You know those toys you used to play with as a kid where you would put them in a bowl of water and they would "magically" increase in size? Well it feels like that is what is happening with Katai.
I didn't really think much about it other than to be really excited that she was growing a bit more especially since she will be six this year. She was around 13.1 when I bought her which is right on the low end of what I'm comfortable with since anything smaller than that and I start to look too big. When I measured her during the middle of her growth spurt she was closer to 13.2 hands and now is pushing 13.3 which is absolutely ideal. However, when I lunged her it wasn't just the size that had improved. She has a HUGE, ENORMOUS, BIG GIRL TROT! to go with that extra growth. Her suspension is so much different than when I bought her and her stride was just gorgeous. She was really sitting back and using her hind to propel herself and looked like she was having fun showing off. I was insanely impressed and if cookies were what she was looking for she certainly hit the nail on the head. I'm sure the conditioning I've been doing has something to do with it along with the fact that she trusts me more and is more relaxed and can actually concentrate on her job now.
The other huge improvement is in her feet. She is finally sound in our rocky arena! Her hooves have toughened up a lot compared to when I brought her home and her frogs are looking so much better. We do have a ways to go still which takes me to my next point.
After reading a recent article in EQUUS about how stride effects hooves and after spending a whole night catching up on Rockley Farms blog posts I am more convinced than ever that the cause of Katai's right hoof is her balance/one sidedness. Just as those sources mentioned her left foot is squashed from extra weight and her right side hoof is more upright and has a very contracted heel. On top of that she is very clearly uncomfortable moving to the right on the lunge and when I first got her she refused for almost a week to even travel that way.
I have been working on this with her but until I read that article last week I was only casually trying to improve her balance going right. Now I am really starting to work her going to that side and I can tell a difference. She is starting to balance better and after warming up and loosening up I'm actually getting some good work to that side. I will be interested to see what changes as she continues to work and improve her flexibility and balance. I am also considering trying to find a chiropractor that would be willing to come out here to the middle of nowhere to work on her since I would not be surprised if that were part of the issue.
Finally, after our nice ride this past week I haven't been able to climb on again. At first I was trying to be nice and not ride her more than necessary in the middle of an unbalanced growth spurt. Secondly, my roommate and her boyfriend are up North camping all weekend and they are my support crew as far as riding safely is concerned. Riding a green horse without having someone on speed dial in case I become injured is not something that I am comfortable with so lunging it will be until Monday.