Lucy, that is. The stifle injections were exactly what she needed.
We have had a couple of "different" Pessoa sessions since we got back to work, following her latest injections.
For the first session, I brought a shiny new lunge whip with me up to the dressage court. She looked at it while we were walking up, but didn't seem concerned. I'm not a big fan of lunging, in general, since all those circles put stress on the horse's joints (and its boring, sometime dizzyingly boring, for both horse and person). Besides, Lucy doesn't typically need to be lunged; she's never pulled an exuberant bucking episode on me. And, with the Pessoa work, it isn't hard to keep her going. Lucy is a forward equine citizen so all I need to keep her going is my voice. But, she was cutting her circles too small (especially on the side of the arena she doesn't trust) and I wanted to push her back out; to keep the circles as large as possible, so the strain was reduced on her joints. I wanted to use the lunge whip like an extension of my arm, pushing her back out.
I learned that Lucy hates lunge whips. Who knew? I got her all clipped into the Pessoa and asked her to walk on. I picked up the lunge whip and she exploded. She didn't settle until I dropped the whip on the ground. Every time I held it, or even bent over to pick it up, she erupted -- bucking, kicking and racing around me so fast that she was almost laying sideways. She never fully relaxed; and she was a sweaty lathered mess when we finished. It was not our best session.
I hung the lunge whip on the whip rack in the tack room. I won't use it again with her.
I worked her again a few days later. I didn't bring the lunge whip. I can swing the end of the lunge line at her, or walk towards her, or both, and that works to push her out. Not as easy, but still effective.
This time, she was relaxed. During her warm-up jog, there was some very slight toe-dragging. But, when we started our work on canter and canter-trot-canter transitions, all toe-dragging disappeared. Before the injections, she could not canter for 30 seconds so we were stuck at that level for weeks. This level of work (30 seconds of canter, 30 seconds of trot, repeat for five minutes, each direction) falls about half way through the conditioning program we were given by her vet. This time, she cantered easily and wasn't always ready to come back to trot at 30 seconds. She looked comfortable. There was a lovely, cadenced jump to her stride and she even gave me a lovely rounded frame for a few strides here and there. When she did trot, it was full of push and lift, her hind legs reaching forward and landing well in front of her front hoof prints.
I think my mouth was hanging open.
I didn't get a chance to ride her on the weekend, although that had been my plan. We were busy working on ranch projects from dawn to dusk on Saturday -- and on Sunday I could hardly move. I didn't think aggravating my back further was a good idea. Lucy requires core muscle to ride effectively, and mine were not available.
Next weekend, for sure, I will ride. In the meantime, we are moving it up a notch with the Pessoa.