I think, after my weekend rides with Buckshot, that he is experiencing a bit of soreness, of his hind legs. Both days he demonstrated the things that have been flummoxing me for a few weeks – a lack of forwardness overall, sometimes coming to a halt, intermittent energy but mostly low energy, more difficulty than normal walking on the trail. On Sunday, as I trotted him, I felt a slight offness so I asked the BO to observe him. She said he looked slightly off in the rear and perhaps a bit stiff in the rear, as if he was sore. Perhaps a bit of arthritis. So for the rest of the ride we stayed at the walk. The day before, during our ride, we cantered a few times and at the right lead he was quite unstable, steering far to the right. Several times on the right lead he didn’t go into the canter at all, but did have a big extended trot. Poor fellow, he’s probably sore, and at his twenty-something age, I can’t be surprised. I didn’t try to walk him down the road either day. We’ll work on that again another time. It’s time to get the vet out to do his annual teeth floating so I’ll ask him about this. The BO gave me some good suggestions of treatments that have worked for her horses.
I don’t know if it is related, but all of these subtle, becoming-more-obvious changes started after he fell at the canter several weeks ago. But I will look into this possibility of arthritis, and in the meantime, I'll warm him up much longer at the walk when we first start riding (I confess that I haven’t been as good about a long warm up as I should have been), and I'll try not to tax him. He’s been such a good riding horse for me- reliable and willing and energetic. Now I need to look after his needs more.
This week I also ordered my season’s supply of Bit Warmer Heat Packs. Have you seen this? It is a cloth packet you put a heat pack in, and then wrap around the bit to warm it up. It enables you to warm up the cold metal bit before you put it in your horse’s mouth, in the winter. I bought mine two winters ago and used it the last two winters. I was very pleased with how easy and effective it is. It’s affordable also- the bit warmer itself is appx $20 and the individual disposable heat packs, which have a long life, are $.95 each. The heat packs are activated by shaking and kneading them (you don't have to heat in a microwave or in hot water). I was able to reuse the heat packs quite a bit; sometimes one pack was reused two or three times. For me, they are easier than using a hair dryer to warm the bit. I highly recommend them. You can order them at the company website www.bittenstore.com.