Another good ride on Lola, on a very sticky, muggy night. She stumbled about 2-3 times at the start of the ride, but then perked right up. I did a lot of extended trotting. She has a wonderful trot for a quarter-horse, and it requires very little effort to post.
I tried her a little at a straight canter, with the idea that I wouldn't turn her very hard. It was a disaster. But not because of her injury, I don't think. See, she takes off and doesn't want to do anything but haul ass in the canter. I brought in her chin with brute force, to see if that would rate her, and it only achieved minimal success. I gave her her head, and she wanted to just tear around the front pasture. Well, that wasn't going to work, as she was bouncing me all over creation and I felt as if she had little control.
I brought her to a halt and just sat on her thinking. I used that time to call out for James, to let him know when his 2 year old gelding was in the correct lead. "Yes", I'd yell if he was in the correct lead for the circle he was trying to get his inexperienced horse to take. But more often I was yelling "No", to let James know he was in the incorrect lead. His horse is very left lead dominant, and he's trying to balance him. Not much success thus far.
The pause let me see James try to manhandle his gelding and not get very far. After he finally got frustrated, he walked his horse over to me and we sat and talked. "This isn't working for either of us, is it?" I asked. He agreed. I said "Hold my horse", and with that I went into the house and brought out two orange training cones I had bought several weeks back and forgotten to use. "Let's set these out and play follow the leader", I said.
Well, I took Lola and guided her into a big circle around the first cone. Not too tight, so as not to further injure her. I just let her trot her smooth trot in as perfect a WIDE circle I could make with her. She seemed to get the idea, and kept circling at a fast trot. When I had done this about 3 times, we moved to the other cone and circled the opposite direction. At one point, without my asking for it, she broke into the nicest little smooth canter on the correct lead, and she repeated this when we went back to the other cone in the other lead. Now, these were big circles, and I hadn't asked for the canter, but I suspected she would find the canter a lot easier than the fast trot she was trying to maintain, and I guess she agreed, because she did it effortlessly. The whole time, James was following me with Frosty, and when we stopped our horses, he reported a similar positive experience on his horse. And the energy during the exercise was palpably more relaxed for horse and riders. Except for when we first started, and Frosty got close to one of the cones and it spooked him, so he bucked two bucks until James let him calm down.
This is definitely an exercise worth repeating, and it will allow me to let Lola tell ME how much her stifles will take without pushing her too hard.
After the exercise, we embarked on a little trail ride. It was hilarious watching Frosty get spooked at every little thing on the trail. The black line that marks the edge of the roadway was like a chasm. The darker surface of freshly paved asphalt was surely a deep pool of water. The horse silhouette that held the numbers of a street address was the smallest, full figured horse he'd ever seen, and he kept waiting for it to jump out at him. James handled him well, and everyone survived the ride.
I think Lola can work through this "fixed stifle" if I can keep devoting time to riding her. Of course, I've got Woody and Vaquero that are languishing now. I may have to shift to them for the rest of the week. But I am really enjoying Lola's trot and fast walk. We'll see...