I'm musing out loud here, but wanted to share an observation (and maybe a bit of a theory) with this group.
Quick background: I retired my gelding Jag from riding two years ago, due to kissing spines that didn't respond to treatment, at my vet's recommendation. I had acquired Jag previously from an OTTB rehoming group at which I volunteered. He arrived really grumpy and body sore. We rested him, then built up his condition (hand walk, longe, then incrementally under saddle.) He blossomed, I fell in love, and bought him. We had a couple good years but then the KS cropped up and he became all over sore and grumpy. So I retired him to a fantastic place that's run by our own JumperBreeder here on COTH. I suspect he had a KS flare up when he arrived at the rescue but I don't have any hard evidence.
Over the last two years, since he was retired from riding, he's blossomed in terms of condition, and his back is (finally) no longer sore. It took a good year for that situation to totally resolve.
Today, he's fatter and hairier than I've ever seen him, and is positively goofy and outgoing - his personality seems to expand each week.
So I'm thinking that the fact that he's finally 100% pain free has had a significant positive effect on his condition. He's always been a hard keeper, and in fact has some liver issues. And he's never grown a proper winter coat, either. But this year, he's plump and properly wooly. And fwiw I do blood panels on him twice a year, and there's no indication of anything being awry.
Is his recent bloom a cumulative effect of his retirement? Or triggered by the fact that he really does feel really good?
Just musing, as I said.
Don't wrassle with a hog. You just get dirty, and the hog likes it.
He came to me a little under weight, needing to be bundled up every winter in dozens of blankets, terrible feet with shoes on all four, nervous, etc, etc, etc.
He got nothing but turnout with buddies here and free choice hay (and grazing all summer). He came to me in August and was noticeably happier within a few weeks, and needed minimal blanketing over the winter. By the next summer he was barefoot, his feet had hardened up and actually GROWN a bit. He was never an easy keeper, always needed some grain due to some stress over bugs, but he was a much different horse when he left than when he had arrived four years earlier.
If they're just generally happier, then it definitely shows everywhere. I'm glad your boy is doing so well.