I planned on writing this post when I got home but the fact I only had 2 hours of sleep last night won and I crashed for 4 hours.
The vet - who I must take a moment to reiterate how amazing she is- came out this afternoon to look at Dakota.
Took him out the end of the barn and I trotted him in a straight line. Then she had her assistant (a friend of mine as well) trot him so I could tell her if what she was seeing was better / average / worse than he normally appeared. He appeared much better in a straight line and I told her it was more obvious on a turn.
I lunged him to the right first, on the gravel at a walk and he was ok- short strided, not head bobbing lame. Asked for a trot and you could immediately tell a difference. Switch directions and it got even worse.
Headed back to the barn to do a block on his front left affernal nerves. As she was sterilizing his leg she gave me a hard time for how clean he was and making her job too easy (he had gotten a bath in the morning). The block took affect (effect? Whatever I'm tired) a little faster than usual. His reaction to her testing his feeling was quite amusing. She didn't know if he was just being stoic or couldn't feel so she did same thing to right leg and he jerked, looking at he like 'ouch what the...'
Lunge line time- starting to left this time. Walked him a minute or two and he leaped into the trot when I asked. Completely different horse. Little short stride in hind but improved there as well. Back to the barn to take Left hoof X-rays.
I had X-rays done in '09 to confirm the degree of rotation in his right hoof - and I flashed back to how naughty he was standing on the X-ray block. Finally after some distracting he cooperated and got the needed angles.
We reviews the X-rays and there was nothing noticeable. Good amount of sole, clean joints / no arthritis, no rotation, no discoloration to indicate anything in pastern or soft tissue. X-rays will be sent to radiology to confirm my vets beliefs. He had some filling just above his hoof / coronet band / coffin joint fluid. Next step will be to inject his coffin joint and see if his soundness improves. If not we will potentially ultrasound for soft tissue or do an MRI which isn't something I can afford at this point and not fully convinced it would be worth doing. Anything that requires an MRI to find I'm not going to be able to afford to fix and he will basically just officially be pasture retired - but we will cross that bridge if it comes.