Things got interesting when we started working on our canter circles. She did very well to the left, but when we started working on them to the right, she started changing her lead in the back at certain spots on the circle. She was picking up her leads just fine, but then after cantering the circle for a bit, she'd switch behind, go about 3 strides, and then have to break down to a trot. I had my friend S video us in case I was missing something, but she was simply switching behind.
This isn't something new, because it has caught my attention before. I did a post on it back in July of 2008, which is when I think it first started. I was concerned enough about it to have the vet and chiropractor out, but nothing ever became of it because there weren't any issues found. Sometimes she does it when we ride, and sometimes she doesn't, but for as many times as she did it Friday, she didn't do it a single time when I rode her today.
So what's different on the days that she does it? I have no idea... when she was doing it back in 2008, we weren't even working on circles, we were simply cantering on the rail in a fairly large arena. As usual, there's no pattern. The thing that keeps popping into my head is the UFP, but why would she switch to the lead on the side with the issue? From what I know of UFP, that would be backwards, unless for whatever reason it's more comfortable for her on her left lead? I've noted quite a few times that she is much happier and more smooth going to the left. Cantering to the right is always more of a challenge for her. Always a puzzle, this horse of mine...
The ride I had this morning did not go very well. The BO and my friend S had their horses in the arena and were finishing up their rides when Lilly and I got to the arena. They left shortly after we were warmed up, and Lilly just didn't handle being left alone well at all. It was really cold and windy this morning, so I think that had something to do with her mood, but she never really settled after her BFFs left the arena.
I was able to get some really nice jogging and trotting exercises done, but I could tell that one ear was always on the barn in case she saw her friends again. When we were working on some of the trotting exercises, I kept feeling her drift toward the arena gate, so I concentrated my work down at the far end of the arena. I think I made more work for myself that way in the end.
There were some times where she was chomping on the bit, which is something she hasn't done in quite some time. I had to do a lot of trot, stop, back, trot exercises and she was only half listening most of the time so our stops just weren't that good.
Since she had so much energy, I decided we'd move on to the canter circles. Since the arena was dry for a change, I was able to work her on those at the far end as well. She did fairly well to the left (as usual) and we did 15 circles before she started to settle. I took her around 5 more times before we went back to the walk.
She was briefly a bit more relaxed after that, but it was short lived, so we moved on to more canter circles, this time to the right. Her circles were NOT good. Every time she came around the circle to the point where she was heading toward the gate, she'd floor it, and drift as far across the arena and out of her circle as she could, trying to make her escape. I made the circles smaller, I shortened my reins, I used tons of leg, but she kept drifting. A couple times she got a little hoppy and I had to use the emergency brakes, the good 'ol one rein stop, to get control of her. I lost count of how many circles we did and she never really did settle. I even tried some canter, stop, back, canter to see if I could get her to focus and come back to me, but they didn't work either. She was a sweaty mess by this point.
It was one of those rides where it felt like all hope was lost and my best bet was to just stop before things got worse, because they certainly weren't improving. I did a bit more jogging so we could end on a good note and then started our really long cool down. Normally I would wonder if she's just not comfortable going to the right because of the UFP issue, but I've been told I make a lot of excuses for my mare... ;)
I'm just going to pretend today never happened and hope for a better ride next time.
Speaking of UFP, I made an appointment with my vet for tomorrow so we can take an x-ray of Lilly's left stifle. I checked with her again about x-ray vs ultrasound and she thinks the x-ray is the best place to start. She said she'll bring both machines with her and we can discuss it more in detail tomorrow after she's watched her move. Lilly is also going to get her teeth floated since that's been on my list for a while now.
I've also decided to add a bit of beet pulp to Lilly's diet. I think she's at a good weight now, but it's going to be challenging to keep her there. If I keep working her this hard, I think she'll continue to lose weight and I don't want her getting thin. The other horses are getting a whole scoop twice per day, so I've asked the BO to give Lilly half a scoop twice per day. She's going to weigh it for me so I know how much that is in pounds.
Cross your fingers for good news tomorrow!