Let me start by saying that I have a vet appointment scheduled for tomorrow, so let's hope this problem is solved sooner than later. :P
I think that my gelding might have arthritis in one of his hocks, but I'm not sure if his symptoms are typical. It doesn't help that he is incredibly smart and sometimes I struggle to figure out whether he's testing me or actually having a hard time. He is on a balanced diet (vit/min as per FeedXL) and Smartflex III for joint & muscle support. We ride on average 5 days a week and he is in great shape, well-muscled. Never been lame (to my knowledge).
- For as long as I have had Jax, if you lift his left hind foot, he will not put any weight on you but rather lift it himself-- as opposed to his right hind and his fronts, which he lifts with typical "I'll let you help with the lifting" attitude.
- At first (about 5-6 months ago), he had problems picking up his left lead canter. It was partly muscle development (he's also less balanced on that side) and we worked through it. He hasn't missed a left lead canter in a while, and actually prefers it now.
- Recently (at our last few shows), Jax is showing issues with his right lead canter. I thought that part of it was the "you can't get mad at me in the show ring so na-na-na" because he'd have it fine in the warmup arena but pick it up incorrectly in the show arena.
Now I am beginning to notice that when he is more tired (later in the day at a show), or perhaps muscle sore, he is less likely to pick up the right lead correctly. He also feels reluctant to pick up his right lead (he hesitates).
For example, we had a 2-day show and I gave him two days off afterwards (with turnout time). I rode yesterday and he actually had a lot of energy and was moving so nicely, so I let him lope (walk-to-canter transition; he prefers those). Just for good measure, I wanted to trot-to-canter once as well and that's where he had a very hard time picking up his right lead. With his left lead, his timing was perfectly in sync with mine, but for the right lead he would hesitate and fuss. We got it 2/6 tries.
We have a lameness exam (although he isn't visibly lame to my eye, and wasn't at the dressage show) and x-rays tomorrow so I can solve this for once and for all! If it is arthritis, I want to get him comfortable however possible so that we can continue working together. He is such a fantastic boy. :(
Anyone have thoughts on his problem? Am I overanalyzing and is he just unbalanced/lazy when he's tired or muscle sore?