need help troubleshooting gait abnormality
I don't know if I need advice, or hand-holding.
My boy has been off work (due to the winter, not anything else) since early Dec. The conditions are now good for riding, so I'm putting him back into work. I started with 10 minutes of walking and a little trotting, and I've been working up in 5 minute increments, 3 or 4 days per week.
I've noticed that there seems to be something odd about his trot. It feels more roll-y than it ought to (than it did last fall), and the odd sensation is more significant when his right front is the inside lead leg.
He had a small wedge on that shoe last year to make his angles match, and he's got some tightness in that shoulder that seems to be related. I wasn't happy with the farrier I inherited when I bought him last fall, and the one I changed to is regarded by most of his other care-professionals (vet, chiropractor, dentist) as the "best" farrier in the area. We pulled his shoes in late November, and he's been barefoot ever since (and is still barefoot). I rode him several times after we pulled his shoes, but most of my time on him has been while he was wearing the shoes.
I've had a chiropractor out a few times because he had some trouble bending to the left, seemingly related to the tightness in his right shoulder. She and the (new) farrier think that the wonky angle on that foot are suspensory in nature from an old competition injury (he's missing 3 teeth that side), rather than something to do with the hoof. The chiro gave me some stretches to do with him, and has done a couple of adjustments, all of which have made it a lot easier for him to bend to the left.
My trainer has had a lot of opportunity to see him trot without any tack or rider, because we've been doing a fair amount of round-pen work with him the last few weeks, starting to get him back into work for the season. He doesn't seem to be favoring the foot like that. I had her watch us trot in the ring and do a few 20m circles yesterday. She said that she *can* see what I'm talking about if she looks carefully, but that to her eye it's something subtle.
He's not balking when I ask him to trot, and I've checked that leg (and the others, just in case) for any warmth or evidence of tenderness. There doesn't seem to be any swelling, no areas where any spot is warmer than on the other three legs, and he isn't flinchy in the least when I squeeze or touch anywhere.
This is my first time bringing a horse back into work, and he's an 18yo retired GP show-jumper. I don't know if this kind of thing is to be expected, I don't know if there's something wrong, if it's the lack of a shoe. My trainer said she thought I should just keep working him conservatively (walk-trot, mostly walking, doing figure-eights, serpentines, leg-yields, etc) and bumping up the amount of time slowly. She's been doing this for a really long time, with lots and lots of horses (all of whom are very nicely behaved, in good condition, with good temperaments) so I don't have a reason to disbelieve her - it's just this is my first time, and I really <3 my boy, and I'm totally paranoid that I'm going to cause him an injury. He's super, super, super willing, and I worry that he'd do something because he's been asked for it even if it was hurting him.
Since there's a bunch of stuff going on - the old suspensory thing, the hoof angle, the kind-of stiff shoulder - I don't even know who I ought to call to double-check to make sure there isn't a problem that needs to be addressed. The chiro? The vet? The farrier? The vet is due out in about 10 days for shots and a parasite count. The farrier isn't due out until early May, and the chiro is due in between them.