“I have no idea.” Don’t you just love hearing those words as a horse owner?
I was away for work the last week of November and while away, had a girlfriend of mine keep the filly (I am really going to have to stop calling her that considering she turns 5 in a month) in work, considering she turns into a fire breathing dragon when she is not in work. (I also plan on giving her about a month or so off beginning around Christmas time and will fear for my safety after that month is up, but we will get into that later.)
When I returned from my week away, I was pumped to get back in the saddle with the hopes of not forgetting everything that we had been working on before I had left. Meaning – we are not going to be jumping for a while, but rather focus on our dressage (which I have a new appreciation for) and packaging her up more. We have all the pieces to be really really good in the dressage ring
so long as we get rid of the temper tantrum issues, we just need to figure out how to put them all together a little better. Read – I need to ride better.
As soon as I sat on her, she felt a little odd. Tight. Given that it was the coldest day of the year by far and that she had only been ridden twice in the past week – I sort of figured she needed to loosen up a little more. We spent 15 minutes walking, bending, stretching and I could slowly feel her loosening up a bit. Great – let’s collect. The moment I asked her to collect – rather than come up over her back – she hollowed her back and shot her head and neck straight up in the air.
My initial reaction was to say – get over yourself and I pushed her on. Much to no avail. Back to walk – let’s relax a little more before asking again…unfortunately for me, patience with this fiery little redhead is key. When I felt her relax – sort of – again, I asked her to trot again and received the same reaction. Seriously stumped at this point in time, I spent the rest of the ride at walk getting her to stretch and do some lateral movements seriously thinking she was just a little tight. When I spoke to my girlfriend about it – she had said on Wednesday, she was fine. This ride was on (last) Friday. The next day, was no better and I noticed she had become a little girthy. Hummm. When I asked her to trot – I did so on a completely loose rein and I received the same response: tighten up, neck and head straight up in the air.
The reason I am confident in saying there is something up at this point, is because this is not her normal reaction when asked to do something that she ‘doesn’t feel like’ doing. When she is pissy, she throws a temper tantrum to the point of stamping her foot, bucking and working herself up to the point of almost a complete meltdown. She is showing me none of that and acting completely uncomfortable.
So, as I am entering panic mode, I call my coach, describe what is going on, her suggestion, “It’s probably her teeth”. D’uh – why didn’t I think of that? Sure enough – I get the vet to come out (Tuesday) and she has a couple of ulcers on her left side from some sharp edges. No wolf teeth yet. (She also took twice the amount of sedative that is normally administered, but I don’t want to get in to that either.) Vet says – ride Wednesday.
Wednesday comes along, she remains girthy, she feels the same as she has all week and I get the same reaction. Okay – maybe her mouth is still ouchie from being floated. Thursday comes – still girthy, same feel, same reaction. (Even on the lunge without a rider, but with a saddle, she throws her head up in the air when asked to trot). At this point, my coach goes ‘I have absolutely no idea what could be up, we’ll have to take a look. Awesome.
She is not lame. She is not off. She doesn’t react to any pressure points. There is no heat anywhere in her body. Her legs are clean. There is no heat in her hooves. She is not off her feed (because part of me thought maybe she has stomach ulcers). Your guess is as good as mine.
Then, I had a thought. A really stupid thought. She was clipped November 24 right before I went away. She’s girthy. She’s always been sensitive – maybe she absolutely hates the feel of the girth on her belly now? If a girth cover is the answer, then I will do a backflip. I somehow have the impression though, it isn’t going to be as easy as that…