Originally Posted by Wallaby
How would I check her for a cold-back?
Sometimes she is perfectly fine when I get on and other times she's just not. She's fine when I put the saddle on and I can brush her back and she's fine...
I have two different saddles that I can use, one came with her, the other is owned by my trainer-lady. The next time I go out I'm going to try to get some pictures of how they each fit her.
I really don't want to be a bad horse mom, I just don't know what to do.
Edit: Thanks WSArabians! I'll try that. I've free lunged her before but I never knew how to communicate with her off the line. I will definitely try that. She is the horse in my avatar. =)
The reason why she's behaving this way could be so many different things.
Do you lunge with or without tack on? For what I suggested, I would go without tack until she's communicating clearly for you.
Check for any signs of lameness - A noticable bobbing of the head is a great indicator.
She could be anticipating that you are going to ask her to lope around, so she's doing it to get it overwith.
She could be doing it because that's the way she was taught to behave in a round pen - therefore you'd have to teach her that it's not about running around like a chicken with your head cut off, but in a collected and communicative manner.
She could be doing it just to say "Hey, I don't need you to tell me what to do."
One great way to get her to really pay attention to you - if you're finding that her attention is wandering while you're trying to free lunge her - is to step right in front of her shoulder and make her change directions. Every three circles or so, make her change again.
Soon, she'll be watching you like a hawk and really paying attention to what you're asking, which is why you alwas have to be away of where your body is. You get too far ahead of her, and she'll stop even though you didn't mean to ask her.
As per saddle fitting, there are several ways to check from the ground. The gullet area (I'm not sure if you're western or english, so if you're english you'll have to deal with my western terms
) should have enough cleareance over the wither and the spine all the way done. No part of your saddle should ever have direct contact with your horses spine.
You should be able to stick a few fingers in between the front skirts of your saddle and saddle pad and your horse's shoulder once it's completely tighented. If you can't, it's too tight and pinching your horse, thus limiting movement of your horses shoulder which will make her unwilling - and unable - to properly cooperate.
The tree of your saddle should follow the contour of your horses back completely. Standing behind your horse, it should appear straight, and not crooked on your horses back. Some saddles have bent trees, thus putting more pressure on one side of the horses spine and back muscles.
Also the length of the saddle is something to consider. If your horse has an shorter than average back (and this is something I always pay attention too being an Arabian breeder) and the saddle is too long, the back of the skirts may dig into the back, hips, or loins causing discomfort.
After you've worked Lacy and she works up a light sweat, check her sweat marks on her back when you remove her saddle. The sweat marks should be even across, with none along the spine. If there are sweat patches on her shoulders and where the back of the saddle sits but none on the middle, the saddle is only hitting those two places and is uneven.
Check your bridle, as well. Ensure the throatlatch is not too tight, the bit not too small or too tight. I've had lots of horses that have "head problems" and it was only because the brow band was too tight and was pinching underneath their ears.
You can also take your middle and index finger and run them along either side of her spine with equal and mid-pressure. She will dip slightly, but if it is significant then she has a sore back.
However, after saying all that (though it's good for future reference) because she is standing still when being saddled, she has no resentment towards it, therefore I doubt any pain, and I think you're dealing with a mental problem of sorts (like stubborn attitude, etc).