I Was Finally Back in the Saddle
Although I must admit, my knees did hurt at times. I guess that's just something I am going to have to cope with.
I took Chance out for a trail ride. He was more interested in following the dirt road through the field than going our usual route through the woods, so we headed off towards the tree farm. I didn't want to ride too far along the NJ Turnpike border, so we just kind of looped around where they sell the trees, then crossed the field again and went into the woods further along.
I have to admit Chance is really kind of cute about all this. When we started out, he just wanted to trot away from home, so I let him go a little and the trot turned into a nice little canter. But I have to be careful with all the weaving in and out of trees after a stretch of straight trail at the start, so I had to bring his enthusiasm back to a walk. Once we were at the tree farm, the other side of his personality showed up. There were "things to look at" out there. But instead of spooking, Chance simply sloooooows way down to a very slooooow walk and looks things over as he passes. He's essentially pretty brave, but nicely cautious at the same time.
I had put the bug armor on for the ride and in the woods we really needed it. The mosquitoes were voracious. The only problem was that Chance's nose was exposed--he had a fly mask on--and the darn bug were going after him there. So he was occasionally shaking his head and he kept wanting to trot out. The footing's a bit dicey in there--with spots of slippery mud from the ATV's, so we had to walk. I did feel sorry for him. In fact, so sorry that I am planning on ordering another flymask that has an extending piece to cover the horse's nose. It's the one spot I hate to use that Mosquito Halt to ward off the bugs because the spray has such a sharp smell.
When I got back home, I saddle up Tucker who seemed quite interested in doing something. He felt quite good at the trot, but when I tried to canter on the right lead, he laid his ears back, swished his tail and slung his hind end to the outside trying to avoid the depart. I insisted, and he finally did canter, but not as happily or solidly as I like. The left lead was a lot better, so whatever is bothering him is pretty one sided.
I am pretty sure it's probably his hock, and it could be either one, or both. Theory for stifles is that the horse doesn't want to canter on the lead opposite the affected stifle because that leg has to twist a bit in the gait. Hocks? Could be the outside, left hock, because it would have to turn a bit to the inside on the depart to carry the weight, or it could be the inside, right hock, because that's the one that takes most of the weight. But, in this case, since he was tossing his hind end to the outside to avoid the depart, I'm more inclined to think left hock as he tried to take the strain/weight off of it to canter.
Either way, considering that Tucker had nearly the entire winter off, there is no reason for him to be simply sore in his hocks from too much work, so I'm suspicious there may be some other issues going on. That means I need to have the vet out to do X-rays, something I've been anticipating for a while. The sad part is that Tucker's canter is by far his best gait, when he's feeling fine. I kind of miss that feeling. Hopefully, if he is developing or has already developed some spavin, it's the kind that will fuse over time. But the only way to know is to have my vet look him over and get those pictures.
I do have to say that if his hocks do hurt, Tucker was rather generous about at least trying for me. There was a time when he would have protested to the point of refusing to move at all. I'm at least pleased about that.
Still, I do not want him to be in pain if there is anything I can do about it. I'm simply not that kind of horseperson.