Friday, March 12, 2010
Bar has an owie
It's been a bit of a hectic week with car repairs and rain so I hadn't worked Bar since Tuesday night--a great session in the round pen with much neck stretching and solid trot work.
So imagine my surprise when I got him out tonight and he promptly appeared to favor his left rear, hopping on the toe of that leg as if he couldn't put weight on it.
I managed not to panic as we walked to the barn and after a little hitch, he walked pretty smoothly and steadily. I took off his blanket and ran my hands all over him--no heat anywhere, no flinching. Cleaned his feet and saw no signs of abscesses or anything--he'd even put weight on that leg while I picked up the others.
Damned stoic racehorse.
So we went down to the round pen so he could at least roll and maybe I could get him to trot so I could gauge his movement as a whole.
I could definitely tell he wasn't comfortable, and he was shorter on the left than he normally is. He's always a little short on the right but has good extension on the left, and his movement was noticeably off today--not nearly as fluid as normal.
Not that he would admit it, of course.
Being the Thoroughbred he is, movement is key, even if it hurts. Bar not only trotted and cantered a little, he actually did a rather credible cutting horse move on me--pivoting on his hind end as I changed directions against the wall while he followed.
But after two years of watching my horse move, I can see when something is not quite right--even when he's trying for me, even when he'd like nothing better than to race around bucking and farting.
Because he didn't race around and buck and fart on a nice crisp evening after two days off, and his neck did a funny little bob when he pushed off that left rear. And then, just to reinforce my suspicions, the uber-touchy Thoroughbred let me massage him--leaned into it, as a matter of fact.
The "not-normal" bells really went off at that point.
So we walked back up to the upper barn and I pulled out the iodine for his feet and the liniment for his muscles, figuring it was best to cover both bases. I found a spot on his back that spasmed his back and his stifle when I touched it, so I went to work.
Bar really has a hard time with relaxing in general and massage in particular, so you have to approach him with caution and be very aware of him while you work or you could end up with bite marks. He's better now than he was during his first few massages, but it has taken a lot for him to feel safe while I work on his body.
Today was the first time he has let me dig in and work, especially on an area so tender.
I'm guessing he either trusts me or it felt pretty good, or both.
My theory is he got exuberant in his pen--Steve said Bar was quite feisty while Steve was cleaning today--and strained something. Hopefully, with a little light movement and (sorry, buddy) more massage, he'll be okay.
Meanwhile, I will try not to worry. Katie will tell you from personal experience that not worrying is not my strong suit.