For starters, yes, ideally I would like to have the chiro out...but it's not in the budget right now.
The horse is about 15 hh at most (I haven't measured yet), and most likely a foundation QH, she's built like a Mack truck. Basically, wide and compact I know all horses bend, but with her body shape (think sausage roll vs, hot dog) bending seems to be difficult for her.
Dally is finally to the point that I think she can start being ridden (we had some groundwork basics to work through first). When I first picked her up, she had NO bend. I don't think anyone has ever worked with her on this so I've been working on bringing her nose around, lots of circles (leading & under saddle), leg stretches, etc. She is getting better (i.e. A little looser), but she is still quite stiff. Doing bending excercises on the ground seems to be the worst, she's ram rod straight thru the poll, but I think that's mainly lack of teaching than discomfort. She's starting to bend her neck to the sides a little, but seems to have no interest in going more than 3/4 of the way. I've checked for muscle "knots" or areas of pain, and nothing has really jumped out as being out of the norm.
When under saddle, I can finally get her nose to bend to the side. Definitely more to the left than the right when standing. At the walk, going right or left doesn't matter. Beautiful circles, wraps herself around my legs, stays balanced, the whole nine yards. At the trot, we start to lose the right side again. Not to bad, unless I'm really pushing her to move out.
When riding, it's pretty much all circles (big & small) I don't keep her on the rail very much. In the larger circles, I've been trying to get her to move out more which is proving difficult as well (fairly certain that was a BIG no no in her previous life).
My question is this, other than massage (which I'm also doing with her), stretching her legs out before riding, and circles any other thoughts on getting her looser? Oh, and I can't bribe her with treats on the ground to bend, she won't touch 'em.