I've been slow to post lately since my news has been not so positive - sore backs, nasty weather, and limited riding. But hey, this is real life. A little sunshine and good luck would go a long way though. Just sayin.
I've been doing an awful lot of trail riding these past few weeks. While I strongly believe trail riding has all sorts of benefits, both mental and physical, in our case it's let our flat work get pretty rusty. I'll admit, it's mostly due to my laziness. I hop on and head out and next thing you know I'm slouching along with my reins in one hand and on the buckle. I've even pulled out a western saddle now and then - much easier to lounge around in :). I'm not one if those people out doing trot sets and leg yielding down the trail. Being a smart pony, Ginny catches my lack of motivation and marches along quite contentedly. I've achieved my goal of making her a sensible and reliable horse outside the ring so it's time to get back to 'real' work. With the major work at the club grounds completed, and the ring looking gorgeous, I was excited to get back to some dressage work.
Western saddle with blingy english bridle - how to offend both english and western riders in one easy getup ;)
Except we've hit yet another snag.
This past Tuesday, I took Ginny up some pretty steep hills. She seemed to handle them fine - not overly tired or sweaty. I always let her take her time if she needs to, but she marched happily right up to the top. We stopped at the top of the hill for some grazing time for her and some time to enjoy the view for me. Once we turned for home though, she was pretty reluctant and slow to return down the biggest hill - she felt like she was sore somewhere. I was a bit puzzled, since she had her boots on, so her feet shouldn't have been sore. My next thought was it's my western saddle fitting a little wide and riding up on her shoulders. She's so round it's been pretty difficult to find a saddle that stays in place on some of the more challenging terrain. I know my western saddle is a close, but not perfect fit. I have a fancy air ride pad for her and that's seemed to work just fine for the once a month or so I use my western saddle. It doesn't noticeably move around, but I wonder if it tips a bit forward on the downhills. At any rate, I got off, loosened the girth a bit and walked her home just in case.
The following day, I took her down to the ring and lunged her in her english tack, which I know is a good fit. She seemed very slightly off in her right hind - probably if I didn't know her so well I wouldn't have even noticed it. She warmed up out of it and I got on for a ride. She felt fine at the walk, but the trot felt not so great. Mostly just tight through the back and not at all relaxed. This is common with her when we do ring work. It usually takes a few minutes for her to relax and start using herself properly. Still, I was wondering about that back leg and couldn't in good conscience continue riding just in case. I got off and walked her home after confirming there was no heat or swelling or obvious pain.
I gave her yesterday off, although I did again act all paranoid and check legs/feet/back as best I know how. Besides her being super grateful for a back rub, I didn't notice anything 'off'.
Today, I again took her to the ring for a short lunge. She's definitely a bit sore on the right hind - it's not noticeable on the straight but on a circle she is short striding a bit :( I'm really not seeing or feeling anything out of the ordinary and I've been poking around everything from her feet to her sacroiliac joint. Of course Google does nothing but scare me - if you search hind leg lameness you mostly get results for hock issues, spinal issues, and of course neurological disease.
I'm going to give her a couple of days off in hopes it's something minor - maybe a sore back from the western saddle or even an abscess brewing. We also did get hung up in a tree branch a few days ago, which resulted in some interesting acrobatics - perhaps she strained something there. The branch was large but had a sharp end someone had cut (probably to clear the trail) that managed to get wedged in my stirrup beside my foot. It was of course tangled up in some other brush so you can imagine how Ginger felt about that. The resulting meltdown was fairly minor by Ginger standards, so it's only now I'm wondering if she hurt herself somehow.
If this continues I'll have the farrier out to see what he can find, then the vet out for an evaluation, and probably send him a video to look at for the time being. We will have to wait 2 weeks until he returns to see him in person though :( Despite being a 'city' of 20,000, we're pretty geographically isolated, so we don't have a large animal vet. Probably 4 or 5 small animal vets, but they'll only come to see horses if it's a super emergency (basically only to euthanize in case of accident). I'm not sure how it works in the states, but in Canada there's a huge shortage of equine vets - unless you live in or near a major centre you're most likely out of luck. After much begging and pleading, we have a vet from Vancouver Island coming over once a month. We're lucky in that he is actually one of the best in Canada (and is a farrier too!) - but it's given me crazy anxiety on more than one occasion when I've been stuck being talked through something on the phone rather than having him here in person!
Here's hoping she's feeling better soon - we're due for some good news and I'm way too much of a worrier :)
Her paddock is on the back side of the barn so we have to go through the barn to get there. If no ones around I usually let her graze out front of the barn while I put her tack away and clean her shelter. I call her when I'm ready. Photographic proof she comes when I call - usually!: