After my lesson, I continued to work on the things John had told me to: engaging and motivating the hind legs by practising shoulder-in and walk to canter. I also started some halt-trot transitions as they seemed to get her moving a bit more powerfully. She was amazing for the first few days. She was really using herself and the walk to canter transitions were coming along really well.
However, towards the end of last week, she became much more resistant to the exercises. She started getting really tense and stressed by the transitions and started to run through me. The worse rein was definitely the right, as she seemed to not want to take a contact on the left. As soon as I touched the left rein, she would turn her head to the left or bend to the left. I ended up having such fights with her, as she was hanging persistently on my right rein and refused to take the contact on the left. It got to the stage where every day I was having a huge battle with her and not winning!
After a few days of this, I decided to give her Thursday off, while I got my head together. On the Wednesday she seemed to find it absolutely impossible to bend to the right. She was also struggling with leg-yield left, so I think we may have problems with that right hind again. John pointed out in my lesson that the right hind is the less-engaged of the two, as she tends to step inside with it, rather than straight. On Friday, I decided to lunge her so that I could see what was going on from the ground. She looked pretty stiff behind when she started. She was hardly bringing her hind-legs under her at all. After a bit of a warm-up, I put the side-reins on and asked for some canter transitions. This did seems to loosen her a little and she looked pretty comfortable in her hind legs.
It's just so difficult to know what to do. I don't know whether she's sore and really can't engage them properly, or whether she just finds it easier to drag herself along from the front and is being difficult. I put her on a really small circle on the lunge, so that I could almost flick her with the end of the string on the lunge-whip, and asked her to trot. This made her really bring her hind-legs under and was particularly effective on the right rein. It also made her bend, and subsequently made her take the contact in the left side-rein. Keeping her on the tight circle, I asked her to canter and then trot again. When I pushed her out onto the larger circle again, she looked much more engaged; she was really pushing from behind, rather than dragging from in front.
I decided to do the same exercise yesterday, and she started off looking just as stiff behind. Again, the exercises were successful, although she didn't bend very well to the left. I did, however, spend some time feeling along her back yesterday. She doesn't seem to be sore in her back, but when I pushed hard and ran my hand from her pelvis over the top of her quarters on the right, she raised her back right up and didn't seem comfortable. I have a massage therapist coming to see her today, so I'm hoping she can shed some light on that.
I find it hard to believe that she's sore in some ways, as she has been a nightmare in the field recently: she keeps jumping out! I can't believe that a horse that's having trouble engaging the hind legs in trot can find it comfortable to jump over a fence that's at least 3 ft high! She has been in season (hence the escaping into a field with the boys!) and I haven't yet tried the hormone supplement that her old owner has said works well with her mother. Her mother also gets stiff in her pelvic muscles on the right hand side, so this might be the answer. I will see what the massage therapist says today and then possibly try that next.
I really thought we were back on track when I started riding her again recently. Never mind - we have plenty of time. She has not even had her fourth birthday yet - it's in a couple of weeks time.