I got a bareback pad for Christmas. I love it! It makes me feel like I'm cheating at riding bareback because it makes it so easy to stay centered and balanced (no slip and slide). I used it for a couple trail rides right after I got it and then decided to try it, and see how Coriander's feet felt, in the indoor next door.
With the pad I feel just as stable at the walk as I do with a saddle, so I decided to try out the trot. Easy peasy, too easy really. I forgot that he's not ready to carry me at a sitting trot. (His feet seem to be doing better though. He still doesn't have much frog but the deep crack is filled in and that's made him a lot more comfortable. He was much more forward in the arena than he's been in a long time.)
When I went out the next day, prepared to ride, he told me no. He came up to me to receive his treat and then walked away from me as soon as he got it in his mouth. He never does that. I followed him and he continued to walk away from me. Huh. What's going on with this horse?
I figured he might be sore, so I walked up to him again, this time he let me approach, and I ran my fingers down his back. You probably guessed it by now: his back dropped when I touched it. Ugh, that made me feel pretty rotten. Needless to say he didn't get ridden that day. I popped the saddle on Gwen and took her for a walk and did some mounting block work instead.
The next day I went back out, hoping that Coriander's back would feel better and we could go for a trail ride. As soon as he let me approach and halter him I knew we were good. We then went out and had a great ride, full of water crossings he didn't balk at, deer jumping around that he didn't bat an eye at, and wet snow that he carefully negotiated. He even offered up a nice, impulsive trot that I thoroughly enjoyed- while posting.
I learned my lesson, no more trotting with the bareback pad until I know his back is ready for it; and listen, really listen, when my horses do something that they've never done before.
PS: Coriander has also started doing something that I think is absolutely hysterical. I don't tie my horses when I'm working with them right outside of the pasture (Too trusting, I know, but it's a long way from the road and they won't voluntarily leave the herd.). They park themselves on the chaff pile and are content to stand there and eat while I do what I do, often without a halter. Which means sometimes I have to put the halter on to take him back into the pasture, only now when he sees me pick up the halter he just walks over to the gate and waits for me to open it for him. He says he don't need no stinking halter!