My heart goes out to you! I’ve been where you are. I piled up endless vet bills and cried puddles trying to figure out why my formerly stalwart and fun-loving gelding suddenly went lethargic and balky to the point where I couldn’t get him to walk forward. Walk! Not even that! And it happened in what seemed to be the blink of an eye. We were at a dressage clinic. All was perfect. We came home. The next day he was simply not my boy anymore.
I agree with everyone who said the horse probably has pain and needs time off. In my boy’s case, it turned out to be a locked rib from a very minor incident in the trailer the day of the clinic when he pulled back against the tie because he thought I’d unclipped it. The vet/chiro who finally found the problem said it wasn’t caused by that incident, that he’d likely been a rambunctious youngster and probably did the original damage when he was around 5 and the pull just triggered the slippage. Good guess! I’ve had him all his life, and that fit him perfectly.
Long story short, she did unlock the rib. It took three treatments with rehab exercises between to get it to stay put. I was banned from longeing him on a circle, so I ground-drove him. And after all of that, which was about a year’s work, it took about another year of consistent work with a clicker and treats to get him to stop fearing the pain and move under saddle. They have super memories for pain. *sigh* Now, some 7 years down the road, he’s pretty much back to his old self. He had LOTS of time off along the way. But finding the problem and getting his muscles balanced (he was so twisted that his right foreleg was actually atrophying) so he could work comfortably.
Just don’t give up! My guy is back to jumping, dressage, and barrels and poles, and the only residual effect is that he still gets antsy at the mounting block. But who wouldn’t after working in pain for nearly a year?
I have to add that two of the three vets who assessed him called it a training issue. As a result, I was hard on him trying to get him to stop “taking advantage” of me. When I told the third vet all of that, she was appalled. Her training as a chiro made it obvious when she stood behind him that his spine was curved to the right. She forgave me and the other vets for not noticing because he’s built “like a brick house”, so the bone structure isn’t as evident as it would be in a less muscular animal. I haven’t forgiven any of us.
Horses In the Yard