Sorry this is going to be a long and a bit of a vent…
I started a half-lease on a (very nice) school horse about 6 weeks ago. She is a 15 year old Belgian warmblood (mostly Welsh and New Forest Pony though nearly 15.2 hh). I had ridden her many times before I started the lease. Honestly when I started the half-lease I thought I would be bored as she was pretty much perfect every time I rode her but that ended up not being the case. She had spooked with me once before when a parade of shetland ponies went by but other than that she was always sensitive but very manageable and did well on cross country, trails, arenas, etc.
When I started my half-lease with her she was not the horse I was expecting from the first ride. In our past 30 rides or so, we have had two rides where there were no spooks. She spooks mostly in corners and mostly at the canter. We ride in lessons two hours per week and then half and hour to one hour on an easy ride (trail ride, short WTC session, etc) and usually about 30 minutes of groundwork per week too. Until this week I have blamed the spooks on abnormal cold, lack of turnout due to flooded pastures, hormones, scary new indoor arena, young horse on the trail ride was nervous, the birds were legit scary, etc. And of course - myself. I’m not a nervous or timid rider by any means, but I do admit I can get frustrated towards the end of a session with lots of stupid spooks and I am working on this as it does not help anything - but I think I make the problem worse in most cases, not that I’m necessarily the cause.
Also this week she had the first refusal I’ve ever had on her and I ended up in the dirt. I watched her in a lesson before my ride and she spooked in the corner with that rider too. I have heard she has been very ‘nervous and tense’ (aka spooking) during her other lessons as well.
It’s a bit delicate as she is not my horse and she belongs to the barn. I currently have her leased until the end of March and, since I do actually like this mare and have made a ton of progress with her already, I would like to continue IF she can get a clean bill of health. However going about this is a bit awkward. My first suspicion is her eyes. She also has benign windpuffs and scratches that I am treating. Her shoulder muscle was twitching yesterday in the lesson before mine and she had a large knot near her shoulder blade as well which was not there today.
Today we rode for 20 mins and she was very good, but after went to graze and she spooked at some jumps outside the arena (that she had just ridden by numerous times). She spooked so hard she hit my foot which now hurts. My ass also hurts from hitting the sand for the first time in 17 years yesterday. My heart hurts too thinking that I am either riding a mare in pain or I am incompetent myself.
So I managed to take some photos of her eyes today and I’m curious what you think. I’m a little concerned about the cloudiness and the light ring around the edge. I was going to bring up the topic of her health/eyes either way but would like to not sound so much like the total idiot I am when broaching the subject.
Any other advice welcome too. But disclaimer about the barn as it really is a wonderful place: in the past three weeks we had 3/4 trainers out with Covid, national curfew messing up the schedules, historic floods preventing turn out followed by historic cold which froze the floods. So they are all a little overwhelmed at the moment but the horses are still well taken care of in general.
TLDR: do these eyes look OK to you?