For the past several years, my speedy pony has had an issue in the right front. A few years ago, I took him to Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, a premier facility with state of the art equipment for both diagnosing and treating horses. Without an MRI, Dr. Carter Judy could only guess at a diagnosis: the collateral ligament was injured, or Speedy had a deep bruise. He was certain it was in the foot itself though.
After time off and a recheck by my own vet, we still don't know what's wrong with him for sure. He'll be perfectly sound for weeks and months, and then all of a sudden he'll be three-legged lame. There's no warning, no gradual lameness, no wonky step. He'll be acutely lame for two or three days and then the lamenss will fade over the next ten to twelve days.
My farrier thinks Speedy is bruising himself by striking his front hoof with the hind. He lives in bell boots, and I even recently switched to a really thick bell boot, but that hasn't helped.
No more round pen for him.
The lameness doesn't worry me, but it does make me a bit sad. Speedy is only 12 years old. For an Arabian, that's quite young. I want him to have a long and productive life, so I am working hard to minimize these bouts of lameness. He no longer gets turned out in the arena to play, but he does get turned out every night. With the ranch so quiet at that time, he's less likely to pace and fret as horses don't come and go.
He's also on Platinum Performance which has some joint support among many other benefits. If it is bruising though, nothing other than bubble wrap is going to help.
The silver lining in all this is that once he's sound again, like this week, he's pleasant to ride and happy to get back to work. For his first ride back, after two weeks off, I hacked him around the neighborhood at a walk to let him just move and stretch, On our way home, I stopped by the old golf course for some trot work. He felt fantastic. Even with all of the starts and stops in our work together, he always picks up right where we left off.
He may be finished with his show career (but maybe not), but he's still a really fun horse to ride.