Well, Diego and I got pulled. Bummer. =( However, we did 36 miles and he's not broken, just footsore, as confirmed by the head vet, Jay Mero. In looking back, we had several very good things happen at this ride:
- I mounted up in camp and rode out of camp with a happy horse at a walk. He was a bit "up" when I first got on, but settled nicely and went on down the road like a big boy.
- I got to ride with some very fabulous ride partners, Nancy Upham and Gretchen Montgomery. Both of them are fabulous ladies who I love to share the trail with, so it was a very, very fun ride for the entire time I was out there.
- It was a tough ride, very technical and rocky terrain, with a lot of climbing. Diego did all the "hard" parts since the last 14 miles we didn't do was mostly all the downhill back to camp. =)
- Since Gretchen and Nan's horses are both seasoned mares, Dig got to work on his big boy endurance trot, i.e. going along at 9 mph rather than 6-7 mph.
- There was a TON of grass along the trail. Diego learned the art of "grab-and-go" eating.
- We both did a great job taking care of ourselves, eating and drinking, both on the trail and in the vetcheck.
Enlarge to see the dirt poofs from his "spiking" his toes
The other item I'm going to look into is the possibility of some deep seated thrush that may be causing heel sensitivitiy. Things have been pretty wet this year and there's a good chance he could have something brewing in there that isn't overly obvious. I was dealing with some thrush off and on all winter, so it's possible that it's more deep seated and not being resolved with just some standard over the counter topical treatments.
My other concern for why he's landing toe first is saddle fit. He has a long laid back shoulder, and I need to ensure that nothing is pinching and causing him to restrict his stride. I noticed that he was having to take about 1 1/2 steps to the other horses' one stride this weekend. He's just not truly reaching out and using himself. He may be doing it because his feet hurt, or because the saddle fit isn't ideal (I'm still playing around with fit and padding). It may be a combination of all of the above.
At least the cure for sore feet is relatively easy - some time off and easy light riding. He should be all better in a couple of weeks hopefully. However, getting to the root cause of the issue, and resolving whatever the problem may be, is my main concern now.