Saturday, August 23, 2008

There's Something Rotten in Denmark

.. or Maine, as the case may be. I am officially stumped.

Brego came off the show very well. His right hind swelling is down to almost nothing, no heat. He got Monday off, then Tuesday we went for a trail ride. We trotted and cantered. He felt stiff in front, like his shoulders were tight, but otherwise fine and worked out of it. All the jumping at the show would stress the shoulders, I imagine.

Then Wednesday we went for another hack, again mostly walk but some trotting and cantering and he felt really strong.

Thursday we went back to dressage. He felt resistant to bending at first then got more supple as we worked. He felt even and nice, needed his usual encouragement to get going at the beginning of the session. Towards the end, I went out to the outdoor and did big canter circles where I let him canter however he pleased and focused on my position, trying to get my weight down through my seat, trying to keep my leg from swinging. It was a lot of cantering, but no tight turns, and no urging, he just cantered around. The outdoor has a fine, sugary sand that when it's dry gets very tough for horses. There are a couple of areas where it is deep. So, to sum up, a lot of cantering in sandy footing.

Then I talked with my jumping trainer. He is really jazzed about Brego and wants me to enter him in a jumping classic in a couple of weeks. As in, mini grand prix, prize money, the whole works. I would need to school 3'3", but he thinks he is ready. I, personally, don't believe that either of us are ready for a truly technical course and I also think Brego is not as conditioned as I would like. So I am pretty sure I am going to say no to the jumper classic.

However, I wanted to see how he was jumping after the show. He was so forward at the show and had a nice rhythm. So I set up some fences and on Friday, we jumped around in the outdoor (sugary sand). He warmed up fine, getting all his leads at departure cues. But then when we started jumping, he would switch in front but not behind and crossfire. This is highly unusual, but more unusual is that he did is probably 50% of the time. He would switch so he was always on the left lead behind, even if it was the wrong lead and he correctly switched to his right up front.

He trotted out sound, he looks even in the canter, he was powering over 3'3" oxers, he would switch to the right lead at the end of a line when the turn was coming, but down the straight of the line, he would cross fire.

You can see in the video that he is on the correct, right, lead approaching the 3'3" vertical. We get too deep, which is totally my fault, and another reason why I say we are not ready to take on the jumper world. He lands on his right lead up front, but his left lead behind, so he changed his lead behind. He switches up front to his left lead completely after two strides then is fine down to the oxer. He stays on his left lead over the oxer then over the green vertical he switches to his right in front but stays left behind. Then two strides before the second green, he switches up front to be both on his left. Then over the second green, he switches completely to the right, both front and back.

So he will take up the right lead behind, but he often chooses to go left, while his front goes right and then later switches back to left. That's a lot of lead changes and pretty unusual for him.

His right hind was clean last night, no heat, swelling went down to basically nothing with work. No heat in his hocks or stiffle. I am so confused why he would cross fire so much, and always favoring the left lead behind.

I did some research and cross firing can be anything, from back pain to suspensory. The strange thing is he only does it when he switches leads, never on the flat and never during departures. I also read it could be fatigue and I guess if he really favored that right hind for the two weeks before the show, he could have lost more condition than I thought and now with two full canter work outs in a row, in the sugary sand, he was favoring the left lead. It could also be the footing which is hard on the horses, because he did not cross fire at all during the show, on turf, or during my dressage session Thursday, which was in a different arena with more forgiving footing.

I am completely stumped. I have a call in to the chiropractor and I have scratched my weekend activities (local schooling 3 phase) until I get to the bottom of this. I will get a vet out and ultrasound the right hind depending on what the chiro says. But without lameness, it's hard to pinpoint. He is trying to tell me there is something not quite right, and I am listening, but not sure what to do. Definitely no more work in the sand, but I guess more time off until I get the pros out to look at him.


Anonymous said...

How strange. This will be interesting to here the outcome. I hope it's very minor.

Tripple Spring said...

Hopefully it is just fatigue -- my big guy has to be very conditioned and in shape to hold the correct lead in correct fashion (ie - collected/balanced/not clumsy...) for a long period of time.