Things have been progressing, slowly. After the vet's visit, we have upped the long-reining - we're now at 40mins walk per session, with a couple of short trots (I'm getting fit too!) and I rode her a couple of times bareback in the field too, which was good.
However, on Friday I had a new saddler come out and look at the saddle I got from Jane. It was interesting. She said the saddle is ok, but she said Echo is very uneven. It was quite refreshing, actually. She is the first saddler who has looked at my horse and said - 'yes, she's wonky, so we need to make the saddle fit her,' rather than telling me that it's best to have the saddle even and that will somehow make her even. It doesn't work, and I end up with a sore horse! She described Echo as 'cross-threaded', which is pretty perfect to explain her problems - she has a bigger right hip and left shoulder, and a smaller left hip and right shoulder, so she doesn't move straight through her body - a bit of a problem when it comes to saddles!
So she added some flocking to the right side, to 'fill the hole' behind her right wither - she has quite severe muscle atrophy there and this causes no end of problems with saddle fitting. She put it on her with no numnah, watched me ride in it and said it hadn't moved at all. She wants to see it again in about 6 weeks, after the vet has reassessed her and hopefully before we start building in canter work.
I went to an interesting lecture a couple of weeks ago by Gillian Higgins, who writes the 'Horses Inside Out' books and she explained (among many other things) that when a horse carries a rider, it has to hold its back muscles, rather like us sustaining a squat position for a prolonged period of time. this made me think, as Echo is so weak at the moment. I have, therefore, been only riding her for about 15 minutes at a time so far, and I will break this up with days of long-reining to keep checking her straightness and keep the longer periods of walk.
So I rode her in the field on Saturday for 10 minutes, which was good, then took her down the track for a 15 minute hack yesterday evening. I am trying really hard to believe that the saddle is ok, but it looks to me as if it is STILL twisting slightly to the right. The flocking was supposed to stop that happening. I wonder if I am putting the saddle too far forward...or back...I don't know. She felt a little bit sore on the left of her spine this morning - and when her saddle twists, it brings the left panel across so it sits painfully on her spine. I just don't understand it - it was FINE when the saddler was here!
I am going to long-rein tomorrow, and she is having physio hopefully on Wednesday, so she should be able to look at whether she's sore or not. Then...I don't know. I'll have a play with the placing of the saddle and see if that makes a difference. I also wonder whether it is me that's crooked and I pull the saddle to the right. Either way, it's so frustrating!
I have, however, been keeping up with the yoga and she is getting much better at it. The physio was also pleased when she watched her trot up a couple of weeks ago, saying she looked much more sound now and she isn't lifting her right hind higher than the left any more.
Here are the before and after photos from Saturday evening.
Before yoga - just snapped as she was standing:
After yoga - again, just taken as I saw her standing. Note how square and straight she is (except being a big poser for the camera!)