I think the ridden work has been going quite well since the lesson with the new instructor. Trying to get the downward transitions while keeping movement in my hands is proving to be a challenge, but the upwards transitions are coming on nicely, and we can now get the walk to trot transition while staying on the bit fairly reliably, which is new for us. The canter is really improving in terms of balance, speed and body frame. He even looks like his smaller shoulder has muscled up to be less different from the other than it was a month or so ago.
Too good to be true?
On Monday we were having a pretty nice canter on his happy rein when the front end just went. Replaying it in my mind I can’t understand how I stayed on, but he scrambled up again into a trot and after a few strides where I was completely off-balance I found my seat again and slowed him to a walk while we both tried to understand what just happened. There was no hole that he could have fallen down – the footing in the school was pretty good, so it looked like he’d either got his legs tangled or put a hoof down wrong – the equivalent of a human going over on their ankle.
I hopped off and had a check of his legs to see if he’d done anything noticeable to himself, but found nothing and he didn’t seem to react badly to my touch so I got back on and walked around a bit more, one of my goals being to take him straight back to where he’d fallen to show him it was OK. That wasn’t a problem – he didn’t seem worried about that corner of the school. So I moved him up into a gentle trot and it was … just not right. I hopped off again and tried to get him to trot in hand to see if I could see anything but he wasn’t very cooperative.
I took him out to find an instructor and we trotted him up on a hard surface, but there was nothing anyone could see. If I’d just fallen over running even if I wasn’t hurt I’d want time to recover, so we turned him out to look again the next day.
The next day was yesterday, and again there was nothing exactly to see. I tacked him up for a diagnostic ride, and, taking something of a risk, let him have a little walk at liberty around the yard, so I could see how he moved when I wasn’t leading him. He seemed to be quite cautious about placing his feet but otherwise fine. When turning it seemed like he might be favouring the right foreleg, but it was extremely subtle.
He really needs to see the farrier. He’s seen every 6 weeks, and he hasn’t gone any longer than usual, but his feet look unusually poor. The caution placing his feet could be because his hooves are unbalanced, and that could have caused the misstep that made him fall. I really hope the farrier comes today.
So after letting him walk around the yard a bit, with a hawk’s eye out for anything that could scare him, I took him into the school for a ride. We took it very easy and warmed up very slowly. In walk he felt pretty much like he always does, perhaps with some difficulty bending to the right. So I had a little trot. It still wasn’t quite right – a bit stiff and with a more marked difficultly bending to the right, which usually comes easily to him. Back to walk and I got off.
Today he’s going to have a day off and we’ll see if that fixes him. Hopefully the farrier will see him and, again, we’ll see if that fixes him. I suspect that we have a serious need for a pedicure, mixed with stiffness from the stumble. If the farrier comes today or tomorrow I might ride tomorrow, to see where we are. It’s frustrating that it’s subtle enough I can only gauge it from on his back, because I don’t like getting on if he might be sore.
So I’ve been worrying a lot, but it’s probably all just routine “life-with-a-horse” business.