Yesterday started off as such a beautiful day at the barn. It was so nice and warm outside, Emmy and Cool both went out in the pasture with just their cotton sheets on and had a good canter around the field. It's so beautiful to watch them race each other down across the field and then loop back up and canter side-by-side back towards the gate. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the highlight and the entire day kind of went down hill from there :(
I set up and short low jumping course for Cool, consisting of a diagonal cross rail, a single vertical on the long side and a low 3 stride line down the other long side that was a cross-rail to a vertical. I let him finish his dinner and digest, then tacked him up and went to go school him around and see how he was. I figured that if we were going to head out to the horse show today, I had better jump him around a little bit to see what I had.
Friday he just gotten turned out because I wasn't feeling well, so I figured that he would be ready to rock and roll Saturday.
I got on him and started trotting him. To the right he felt fine, but to the left he was head-bobbing. Not really lame per say, just head bobbing and moving funny up front. It was the strangest feeling ever, like if I let go of the reins and closed my eyes his body wouldn't have felt lame, but he was clearly bobbling his head up and down. At first, I tried to ride through it a little, thinking that maybe he was stiff or the footing was bad (the ring hasn't been dragged in a few days, so it really is starting to alternate between hard and deep spots). I kept him off the rail where the sand was softer and tried to just trot for a while, changing directions numerous times and really sending him forward, then bringing him back. When that didn't help, I let him canter a lap in each direction to swing his back. Once again, to the right he felt fine, but to the left (which is already his bad direction) his canter felt terrible. Very up and down and choppy as if her were locked in his shoulders and just stabbing his legs at the ground. After that, let him trot another lap and then got off. On the ground, I took his boots off and felt his legs. Of course, everything seemed a little warm from the boots but nothing stuck out as being a major problem area. His right front ankle (what is it with my horses and right front problems? I SWEAR I work them evenly on both sides!) seemed maybe a teensy bit fluidy. This is, of course, the leg that he was lame in so badly over the summer. What he did to it then, I will never know, but maybe it was the problem again? I undid his running martingale, ran up my stirrups and proceeded to jog him in hand around the ring. He really did look funny up front, like he wasn't wanting to actually reach forward and extend his leg, but still not really limping.
Deflated and disappointed, I took him to the wash stall, stripped his tack, and started cold hosing. I mainly did the right front, but I honestly hosed every leg for a little bit. His hind legs have been stocking up lately too if he doesn't get bandaged in his stall...something that he has NEVER done before, even while spending multiple days in his stall at home due to weather. I don't understand any of it...and I'm starting to just get frustrated with horses in general at this point. I know that I don't own super fancy, expensive horses. I know that their conformation is not perfect and that their "way of going" is often flawed to some degree, but I also know that I give them the best care possible, the most turnout that I can, basic supplements as needed to support their joints and health, bandages/boots as needed (see above comment about their "way of going") to protect their legs during work but naked freedom in turnout so as not to make them "soft." I take care of them when they are sick or hurt, I ride them on decent footing and I don't ever push them to do anything that might compromise their health or soundness...for goodness sake, I barely even work them. And what do I get for it? Nothing but a barn full of lame horses.
Maybe I should be like some of the other riders at my barn and like other people I know and only clean their stalls every few days when they feel like it...and only turn them out when its convenient for me, and then ride them hard and incorrectly with big bits and naked legs. Maybe I should just do that, because those freaking horses never have a thing wrong with them. Meanwhile, here I am walk/trot/cantering my gelding for maybe 30 minutes and he's unsound? Seriously? Emmy I can understand...she's 25 years old and she's been through a hell of a lot in her life, but Cool? He's 8 years old and spent from ages 8 months to 6 years living in a pasture doing nadda.
Could it be that he just bucked a little too hard in the field and maybe pulled something? Absolutely, and I really hope that's the case...either that or an abscess blowing out. I know that freak, unexplainable things happen; I know that a horse can simply take a bad step and bow a tendon at the walk. I have personally watched a (very expensive) horse with the absolute best care possible, trot across a diagonal on perfect footing and break a hind leg. I know that it doesn't take always take hard work and extremes to make a horse lame. I know that it can happen anytime...but still, it frustrates me none-the-less. Not even for missing the horse show, but just for the simple fact that another one of my horses is (at least kind of) lame.