I realized not too long ago that I was getting comfortable with Nina's frame and relaxed carriage. For a long time I felt like I had no horse in front of me and while she will, like any horse, fall on her forehand and drift along downhill, when asked to work she pushes hard with her hindquarters and carries herself level and is not heavy on her forehand.
The 'feeling' of the frame of a horse can be so deceptive. I look at these two pictures of Nina and Scotty and I am surprised by the fact that while he is more compact, he is not a huge amount higher in his neck and head carriage than she is. He is somewhat higher but in my mind I felt like I had Scotty's ears in my face all the time (I did on occasion while jumping) and I have felt that Nina's head was down between her legs. Nina's head carriage has come up to a more natural position without someone yanking on her mouth every step, but I think the main difference is in the use of power between these two animals.
Scotty was such a powerhouse. While he could trip over a dirt clod while walking he could fly through 4ft bounces looking entirely pleased with himself and not at all challenged. He put effort into every stride when working and his shoulders were always high and light. He could half halt off of me lifting my shoulders, hesitate in mid air and never lose the rhythm of the gait. He had a relaxed 14ft canter stride and could jump off of one foot at a bad angle, he was so confident of his own athletic ability. He was a great forward thinking horse for me, I would always rather 'whoa' than 'go' in a combination.... my inherent chicken nature.
Nina, despite her bad training and well, girlishness... is a totally different type of mover. A few years ago she would have been a star at hunter shows, classic looking, big floaty daisy cutting action, frame lengthening as her stride does. It is a totally different feel, more level than up. As I was watching her with Ali on Sunday, while she wasn't really forward except here and there, her carriage looks natural, her head does not seem forced down and her movement is more balanced. I was pleased, I don't get to see her without me very often.
I also realized that at least for now my days of peering at the world from between my horse's ears are over.