"stiff" vs normally stiff? *older horse question*
I feel like I could have worded that title better, but I'm having a brain fart as to how it make it more precise. Haha
Today I noticed that Lacey seemed..."off" somehow... Not horrifically off or anything, just a little something that made me wonder and caused me to go easy on her with our ride today. I know that eventually she's probably going to start having more and more issues arthritis-wise (this year, at age 26, she was started on the first glucosamine supplement that she's ever needed) and I want to be prepared for that eventuality by knowing what to look for.
Really, I'd like to know how I determine if she's off enough that I shouldn't ride at all or if she's really fine and just needs to work out of it... I'd assume that part of the equation is if she starts moving normally once she's fully warmed up then that's good, but how do I know if she's worked out of it if I'm riding her? And also, what's moving normally?
She's changed quite a bit in how she carries herself when she moves this year due to all the hills and such in her pasture so she's moving very differently than she used to when I was able to watch her move more... For instance, I see a lot more movement in her butt getting up hills recently, she seems to be really stepping under herself, so I could either interpret it as her dropping a hip as she trots or her really working under herself...
Her right back leg does seem to have issues, she drags the toe a little (I can't see it but my trimmer tells me she does) and it is the loudest footfall out of the four when we ride on pavement, but other than that she seems fine...
She's generally perfectly willing to w/t/c and I don't canter her until we've had at least 20 minutes of walking (of varying speed) and some trotting and I feel like she'd either completely refuse or go bonkers crazy if she really had an issue with whatever our activity was, but still.
Is there some sort of guideline to follow? I don't have any horse knowledgeable people around me so it's not like I can just go over to ol' Sally Jean's house (or whoever, haha) and have her take a look, yknow? Haha
My friend's arab, who looks just like Lacey and is the same age, also is showing some signs of age. Your description sounds so much like Mocha. Her rider also lets her warm up more before cantering , just like you said.
I think you seem to have a really good feel for your horse. Just watching her and seeing how often she choosed to canter when offered the choice. And starting to kind of form a baseline for what is normal. Watch her hocks for swelling. If she is shod , her farrier can let you know if she needs any changes in her shoein. Mocha had pads put on all of her shoes that raised her off her heels a little and this made a huge difference in her "go".
I get the feeling that you have such good feelers on her that you will know when she is off in the sense of needing treatment and when she is just getting older and needs a bit more time to warm up.
The lesson horse I ride will be 21 this year. He normally starts out stiff, but will normally work out of it. However, he got pulled out of lessons 2 weeks ago because he was head-bobbing. I can normally tell within the first 10-20 minutes of riding if he is going to stay stuff or loosen up. Its honestly gotten to the point where I go into the arena 10 mins before lesson time so that we have that extra time to walk around for 5-10 minutes at a slow, medium then brisk walk to make sure he's a bit looser. It has been helping.
Anyways...long story short....I normally just go by feel, and sometimes his behaviour.
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I have a 31 yr old TB who has arthritis in his hips. The vet came out and did an osteopathic treatment - basically what a chiropractor does to humans. It also gave her an idea about how bad his joints are. She said a light rider and a walk (nothing more) once or twice a week would actually help but let him decide if he's up to it. If I saddle him and he seems irritated by it or once in the saddle he is more stubborn than usual then he's probably hurting and the ride needs to be forgotten. He is very easy to read which makes it simple.
See if you have a vet that does osteopathic work. After my vet twisted and adjusted and manipulated Henry, he's actually been a lot better. Be prepared for the popping and cracking sounds though :')
Have you ever had Lacey examined by a Vet? Xrays? To decipher where the arthritus is and to tell you what is going on with her hip/hind?
It's stuff like this that makes me really question whether I should even own a horse, but at the same time, in this area, Lacey is worth basically nothing so she'd basically be headed for a worse life somewhere else. I just don't know.
My dream is that one day soon we can have a vet day where the vet looks at everything and does her teeth and all that but until then... I have a plan for saving money over the summer (I'll get at least $300 from the camp I work at and since my lesson kids want to still have lessons and their mom's don't mind driving them out to camp, I'll be making at least $45 a week all summer and not needing to spend it on anything) and my hope is that on the way home from camp, we can stop by the vet (so there's no trip fee) and get her totally examined.
Anyway, thanks for the tips guys! I will use them. :)
Wallaby, we are in the exact same boat (Joe even looks a little like lacey :P)! Lol but I'm a college student, too, and my horse Joe is getting older - he's 20 and although that isn't as old as Lacey, he ran barrels up until a few years ago and is beginning to show the signs of arthirits is in right hind leg.
I, too, had the vet out last summer, but couldn't afford to get any xrays done. Joe seems stiff when I work him lately, and it's gotten to the point that I'm scared to do anything with him because I don't want to make him feel worse.
Anyway, I don't have much advice for you at the moment because I'm going through very much the same thing, but I will tell you that I've picked up a book called Equine Fitness (by Jec Aristotle Ballou) and it has a lot of great information about conditioning a horse and also many helpful hints about working with senior horses.
Here's something I found really interesting from the book:
I'll be following this thread - I'm very interested in other people's idea about this. I do wish both you and Lacey the best of luck (she is such a cutie, by the way)!
I've actually wondered that about cantering, she often seems much more willing to canter than she does to trot. That's very interesting! I've noticed that she often needs a little trotting just to get her engine warmed up but then. once she's trotted a little bit, she wants to just zoom into the canter... It's so interesting how much they seem to know about themselves... :)
Also thanks! Is Joe your avie? If so, he's adorable too!
Can you afford to put Lacey on a Joint Suppliment? Aside from strait Glucosamine?
Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a jerk - so please don't take me that way :) I understand the financial status, right now Hubby and I are living paycheque to paycheque, and I also have 2 part time jobs on the side aside from my full time, just to afford my Horse Hobby.
I understand you are doing your best with what means you have right now - don't feel down on yourself, where there is a will, there is a way.
Oh, and MIEventer reminded me... in case you do look into a joint supplement, I've had Joe on SmartPak's SmartFlex Senior, and it has worked wonders. Very affordable for us broke college students, too. ;)
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