A couple of weeks ago we had the vet out to do a check in on Windsor.
This was always the plan - he hasn't been off, or ouchy, or anything exciting/horrifying along those lines (well, aside from the stiffest neck in the WORLD after some shots..) but, it was basically a scheduled healthy-baby-check-up.
In my head, I know that there's no such thing with horses.
Even if you think your baby is healthy, if you pay a vet (especially an extremely sensitive soundness vet) to look at your horse they will find something.
and in reality, I was expecting her to find something.
Even when we were trying him, Windsor showed a desire to step off his left lead when he landed, and there was always a teeny tiny stiffness in his back that we weren't sure where it stemmed from. He never flexed positive... nothing showed on x-rays, nothing showed in the ultrasounds... so we were reasonably certain it wasn't anything CRAZY, but still - one always holds one's breath when the vet starts poking and prodding.
What was peculiar, and honestly totally unexpected is when the vet mentioned that while he wasn't showing soreness... he almost looked a tad Neurologic in his hind end.
After I resumed consciousness from the brief, but intense panic attack - she clarified that this can be caused by any number of things, especially discomfort higher up in the limbs - and the "parked out" or loose movement can be a simple compensation not a scary, permanent state caused by an impingement or EPM or any of those scary things that I know way too much about.
The suggestion was to inject all the things. I thought this was a little weird since I've never injected anything that didn't flex positive or wince away from palpation.. But there was enough residual panic from the whispering of neu-ro-log-ic that I agreed to do whatever it took to make it go away.
So we injected his S/I and both stifles and took a few days off and I tried not to cry myself to sleep at night.
When we resumed work (this if about two weeks ago, FYI). Windsor felt AWESOME. Like, how can injections possibly help this much when you weren't showing any soreness- awesome.
But I'll take it. He's more forward (though he still trends towards slow), he's much lighter on his front end, and his lateral work - holy shit - his lateral work is miraculously easy now.
Not perfect. But easy. A slight half halt and some leg and he just steps up and under and doesn't even tempt me to go to my hand. And it's amazing how much better your leg yields, shoulder ins, everything get when you don't get tricked into going to your hand...
It's lovely. And it's not subtle.
When the vet returned to see how the injections affected him - she was also impressed at how much improvement she saw. I can't say for certain but I've never seen her raise her eyebrows and go "wow, I guess we nailed it."
The improvement has only continued - which is really fun.
Our flat lessons have been extremely productive, and now that Windsor is naturally sitting back a bit more all the sudden I can feel where all of his limbs are. It's amazing how when the back lifts and softens how much more information you get from your seat. It becomes possible to manage straightness and impulsion and each tiny little hoof without much effort.
So now, when we're working on pushing his tushy in and out on a circle, I can feel where his footfalls are. Kind of how I can feel how my ponytail is swinging behind me when I run (assuming I ever ran).
It doesn't feel like an extension of my own limbs (I'm not Anky), but now it at least feels like something that's actually attached to me instead of some big block that I'm bouncing along on top of.
And that lets me relax my hips and hug my legs and actually sit on my horse.
In other words - I feel like I can ride again.
It's still a bit difficult for me to rationalize how much improvement we got when he literally didn't show any signs of discomfort (aside from a disengaged hind end..). It goes against my experience with previous horses, and previous maintenance needs - but as new and strange as it is, the one thing that holds true is that nothing is ever the same with a new horse.