Yesterday I walked Arabee in hand about 2 miles. Really easy for her, but good to help keep (get) me in shape since I haven't been riding since Thursday due to the girthing/chafing issues. Also good for her to familiarize with the area around that I'd like to be riding for training rides once we both get comfortable. I am just such a big chicken when it comes to riding, I want to know it's going to be as safe as possible, even though I'm sure I could've saddled her up and got her around the same 2 miles that way, I'm hoping preparing her this way will prevent some spooking under saddle.
Towards the end of the walk we worked on crossing this ditch - typically she jumps over these things the first couple of times, then will walk through them. Well, this ditch was a lot softer and muddier than I realized, Arabee just would NOT calmly walk all 4 feet across. She'd walk her front legs in, then leap across, and actually as I continued working with her on it, she began doing spectacular standing leaps across the whole width (easily 10, maybe 15 feet!). She was sinking in pretty deep, so I decided to let that one rest, and I was able to get her to walk through a more shallow section of it that didn't have quite the hoof-sucking mud that the other section did. This was actually a good workout for her! She started to sweat, and was certainly breathing hard. Unfortunately, I'm thinking it was a strength training (anaerobic) workout rather than aerobic conditioning, but it couldn't have hurt anything to build some strength.
We finished up and I hosed her muddy legs off, and paid special attention to her girth/elbow area. I applied some aloe, hopefully that will help some. All the swelling is gone now, and the chafed areas do not seem to bother her as much when I touch them.
My new girth will be here on Thursday. I really can't afford to wait until then to get some good riding time in - I'd like to put in a good hour or two on her tonight, and I could try the fleece backed girth. BUT, if I try that and it rubs her raw, then I'm back to hand-walking. I can't afford to let this problem get worse, but at this point with such little time left, I have only 2 weekends left of training time before her first 25 competition miles, so I need all the ride time I can squeeze in. I hope I make the right decision.