I sadly don't have the budget to exhaust every possible avenue when something is potentially wrong with Tucker. I think most of us horse-owners are in the same boat. Tucker has been slightly off up front, here and there, at random times over the past - I'd say - month or so. I'm wondering if my game plan falls in line with most other people's, or if I'm more or less conservative in my approach than others are.
First, we did chiro and acupuncture. His wither was all jammed up, we fixed it and I noticed a major difference in how he was traveling. All of a sudden he was moving more freely and going forward and I didn't feel like I was trying to steer a lopsided surfboard around turns.
Then we had a lesson where Amy and I didn't love how he was going, so we flexed and jogged him on hard ground and noticed he was a little positive after fetlock flexion in both sides, and a little positive in the right hock. Right hock is usually a little positive with flexion, fetlocks were new for him (not that I flex him all that often, to be honest). The next day he colicked, so it's very possible he wasn't going well in my lesson because he was starting to get uncomfortable.
I had my farrier out on the following Tuesday, who found he was positive to hoof testers on his front heels and changed his shoes around to resolve that issue. Great, I was hoping that would eliminate the front end ouchiness I was seeing on and off.
I had good rides last week/weekend, but I was riding very lightly and not asking for much because as I think I've mentioned, I was going through some shit. He felt fine, but I was riding inside where the footing is softer anyway. He did have some minor little cuts on him, which I learned was because Tucker and Goose fell in love with a mare across the fence and apparently neither one of them subscribes to the bros before hoes rule. Mare was moved, and they stopped trying to kill each other in the name of love.
Tuesday he saw the dentist so he had the night off. Wednesday night I had a friend scheduled to ride him and he had a bit of heat and swelling in his left front fetlock/ankle, a slight pulse in the foot, and wasn't sound on the turns to ride. We all thought it was probably an abscess, given the bruising and the fact that it came on all of a sudden. I had my friend cold hose and wrap for the night, just so the leg didn't blow up with the humidity.
Yesterday he was a little off trotting in the field, as per my barn manager. Last night he jogged pretty sound on the driveway and in the round pen (though in the round pen he went prancing around like a demented llama for reasons only Tucker understands, so adrenaline may have been at play). There was a little bit of swelling, a little sensitivity to poking and prodding on the fetlock, and no pulse in the foot. Barn manager explained that she's going to run electric along their fence line because apparently now that his lady love has been moved, he's trying to climb out of his field to find her. He's a hopeless romantic, what can I say. [Srsly. Tucker. Stahp.]
Had my farrier out this morning, who said he doesn't think it's in the hoof. No reaction to hoof testers. He did say there's a bump on his ankle, which looks like he's banging it on something. Both my farrier and my barn manager think Tucker's fence climbing activities are to blame.
Given the on/off questionable soundness, I made an appointment with a vet for Tuesday morning, which I can always cancel. My plan is to take it very easy this weekend, and ice and wrap him as much as possible. Might poultice too, just to draw the heat out. If there's still heat or unsoundness, I'll have him looked at Tuesday. Not sure I have the finances to go full boar at addressing the situation at the moment, but at least I can get an expert eye on him.
If it turns out he just banged himself pretending to be a mountain goat, and he's perfectly sound in two days, I can always cancel the appointment or reschedule it for later when I don't have a giant security deposit bearing down on me. Or, I might proceed with it anyway to see what she says, given that he's had some on and off issues for a while now. He is fourteen... it could be time to start paying attention to things like routine maintenance.
So out of curiosity, I'm polling my readership here. Would you have already had a vet out by now? Would you try to treat this yourself for more than just the weekend with conservative work and ice/wrapping? If your horse presents as slightly off (not head bobbing lame, which makes it a more obvious choice), do you get someone out right away in case it's serious, or are you a wait and see kind of person? Would you have called the vet asap if your horse seemed colicky in the morning, or given him a few hours to see how things went?