So background first: :) Feel free to skip ahead to the bold, sorry its so long, I try to cover all possible questions!
I ride my 3.5 yr old a few times a week all near our property- which is all rather hilly, a decent amount of rocks at times, and some flats. Hardly every do we ride at more than a walk, unless its on the flats I know are clear. She has gotten very used to riding on this terrain and does so with no issues at all anymore.
So this morning we went hacking off the trail, in nice clear pinebed type ground. Some up, some down, some flat on small plateaus.
So the reason for my question:
Today when we were hacking randomly as mentioned above, on a small wide ditch-styled downhill, she started tossing her head and doing some big crow hops, then sped up a bit, and stopped when I gained control. I stopped, we checked her over, thought maybe it was caused by being scared of the travel mug I had hanging off my cantle- that it bopped her in the butt a few times and she thought it was a fly, so I took it off. I had never hung it there before.
Ride some more... all mostly uphill or flats, nothing. Then go to go down a rather wide semi-steep, but super easy for her, and she does the exact same thing, I catch her mid hops, try to force her straight down, to test if its behavior or injury. She refuses to go straight down- instead she goes down and left at the same time, skirting the incline. To be doubly sure its not behavioral, I reverse, get back up it, and go down again- nope, no go, same exact behavior. On that one I got off again, checked her saddle and body over one more time, saw nothing, and hopped back on.
I led my daughter on her for about 15min on areas I knew were flat or only slight uphills. She behaved perfectly, and didn't appear lame or bothered in any way.
She did the downhill head toss/ crow hops 2 or 3 more times on the exact same type of ground on the way home- these with no rider and in spots she has ridden in many times without issue.
Checked her over really well without the saddle when we got home, couldn't find anything- no swelling, etc.
Anyone have any ideas? My only thought, which I just had, lol, is that the saddle creeps forward just enough to bother her? I already ride in a breast collar, and am going to buy a crupper, just need to pick one out, and don't have a clue how.
I will still post my question, on the off chance there is something I am missing.
Thank you if you made it to the end and had anything to contribute!
Anja and Sonata