Well, I have had the sinking feeling lately that Ruger is hurting when I ride him. I was really hoping it wasn't that, because he is really talented, but now I have seen a lot of signs that he is in pain.
First off, he's always been pretty hard to get him to soften through the poll since the first ride. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. No big deal, I could make him do it, he didn't seem super sore so I didn't think anything of it.
We discovered he had a wolf tooth that had to come out. We took it out, he was fine. Soft, perfect, even angelic.
But recently I have noticed I can't make him soften at all, and when I do get him to break at the poll it's only when standing still and he is tense, like he is stressed out, flapping his bottom lip, and if I ask him to hold it he pitches a little fit. God forbid I ask him to break at the poll when we are moving...
Also, when doing groundwork, I could always make him lope on the line by just pointing and kissing and he would pick up the lead no problem. Now, he will buck, throw his head, slam on the brakes, face me and back up, kick out, strike, or anything else like that....And when/if I do get him to lope, his puts his head way in the air. He is better to the left than the right. To the left her just puts his head up way high, but to the right he severaly drops his shoulder, puts his head up, and jerks his head sideways. The sideways thing reminds me of a horse who needs teeth floated, or a horse that has mouth pain. But there is nothing wrong with his mouth, I checked him and the dentist was just out too.
I should also add, up until this week, he only acted like this when he was being ridden. My mom bought driving equipment and a cart and he would walk/trot around, framed up, just fine.
The saddle doesn't pinch him I don't think (In the picture below someone can correct me....I'm no saddle fit expert,), and I can't find any sore spots on his cinch/back/neck.
We are having the vet out here soon, followed by a chiropractor/massage therapist or a differant dentist just to check and be sure.
I'm really put out by this. He is such a talented horse and was really doing good on his barrel pattern. I never pushed him very hard but he has done so well.
I guess now we wait and see. He does get chased and beat up in the pasture a lot by the other two horses. I think I'm going to seperate him from them, I think it's an option to consider that they got into a fight and he hurt himself....I've never seen it personally but I wouldn't put it past the others. I really just want him to be okay, and to be able to be fixed...
Note: This is my Mom's saddle in the picture, which is generally what she rides him in. I actually have been riding him bareback (I've been riding all the horses bareback to work on my seat) for the past week or so, except a few days ago when I rode him english. Before that I alternated between my Mom's saddle and my saddle. I'm going to pull him out and put both saddles on him for proper saddle fit critique pictures in another thread later.