My morning started out with a good work session with Dawn. This time, I lunged before I rode. There were a few squeals and bucks at the canter on the lunge, but things were much quieter than yesterday. I'll lunge again tomorrow before riding, but expect that will be the last day I need to. After lungeing, Dawn and I had a nice walk/trot ride despite having to work around the guy watering the arena.
The vet came to see Red in the afternoon. This was a vet I've never used before - they're a regular vet practice but also a referral clinic with a particular expertise in lameness evaluations and surgery. I liked the vet - she was very quiet and thorough - my older daughter also likes her which was a strong recommendation. She did a very careful examination of his whole body, not just of the left hind which was the leg we were concerned about. She noted that his back was very strong. I lunged Red and he looked better than he has since his injury last June - just the slightest short striding on the left hind - it's just like when you make an appointment with the vet or doctor - things seem to always be getting better at that point. The vet hoof tested - she said his feet were excellent, with large, properly flexible frogs, and did flexions of the joints on all four legs, to guage his reactivity and also make sure we weren't overlooking something - he had a slight reaction to both the left and right hock flexions and also the right front lower flexions - coffin and pastern joints. But the change in his gait was slight, and even after the flexions he looked quite good. I was very pleased with how patient Red was with all the fussing, poking and pulling, some of which must have been uncomfortable - he's come a long way and it was clear he was cooperating because it was important to me and he's now cooperative by default, instead of the other way around.
The vet also palpated every joint and structure in all four legs, not just the leg of main concern. The only things she noted were some fluid on the inside of the lower hock joint on the left hind, and a muscular protuberance on the point of his left butt. The first means that he has some hock arthritis going on and that the lower hock joint on the left hind is slightly irritated - I'm to massage Surpass cream into the insides of both lower hock joints daily for two weeks which should help bring down the inflammation. The butt issue means he may have torn a muscle there - this is the same area where he had tightness and soreness that my chiropractor identified. Both my chirorpractor and the new vet said he may have adhesions there and that the pressure point massage I've been doing should be very helpful. As adhesions break, he may have a few days afterwards when he's a bit sorer. She says he may need hock injections in the future, but not yet. I liked her conservative approach, and the fact that she has training in alternative therapies - accupuncture - she approves of chiropractic and I heard her discussing the use of herbal as well as conventional therapies with another owner whose horse was being checked over. She also liked that we kept him in full turnout during his recovery.
The best news is we're to keep on doing what we're doing, in addition to the Surpass and the massage. I'm to ride him, and after a thorough - 15 minutes or so - walk warm up, we're to trot as much as he is fit enough for and comfortable with. As long as he's not getting worse, or getting sorer during our work sessions, that's the plan. I'm to use my judgement, and Red will tell me how much work is OK. We'll see where we are after two weeks, but I'm very hopeful, particularly seeing how well he was moving today.
And to finish off a very good day, I had an outstanding ride on Pie - he was forward, and soft, his bending to the right was much better, and his canter work was the best yet.
A good day with horses, indeed!