The boots might be a good idea to try. Just like an easy boot? Just in front? Those seem like they would be more awkwad to ride in than shoes?
I was really, really bummed to put shoes on him. I really had a hard time with it - how does a horse of his age, with the toughest, most awesome feet, all of a sudden become a tender foot? He has done two years previously of competitive trail riding on terrain where shoes are recommended for most horses barefoot without a problem at all. Sadly, he will not be competing this year because of this mystery.
I hadn't thought of the shoes causing additional problems. Eight years is a long time to have gone without shoes and then to suddenly need them.
Aren't symptoms of navicular a bit more pronounced - I mean this problem is really slight, and very inconsistent in location. Is it is soles? his butt muscles? on the right? on the left? in the front? back? something else? I don't know. We have not done x-rays yet - where do you x-ray when you don't know the source? It also seems such a minor offness to x-ray for - it is not a limp, but a shortness in stride on one side or the other. If we have to involve the vet again (probably a different vet), and x-rays are suggested, we will probably fork over the $$, I just don't want to be overkill.
Has it ever been known for horses to simply fake it, or anticipate pain when there is no real problem? I find it wierd that the short striding goes away after about 15 minutes of trotting, and does not appear in hand or at liberty, only when a rider is in the saddle.
The vet was NO help - barely looked at him for more than five minutes and then just said to give him a week off. He did not even try to find the location of the soreness. I was pretty urked!
He is getting pretty jealous, because his rider (the girl who leases him from me) has been riding our mare instead as a stand in for the competitive trail ride. He is seriously nickering to her when she comes out, and then giving her the cold shoulder after she has gotten the mare out. He is also in the best shape of his life, and has just been hanging out for like five weeks now. These things make me sad :(
One other possibility - this is his second season jumping. He has been doing really well. The problems started after their first and only show this year. It did not coincide exactly, but it was around that time. Could it be a jumping related problem?
This photo was from both of their first season jumping - form has been improving all the time. He seems to really love jumping. Now that he is a "jumping horse", he often hops things in the woods or on trails that he could simply trot over :) I wish he could get back to it.