Being a horse owner and rider myself I find it interesting how pretty much everybody in the equestrian community has "a guy" that they go to religiously for some type of maintenance. Anyone that mentions a stiff neck, a sore shoulder, or pinched nerve, immediately receives word of this "guy" that is just amazing, and who you just have to go see. I think that's great, and I have several "guys" myself that I happily recommend to all my friends as I find appropriate. Whether it be a chiropractor, body worker, hairdresser, dermatologist, dentist, or doctor, you name it, and I too have "a guy". I get that part. What I find interesting, is that when our horses complain during work by being difficult to bend, flex, collect, perhaps they are bucking, rearing, switching leads, or in general not performing well, most of the time our fellow riders do not rush over with a recommendation of "a guy" that might be able to help the horse feel better, but with a suggestion of a different bit, draw reins, a new type of saddle pad, or perhaps a new saddle.
What I'm getting at is not that these things are not important, they are. Finding the correct bit can make a world of difference in the rideablity of a horse, and a well fitting saddle is absolutely crucial. But there's more to maintaining an equine athlete, and sometimes the things that we assume are training problems, are in fact our horses trying to tell us that something is feeling off. So, what I feel is most important is the professionals that you hire to care for your horse. Your horse's "guy". The veterinarian and the farrier are obviously important, but there's also the chiropractor that adjust and realign your horse when needed, the body worker that maintain muscular health, elasticity, and range of motion, the boarding facility and its staff that care for your horse on a daily basis, and of course the trainer. Together these people form a team where each person gets to know your horse, and when used as part of a system, will notice changes as they happen and can help address them before they become a problem that affect the horse's performance. I see the difference that a great team can make in my clients, and what a difference it makes in how the horses perform once you have a good system in place. So the next time your horse complains during your ride, don't just assume that it's because he doesn't want to work. Consider that maybe your horse is feeling off and that he too needs an appointment with his "guy" to make him perform at his very best:)