First personal update: I have switched from Pre-Vet to English Equestrian major, specifically hunter jumper. The pre-vet just didn't feel quite right to me. I was constantly driving over to the english farm to watch them ride. I am planning on getting my associates and then possibly going to massage or saddle fitting school. I am not riding yet, instead I will start riding in the fall, and do two riding classes a day. Right now I'm doing my core equine classes (reproduction, farm management, judging and horse selection). I still have to take nutrition and equine science. My gen ed credits are done except for computer science. According to my adviser, I should be graduating in three or four semesters. I'm excited.
I had a month for winter break, although Cruizer did not get ridden much. I free lunged, lunged, or just played with him pretty much every day though. When I first got home I tacked him up to ride, then put him on the lunge and at a trot he was dead lame, would not put any weight on his left front leg. He was fine at the walk. The farrier happened to be there so he put the hoof testers on every foot, no reaction whatsoever. We noticed that Cruizer did have a slight bump on the back of his left knee that he didn't like palpated. We stalled him and gave him some bute, prepared to call the vet in the morning. In typical Cruizer fashion, I arrived at the barn early the next morning to find him completely sound again. Less than twelve hours before he was hobbling around like his leg was broken. We never figured out what it was, although the bump did go down and was not painful after that first night. My guess is he whacked his leg on something right before I brought him in the night before and over reacted (like he generally does). He was completely sound the rest of the time I was home, probably sounder than I've seen him in awhile. He has been getting massaged over his stifles/hips fairly regularly (by my sister, not a professional).
Most of the times I got Cruizer out to ride he was simply too hyper or spooky to actually safely ride. Most people frown on me just lunging him and putting him away when he's like that rather than ride through it BUT due to a complete spinal fusion (base of neck all the way down to the bottom of my lower back) I am very fragile and cannot risk it. Cruizer also happens to be extremely athletic and enjoys straight up and down rodeo bucking when hyper/scared. So we just lunge and work out some energy that way.
The rides I did get to have on him were really really good. My sister hasn't had time to ride him more than maybe ten times since I left for school, so I was surprised at how good he was. His steering isn't great, nor are his breaks, but those are things we normally have to tune up constantly so that was fine. He was also a bit naughty in that he seemed really excited to be doing something, and so his canter was really animated and kind of hoppy and up & down rather than forward. He even squealed at one canter transition. At least I know he enjoys working though. I generally don't ride much in the winter (maybe 10 times from December to February) so I was impressed by how sensible he was (well, on the days he was sensible anyway). He was light years better than he usually is for winter rides.
As far as his feet, they look great. I am really starting to see some changes in them, particularly no more chips/bruising/cracks. He has been getting Smartpak's SmartHoof supplement for about 6 months now, so it makes sense that his feet are getting better. He is no longer sensitive over hard/rocky/frozen ground. He is still barefoot, and will remain so unless something changes and he can't handle it anymore.
I'm really excited to get home in May and start getting back to serious work and start showing!