Thursday afternoon after the pony's massage, it was too windy to ride - and to be honest, I wasn't highly motivated, and I was willing enough to settle for a pleasant bareback ride around the barn. Definitely lifted her back more, but beyond that could not tell much in the way of improvements.
Friday it was dark. Ponies got dinner and I went home.
Saturday.. Saturday morning, I figured I'd head to the barn and get a nice brisk ride in, see how Fetti was feeling and what sort of improvement there was. Instead, my five-minute drive to the barn was a ten-minute drive with detours and without clear confidence I could make my turn onto the barn road due to the local Memorial Day parade.. which just so happened to be going on at that time. Sigh. Back home I went, to check the times & route and see what time I could safely head back over - and what do I find but a reminder that oh yes, the Civil War reenactment is going on Memorial Day weekend! Complete with cannons!
I mean, I don't know about everyone else's horses, but I'm pretty sure Confetti is Not Okay with cannons going off a half-mile away when we're in the middle of the generally-fairly-normal woods.
Called, found out the approximate cannon/battle times, and postponed my barn time til late afternoon. Sigh!
It worked out well, though. We went on a lovely 9-mile hilly ride, and I had a horse that could really walk down hills. She wasn't quite keeping up, but we were five steps behind at the very end of the downhill, rather than five steps behind every twenty steps. I wasn't micromanaging and asking her to sit back on her hindquarters. It was a nice, comfortable downhill walk. It was awesome. I was thrilled.
Unfortunately, it didn't last. Within five days of the massage, Fetti was back to mincing her way down hills. Tiny step, tiny step, tiny step. Clearly I was not imagining things on Saturday.
Part of our major challenge with speed is how slow all of our downhills are. Either we're trotting down and she gets no break (and I get no break!) or we're slooooowly walking down. It's not any better when I'm off and walking her. If anything, my horse is slower down hills than I am, and I'm pretty slow going down hills. Switching saddles has not had an effect - same problem in the English saddle, and I would anticipate the same problem bareback. We are so slow going down every single hill that we pretty much have to power-trot everything else to make up the time.
Confetti is 17 this year. I am looking seriously at hock injections. I don't think I'm using them to push her past her ability level; I think I'm using them to attain a baseline of comfort that probably isn't quite there at the moment. (We completed a 25, albeit barely, last year. I think we can complete with slightly more grace in the future.) The massage therapist said it's likely that the movement limitations in the hind leg are caused by a combination of muscle tension and arthritis. I'm inclined to agree.
The vet will be out on Monday. I initially thought I'd postpone til after Fireworks when I had more time - but I have a free week and I might as well make the most of it now. Hopefully, he'll have some insights, suggestions, and we can get something done to make the princess move more comfortably down hills.