Older, arthritic horse - day after riding? Or footing issue?
Rode my guy yesterday at a hack for about an hour - slightly more, at W/T on nice rolling grassy fields. Ground is hard but this acreage had nice grass and horsey was HAPPY, forward, had a nice walk.
Today went to ride just a bit at my barn, and he was stiff, hard to bend, short strided and just off. My best guess based on his demeanor was that he just seemed tired and "ho hum". Hard ground (no rain here for ages...) with little grass cushion. He is older (20'ish) and has arthritic hocks. We were also "schooling" more today (circles, W/T - tried BIT of canter but decided ground was too hard - wouldn't stay at the canter...) Decided it was enough and put him back to his field and he happily walked off.
He had hock injections last Wed. - over a week ago. Vet said I could ride this past weekend, light hack and build up. Wondering if the hour hack was too much after the injections, or if he is just sore?!? Odd...
Do your older guys/gals need a day off in between work, to "recover"? I know from owning him almost 3 yrs. he has good days and bad, but this was such a change from yesterday. Perhaps he just wanted to be a horse in the field today. (No fever or pulses by the way, eating well...) And I suppose hard footing & arthritic horse is a bad combo. Come on RAIN!
I think that age and arthritis, along with a longer-than-usual ride (on hard ground) will make an older horse stiff the next day. My horse is arthritic but middle-aged, and if we ride longer than usual or work harder than usual, I'll typically give him a gram of bute before turning him out. It seems to help a lot. He may or may not get the next day off.
I don't do injections anymore - I seem to get better results with joint supplements, careful weight management, careful shoeing, and bute as needed (but not every day).
Thanks Druid - he is on Previcox daily so I can't give him Bute, or shouldn't. I think the hard ground is 90% of it. Unfortunately the ring I have access to is bluestone and gets hard when we get absolutely no rain...although, it is raining right now - yay!
Friends of mine just had this same problem earlier this week. Rode for several hours out on hard trails, and ended up with two 20 and 23 year old horses sore the next day. Waited until yesterday, then took them out for a shorter ride on grass fields, at an easier pace. Much better. We are in the midst of a major drought here, and the ground is like concrete. I would counsel easing up on the riding each time out, lower the speed if that is an issue, and try to find softer footing (although that may prove to be a real challenge). Good luck!
My old guy gets stiff and sore after a long ride too, but I don't let him rest too much! Consistent movement is much, much better for these golden oldies then letting them rest too long between outings. Try to ride the same amount each week, and if they do come out sore before your ride, a gentle walk on level ground and a long warm up usually helps.
"Imma snap youuuu! - with a shout out to Wildlifer