Tuesday Dakota tweaked his right hind out in the pasture. When I went to pick out his left hind, he instead held up his right hind dramatically, letting me know that something wasn't right. I couldn't find any swelling or heat, but he was a bit off when I watched him trot. He was perfectly sound in walk, so I decided to tack him up with a dressage saddle for the first time. That was no big deal, so I went ahead and clipped on side reins at the longest setting and lunged him both directions in the walk, just so he could feel what all that was like. He accepted the side reins very well, only startling himself a couple times when he raised his head and bumped the side reins. He figured out quickly not to do that, and all was well.
Wednesday I left him alone, and yesterday I lunged him off the halter to check his soundness. He was almost normal. Today he was completely fine again. Before I got Dakota, he spent most of his life in a flat dry lot, and for the past two years he hasn't been worked. The pastures he's in now are very hilly and can be slippery in places if a horse doesn't slow down and choose his footing carefully. I think Dakota probably went careening up or down a hill and pulled a muscle. It'll be good for him to get used to being responsible for his shaggy self.
I started supplementing Dakota's grass-hay-and-forage diet with soaked alfalfa cubes every time I go out. Dakota thinks this is a great idea! I want to keep his weight up for the winter months.
Dakota has another friend: Fred the tiny pony! Such a cute wee man. Fred thinks carrots are awesome and usually follows me and Dakota most of the way to the arena before accepting that all the carrots are gone.