Mocha loped with me today. Her choice, not mine. Not a runaway, not a rebellion, just her choice to pick it up on the long side of the arena instead of a working trot. It was smooth and balanced, and she first offered it up on her sore leg. After the first two strides felt good, I just dropped to a half-seat from two-point and eased her up at the corner, walked the corner, and we trotted the next long side.
And then I turned her in the other direction to see what she’d do, and she offered it up on that lead, same thing. With that, we headed off for a short outside hack, because what else could we do from there? She’s been letting me know this week that she’s pretty fed up with walking in a straight line, or even in smaller circles, and she Wants. Real. Work.
Sulky mare. Grumpy mare.
Any changes and she drops the sulks and grumps. So yesterday, we finished off with a trot down the long sides of the arena (me in a two-point), and then we hacked out and did some work outside. She perked right up. Today, I added in some haunches and forehand turns as part of our walk work, including the smaller circle work. That got a more energetic walk out of her. She was eager to pick up the working trot, eased off nicely at the corner, and then just quietly picked up the lope. If it had been irregular or unbalanced I would have pulled her up, but it was a nice, balanced, relaxed lope. I’ve been seeing that develop on the lunge the past two weeks (I’m lunging her before riding, part of the gradual tightening of the cinch, getting her muscles warmed up since that’s part of the area affected by her muscle strain), and it’s nice to feel it again.
It’s much earlier than I *planned* to do this by at least two or three weeks. But during this particular rehab, I’m in the space where I am letting her tell me what she is ready to try. We’re pretty much in conditioning and strength-building phase, and that gives us a little more freedom to line out in a relaxed canter for a few strides instead of a trot, if that’s what feels best. One thing about Mocha is that the canter is the gait that seems to limber her most effectively, and if letting her canter means she’ll tolerate all the walk work we need to be doing, then I’m good with that. I wouldn’t do this with every horse, but with Mocha…yeah.