There is good news, and there is bad news.
Let's start with the good news, simply because it is better that way. The Good News, is that Chester is A-Okay!! :-)
Catherine Barlow, chiro/accupuncturist (YES, they those for horses) extrodinaire took a look at him last night. She takes a look at him, her first comment being 'huh, he's a small one eh?' She runs her hands all along his face, neck, withers, back -SIDEBAR, I didnt tell her anything about what I thought was wrong, other then his butt was sore when I pressed down on it - and when she got to his back, he absolutely filnched..hard. "I would like to see his saddle please" she says to me. My response, he has 2 should I get them both? "Yes". So, the jumping saddle fits fine and I have been using a riser pad with it, she says I don't need it anymore....then, the dressage saddle. I put it on and she goes 'ahhhhh....'
"What?" I ask.
'This saddle is pinching his withers, feel how tight it is (I feel, at his withers, and it IS tight) without your weight on it, now imagine that with you on top of him'
I look at her horrified.
'His back is sore because the saddle isn't fitting him properly and it is causing him a lot of pain'
I continue to look horrified.
'So, for the past 2 weeks or however long, he has probably just not been able to take it anymore and has said forget it.'
Still looking horrified I tell her 'He has changed a LOT in the 6 months that I have had him and I KNOW that saddle fit him when I first bought him. He has put on a lot of muscle and definition in his back which is why I am assuming it is pinching him now...right?' (because at this point I have absolutetly zero confidence in being able to properly look after an event horse.)
'You got it. And I would bet his top line has changed a lot since you first bought him too.'
'Yes, yes it has.'
"And I bet you have a hard tme bending him to the left'...as she continues to prod around his pole and jaw line.
"Well that is because his jaw is completely out of wack'...which she follows up with a proceeding horrible sounding 'crack'.
So, basically, I am a horrible mother and should have realized what was going on, however long ago he decided to be uncomfortable. In retrospec, that first time a month ago when I went to do up his girth and he pinned his ears should have been my signal...and here I was thinking he was in a bad mood...Ugh, I feel absolutely HORRIBLE and like a complete idiot for not noticing that.
What did he have done: His hips were out of wack, his back and withers were super sore, his jaw needed to be cracked...which btw, if you ever have to witness is comparable to a fork being run across a chalk board...yeesh....AND, she gave me a set of 4 different stretches to do EVERY time I ride. When it comes to this horse, I want to make sure I give him every opportunity to be the BEST that he can. If that means adding 5 minutes to my routine at the end of my ride so he can have a stretch, then you're going to bet that I do it...religiously.
The Bad News - I need to find a new friggin dressage saddle. The one I have now (I LOVE IT) is a medium tree...when I first bought him, he was impossible to fit because in typical TB fashion, he was typically high withered. I was very frustrated. Her suggestion: take an imprint of his wither using a metal hanger, take it and my saddle to Baker's harness and saddlery (WICKED PLACE website here --> http://www.bakerssaddlery.com/ ), speak with Carmen (who is a GENIUS) and see if he can either a) take some of the stuffing out of your saddle or b) trade in your saddle for one that will fit him. On the weekend, I will be making the trek to Bakers to speak with Carmen.
So - I get to ride tonight (Yaaayyyy) for 20 minutes, no engagement, no turning and just let him stretch back into it. One of the things Catherine mentioned was that he is really fit (kudos to me) which makes his 'recovery' time next to Nil. I am to increase the ride time by 5 minutes each day through to Sunday so I am back at a good 40 minutes, with maybe 1/2 the ride being fully engaged. By Sunday, we can do a little jumping and then hopefully be ready for our lesson on Wednesday with the Boss...even if it is a little less intense. She told me to listen to him and see how he feels "Although by looking at him, he will feel fine and you will notice a huge difference".
I should add, that the pickle was out and in full view the ENTIRE time he was being poked, prodded, cracked and adjusted. To the point where Catherine goes, "Seems like I am dealing with a 5 legged horse here..."Ohhhh Chester, he never ceases to amaze me and I had no idea horses were into S&M...
I won't loose dressage marks for that will I...? If Chester decides to add in his own salute?