The biggest struggle I have had with Lucy has been to find long and low. From the time of my first lesson, I've had to work and work and work on keeping Lucy stretched down to the bit. She is an obedient girl and I never felt that she was blowing me off, but she certainly wasn't comfortable for more than a few strides. I would ask Lucy to stretch her head down, and she would, but she couldn't hold it all the way around a 20m circle. Odd. This exercise should feel good. Thing about bending over and reaching towards your toes; it's a nice stretch across your back, right? Riding your horse in this frame as part of your warm up gets everything loosened up. I also like to use it as a reward after more difficult work. It never felt like reward to Lucy, especially in the warm up. She would improve and willingly stretch at the end of our work, but never at the beginning.
On a cold, rainy weekend in December a massage therapist for horses came out to evaluate Lucy. She noticed that Lucy was very tight in her back and at the base of her neck. As I started lunging Lucy, she asked me, "Does she have trouble with long and low?" Um, yeah, you could say that. When she finished working on Lucy we lunged her again. Her back was visibly moving and she was tracking up really well. I could really see a difference.
I was advised to be "ready" when I next rode Lucy. She would be feeling good and might be a bit prancy. This afternoon was my first chance to ride since her massage. We didn't have much arena to work with between the soggy sections and the area from the quarter line to the rail that was carved with rivulets, all the way down. I mounted, Lucy turned her head and nuzzled my foot, and we walked off. She did feel loose and she was a bit twinkle toes, but she listened and tried to suppress the urge to be silly. (this is why I love Lucy so much; she tries really hard to hold it together for me).
Sandy Savage, if you are reading this, you would not have recognized this horse. Despite the high energy, she dropped her head, stretched and stayed there -- until I asked her to stop. I could not believe it! I think Lucy will be seeing more of this particular massage therapist in the future.