Yes, saddle fit is a common problem, but by far not the only one. By the sounds of it, what you describe above IS indeed very 'cold backed' behaviour. Perhaps though you're thinking of it only as collapsing away from you or such & she's not that bad. If she were mine & obviously this unhappy, I wouldn't be riding her. At least until any pain were ruled out. It's possible this 'anxiety' is due to previous remembered pain, not current, or due to previous 'training', but I'd want her to get over that too.
You certainly have a point. One factor that could have had part in her anxiety was my putting an English bridle on her for the first time (noseband and all that; I made extra certain it had two fingers width in there but the entire procedure was a circus due to her pacing and pushing). The trainer I took her to brought up that Pepper doesn't trust people when she's saddled on the ground, and has issues paying attention and connecting with people when she's saddled and/or has a bit in her mouth. She gets anxious, pushy, etc. I do have sneaking suspicions that it is from mistreatment (her sister was also mistreated to the point she won't let me touch her if I'm wearing a white shirt, odd odd) but I should think about possible pain more. I was very vigilant about her back, but that didn't seem what bothered her, at least to me, who doesn't have experience with sore backed horses :^S Mounting (once she got to her "safe spot" halfway across the pasture) was a charm. Smooth sailing then on.
Another issue is I haven't ridden her very much, at all, as in count on one hand amount, so she hasn't had proper experience to adjust and become comfortable. And with this weather, the probability of getting more riding time is about 0. Winter is just wonderful.
Re the paddock rest, as with us, depends what's wrong. If you're overworked, you've strained something... or such, then some R&R will likely do wonders. But if you've got something 'out', you have permanent damage, etc, then just resting without addressing the issue can even make matters worse - allow a chronic problem to just progress without treatment.
That's very, very true. I hardly thought of that. I should really have done more groundwork with her, but I didn't know where to start. She doesn't know how to lunge, and I didn't know how to teach her without frightening her, so I felt stuck. Now I'm more "knowledgeable" (ha, ha) a knee height's worth of snow puts a damper on things. Why do I keep reminding myself of the snow.
Re the second bit - finding little info - yeah, unfortunately, like deformed hooves for eg, it's one of those things that are so common as to be thought of as 'normal' & ignored by many. (So good on you for paying attention to it!) Along with the fact that vets, unless specialised, don't generally have a huge amount of knowledge/training about body issues. Just like a GP for humans, a specialist like a physio or a chiro are generally called for for body issues.
YES okay excellent. That's what I was wondering, especially after my farrier recommended a chiro for her.
Yeah but just think a Western saddle particularly covers the whole back, so saying the damage is in that area is not really very specific. And doesn't mean that it's necessarily a saddle fit issue. Of course yes, there are many problem saddles, be they western or otherwise that cause probs, but I'd hazard a guess & say that as a kid's horse(presume little kid), she probably wasn't worked long & hard in a badly fitting saddle, so while the saddle could have been *an* issue, it probably wasn't THE issue, or else it probably would have also resolved, or mostly resolved with rest.
That's true. The saddle issue concerns me because she WAS a kid's horse, but the damage looks to be, if it was and is a saddle issue, definitely from an adult. Which brings up the horror that she may have been suffering with this for many years longer than originally thought. The idea of it not being THE issue is also a very solid point. I circle back to the years of damage idea.
I just think you should be careful about saying 'IT is a bit issue' or such, as just because she has had bit issues too, don't rule out other 'issues'. There may well be multiple issues. And while unyielding hands for eg. can absolutely effect a horse's posture/back also, I'd sus there are back/saddle/whatever other issues too & want them ruled out properly before saying it's just a bit (or such) issue.
Another good point. I briefly mentioned that she has and has had an extremely stiff neck, which was noted by the trainer. I read up on it and it's always "a horse's neck gets stiff if put in unnatural positions," which is frustrating because Pepper's neck has been nothing BUT in a natural position. Perhaps her back in bad shape has effected the neck as well. Oh boy do I need to a chiropractor out here :Sc
Why the sweets? Is she a 'hard keeper' or such? Obviously not in hard work to require the 'high octane' feed. This sort of feed isn't great for horses anyway. I'm guessing the prob with beet pulp was you were feeding it dry. A lot of people believe it can't be fed dry & causes choke, but that's been found to be false, and fed in small quantities, it's fine. Re supps, look into magnesium - that is one mineral I find very important to supp, for a range of reasons.
The vet sternly warned me that beet pulp can cause choke. I also suspect the beet pulp played a part in causing my other mare Foxy's mouth ulcers due to its very hard consistency and poky ends, as did the vet, so I'm mostly shying away from it due to that. Very hard to chew, and with Foxy's ulcers and Pepper's sad lack of teeth I figured it's better safe than sorry, though beet pulp is definitely what I prefer to sweet feed. I ought to look into the shreds.
I supply magnesium and selenium salt blocks which the horses lick religiously. Not the same as getting it as a supplement, but I'm always afraid of overdoing it! However, I'll certainly look into magnesium supplements regardless.
As for the sweet feed, I only fed it to them to give them more energy to last through the freezing cold nights (regularly below 0 Fahrenheit, -20 Celsius) and to give them something sweet and yummy so they can lick up their supplements no problem. It's cheap and not exactly high quality, so I'm switching out of it as soon as the tub is empty. I suppose it's more of a filler. It does have minerals, but it's definitely not something I'd count on being essential to their diet.
That's great, just be aware if it fits her atrophied back now, hope it's quite adjustable & allows for careful padding, or it won't allow room for improvement, won't fit the shape she may change into.
It's a borrowed saddle, so I'm definitely not looking forward to the day it may NOT fit. I've seen people sell their saddles due to horses changing shape, so I've buckled myself in and prepared myself for that situation
It's also got foam padding, which I've got issues with. It's a Dover Circuit Elite (I think? It's an older Circuit). No adjustable gullet, which I'm not exactly happy with, but ah well. Until I purchase my own saddle, it's the only english saddle I'll manage to get my grubby hands on.
In the barrel racing barn I was in for some time, their big thing was shims. Shim this, shim that, shim everything. I've wondered about that, but a book I have about saddles brings up the point that a saddle that doesn't fit simply doesn't fit, and shoving bits and pieces beneath it only buries the issue.
Speaking of burying the issue, I purchased a pad with ample faux fleece padding under the saddle, so hopefully that makes up for that awful foam "flocking"