I've had a few days off working with Maz, thanks to a nasty side effect of some missing bugs! Wednesday was Maz's monthly pedicure with our favourite barefoot trimmer. I figured that was enough "handling" for the day, and as it turned out, the trimmer was able to finally cut away a manky section of old abscess decay that had finally grown down from coronet to toe level. This left Maz a little tender on that hoof, and a bit "hoofless" across all four legs, so there was no point in doing anything with her beyond her trim on Wednesday.
Yesterday afternoon, I had the energy to give Maz a light massage (nothing intensive or overly probing), working on a few problem areas. She is still very protective of her neck, although I am able to work along her neckline to her crest now, which is a great breakthrough. She is improving in all areas, and her muscles in general no longer feel hard and flat (apart from those in her neck!).
I also checked out the fit of my dressage saddle on her, something I have been avoiding. I love my stubben and don't really want to replace it. But as it was fitted to Moonie, all 14.3 1/2 hands of him, I really didn't expect it to fit Maz. So when I put it on her (she was wary, but allowing, waiting for the cinching up and pain I expect) I was stoked to find it fits her quite well. Through the shoulders its a lovely fit, with a good angle, width and height. There is no bridging and the channel seems adequately wide enough (another concern). So the verdict is that it is worthwhile getting the master saddler out to fit it to her properly, rather than ditching the whole thing and taking the hit buying another saddle.
Whilst I was fitting things to her, I also had another go with bridling. This time she was more compliant, in that we didn't have absolute "no way!" tanties, just a persistent "I don't want to", to which I persistently responded with "yes, please". Lots of nice negotiation and rewards for each movement towards me, and once the hunk of metal ( a comfy PZ bit) was in her mouth, she was happy for the headpiece to go on. The issue is not headshyness, it's having the bit in her mouth. I've made plans for a bitless version of her current bridle, as Plan B if Plan A (bitted) is too challenging for Maz at the moment.
Once the bit was in, I tested her responsiveness to bit pressure (ie how well the #@%^ trainer had actually mouthed her) using my forefinger hooked on the ring. Interestingly, in typical "baby" fashion, she would yield slowly but decisively if I requested it to the side I was on. If I requested to the other side (ie the side I wasn't on) the response was very slow in coming, and very limited ie she wasn't fully "understanding" the request. So that would be a fail on part of the trainer and the mouthing he apparently did, considering her capacity prior, and being told she had no mouth by the trainer, and need a lot of work (which I knew was bollocks to begin with). The bottom line is that I need to do some refresher mouthing of her myself, so that I absolutely know what she knows. Being a smart mare, it won't take much work.
Post massage, coming back down to the ground (where are my legs??). Even after grounding her to complete the massage, she takes a few minutes to come back into herself. Note the position of her legs, compared to 2 weeks ago ie one at each corner, where they should be (and the resting hind,chilling out). Apparently this morning she has her feet back on the ends of her legs! Proprioception returns after a trim, and massage.