Zarah has had some interesting behavior on our longer rides (over 7 miles) lately. It's happened twice and had me very concerned. She was starting to try to urinate on the trail, under saddle (odd for her), and repeatedly. She was straining and generally trying to relieve herself of discomfort. I decided, after the 2nd trail ride where she showed the behavior, that I'd better get Tom to look at it. He suspected estrus at first, but I quickly convinced him that I know estrus and this is much different.
He came out and inspected her back. He suspects that the saddle is putting too much pressure on her back over her kidneys! This is a perfectly logical explanation since it was only happening on the longer, more strenuous rides. Darn it! So, I'm going to use a different pad (one of my CSI pads) and see how she does. I'm also hunting for a lighter weight trail saddle for my endurance riding, so I'll ramp up my search and see what I can find. I learned something today and while it occurred to me that it was her back, I was worried that it was something much worse. I'll take my mileage down a notch and try some different tack. We'll see what we get.
AFterwards, Gem and I hauled over to the trail for day 2 of our solo trailriding program. There was a definite improvement today! He was calmer, never once got silly or acted out, and never once (not a single time!) did he call for other horses. I enjoyed this session quite a lot. We worked on some half-passing, sidepassing, lateral bending, canter departs, and then found a spot right near the trail head sign to eat green grass. He was quite comfortable today! I didn't ask him to go down the trail, but I did feel him hesitate when we went to ride near the trail head. He was positive I was going to ask him to do something he didn't want to do. I hope I blew his mind a little when I only asked him to trot in patterns and not go down the trail. This is a fun experiment! For a lark, I did a minute or so of passenger lesson, just to see where he'd go if he had the choice. He walked in the direction of the trailer for about 10 feet, but then he dropped his head for grass. That said to me that he wasn't nervous or dying to get back to the trailer. He was truly comfortable hanging out with me on his back at the trail head.
What will the next session bring? Can't wait to find out.