The MSM is awesome. My mare certainly wouldn't be any better if not for adding MSM to her diet; I can even keep her in her stall for 5 hours with minimal stiffness. If anyone saw my old post, Velvie is a 12yo, APHA mare, with cow hocks and was rushed into racing/barrel racing at 2yo, she was doing good 7yo-10yo but I noticed her slowing, and finally stiffening, and that'd be when we had her arthritis diagnosed. This is about the third week with the MSM, and she's golden.
We really got serious about transitions three weeks ago, specifically t2w. The only upward problems are that she will leap into canter if asked to do so during grid work, and occasionally picks up the wrong lead (which is just an issue of preparing her). Now, Velv's croup and withers are about level, with her croup being just a tiny bit higher, but the real dowhillness comes into play when you look how her shoulder is O_o
Old picture is old; this is sometime early last year, I can get her to square out better now. She was still a bit sore then and would want to keep her legs under herself. Scrunchy ball of stress. I think the shoulder is laid back; I'll go out today and get a rightly squared photo and have the conformation people help.
Anyway, you see my point. Not the easiest to work with.
So, girly has the tendency to stop with her front legs while the back end is still going, resulting in a big JOLT forward that can bring anyone's seat an inch off the saddle no matter how long your leg is or how deep those heels are. Two weeks ago, my trainer noted that the roundness and transition was much better. Sadly, I had to give Velv a break for a few days due to a nasty weather combo of humidity and heat that wouldn't help her shoulder scabs (bad reaction to fly bites), and a hell of a schedule for me to get my livestock to show. I jumped on for flatwork and later to face up the little 12in "jump" she confuses with a 4 foot oxer, and lo, there weren't any jolts forward. The trot2walk transits were all smooth; there was only one, I tried asking with less preparation, she gave me a bit of a push forward, nothing compared to the slam-on-the-brakes kind of transition of a few weeks ago. In the evening, I free-lunged her over raised trotting and ground canter poles, and saw how much smoother she looks doing it. It isn't perfect, but it's such a difference! Definitely enough to say DAYUM!
She's finally feeling limber enough to raise over the poles, no more speeding through them or taking them as a whole spread. I love those sweet spot moments; there were times when I saw her half-halting herself when approaching the set, and really trying to get a high step in between each pole, both in shorter stride and longer stride. We went up to three poles raised to about 4in through the center. When I put them down to ground again for the cool down, the booger still lifted up just as high ;)
Well, I'm excited! ^_^
In the battle of keeping tempo and gait, on the other hand, we're still having problems. She still wants to trot after a few strides of walk from a trot2walk transition. She's been responding when I say "No", but still tries again seconds later. She does this just as much on the lunge, so I doubt it's solely my riding that is doing it. I tried circles, closing my hands on the reins, taking the reins quick, and some leg yielding, but the problem hasn't really improved. I tried coming up to her on the lunge and leading her in-hand at a walk, then letting her back out once she's walked a certain amount of strides, that works; she's too lazy, er, classy, to try anything sneaky in-hand where I can tap her nose quick. I don't smack her, she just hates getting a flick on the nose. Maybe I should try dismounting and hand walking then? I'm afraid that might teach her that if she wants a rider off, all she has to do is jig. I don't think it would be a question of getting out of work, though, because frankly I speed-walk like a Tennessee Walker and can fix her into a no-nonsense leg yield or shoulder-in when leading. I'm harder to ignore when I'm in her face, and crap gets serious then
Any advice for transitions and keeping a walk would be nice! She doesn't break upward into anything else, I've never had her canter/gallop without my say-so. Her "bolt" is a flying-frick trot crazy extended with a giraffe neck. Her ground manners are good... I don't stand for any biting, shoving, refusal to pick up feet, or the like.