Actually, unrelated, that's Victoria's horse's show name. I forget what his registered name is, but I think Will Work For Food is adorable.
Anyway. When I got out this afternoon, Brady was putting out a round bale. Amber was not amused. She gave me this look like "Lady, come ON!"
She avoided me for maybe 1-2 minutes, and then gave up and came quietly. She was in a fair mood today. I'm starting to think that she isn't necessarily experiencing pain in the trot, although I believe asking her to collect and reach under herself does make her uncomfortable, but rather it's just hard work and cantering is easier, and she knows it. Because cantering requires more from the hind end, and I'm 99% sure that's where her problems are (thus why we aren't doing too much of it), so it wouldn't make sense for her to prefer canter if it's strictly pain in the hind end related. She is super out of shape. We only rode maybe 30 minutes, but it felt like an hour.
I was focused on every detail. I had zero contact other than an occasional "look this way". She has gotten in the habit of hanging on me, and I'm combating that by giving a couple of firm squeezes on the inside rein when she does. I think she is partly trying to find where she needs to be, but partly just being lazy.
I think her irritation with contact is because she has learned what I want when I ask her to soften, and I do think using her topline 100% is uncomfortable for her, and I think the irritation is mainly her saying "I know what you want, but it doesn't feel good!"
Whether it is or isn't that, I don't want create bad experiences for her associated with being in contact, so until she sees the chiro, it's best to leave that alone.
We did get some beautiful trot-canter transitions today. A little runny here and there, but for the most part very clean. Even our walk-trot transitions were nice. Down transitions were pretty good as well. She kept the forwardness going into them instead of dying out. She did randomly stop in the trot at one point because the pony in front of us did, but I booted her on and she sorted it out.
She is getting better about trying to stay up with other horses. I try to just be aware of other horses so that I can remind her who is giving directions. It's not what I will call bad behavior, it's just someone else's poor training. It's what she's learned as a trail horse - because most trail riders in groups do what the group is doing. And she just learned that her rider usually wants her to do whatever the horse in front of her is doing. So she thinks that's what I want. She's not disagreeable about it, she's just like "Oh, I thought you wanted me to follow them, sorry!"
I was very pleased with the ride though. Her feet are looking lovely, despite the slight toe wear, which is still not severe at all. Her pasture is cut off to about 1/4 the size as they just planted the winter grass (much to my dismay, she is on a roundbale for a little while. I just HATE the hay belly she gets, but the forage diet is good for her!). So she isn't walking as much...which is good timing.
I need to take pictures of her feet. They look SO much healthier. And it's all due to 24/7 turnout, because she has not been trimmed since Bob's last trim, and I haven't done anything new. That's proof that providing the most natural style of living for a horse is healthy all around for them. I wish I had a before picture of them...they were so flat, and her frogs were minuscule. Her soles have all exfoliated, and she now has beautiful, cuppy feet again. Her frogs are nice and large now.
I've come to the conclusion that it wasn't necessarily Bob's trims entirely. Surprisingly, his trims weren't bad. At least, he corrected her angles well. I think her lack of turnout affected them heavily.
Also - speaking of feet. Casey mentioned to me, and I forgot to post this, that when Amber first came to ***, remember she was shod all the way around, her hind hoofs were pretty much straight up and down. Like, I thought she was sitting upright when I first got her - oh no. I was told it was worse. No doubt THAT likely sparked some of her back and pelvic issues. I'm willing to bet it didn't help those hocks either.
A lot of factors go into this, and I'm starting to think it's not to be blamed on just one thing alone. I think it's a lot of things. Her being started early and rode hard (I'm still fairly sure of that). Poor hoof care. And, blame going to me, a saddle that didn't fit well. But she's young still, and the insight I now have is going to help us get through this and go on to have many happy years together.