We hadn't really worked much through the colder winter months, and last month (prior to riding) I noticed a bit of a change in his behavior. He has gotten "nasty"... I'm not sure how else to describe it. I'm thinking that he is sore or in pain somewhere, and it isn't evident what is going on.
I started noticing his "orneriness" when it was feeding time - he would charge his stall window when I'd walk by with another horse. He also did this a few times as I passed with the grain barrel (ALLLLLL of the horses here know that sound).
With regard to work - he just doesn't seem to have much "get up and go" under saddle. He used to be very forward, and though I've worked with him on slowing down, he just doesn't seem to have the energy he used to. When I encourage him to use his hind end and really stride out, the tail starts swishing and his head comes up That leads me to believe that he may have a sore back... but it doesn't explain the crabbiness in his stall (even after DAYS without work). I'm wondering if he doesn't have ulcers?
Has anyone else ever had this experience? The vet will be out in a few weeks for Spring shots... there really isn't anything outwardly OBVIOUS going on (no lameness, no lumps/bumps/swelling or heat). No colick, symptoms directly relating to his belly hurting... he's just... crabby. I'm thinking about trying him on an ulcer supplement in the mean-time, just to see? Last winter, he started chewing his stall walls for no apparent reason. I put him on the stop-chew supplement (don't recall the name), and he quit. He hasn't been chewing this year, but I wonder if his tendency towards being nervous has made his belly icky? He is fed premium concentrates and an abundance of hay... I'm kind of at a loss.
The only other thought I have is that, with all the time off he's had, and with how good of shape he had been in before time off (I am such a fair weather rider :P), maybe he is just being crabby and trying to get away with naughty behaviors? Regardless... it is out of character for him. He has always been a bit lippy/mouthy, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with this...
It seems like, without a clear problem area, trial and error will be the likely approach, even with the vet.