The vet came out yesterday! Spyder is healthy and fit, but his confirmation has given him some of the issues he's been experiencing. The only back pain that he has is from his hind end weakness. He is not uncomfortable with the saddle, mounting, or being ridden w/t/c on my end (or the tack's end). The vet checked out his back and that led her to his hind legs. I've known something has been going on there because of the stifle lock, but his shuffle and evading trot has been a clear sign of pain to me (along with the tripping, kicking out, ears back, dancing on the cross ties, etc.). I tacked up, and the vet watched his every move from then until mounting up. He didn't flinch when I got on him.
I did some w/t around the vet in both directions. Before he really got going, he has his ankle roll/buckle. WHOO! I mean it's not a great thing, but I'm glad it happened for the vet. It's the locking stifle that I thought it was. We'd talked about it before the hunter pace. As he continues work, he should get better, and we need to work in a frame more as his hind end is extending too far. He's strung out in the back and heavy on his front end so we need to lift and push that hind end forward. He wasn't as trippy as he's been for the vet, either. He did throw his attitude and kicked out once. He also showed signs of not wanting to move forward. Of course it wasn't as bad as it's been because someone was there to evaluate him, but it was apparent. He had a really nice canter transition in both directions, too!
So now what? Well, he's fit and healthy otherwise. I need to continue the frame and engaging the hind end. I have bute to do a trial of anti inflammatory relief on him. If that work in the short run when I ride (which I was told to test for 3 days straight), then we know that is the solution. If something more is needed, injections may be the answer. His ligaments in the back are not very tight and he twists his legs in all sorts of odd directions when standing and moving. Spyder, why isn't your hind end working? All of this obviously makes me upset because I got him as a baby, but it's nothing that is uncommon with the breed. The vet said if it were any other breed, she'd have questions as to his gaits, but the standardbreds have all kinds of movement going on.
It's nothing that is not manageable, and it's a matter of finding the proper treatment. The next step will be to take a look at any potential secondary issues that are found while on bute (if that helps). I think it's 1/2 attitude and 1/2 pain, but taking part of that equation out is going to do a lot of good. The vet said I'm a tough one for putting up with him as he's a tough horse and that makes me feel good about the effort this far. If we can get through this and find a solution, I think that we can get so much further. Time will tell, and I hope to get in my 3 days of riding Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to provide the results. It's always something, right?
Oh, and I forgot to add that I got the farm early to get Spyder cleaned up. I put a flake of hay in his stall to keep him busy while I brushed him and he GAGGED... yes, gagged on hay. I've had horses my entire life and I have never seen a horse gag on hay. Now I know they say they can't throw up, but they can certainly gag/cough up hay. I thought I was going to watch him pass out in front of me, and all that I could think as, "thank goodness the vet is on her way!" He coughed up some chewed up hay, and then he was back to normal. Anyone ever give the himelick to a horse? HA!