Welp, no endurance race for me.
Orion has been half-assed gimping at random times for the past couple rides. Last night it came to a head. We did 12 miles (which he excelled at despite it all) and he was tripping all over the place at the end. I called Sonya and Angie and we free lunged him when I returned. I value their opinions a lot and wanted to see what they thought. He was tired, stiff, tied up in the back end, and really sore seeming. We bathed him to cool him, then bathed him with linament to cool and ease his muscles even more. Fed him a bunch of grain/electrolytes/mineral supplement and he still was dragging. I left him with Sonya's horse (his favorite girlfriend of the 5 he has) last night.
I realized as we were finishing the ride last night that I would probably have to make a decision as to whether or not to do the race. Ultimately I would have to decide what would be best for Orion.
This morning Sonya updated me that he was lame on his front left and really sore all over. Not looking good. By the time I arrived out there this evening his front legs were really swollen from the knees down. Suzanne came over tonight, too. Between Angie, Sonya, and Suzanne I've got a lot of really good opinions and amazing guidance on this whole issue. I hosed him off to ease the swelling, rubbed on more linament and then hopped on him bareback, legging capris, and bare feet to ride about 2 miles at a walk to help him move and get the swelling down some more. It came down, but he still had a slight gimp in the front.
So it sucks. A lot. But its the right decision to make. Its best for him. Sure, I could cushion his boots, wrap his legs for support, beef up his feed/minerals/electrolytes/etc., but our workouts are still bumping up to 12 miles and beyond per day. Being not 100% and pushing so hard would NOT be good for him. This is the right decision.
I hate throwing in the towel on something I devoted so much time and effort into. But not hurting Orion is the most important thing. I had an offer to ride someone else's horse and do the race, but I think I would rather volunteer my time to help with the race now that I can't race. Orion has more time to get fat and sassy; I have more time to ride with Suzanne's kids; I have more time to learn barefoot trimming properly; Orion has more time to get his feet all sorted out for good. Little man needs to put on 100 lbs at least. Without super hard riding 5 or 6 days a week he has a better opportunity to do this. I just hope and pray there isn't a more serious underlying issue that is causing the issues he has!
So that's it, my big news, big disappointment, big trying-to-find-the-silver-lining. Thinking positive, baby, its all I can do.