I got to the barn at 9:00 am sharp, with the goal of doing a more intense lunge session with Jezebel, and, if her head was screwed on right, I'd hop on for a ride.
The horses had not been fed their grain yet, so I took Jez out of her stall and put her in the wash stall to groom her and tack her up with the surcingle and my lunging bridle. It's just a spare bridle I have, and I had outfitted it with one of my spare eggbutt French link snaffles (the same kind of bit Jez normally uses), which I'd bleached and cleaned the night before. This would allow me to have a bridle specifically for lunging, with no reins attached, so I could just clip my side reins directly to the snaffle bit: less straps to mess with.
Jez was a little fidgety while I was grooming, and decidedly cranky while currying and brushing her, acting as if I were tightening the girth when I hadn't even placed the saddle pad on her.
And then the guys went down the aisle with the grain cart.
Holy Mother of God.
Sally's sweet playful mare turned into Pure Racing Thoroughbred. Completely reverted. Fidgeting, head tossing, pawing (this I had never seen her do yet), dancing from side to side, rolling her eyes, and trying to rub her head against me every time I touched her, in a supreme gesture of disrespect. WOW. I was expecting her to be upset, but she was dialing it up to a whole other level.
I put the saddle pad and surcingle on, and she let me know that she was really not happy about any tack touching her at breakfast time, with a lot of ear pinning and air biting. The bridle was an interesting event. I managed to slip it on UNDER her halter without ever taking the thing off-I knew if I unclipped those cross ties and removed her halter, Jez would be back in her stall snarfing her grain before I could open my mouth to say "Ho!"
I clipped the lunge line to the bridle before removing her halter, and walked her straight to the outdoor arena. Jez was in high alert mode-head up, ears up, tail out, nostrils flaring.
I asked her to step out on the lunge, with the intent of having her just walk initially to warm up. Jez decided she was going to trot. She trotted out in a circle around me to the left, looking around as if she'd never been in the outdoor before, then started to zoom at the trot. As she picked up speed, she began cantering with her hind legs, and continued to trot in front. I thought this was really, really strange-out of shape gaited horses will do that, but not TBs. "What in the world are you doing, Jez?" And then I saw the hitch in the rise and fall of her hips as she did that-she wasn't "trantering", she was lame! And it seemed to be her right hind, the same leg where she had stifle issues a couple of months ago.
I made her stop, and had her change direction, with the intent of having her trot to the right in one circle to see if the lameness would be better or worse. We tried twice, and she didn't want to go in that direction at all...until one of the stable hands drove through the paddock next door in the tractor. The noise set Jez off, and she took off at a canter around me. She was cross-cantering, on the left lead in the back, which confirmed there was definitely something up with her right hind. She almost made a full circle before I could bring her to a stop again. I palpated both hinds-no digital pulse and no heat in either one, and no discernible pain or swelling that I could see.
I took her into the barn, right as BQ was coming down with her dogs to walk in the indoor. When I caught up to her, the dogs were already loose in the arena, so I didn't get to actually show her what Jezebel was doing, but I let her know what was going on.
I put Jezebel in the cross ties, halter over the bridle and removing the bridle under the halter just like I did to put it on. I then removed her surcingle, and turned around to talk to Nancy, one of the other boarders, who was asking what was going on with Jezebel.
Jez was much calmer than when tacking up, but still fidgety. I ignored her, back turned to her, until she finally stood still and looked up alertly. Then, and only then, did I put her back in her stall so she could eat.
Alex and John had started turning the horses out. I went to check on Lily, who was having a conniption in her stall. She was wearing her midweight blanket, as it had dropped into the 20's last night, so I switched out her blanket for her lighter one and turned her out by herself. She ran around like a lunatic for a good 10 minutes before she settled down. I then called Sally to let her know what was going on with Jez.
Sally mentioned that Jezebel had not wanted to let her pick up that foot the day before while tacking up. We wondered if there was something going on since then and that's what caused her to buck. Jezebel had never, ever bucked before yesterday. Not even at liberty. I wondered if being in the stall overnight had made her stiffen up, and that's why it was so obvious this morning-Jez had already been turned out for a few hours by the time Sally took her from the paddock to ride yesterday.
Between BQ, Sally and me, it was decided that Jezebel would go outside in the turnout today (as long as she didn't do acrobatics), get bute tonight with her grain, and then be checked out by the vet tomorrow, since the little mare has already had problems with this same leg in the recent past.
After all this, I put Jez out in the paddock with Lily, who was simply walking the fence line looking for a buddy. Demon Jez had been exorcised by a full belly, and she was back to being her usual mellow but opinionated self. Lily whinnied and whinnied and whinnied when she saw Jezebel coming, then trotted over and sniffed her up and down, as if asking, "What happened? What took you so long?" Jezebel started eating hay right away. I held Jez's lead rope to make sure she'd stay calm until Lily settled down to eat herself, which didn't take very long.
Fingers crossed that whatever is going on with Jez is an easy fix!
And note to self: from now on, work with Jezebel will happen after she eats breakfast.