Speedy has just not been himself lately. For more than a week he's had a bit of a mopey, sour attitude. I didn't really notice it until we had the problem in the cross ties over the weekend. That little event really gave me reason to stop and think.
Speedy hasn't been greeting me as warmly as he normally does. In fact, when I pull up, he's been in the far corner of his paddock standing with his head hanging a bit. I assumed he was trying to catch a bit of the breeze in the shade. It has been unseasonably warm (above 90) for the better part of a week so it may well be the heat.
But that's not the only thing. He's returned to being girthy while I saddle up, and he's been a bit spooky in the cross ties, too. My last few rides on him have been nothing but frustrating as well.
I ran all of this by JL on Monday before we started our lesson. She suggested that if his attitude is work related, it might be that we've hit his max for right now. By insisting on an inside bend, Speedy might be feeling frustrated because he can only give so much. Maybe he's feeling that he can't do anything right.
To help him out, we switched gears a little for the lesson. I relaxed the bend a little and focused on keeping his hind end active. Every time he dropped behind the vertical, I gave a firm squeeze with a half halt. I was shocked at how quickly he learned to pick his head back up.
As we worked, JL kept a close eye on his attitude. We both felt that he worked well and seemed willing to do the exercise. As we walked back home, the neighbor's horse caught his attention and he fairly pranced back to the barn. I liked seeing that as he seemed happy.
On Monday night, we got a very rare rain storm. Tuesday dawned quite cool. By the time I got to the barn, it had warmed up, but was nothing like it had been. Speedy was pacing back and forth and greeted me with a whinny. I knew that something had changed. I hurried to get him turned out as I could see that he very much wanted to play.
As soon as I turned him out, he set off at a wild gallop filled with serious yee-haw bucks and rears. It was a relief to see my old pony back. After he ran for a bit, I joined him in the arena for some fun and games. I chased him and let him chase me. We jogged to the far end of the arena to see what was going on at JL's, and then we raced back to the gate.
I left him to wander for a while as I saddled Sydney for his work out. By the time I brought Speedy back in, he seemed much happier. Hopefully, the break in the weather was all he needed, but just in case there is more to it, I am having the chiropractor out on Tuesday afternoon. I have a feeling that he needs an adjustment. It's been about a year since he saw the chiropractor last, so it's time.
I feel especially confident that he's "out" after last night's ride. Again he fussed at being saddled, but this time, he also threw his head up as I slipped the headstall over his ears. He never does that. Since I suspected it was a pain issue, I didn't do any schooling over the issue. I was just extra careful as I finished bridling. I don't want a pain issue to become a schooling issue. Rather than work in the arena, I spent 40 minutes walking around the neighborhood and ambling down to the river. There's a lot I'd like to share, but it can wait for another post. Suffice it to say that I know he enjoyed the break from his regular routine.
When I untacked, I was very gentle as I slipped the headstall off. There was no reaction. When he was once again naked, I did some body work focusing on his poll and neck. I asked him to flex his poll as I massaged his neck. At first, he was very resistant and looked as though he was in pain. I continued to work carefully, switching sides several times. After a few minutes, he began to show obvious relief: he was licking and moving his lips in a way that clearly expressed pleasure.
I know I didn't "fix" anything, but now I am sure that an adjustment would do him good. I won't ride him tonight, even though we have a show tomorrow, but I will do some more body work in the hopes that I can provide some relief for whatever soreness he has. Fortunately, this show is only ten minutes away so he'll have an easy day of it.