So tonight was my night for feeding at the barn. I got done early and had a little time to mess with Tungsten.
I was only focusing on lead manners: starting, stopping, backing up, trotting when I say to. Also, worked a bit on moving away from pressure. He was not terrible. However, he did seem very off tempo almost pessimistic about work and grumpy.
When I asked him to trot in hand he would bite at the air a few times then comply. When he did this I would send him out around me to work in a circle. Once when I was moving him off of my "leg" (the butt of the dressage whip) he did a small kick toward his stomach. This is probably because he was annoyed at the pressure. But I did not give until he responded. The next time I asked he was much more responsive.
Overall he seemed uninterested almost lethargic. Even considering his temper tantrums lately, today he seemed out of character.
I have a few theories as to why this might be, and, generally, why his change in attitude lately.
Weather - With all the rain the horses have been in a lot lately. Tungsten hates being in. He will sit with his butt to the door all day and sulk. Also, because of his temper tantrum/spooky behavior lately I have been bottling him up. Riding him only inside with all the arena doors closed to prevent as much bolting/spooking as possible. Sigh, I miss riding outside in the summer.
Physical problems - Tungsten has a condition call String Halt. Very little is known about it. However, he has had it since birth. Basically, he has weakened tendons in his hind end. Not only does this weaken his hind end in general, it puts additional strain on his front end. His right front is most effected. When he stands it is hard for him to support himself. It almost collapses in on him, like if someone knocks your knee out from behind you. This is only an issue when he is standing. He is entirely sound. Anyway, the increased work load he was getting could have been putting too much stress on him. He could be sore/bitter from doing "hard" work.
New Supplement - Due to the string halt, we have put Tungsten on Cosequin with MSM to help support his joints and tendons. He has been on it for two weeks now. For the first week it seemed to have helped immensely. However, this past week it have seemed worse than ever before. This could be an effect of the medicine or possibly due to the change in weather. But, I have never heard of any side effects from Cosequin. The temps have been fluctuating a lot lately. His string halt may flare up with drastic weather changes.
Plain old Defiance - Lastly, the issue simply could be that he does not want to work. That he realized "Hey shrimp, I don't have to take orders from you." He is generally aggressive toward other horses/animals. However, have never presented any problems toward people. He has pretty great ground training at this point and I feel I am redundantly beating him with it as a way around these riding issues. My main issue with this theory is it just seems against his character. And my instincts are telling me something more is going on.
His previous owners had started him last fall and given him the winter off. They said because he had a growth spurt. This may be true. However, part of me wonders if he started up this behavior and was given the time off.
So through the course of this journal/training I will be looking into these above theories in hopes of getting back my wonderful, willing, green baby.
The vet is coming this Wednesday for Fall shots and Tungsten is getting his teeth done. We are also going to have the vet give Tungsten a once over to look for any issues as well as ask about the supplement.
Anyway, I am back out tomorrow to ride. My game plan is to free lunge him. Lay out some ground poles and see how he is looking/moving/feeling. I will try to take some video, no promises. Depending on how he seems from the ground I may get on to walk for ten minutes or so. Hope you enjoyed the novel