ideas on these signs/symptoms?
My horse has had some interesting symptoms/changes over the past few months, and I don't know if it's related to training, weather, diet, or some physical cause. these are all pretty mild, but can anyone see a connection/possible cause here?
Background: 5 y/o ASB gelding in light work as a hunter, recently started dressage lessons ~3 months ago. Also broke to drive and loves this, but haven't driven in a few months due to spookiness (one of the symptoms). No obvious signs of lameness or illness, eating normally, no change in feed (gets Triple Crown Senior with whole flax seed and MSM, basically free choice grass hay, round bale outside, soaked alfalfa cubes after I work him). He's an easy keeper, probably about a BCS of 6, low/neg fecal counts and dewormed regularly when needed. Saddle custom fitted and flocked last summer by master saddle fitter and it fits really well, flocking just adjusted in October. Teeth floated about 6 mo ago by vet. Turned out about 8 hours/day with 2 other horses. Usually very laid back and easy going.
Okay here are the symptoms/changes I've noticed:
1. Spookiness- unusual for him, but has been very spooky and jumpy for about 3 months since some new jumps/equipment were placed in one end of the arena (usually he gets over changes quickly, but he is just persistent and wound up over this, even our dressage instructor comments that he looks worried at times). He is just more reactive in general than usual. This really interferes with his concentration and makes dressage work tough.
2. girthy- this seems fairly mild, but he never used to react to having the girth tightened, this has been about 3-4 months. I talked about this with my vet and he thought it could be due to the fact that he was a little bit heel sore around the time it started, and that girthiness and heel soreness are often connected. There's no obvious foot problem anymore and I haven't noticed obvious lameness. He also often moves when I go to put the saddle/surcingle on his back, he's done this off and on for years, but it's been much more consistent lately, usually he's too lazy to care.
3. avoiding bit contact/teeth grinding. This I think is complex, but has been going on about 3 weeks now (he did used to grind/chew his bits a couple years ago, but it resolved spontaneously after a few months). I think it's probably because we're learning new things in our dressage lessons and he's frustrated, but he's ducking behind the bit and BTV more than he ever did before and raising his whole neck up and being generally less consistent with contact, frame and speed than he usually is- I suspect this is partly because he's been so edgy/spooky too- he lifts up when we go by the scary end, then I can't get him to lower/take contact until about when we're back by the scary end again:mad:.
4. loose stools- not every BM, but the barn help comments that usually a couple of the piles in his stall look more like cow pies than horse piles. this has been going on for probably 6 months, didn't think much of it because he had nothing else going on when it started. he also has pretty much always had a different odor to his poop than the other horses, ? MSM?
5. head shaking- did this about 2-3 times over the past month during rides, usually just a brief shake like he has a bug on his neck/head (but it's winter), then nothing more the rest of the rides. . . :confused:
6. skin sensitivity- about 1-2 weeks, some tail swishing, flinching/moving away when being brushed around the flanks and back of his belly, more on the right.
Could all of these subtle things be connected? I'm hoping it's all just a winter funk (or me being a total hypochondriac), but between the spookiness and lack of connection on the reins, we haven't been getting much done under saddle. . . and I'm sure not going to hook him to the cart with him acting this way.
Thanks in advance, and sorry for the length. :)