I rode two days in a row for the first time in a year, maybe. I was very excited to be out at the barn and so very happy to be able to get on my horse two days in a row.
He greeted me with a huge whinny when he saw me. I gave him kisses on his nose, then stepped into the stall. His left hind fetlock, where the old injury is, was swollen. I tried to get a look to see if he had been scratching it with his other foot, but he kept swinging his hip away. I finally began to get dizzy spinning in a circle in his stall and put his halter on him.
The leg was cool, not hot, and was not sensitive to the touch, although he was resting that leg every chance he got. It looked like stocking up or wind puffs from our ride the prior day, which may be happening every time I ride, but because I'm not out every day, I haven't seen the effect on that scar tissue.
I got him out and groomed. Saddled with the new fleece pad that is working very well for us. He was a bit girthy, which is not unusual, but still makes me wonder. Once on him it took six circles of the arena to get him loose and moving well. We worked on trot-walk transitions from my seat, did some deep and then shallow serpentines, and finally moved into some easy canter. When I asked him to do a figure eight he bucked, tried to bolt, then braced and bounced at the far end of the arena. That resulted in some very steep leg yields in both directions, then the walking leg yield. I went back to the canter and he responded the same way, so I got off.
I know the leg bothers him, but it really felt like he was just dragging his feet in protest over the work. I was already a bit frustrated with the shenanigans in the "scary" corner (we are pretty sure there is a snake den over there, since all of the horses in the barn react the same way to that area, but no one has been able to find it) so I got off. Then I walked him over and got the lunging rope and side reins. Another rider was there (she does the lesson before me with Amanda and we ride at the same time frequently) and she was laughing at how sad he looked when I finished hooking up the side reins.
Working to the left, we finally got one full circle of canter on the correct lead. He was really bad about cross-cantering on his right hind. To the right he cantered and cantered and cantered. On lead. To give him credit, he never once threw his head up and braced. (He's not a dumb horse.) He was hot and breathing hard by the time I got him to walk again. I took off the side reins, walked him around the arena until his breathing slowed, then asked for the canter again.
I think I have been constraining him too much at the canter. I was watching him on the line and he moves better when he can use his head and neck to help balance a little more. When I asked for the canter afterwards, I gave more with my hands and let him move how he needed to. The canter was smooth and balanced, although we only did a 15m circle in each direction. I will need to work on that during my lesson on Wednesday.
The left hind was not as swollen when we were done (why I think it was stocking up rather than trauma) and looked more like what I consider normal at this point. I put the BOT quick wrap back on any way. I think I will leave it wrapped for the next two months until we are finished with Expo.
I am rethinking the Smartpaks though. This morning, I made some adjustments. I have gone back to the basic joint support with added MSM, the triple amino acid supplement and a basic ulcer treatment. We will give it a couple of months and see how he does with this cocktail. I needed to stop using the Rehab pellet because it contains devil's claw, which is proscribed for showing, so this current month, I went to a more aggressive joint supplement, but it seems less effective than the other, mainly due to the reduced amount of MSM. Dr D has speculated that the MSM is what is keeping him comfortable, so I increased that and cut out the stuff that is proscribed. We shall see how that works. If nothing else, the ulcer treatment should help him not develop ulcers when we are at Expo. I'm hoping it helps with the girthiness we are experiencing. We shall see.