The one aspect of horses that's the hardest to deal with for me is the battle between the geldings. At one point I was working with the top horse in the herd who was just picking on everybody. Now I have the horse that's being picked on.
I came out to work with Canyon and started to brush him when he suddenly set back. He hasn't set back in months. I thought he got spooked, so I untied him and did a few circles with him on the ground. Then I went back to brushing and he jumped (but didn't set back, those circles worked). Upon further inspection I realized he'd gotten hit in the back. I could feel the heat and the swelling.
The first clue should have been when I took him out and it looked like his withers were so much higher. He was holding himself so differently his conformation actually looked different.
I borrowed some mineral ice, gave him some bute and called the vet in the morning to make sure there wasn't anything else I needed to do.
This isn't the first time he's been beat up on. He went through a period there when he looked like he was experimenting with scarification. They switched horses around, and he did okay, then he had hives, was sequestered and since he turned back out with the others he's had a few more nicks and bites.
But this incident scared me. I wondered if he could be permanently disabled by his struggles as the herd geek. Having been a geek as a child and barely surviving the experience, I'm probably overly sensitive about it.
Since there are a few open pastures, I asked them to set him out on his own for a while, or set him out at night only. I don't think he likes being set out by himself, but until we can find him a quieter gang to run with I think I prefer him to be a lone gelding.
Someday we'd like to get our own place with another horse on hand. Hopefully I can either find a good match, or a divided pasture.