First, the background information. As an aside, I don't know if this is a training issue, or a health issue, but I think it might be health, so that's why I choose here to post.
I've had my mare Evee since Dec, and I've been doing all the training with her. I got her off the track, and when I got her, I treated her for ulcers as a precaution. She was checked out by the vet in February, got shots, teeth checked, got a soundness exam and had her hock xrayed. I can't remembered exactly what the name of what wrong with her hock, but she has some minor issue in her hock that the vet said would improve with work, and said she was good to go with anything I wanted to do with her.
Up until a week ago, she was great. Here's two examples of her under saddle.
Now, I didn't feel like I was having any major problems with Evee. She was very sweet, very willing, and other than just general green horse things, I have had zero issues with her. The only thing she did that was strange, was her extreme stretching down.
Here we are playing "western pleasure horse".
I don't mind her stretching down, it's just she started to do it a lot. Like, every 10 steps she'd stretch down. Sometimes she'd pull me forward she'd drop so hard.
So moving along with the story, I set up a lesson with my trainer. My trainer comes out last week, and she see's Evee doing the head drop, and while she agrees that it's good to let her stretch, this is a bit extreme. So we work on keeping her from dropping her head.
But then, in that same session, she develops a whole new habit. She gives up on stretching down, and she begins twisting her head to the side. I feel like I have a table made of horse head in front of me, the twisting is that extreme. We experiment, and she does it with contact, without contact, and at both walk and trot. We get her moving, and she does it less when I'm making her do things, but anytime it gets "boring", she starts twisting.
My trainer says "don't lose sleep over it", and that she's probably bored with all this ring work.
I ride her again two days later, and she's still twisting her head. I change her tack, it seems a little better. I changed her bit from a full cheek to an eggbutt snaffle, and changed the bridle to a plain noseband. I used my other saddle as well.
The next day, she's still head twisting.
Yesterday, she's still head twisting, and now she's pinning her ears back when I ask her to move forward, and curling her body a bit towards the right. Think of a grub curling when you'd poke it, and that's what she does. She's also become nasty when I groom her. She pins her ears back at me and shuffles sideways. (Although never far from my husband, lol). I've noticed that she does it when I touch her sides. I've switched to the softest possible brush, and she'll glare at me less, but she still is unhappy with me touching her girth area.
Yesterday, I did take her out of the ring, and she seemed to be much happier, for about 10 minutes. She moved forward, and didn't twist her head around, and she held herself nicely. But then it was back to curling her body and pinning her ears and head twisting.
So now I'm trying to figure out what the best course of action is. Is she being ring sour? I didn't have a professional saddle fitter other than what I know and my trainer looking at it, but I suppose that could be an issue. Do horses usually get sensitive when they shed their winter coat? I feel like I might have heard that before, but I never noticed with my previous horses. Is it just a training issue of a naughty horse?
Is it possible she's upset that I tried to stop her from stretching down? I did let her stretch again when I rode her yesterday, but I think the damage has been done, so to speak. She didn't really try to stretch down, and she still kept twisting. She also doesn't put her head in the long/low frame anymore. She still bends, but she likes to keep her head up now. Maybe she's defensive now, and thinks she's going to get punished by the bit?
I'm going to put her on a digestive supplement. I already ordered that from smartpak. Does anyone know if there's other causes of pain in that area?
I know it'd be impossible for anyone here to magically know what's wrong with her, but if anyone had a similar experience, or any thoughts of what it might be, I'd love to hear it. I personally am thinking it's a combination of sensitivy in the girth area (ulcers) and her being upset because she thinks she can't stretch without being punished. (although she does still stretch in the walk, she still does that all the time.)
Thanks for reading my rant. I'm just so frustrated. I want my super sweet mare back :(