How Dry I Am
Well, not exactly dry, but compared to yesterday, the arena footing was quite good this afternoon. It does need to be dragged/raked but another day of dry weather should put it in good enough condition for me to take the tractor out there without creating too many ruts I can't fix with the arena drag.
I took the opportunity to ride Tucker. All I expected was some nice forward walk, trot, and canter with a longish frame just touching the bit with a little roundness. That is exactly what I got. His trot was really nice on both reins, with a nice even stride. I have been a bit worried about that ever since his left hoof was injured when he lost that shoe. It took a long time for that soreness to work out and I was beginning to think perhaps his ankle might be bothering him.
This is the leg that had the club foot when he was born. His original owner opted for the ligament surgery and while that foot tends to grow a steeper angle than his right front, unless you know what you are looking for, it looks normal. (That is also why that foot is more likely to lose a shoe.) However, before I got him, he was injured at the adoption center. When he was delivered to me he had severe proud flesh on that ankle and had some extensive vet care in order to heal it up. Later, when I had him x-rayed the vet suggested that he saw some sign of bone changes and thought Tuck would have some soundness issues as time went on.
So every time I see an off step on that leg, I always worry. So far, so good, as today he felt even on both sides, with a nice forward stride.
All that being said, Tuck does show a bit of resistance to taking his right lead at the canter. And, when he is on that lead, he tends to want to drop his hind end to the inside of the track. This has been an issue before when his stifles or hocks were sore. With the long layoff, it can't be soreness due to overwork, so I am leaning towards one of three theories. First is that he has thrown something out or strained himself. Second, he is going through a problem with spavin that will either resolve over time as the joints fuse, or he will need some sort of intervention in the form of injections. Third, much of this is habit where he is anticipating some sort of discomfort and is just demostrating a learned behavior.
Interestingly enough, when I put him on the bit at the end of the ride for a very, very short little interval and asked for a few strides of right lead canter, he was fine. I'll just monitor this as I get him more fit. If, on the chance, it is his stifle, getting him fit and building up the muscles will help that. If it is the hocks, there is not much to do at the moment. My vet will be out in early spring for vaccinations, etc. so unless something dramatic happens between now and then, I will just see how developing some fitness for us both with work.
After the arena session, we went out to do the behind the barn trail. At one point Tuck got a little fractious. He settled, but I realized the trail was blocked by a rather strange fallen tree--a bent over nuded evergreen--and since I really couldn't tell how to get around it, I dismounted and we weaved our way in between the trees/briars/undergrowth to get home.
It was a nice afternoon and, at first, I thought perhaps I would take Chance out for a hack as well, but I decided to wait a little to see how I was really feeling after the adrenaline rush from riding Tucker had worn off. As I groomed him, I realized that was a smart decision. I was a lot more tired than I would have expected. (I had done the barn chores before I rode too.)
I have decided not to push myself too much at this point. Am I finally getting smart in my old age?
So far the weather forecast looks good for the next few days, so Chance will get his turn.
And maybe I will get the arena dragged.