling your shoulders out of your sockets. I know this will get better with time, correct work, and proper muscling, so I'm not too worried about it. She has just been beginner spoiled, and has figured out an easy way to get away with less work. However, as she discovered last night, this doesn't always work to her advantage.
Yesterday was the first day that I put my jump tack on her so I could get up out of the saddle and do a little conditioning on her. I contacted our local hunt yesterday to see when they start roading hounds for the off-season, and was delighted to learn that they road not only on Tuesdays but also on Saturdays, and that Pangea and I were both welcome to come. I'd like to spend the summer roading regularly with the hunt so I can see if a) get an idea for whether or not she'd be suitable as a hunt horse and b) see if I like this hunt enough to join in the fall! I have to say, Pangea sure does look good in jump tack. Unfortunately ALL my tack is black.... hopefully the hunt will look past that because you could not pry that Prestige out of my cold dead fingers if you wanted to. Texas hunt country is not exactly Virginia hunt country so hopefully a few informalities can be overlooked if everything else is appropriate.
Anyway, I digress. Once we got to working, and in particular cantering, Pangea reached out to her contact and took it hard, and leaned on it. And leaned. And leaned. And leaned. At this point I was up in a half seat attempting to just let her cruise, but was about to sit my butt back down and give her some sharp wake-up transitions. Before I could do this, however, Pangea's hanging-low-nose-to-the-dirt demeanor completely backfired on her when she tripped over a small ditch, one that she could have easily dealt with if 98% of her weight wasn't in the bridle at that moment in time. She stumbled and smashed her nose on the ground, and because she was so heavy in the bridle, I got dragged out of the saddle and almost completely off her back. Thankfully I have a strong core and fast reflexes, and somehow managed to stop myself from tumbling over her neck by putting a hand out on her mane to stop myself. This almost didn't work, seeing as her nose was still on the ground and I literally had nothing in front of me! A tumble like this would surely have gotten any number of people to fall off, so it was by only some sort of miracle that I managed to backpedal back into the tack. She was extremely miffed by the entire ordeal, and after that we spent some time talking about having her carry her own gigantic head so that could actually see where she was going and not trip and almost kill us both. A number of sharp transitions later, and she was cruising around on a light rein without excess speed or fuss. That's my girl!
She's been feeling so good lately that I might - MAYBE - try a jump or two with her soon. If I can find some jumps in the state of Texas.... there must be some SOMEWHERE!