After I lunged Cisco over his "jump" on Monday night, I tacked Phantom up. You know it's been a while since you last rode your horse when you get on and their neck looks odd in front of you. But in Phantom's case, it's probably because she got so fluffy in the last couple of weeks! When I looked down at her neck she made me think I was sitting on a big, plush stuffed animal.
Make that a big, plush, spooky stuffed animal. Who felt like a ping pong ball underneath me.
I still haven't figured out which light switches to flip in the arena to get the right lighting. And the switches aren't in an area I can access once I have a horse with me. So I had gone over before I grabbed the first horse to turn on the lights, and didn't really pay attention to which ones came on. Turns out I turned on all the lights down one side, but none on the other side. More than enough light to ride in, so I didn't feel the need to correct it.
However, it resulted in shadows on the other side.
Phantom is generally not a spooky horse. But she can be a bit silly about light and shadow. And tonight she was looking for an excuse to be silly. Generally if she is going to do anything, it's a bit of a bolt. Head up, butt down, zoom forward. It doesn't really last more than a few steps, and if I don't pull back on the reins (hah!) she doesn't get too bouncy through it.
Usually I let her warm up on a very long rein at a walk. Not tonight. I was waiting for that bolt. And sure enough, one sort of happened. I think a pigeon in the ceiling above us shifted it's weight as we walked past the shadow. Which was all the excuse she needed. Head up, butt down, maybe 3 steps. I pulled on the reins, tried to keep my balance, and that was the end of it. I got off lucky!
When I picked up the trot she felt very tight. She wasn't giving me her back at all, and it felt like I was sitting on a ping pong ball.
So I just started to move her around. 3 or 4 strides leg-yielded left, 3 or 4 strides right, all around the arena. This worked nicely and it didn't take too long before she was putting in some honest effort and reaching forward and down.
Then I moved onto some bending work. The jumps from the clinic this weekend were still up, so I did a bunch of changing direction around the jumps with a strong inside bend. She felt really good to the right, which is usually the side that she pushed her ribcage to the inside. To the left, I have recently figured out that I have to put myself a bit right in the saddle, which straightens Phantom, and then I have to actually use my outside aids to turn her left. Her right shoulder likes to pop out to the right, so if I straighten her first, I can try to get that shoulder to come to the inside. I still have to figure out how to get a good connection in that right rein though.
After a bit more trot work, I decided to quit while I was ahead. If she's going to get silly, it's going to be with some canter work. She rides up, and in the mood she was in, it wouldn't take much for her to decide that she wouldn't be able to walk any more. There was absolutely no one around, so the safety issue was there. And the reality is that I get one more week of riding before the ponies get their vacation.
Phantom has a couple of spots on her side with a big crusty scab on them. I can't figure out if the scab is still attached to her body, or if it's just embedded in all of the fluff of her winter coat. She isn't happy when I pick at it, but that doesn't mean much since she's such a princess. So I vaseline'd those spots in the hopes that on my next visit I can try to get some of the crusty bits off.
The more worrisome spot is on her right hind pastern. I can't quite figure out what's happening there - I think she had a bit of a scrape, but last night when I was feeling around that area it feels like there is crusty crud all over that area. Kind of like when she had scratches and her winter hair came in while it was healing. But she didn't have scratches this summer. So I have no idea.
I didn't have time to scrub it up and get it dry before sending her back out in to the cold. Next visit I will have to make that a priority. I promise to try to get pics!