This morning Red went on the lunge for our vet/chiro to evaluate. All I can say is wow! his trot was amazing - big, engaged and floating and he was delighted to move out - his amazing gaits are back! He's greatly improved even from 3 days ago. To the left, he was 100% sound, and almost as sound to the right - for the first time in a long time - he trotted out beautifully, although would occasionally take a shorter step with the left hind, and was careful on the downwards transitions to walk when tracking right. My vet/chiro had brought her ultrasound - we were planning to lunge him before and after therapeutic ultrasound of the tendon area, but she said he looked so good there was no point in doing that. She also did neuro tests on him - he's now 100% normal again and his affect is bright and eager (he's back to being Mr. Feisty, which is his normal demeanor, which I now welcome) - and drew blood for a follow-up EPM titer and C reactive protein test (to check for inflammation). He's completed the Oroquin-10 treatment for EPM and is on day 6 of the low-dose decoquinate powder. She agrees that he likely had an original mechanical injury in June - the Achilles tendon area and related muscles above as the primary site of injury - compounded by a neurological flare-up in September (we may find out whether this was a new infection with a different phenotype, or an inflammatory reaction from his earlier infection, from the blood test) that compromised his ability to extend and lift the left hind forward - mainly affecting the biceps femoralis muscles, which interfered with his rehab.
The rehab plan for the next couple of weeks is to alternate days, with some trot work, building up slowly, with icing of the tendon area afterwards, alternating with a walking day, both under saddle and some hill work in hand. The goal is to gently continue to break any remaining adhesions without triggering extra inflammation, and to slowly rebuild muscle strength in the front of the leg. If he gets sore, we'll back off, if he continues to improve, we'll continue to build his work. When we let him back into the pasture, he galloped off up the hill, on the right lead, no less, and pushing fully with the left hind. He was still careful in the downwards transition to trot - she says the downwards transitions will remain imperfect until he's 100% back to normal. I'm pleased with my decision to keep him in full turnout during his recovery - it likely delayed his recovery by a significant amount, perhaps as much as a month or two, but I'm expecting a sounder and mentally healthier horse than if he'd been kept on stall rest (I'm certainly not saying that stall rest isn't warranted in some cases - in Red's case it was a judgment call). I'm delighted with his progress!
Dawn and I also had a wonderful ride this morning. We started in the indoor, and ended up moving to the outdoor because there was another boarder in there who had some issues - first her horse got loose in the barn aisle and came running through the indoor heading for the out of doors, and then she almost walked into Dawn and me twice when she was leading him around and paying attention to her phone instead of where she was going. Sigh . . . Dawn didn't think much of that and was making her ugliest faces, so we relocated to the outdoor arena. I was working today on staying as neutral in my position as possible, and allowing her to use her power to move at trot and canter - only slight contact or an allowing hand on my part. Her trot work was very good - engaged and easily shifting between shorter and longer trot and she did some remarkable canter work, including some real elevation and lightening of her feet - with no rein pressure at all. She was in a position where she could have done a flying lead change at any second with no effort at all. It was pretty magical.
The boys (and Dawn as well in the afternoon) had a "dirty day" - I declare these when my horses come in muddy and it's really too cold for baths, or I just feel like it - all three were coated with mud today after the drizzle we had most of the day, so I just picked feet, checked for scrapes and other wounds (none, thankfully) and did a short hand walk with each horse around the arena and down the barn aisles.
And here's a wonderful video, picked up by Di at Le Puy, which should bring a smile to your face - but if I were quibbling (and I'm not), I'd prefer my horses to load a bit more slowly (!) . . .