Dusty thought Eeyore was dealing with saddle fit induced muscle pain and prescribed a new saddle. I was not convinced but there is no way I’m going to turn down a new saddle when offered with no strings attached (he specifically said he didn’t want me to sell Gem’s Thorowgood to buy a new one). Plus it sorta made some sense with the quick recovery with time off, the new issue with the T8 sliding forward over his neck, the onset of pain halfway through a ride and his new found affinity for stretching once the girth is loosened. With everyone closed until Monday anyway, it was worth a try.
Saturday afternoon I drove down to Aiken which is a single right turn out of my drive followed by two boring hours of driving straight. There is a nice used tack store there that has a lot of inventory and a free trial period. The most I would be out would be the price of shipping it back to them. Seemed harmless enough.
There were several in my made up price range of $1500 or less and I sat in quite a few. In the end I brought home two Kieffer saddles: a MW 17.5″ Norbert jump and a W 17″ GP both with cut out for extra wither clearance.
Sunday afternoon I hooked Eeyore up to the lunge and had Dusty watch from the rail. He was intermittently lame at 1/5 on the RF going right. He’d go a full circle no issues then take a few bad steps and return to sound for another circle and a half before showing another few bad steps. At that point I was ready to cash in my chips and call the vet in the morning upon opening to set up a lameness eval.
Back in the barn Dusty convinced me to try the saddles out. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if they fit him since I had them and he wasn’t full blown three legged lame. The MW was way too narrow. I didn’t even bother getting a picture it was so obviously not a good fit. The wide GP though. I really liked the looks of it and decided to at least walk around in it. I was a bit worried it would be too small for me as I am usually a 17.5″ but it was worth trying.
Plus it would appease the hubby.
We returned to the arena and I climbed up and asked him to walk off. He took a few stubby steps and then blew out and gave me the most forward, relaxed walk I’ve gotten out of him. No lazy, behind the leg oaf. No coaxing. It was an immediate difference.
I had him pick up a trot left and he felt amazing. No tantrum, no sucking bad. Dusty encouraged me to try going right. If he took a bad step I could stop immediately and call it a day. He picked up the trot and….I’m not sure. During the ride he felt really good. The trot was rhythmic and he was relaxed. In fact during and after I was convinced he was sound as he felt pretty great. He is always fussy with his head probably because I’m a rigid steel beam in my arms and don’t give him the ride he needs, but otherwise he felt really really good. Plus he likes to try to stop and walk and reacts by either lifting his head or dropping it when I boot him forward, so it can be hard to tell.
But in reviewing the videos Dusty took…I’m not so sure now. It’s hard because he is fussy in the bridle so looking for a true head bob when he isn’t super lame is hard and I can drive myself crazy looking at the footage all night long. But…it looks a little off to me. I don’t know. He is truly lazy, feeling good or not, and asks to stop or drop to the walk and he looks way better when he moves out versus sucks back and barely trots but I don’t know. I also am really, really good at making a sound horse look lame to my eye. I spent years of Gem’s life thinking she was lame and the only thing that stopped that was her flying through the 100 with all As. After that my brain shut up. One thing was certain: he was way better than Friday when he was very obviously head bobbing and the only thing that change was the saddle. I’ll take an iffy, maybe maybe not gait versus the head bobbing 3 legged lame ride from Friday.
Here are some videos. I don’t have speakers at work and the sound was off on my phone when I watched them so I have no idea if you can hear a cranky, bred Wyatt in the background or the husband making fun of me. I’d recommend turning your sound off because neither of those things are enjoyable.
Going right on a smaller circle:
He was slow and trudgy but that is him on a good day. Big man doesn’t like to move when he doesn’t have to. But he was relaxed, responsive and not fighting me which wasn’t the case last week leading up to the lameness and there was no question he was 3 legged lame on Friday.
In fact he felt so good I asked him to pop over the vertical he refused to actually jump over last week. He popped over happily.
I called it a day after that and returned to the barn. Dusty palpated his back after and he was a little reactive in the loin region but after trying again he was fine.
I don’t know. He moved better and was happier in this saddle and for only $200 I’m going to keep it. I’d prefer a 17.5″ and I’m not crazy about the spine clearance in the rear of the saddle but it is better than the Thorowgood and didn’t budge. It’s only $200 and not worth the $50 it would cost to ship it back.
But…in reviewing the video I’m not sure if he is normal or not. Opinions?? It looks like he mostly is but then I see some off steps but that could be the complete crap I’m riding him in. I just don’t know one way or the other.
I’d love for it to be a saddle issue but ugh. He felt sound. He looks..I have no clue. I’m planning on hopping back on again tonight and seeing what I feel and how he acts with two days of riding in a row. I’d expect him to be worse if it is soft tissue after being worked the day before. If Dusty is right and he has muscle soreness from the T8 pinching him that wouldn’t magically completely go away either so some intermittent bad steps could be residual from that and don’t forget the crap right front hoof. Having a chiro/massage person out could really benefit him, but not if it is an internal hoof injury so…yeah. I just want to ride my horse.
Farrier is set to come out the 1st but I may cancel that and schedule a lameness eval instead or push my luck and try to schedule the vet in the am and the farrier in the pm after they give recommendations but who knows if that will work or not. If he is sound and I’m seeing things that aren’t there (which could be the case) then I don’t need to shell out a bunch for a lameness eval on a sound horse so ahhhhh!!!!
The plan? The ever changing plan? Ride again tonight unless the pending storm comes (its dark as all get out right now with a black threatening sky and lots of wind but I don’t care as long as it stops for 5 pm) and see how he feels. If he still feels really good I’m going to keep the farrier on the 1st and add in a chiro/massage appointment for that day as well. If he feels questionable, make a vet appointment instead. Oh…and drink a whole lot of alcohol in Chicago when I don’t have to drive and have no child around.