Phantom seems to have been on pasture vacation most of the summer. I worked him lightly or not at all while clearing up his girth galls. A new, longer string girth seemed to have solved the problem and I was ready to resume our work when my mother fell and broke her hip.
I pretty much "abandoned" Phantom for a couple of weeks while my mother was most critical. I knew he was in good hands, and I did make once-a-week trips to the barn to give him a zoom groom and treats.
Once my mother was settled into the care center for rehab I figured I could resume my previous riding schedule. But when I arrived at the barn I was informed that Phantom appeared lame when turned out that morning. :-(
Sure enough, his trot was "off" on the longe line. Trainer Julie had me trot him down the aisle and indicated it was his left front. But darned if there was any obvious reason. No swelling or heat. No elevated pulse. No tender spots. His walk was fine, but his trot just wasn't right. With no apparent dire need for medical care, we agreed that the best thing was to give it a few days to see what developed.
Since I needed saddle time and Phantom's walk wasn't affected, I tacked up for some walk work.
Then Phantom developed a deep, hacking cough for a few days in response to the dust. Yes, believe it or don't, western Oregon has a month or two of hot, dry, dusty weather each year when the webs between our toes become crackly from a lack of moisture. So Phantom had a couple more days of little to no work.
Fortunately, the cough was short-lived. So I continued lateral work at the walk and experimented with the trot. Phantom seemed to be better. He was no where near as gimpy as he'd been with the girth galls. To the right he felt normal. But to the left, not so much.
Last Friday the geldings were "in a mood" and racing all over the pasture -- Phantom among them. When they finally settled down and I was able to catch Phantom, I figured I'd push the trot during my ride. If he was capable of a full gallop across the pasture I could give his trot a thorough test. After a sticky start, Phantom finally settled into work and once again felt pretty good to the right but not quite right to the left.
Yesterday he played keep-away when I went to bring him in. Hmmm. Just being naughty or didn't appreciate our last workout? I made careful observation when Phantom trotted away from me and he did look a bit off. Was he sore? Or was it the hard, uneven ground? When Phantom finally deigned to let me halter him, I promised him walk work only. I slathered him with liniment from withers to fetlock (since I don't know where the problem site is) and did a lot of leg yields in the arena.
As the King of Siam said, "Is a puzzlement." Phantom still has no physical signs of lameness -- his leg is cool and tight. He doesn't flinch when poked or probed. He gallops around the pasture with the rest of the geldings. I suspect he may have wrenched his shoulder, since he doesn't avoid planting his hoof like horses do when they have an abscess or lower leg injury.
No, I haven't called the vet. I keep hoping that whatever Phantom did to himself will heal with time and I can prevent an expensive vet bill.
Meanwhile, I am frustrated, deflated, and depressed after all that's happened over the past few weeks.