Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Well darn it to heck

Tonight started off fabulously well. The horses stayed in last night and all day today due to a chance of rain (it didn't), so there was a bit of excitement when everyone got to go out. I had decided to work in the outdoor arena with some ground poles, so I pulled out a few and set them up as trot poles before getting on. Saga looked around a little at the beginning of our ride, and he was definitely energetic during our walk warm-up, but listened to me well enough.

I pulled up my stirrups two holes from normal dressage length since I wanted to work on two-point tonight, and was very pleased at how I felt in my saddle with my stirrups shorter. I am hoping that the saddle will work as a jumping saddle as well until I can get a jumping saddle that works for him, and the dressage saddle has a shallow enough seat that it just might work (I've jumped in a dressage saddle before - not my favorite thing, but I can make it work). Anyway, we did several minutes of trot work both directions, with me in two-point. Saga was nicely forward but very steady and listened well; when he wanted to fall to the inside to the left, he moved away from my inside leg when I asked him to stand up. Success!

We took a short walk break, and then I got back into two point and asked for a trot transition, then a few steps into a left lead canter. The canter depart was lovely and smooth (ok, not round, but he didn't rush into it, which is wonderful) and the canter was also lovely. He was light in front and had a wonderful steady rhythm, it was just a joy to ride. We went down the log side and were turning through a corner when he practically dropped out from under me.

Have you ever had those moments that happen so quickly but you remember everything so clearly? Just a stride or two before, I had been thinking about how my weight felt heavier in my left stirrup than my right, and had deliberately put more weight in my right and relaxed my right ankle more - and if I hadn't done that, I probably would have pitched over his head. As it was, I stayed with him as he went down, but when he came back up, asked with my inside leg for him to move on as I thought he had just tripped a bit. The next stride he took, it was clear that something was drastically wrong with his front end, and I immediately pulled him up and jumped off almost before he stopped. Given the way he was suddenly three-legged lame in the front, I expected to see blood gushing or a broken bone (although I didn't hear anything) when I got off, and he was standing holding his right front up. My first thought was "oh shit, I've broken my horse." I saw nothing immediate - no blood, no swelling, nothing broken. I checked his hoof, thinking maybe he had a big rock stuck in it or had wrenched his shoe. There was nothing in his foot, his shoe was fine, and there was only a minor cut on the bulb of his heel that I'm pretty sure was there Sunday. He put his foot down but held it out in front of him to keep the weight off, and I figured that I needed to either get him to the vet or get a vet out ASAP.

Of course, I was riding alone, but I asked another person at the barn to go get the barn owner. In the meantime, I managed to lead him about 30 feet out of the arena and toward the barn, and each step was clearly painful for him. As we stood there waiting, I debated whether to try to get him to a vet or have one come to us, and then the barn owner showed up. I was about to ask her to call the vet please, or hold Saga while I went to get my phone to call the vet, when he took a step forward that was apparently fine. No kidding. Fine.

So I walked him around for a moment and he looked 100% better. I wasn't even sure that he was actually lame! I got back on him and asked for a walk, and yes, he was still off, right front. I hopped off, walked him back to the barn (he was still pretty much fine), and trotted him on the pavement in the barn aisle. He was very slightly off, but it was hard for me to see much since I was both trotting him and trying to see him move.

What to do? Five minutes before he could barely walk, and now he's fine??? I ended up cold-hosing both front legs for about 10 minutes and palpating the heck out of them. He didn't show any signs of pain anywhere in either of them, and I poked and prodded pretty hard. So, I threw his bell boots on (just in case) and put him out with his two buddies. I figured it can't be that bad since he recovered so quickly and shows no signs of pain or swelling, and he'd just go nuts stuck in his stall for another 24 hours. I suspect that he stepped on a rock, since the outdoor arena does have some pretty big ones, no matter how often we pull the damn things out. If he bruised himself and it abscesses, then we're looking at a couple of weeks off. If it's something more serious... well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I will probably go out first thing tomorrow or during lunch to check on him, and see if I can find a set of hoof testers. Assuming that something else is not obviously wrong with him.

Gah. Just when things were going so well. :(

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