Luckily, some of the bad habits starting were all closely related and 'fixing' one, led into fixing the others at the same time. Some of them (okay most of them) were me. It was me reacting to her and everything escalating from there. Our stops sucked. When she stopped, she might try walking off making it more like a pause. Her head was still popping up and sometimes we almost got into a tug-o-war when she was looking for release and I was expecting her to soften.
The answers were in trusting my horse. I must trust her on some level because I was getting on her. Hello??? Now I had to open those lines of trust and build on them. In trusting her, I had to show her that I could also be trusted. This had everything to do with my head and my hands. I had to stop expecting so much and let go. I had to stop letting her get to me and to let it go. I had to let her know something was coming *before* I asked for a stop. Once I began doing that, our stops improved immensely. Stopping didn't consist of pulling back on the reins, saying whoa and expecting her to just slam on the brakes. Kat did that and I'm kind of spoiled that way. But she's not Kat and she's not exactly built like a little sports car, so she doesn't handle like one. I can't expect her to because it's just not fair.
If she starts walking off, I just ask for the stop again. And again, and again, as many times as it takes until she stops and just stands there. No getting mad, no fustration, just stop. Stop. After having to ask repeatedly once or twice, she's finally getting it. She may creep a step or two now and then, but not like before. It's progress, we'll take it. I also had to turn my thinking around a little and ask her- "Where are you going?" This keeps my mood light and helps hers too since they sense these things off of us.
If she's pulling it's because I'm pulling. Let go and don't give her anything to pull against. I started our one ride with doing some long trotting on a loose rein. If she sped up, we stopped and started over. No big deal. Before long she was keeping a more steady and even pace. I was learning how to slow myself down and slowing her down came with it. I tend to overthink things and riding is no exception. I need to simplify and streamline things. Make them easy for the horse to understand what I'm asking for. It's sort of how Mondo got his name, but that's a story for another day.
So when I stopped pulling and hanging onto my mare via the reins, she started to trust that I wouldn't be 'beating her up' in the face. She started to drop her head, she started to 'listen' to my body movements and things were shifting in a better direction. If she started to pull on me, I asked for a stop, backed her up a few steps and then asked to go forward again, with little to no rein action going on. It was like hitting the 'reset' button for both of us.
Another thing my friend told me, and she wasn't sure how else to put it, wasn't going to sugar coat it or try to play nice about it---> STOP worrying about where her head is at! I had sent her photos of Aruba working on the lunge line and although the mare has nice movement, I keep hoping she would drop her head, use her butt up under her, round her back and look like a 'proper dressaahhhge horse'.
Yeah, she's not there yet.... We're working on it. It takes time. She's building up muscles and that doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes I get a bit impatient and want things NOW. But we're making progress and I see it, so I can wait. What else can I do? lol