Fortunately, Cassie is not lame, but after soaking her feet I did find two little bruises on her heel bulbs that had not been visible when her feet were dry, so I was right about the boots causing problems. Shannon posted a comment on my previous post that if you want to ride barefoot, you just have to ride that sucker barefoot, and that is what I intend to do. In the meantime, there won’t be any riding until those spots have disappeared. Instead, I took Cassie into the picadero to do some loose longeing. My first object was to see if she was lame from the bruises, which she wasn’t. Secondly, I wanted to see how Cassie moves at liberty without my added weight on her back in a controlled environment, instead of out in the fields where she is in a wide open space that doesn’t give me a reference point. Under saddle, she is crooked to the left, and I wanted to make sure that this is her natural crookedness and not something she does to compensate for my riding.
I brought her in and let her wander around at will for a few moments to settle, while I put poles on the ground to help Cassie stay on a track in between the fence and the poles. Then I moved into the centre and started to move Cassie on the left hand. If she was naturally crooked to the left, this should be her easy side and so it proved to be. Even though she was falling out through her shoulder, she was supported by the fence and she maintained gait and stayed on the track easily. To improve here she needs to come off the forehand and step under much further with her inside hind leg. She was better in walk, and when she relaxed she stretched all the way down with her head while maintaining speed, which was really nice to see.
When I put her on the right hand, her stiffness really showed up.
Cassie carries her head much higher, she is falling in through the shoulder and her nose is tipped out. I had to push her continually to keep her on the track in between the fence and the poles, otherwise she would cut the corners or come into the centre. She also found it much more difficult to maintain gait and was inclined to rush.
Here Cassie gives an excellent demonstration of how a horse naturally carries their weight: 3/5 on the forehand and 2/5 behind. For weight carrying purposes this is of course completely useless, and seeing it really woke me up to the fact that Cassie needs a lot of properly structured exercise to get her moving correctly and elevate the forehand. We have a lot of work to do.