So I guess I'll start with a little more details because for the next month or so this will be more of a rehab blog than a training journal.
It was first noticed at feeding time Monday night.
I came out and looked at it first thing Tuesday morning on my way to work, and based on the way he was holding it I guessed stifle. But really there wasn't any swelling or heat there. He didn't want to move much, and I didn't make him, but by the time I left he had clearly moved around while grazing. The vet came out that afternoon, he was really ouchy if walked and pitiful at the trot. Vet said upward fixation of the patella. This could be just because he's growing, and is seen often in young horses with long straight legs. She said bute twice a day, and hand walking at least 10 minutes to make sure he's using it. So I waited until he had the bute in his system and walked him for the first time. He was really off, and stepped down with his toe pointed, and his fetlock didn't fully flex. So he gimped around on his toe for 10 minutes before I gave him some love and went back to work.
Wednesday (and New Year's Eve so I only worked the morning), I had a bit more time to just hang out with him. He trotted up to the gate when I came out, and although he was still dead lame on it, at least he was feeling good. I was feeling lazy and totally depressed about the whole thing, so I hopped on my old mare to pony him instead. Yet again I am so glad that he ponies from other horses. I walked for at least 10 minutes, and he looked much better and his leg was fully flexing with each step. So I let him off, the rope and continued to ride around the pasture for a bit and just watch him. He started running and bucking and playing! Totally unsound and definitely shaking his head out of frustration, but still spunky. Then he just had to roll, and I had taken his blanket off so I knew I would be spending at least 20 minutes scraping the mud off before I could put his blanket back on. When he got up after rolling its like he just sprang right up into a buck. I don't know how its physically possible for a horse to buck from the sitting position, but that's precisely what he did. I was feeling much better that this had been something minor, and he'd quickly recover.
Thursday (New Year's Day so still off work), he was back to walking on his toe, and couldn't fully straighten his leg. Looked that way the whole time I was out there.
Friday I came out midday when someone else could cover the phones for me at the office. It had been raining so they were both in the pen, and the pasture was super wet. So I walked him down the road instead. He's been out there before, but never without the mare. He got all big-eyed and high-headed about the cows and some big green plastic container by someone's barn, but was otherwise pretty well behaved for a pent up energy youngster on his first walk away from his best friend who was dashing about and calling like a crazed lunatic at home! I'm so glad that he's more sane than she is; he's better behaved at 2 years old than she is in her mid twenties! AND HE WAS WALKING SOUND! Yeah!
Saturday, my parents report to me that my horse is CRAZY! He treated them to his rodeo show at it's finest. Bucks, rears, rolling and then bursting into the air from the ground, and all his general let-the-spunk-out routine. Of course when I got out there and got the old mare's hackmore out (yes, she knows which things go on Bear and pose no threat, and which are coming for her) she took off at a dead run with her tail flying like a flag straight in the air, and Bear calmly ate his lunch while she zipped past him each time she crossed the pasture. So you can guess I had a couple retorts about just which horse is crazy, and since officially the old mare is my mom's horse I only claim her when she's acting well trained. Anyway, Bear looked so good while I walked him, that I started wondering if he was off at all anymore. He had cantered off a few times and looked pretty good, stiff, but not lame. So just before leaving I ran back out to make him trot a few steps. He still was off, but definitely better. I'm starting to have hope.
Everything I've read has said that slow and consistent conditioning is the best thing for these things. Long walks, hills, lots of turn-out, and gradual increase of work. First of all he's always turned out since he's on pasture. Second, aside from the once a week Training 2 class, I really was planning on spending the next 6 months doing nothing but moseying along the trail anyway. He's too young to start a ton of collection work or jumping, so this really won't kill my spring. I probably won't be on him for a few weeks, but its rainy anyway and this will give me a chance to tune up the old mare again since she's meant to be my sister's beginner mount when we go out riding together. So a lot more ponying and consistent easy exercise; I'm hoping for the best.