Now for the other story.
I am a self proclaimed uber anal groomer. It makes me cringe inside when others only scrape a small saddle shaped patch of mud off the horse and ride. To each their own and no judgments, but there is no way I could do that.
I brush her out entirely with curry and brush, comb out her mane and tail, run my hands down each leg, palpate each joint and pick out each hoof every single time. Because of this I know each and every square inch of my mare and I know when something isn't right.
Tuesday night I performed the same ritual and noted swelling in the left hind fetlock. Not a lot. In fact, it wasn't visible with my eye until after I felt it and if I wasn't so anal in my grooming I would have never known it was even there. But I am anal and I did notice it.
The swelling rested just above the fetlock and behind her tendon complex. It sort of felt like a joint effusion to me: like a small pocket of fluid built up in the space between the tendon and the cannon bone. There was no heat. She provided no reaction with my poking and prodding, no mark on the skin, no roughed up hair and no changes to the hoof. Higher up the leg was normal as well. She flexed the joint fine and offered it up no problem.
When I moved to the right hind it was similar although to a less degree. Again no heat, no reaction no signs of abscess to the hoof, bruise or any injury to the leg itself. What the heck mare?
I tried not to panic, but a lump did develop in my throat and I decided to focus on fitting the front boots only and leave the hinds for another day. When she moved funny at first I was worried but it eased up as she flowed in the boots better and better with each step.
Then we entered the round pen.
To the right she went w/t/c just fine. To the left she fell apart. She refused to pick up the canter at all and when she finally did she dropped it a couple strides later. It took a lot of insisting on my part to get her to hold it for a single lap around a fairly small round pen. This from a mare who routinely uses the round pen as an excuse to zoom around at warp speed.
What the heck mare?!
The swelling neither improved nor worsened with the work. She remained unfazed by my attention to it, but it still worried me.
Gem has never had swelling. Not after a training ride. Not after a tough 50. She did stock up a bit on stall rest, but it went away as soon as I got her back outside and it was the entire lower leg not just a small pocket around the fetlock.
She has also never been lame for me. I've never felt a stiff or hesitant step. It would be easy to blame the time off and quicker than I had planned return to work last weekend, but she has had more than 2 months off before (like when Wyatt was born and it was the middle of winter in the arctic and I rarely saw her and never rode her for 3 months followed by another 3 months of minimal effort) and we kept a 3.6 mph average for those 8 miles which were on soft grass footing and with negligible elevation. It was an easy ride on easy footing over easy terrain (hence being nearly an hour over time).
So what the heck mare?!
My plan is to head out after work Thursday and check on her with Dusty to give me his opinion. I can't handle, emotionally or financially, another issue right now not when I finally started to believe I had my baby girl back.